View Full Version : cutting 1/16 aluminum

12-20-2008, 10:58 PM
What sort of tool would be best to cut irregular shapes out of 1/16" (maybe a touch thicker) aluminum sheet, maybe even aluminum diamond plate. I assume a rotozip wouldn't work?


Spin Doctor
12-20-2008, 11:01 PM
Ideally a laser or water jet :D But in a home shop situation if you could find a why hold the stock to a pattern a router table might be the trick

doctor demo
12-20-2008, 11:03 PM
Jig saw
Plasma torch
Water jet
Air chisle


12-20-2008, 11:04 PM
Smoke..I used a good quality Porter Cable jigsaw with a felt pad on the shoe for that for years til I got my first plasma cutter.
Now..I don't even know which shed that jigsaw is in.
It did work well tho..just pretty slow. I also had a 1/4" X 2" alu straight edge I used with it all the time.

12-20-2008, 11:15 PM
Verticle bandsaw.


12-20-2008, 11:24 PM
What shape and size material?


12-20-2008, 11:37 PM
Another vote for a bandsaw with a skinny blade. For thin aluminum, you can get by with using a cheap wood saw (fast blade speed). It is amazing what kind of work you can do with a nice bandsaw, especially if it has a blade welder and you can use it (my welds break about half the time).

12-21-2008, 02:06 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. I want to try making a few custom aluminum panels for my Rhino but that's another topic someday. Also I saw some pretty interesting aluminum sheets at Industrial Metals today. Some pretty cool embosed stuff too (its chrome). I was wondering what the best tool would be, the cleanest cut etc. since it's chrome plated for the homeshop. Sounds like a jig saw would do it. Any suggestions on a blade/tooth count?




noah katz
12-21-2008, 03:54 AM
Pneumatic shear or nibbler

12-21-2008, 04:19 AM
I vote for a shear type nibbler; manual, electric or pneumatic.

12-21-2008, 05:04 AM
So- this subject comes up again. I've long wanted to make a machne that would allow contouring sheet material. I keep thinking of something like a scroll saw, but obviously with a different blade, speeds, action, etc. It's not like we all have or can afford plasma cutters or better-

I dropped the idea of using a jigsaw mounted upside down under a table because I didn't have one that would have been suitable. Now I have a bosch with the adjustable blade 'kicker' and it works surprisingly well on sheet materials. I have no problem going through 1/4 inch plate steel, though it can be tedious. If I keep the lube flowing, aluminum is easy too.

Picture the whole concept put together as a table model, but using beefed up components, including the blade. It might actually work much like a file, and the blade could be tapered strongly towards the back, being possibly as wide as 1/8 inch at the front. This would allow a fairly tight radius of turn and with the kicker function it could make it easy to push the work into the blade without jamming or racking it up and down on the table.

To be practical, such a machine would have three major problems under control- keeping the sheet material from slamming up and down on the table, keeping the blade strongly vertical while heavier forces are applied to it, and keeping flex in the machine to an absolute minimum. I think a lot hinges on the design of the blade, and I wonder if there are any blades made already that might be suitable for such a machine. I think of those sawzalls- they seem to have a more robust 'front end', and they might be reasonable donors to build a table jigsaw from, or maybe the blades they use could be useful in a different mechanism.

My thinking on this matter has me leaning heavily towards the blade working more like a file than a blade.

Your Old Dog
12-21-2008, 09:01 AM
I assume a rotozip wouldn't work?


That would be my last choice. A jig saw will cut it like butter. Don't skip the safety glasses or you'll be sorry you did.

12-21-2008, 11:58 AM
My thinking on this matter has me leaning heavily towards the blade working more like a file than a blade.

Try a 5/32 solid carbide milling cutter in a router mounted in a route table.

12-21-2008, 12:34 PM
I have three different band saws and they all have the same limitations. The throat size is the limiting factor. Small parts I would use the bandsaw with the correct tooth count. Large parts with curved lines I would use my Porter-Cable jig saw as its "throat size" is limited by what I can reach and the length of the extension cord. Another reason to saw is there is no hot material in my small shop. If you dont want scratches, cover the affected area with masking tape and draw your line on the tape. If you want straight lines use a guide clamped over the tape. Don't forget the hearing protection.