View Full Version : Cutting aluminum extrusions.
11-07-2011, 03:54 AM
I have a product I started selling a year ago that requires me to cut 6061 aluminum extrusions. The extrusion is a linear dovetail rail that is 1" wide & 1/2" thick solid material. I designed the part and pay to have it extruded I paid for the die.
I have been cutting the materiel to length with my band saw but the finish the saw leaves makes me sand the ends. I would like to cut these with something that would leave a better finish so I don't have to sand the ends just do a little deburring. I have a Wood cutting 12" Delta sliding miter saw and a Makita 14" abrasive saw. Is there a blade I could buy for one of these other saws that would do a better job than the horizontal band saw?
The product is a sliding rail system for fishing boats. I cut the 24' lengths to custom sizes and standard 4' & 6' lengths. I make hundreds of cuts on the bandsaw I usually stack them 4 high before cutting. Is there a saw I could buy for say under $500 that would work better or maybe just buy some new blades for the equipment I have?
11-07-2011, 04:12 AM
Used to cut various extrusions with a sliding mitre saw. Blade was a carbide tipped one.
If you're going this way, make nesting guides to hold the extrusion steady while cutting it and also make sure the lengths are supported at correct height when cutting.
You can get blades for cutting non-ferrous metal. For example, here's a link to one I bought:
I make no particular recommendation, it just happens to be the one I bought because it was relatively inexpensive. There are lots more by other manufacturers in different diameters.
It worked pretty well, except it makes very tiny chips that go EVERYWHERE. I've not used it much, but the edge finish it leaves is IMO quite good.
11-07-2011, 07:30 AM
I have used a right angle head on my Bridgeport (don't tell sir John) with a larger diameter slitting/slotting saw. That way you can control the speed of the cut and work on a better finish.
I used the quill sort of like a chop saw or you can use the cross feed.
I have never tried the saw mentioned by Circlip.
11-07-2011, 07:41 AM
I have one of the Evolution Rage chop saws and cut up to 2 1/2" square alloy and also extrusions all the while.
Finish is that good I don't need to do anything else to it.
You been a bit of kerosene as a lube from time to time, helps the cut and finish and you need to have curtains round the machine to keep the chips under control.
I do my cutting outside and use two large cardboard sheets stood up in a vee behind the machine, helps sweeping up afterwards.
11-07-2011, 07:56 AM
We have the Dewalt DW872 metal chop saw with the carbide toothed blade.
Not an abrasive wheel saw.
Not cheap, but I cut lots of aluminum stock and extrusions with it.
Leaves a very nice surface with a flat and square cut. Wear earplugs though...
I believe this Dewalt dry cut carbide blade saw has slower rpm's than a normal chop saw meant for wood.
I spray a little WD40 on the Aluminum for the cut, works great.
11-07-2011, 10:00 AM
I have a B&D 12" chop saw. I installed a (GASP,) Harbor Freight 80-tooth carbide blade. It will cut 1 1/2x2" cast aluminum and leave a good, but not perfect, finish. That blade cost about $30.00. If I wanted a better finish, I would spend the cost of having it sharpened.
These cheap blades are laser-cut and pre-formed carbide inserts are automatically brazed in the pockets. The blade never sees a grinder, but what can you expect for $30.00? Sharpening will remove any tiny irregularities and produce a smooth-cutting blade. As long as you dont advance the blade too fast initially into the cut, it will last a LONG time. If you are sloppy-not so long, (ask me how I know :o .)
11-07-2011, 10:12 AM
My dad has the Hitachi equivalent of the Dewalt dry cut carbide saw. It's Hitachi model CD14F. It will cut through a 1" x .5" aluminum piece with no problem. You could stack them four deep and still cut through them. You could probably stack them 10 deep and still cut through them. I borrow this saw often, I'm just waiting for the day my dad doesn't ask for it back. :)
I have also used a 12" Dewalt abrasive chop saw with a Diablo 96 tooth carbide blade to cut aluminum bar stock. The blade I used is is linked below. It cut fine, but often I found that if the cut part was too tight into the feed stop, the part would bind on the blade and knock the carbide teeth off. That's an expensive mistake at $90 per blade. I don't think I would stack the parts four deep to do this with the abrasive saw and the carbide blade. The thickest I cut was basically 1" x 1" 6061-T6 aluminum. It was four pieces of 1" x .25" bar, and sometimes the parts would catch on the teeth as mentioned above.
11-07-2011, 10:13 AM
Any aluminum goes to the table saw or my cheap (wood) chopsaw. Use wd-40 on the cut and secure the work firmly....if the bearings in the saw are 1/2 decent, you'll get a good cut
11-07-2011, 12:18 PM
vertical up saw like kaltenbach, tallow/hss or tct [fine]
11-07-2011, 11:28 PM
A year or so ago I spent a couple months cutting extrusion on a chop saw with a suitable blade. The important things- smooth, tight action on the saw, and support for the workpiece right up to the sides of the blade. Most chop saws don't give enough support close enough to the blade. And yes, it makes a virtual blizzard of tiny sharp chips.
At the end of the job, the blade was cutting just as well as it did at the start. I was cutting thinwall extrusion, and it was noisy to say the least. Ear plug mandatory.
11-08-2011, 12:47 PM
The 8" blade for the Harbor Freight metal cutting circular saw is decent and only $17.
11-08-2011, 12:58 PM
Thanks. I just ordered one of those blades.
I'm going to try to cut an angle extrusion with .5" legs and .063 thick into 1" pieces.
Works OK on my bandsaw it will be interesting to see if this gives a better edge.
It looks like I'll have to come up with some kind of holding device tho. This is pretty small.
A 1" drop off leaves the potential of the part getting flung by the blade. Letting the blade stop before lifting it out of the cut will reduce this effect and a full backer will also help. The metal cutting blades I have seen have a negative rake to the teeth.
11-08-2011, 04:37 PM
For this type of work it helps a lot to have blade stabilizers. You will get a straighter cut with a finer finish. Blade stabilizers are essentially big washers that go on either side of the blade and stiffen it up to minimize harmonic vibrations.
11-08-2011, 06:59 PM
You really need a cold saw, I know,more than $500, but if you cut that much, look for a used one. leaves a nice finish, especially with a lube. Bob.
11-08-2011, 08:51 PM
Thanks for all the sugestions anyone know if the abrasive saw would work with one of these non-ferrous blades? I have a 14" Makita abrasive saw I have owned for over 20 years that I never use anymore. I am wondering if the speed of the motor would be right for the metal cutting blade.
"You really need a cold saw, I know,more than $500, but if you cut that much, look for a used one. leaves a nice finish, especially with a lube. Bob."
That would be nice but it is not in the budget right now.
11-10-2011, 07:23 PM
Actually on aluminum regular carbide table saw blades work fine, and in miter saws too.