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  • Bandsaw Blade for Aluminum

    I'm planning to get one of the Harbor Freight 4x6 horizontal/vertical bandsaws. What would be the best blade for cutting aluminum? Mainly will be cutting 3"x1/2" 6061. Would a small mist coolant system be adequate.

  • #2
    If you are cutting the easy way, with the stock vertical, 10 TPI.
    If flat, a 4 TPI.
    Name brand blades.
    3 teeth in the stock is suggested.

    Mist would be better than dry.

    I run mine with flood coolant. It sits on top of my metal rack, with a tray.

    Take a little time to "tune up" the saw. It's capable of cutting very well, if set up properly.

    Dave

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    • #3
      Dave's right

      Agree with Dave, would like to add that if you don't want to do flood or mist coolant, try a little blast of compressed air to blow the chips out of the teeth right after the exit from the work.

      TC

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      • #4
        Again ditto what Dave said.
        Definitely use a name brand blade, the import blades are junk and don’t hold an edge.
        This is not a production machine so do not expect lighting fast cuts, BUT it will make decent cuts.

        I have a recurring job that also requires cutting 3 x ½” 6061 aluminum. I use a 6 tooth blade and occasionally squirt on some cutting fluid.

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        • #5
          Dave nailed it

          I agree. I also agree that the compressed air will help greatly if you don't want the mess of a coolant or mist generator. It does two things, blows the swarf from the teeth, and draws some of the heat out of the material.

          Kalamazoo saws came with a set of stiff bristle wire brushes on either side of the roller guides to remove chips that clung to the teeth. Some felt that they prematurely dulled the teeth but that is debateable.

          Let us know how you like the HF saw.
          Jim (KB4IVH)

          Only fools abuse their tools.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Scishopguy
            Kalamazoo saws came with a set of stiff bristle wire brushes on either side of the roller guides to remove chips that clung to the teeth.
            The Amada vbs at work has rotating brushes to clean the band.

            Clutch

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            • #7
              Hmm. I cut lots of AL and that saw ( I have a similar one) would be the last thing I turn to. I have a 6 tpi skip tooth raker blade in my 14" bandsaw that I often cut AL up to 1" on. I also will cut thick AL in my 12" miter saw with an 80 tooth carbide wood blade, A clamping setup and little cutting wax helps, but I've cut 3" dia with that.

              I learned my disrespect for AL from my old timer boss in a lighting factory 28 years ago. One job of mine was cutting hundreds of 1/4" thick AL disks on the 14" bandsaw. The craziest job I did there was use a router mounted horizontally on a table with a jig to route an inside shoulder in the end of cast AL elbows from 6" to 12" dia. When a bit would snap off it scared the crap out of me.

              My boss was a piece of work. His hobby was building full scale flying early biplane reproductions.

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              • #8
                Bandsaws

                Originally posted by clutch
                The Amada vbs at work has rotating brushes to clean the band.

                Clutch
                That sounds pretty neat. The Kalamazoo brushes would wear on the side that was toward the teeth and you would have to turn them over eventually. I ordered half a dozen sets from the manufacturer and they lasted for years but the rotating type would wear evenly. I didn't know that they had anything like that.
                Jim (KB4IVH)

                Only fools abuse their tools.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks,
                  I had been cutting it on a 10" miter saw with an abrasive cutoff wheel. I tried an 80 tooth plywood blade but it galled up so bad I ended up having to mill the sides. For what I'm making the sides don't really matter but I don't want them to look like it was hacked off with an axe. Having to mill the sides adds too much time to the piece. I haven't tried a carbide tipped blade and wax. I was thinking the more teeth the better and smoother the cut would be. I'm a newbie self teaching myself on the lathe and mill so please forgive my ignorance.
                  Thanks,
                  Ed

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                  • #10
                    I have used a triple chip blade in a table saw to cut aluminum and lead. Works reasonably well with no lubricant.

                    However eye and ear protection are an absolute must.

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                    • #11
                      I've had two of the little HF 4X6 band saws and really like them. For the money you can't beat them. I cut a good amount of aluminum with mine and just use a little WD-40 squirted on the cut every once in a while. I don't want to have to mess with the mess of a coolant system. I usually replace the blade once a year. Never have broken one. I also just use the same blade I use for steel I think it's a Matrix II Bi-Metal 10/14 tpi vari-tooth. Hell l cut a bunch of aluminum on my wood cutting band saw.
                      Mel
                      Last edited by lugnut; 05-12-2008, 06:06 PM.
                      _____________________________________________

                      I would rather have tools that I never use, than not have a tool I need.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ETG
                        Thanks,
                        I had been cutting it on a 10" miter saw with an abrasive cutoff wheel. I tried an 80 tooth plywood blade but it galled up so bad I ended up having to mill the sides. For what I'm making the sides don't really matter but I don't want them to look like it was hacked off with an axe. Having to mill the sides adds too much time to the piece. I haven't tried a carbide tipped blade and wax. I was thinking the more teeth the better and smoother the cut would be. I'm a newbie self teaching myself on the lathe and mill so please forgive my ignorance.
                        Thanks,
                        Ed
                        I find that on the 4x6 saw a thick cut wanders so much out of square that I always have to either mill or grind it afterwards. For the radial saw, carbide definitely helps. For me time is also an issue, and a 4x6 is a dreadfully slow way to cut AL. Abrasive wheel is a pretty bad way to do AL, they clog and it's just unnecessary, with so many easier ways.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mad Scientist
                          I have used a triple chip blade in a table saw to cut aluminum and lead. Works reasonably well with no lubricant.

                          However eye and ear protection are an absolute must.
                          I have not noticed a significant difference between triple chips and alternating bevels. Triple chips were what we used in the factory though.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            If I try a carbide tipped blade in my 10" miter saw, what tooth count should I try to get. Any specific blade type???
                            Thanks,
                            Ed

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I cut cast and 6061 using a 10" 26 tooth rip blade on my table saw and a 12" 40 tooth general purpose blade in my chop saw. No lubricant, REALLY noisy, and a pretty smooth surface. I use a 6 tooth 1/4" or 3/8" blade in my 14" band saw at maximum speed and no lubricant for aluminum, brass and gun metal. The blade still cuts wood just fine, by the way.
                              Duffy, Gatineau, Quebec

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