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Accessories from aluminum is it a good idea?

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  • Accessories from aluminum is it a good idea?

    I have several large sheets of aluminum they are aprox, 3/8ths of an inch thick.I have been thinking of using them for various jigs both for woodworking and machining. Nobody ever seems to be willing to use aluminum for making things for use with lathes or milling machines,why?.I figure I could with a little effort make a sliding taper attachment which could bolt onto my lathes crosslide would it be feasable? and if not why not? I know aluminum doesn't absorb shock as well as cast or steel but for a taper slide or a simple faceplate should it matter.Alistair
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

  • #2
    As far as using aluminum for one-time (or infrequent) jigs/fixtures, sure. Why not?
    There are a couple of drawbacks to using the aluminum. It's less stiff than cast iron or steel, so it won't be as rigid for an equivalent cross section. Assuming it's "just regular aluminum" (6061 or whatever) it won't wear as well as cast iron or steel. It's also softer, so it will dent more easily (assuming it's "just regular aluminum"). If you can live with those constraints...have at it. Even if the experiment is a dismal failure, you'll learn something by it.

    I'm not sure I'd make a sliding taper attachment from aluminum; given the amount of work it would be to make it, I'd probably opt for a material that would stand up better, but I don't see why aluminum wouldn't work for a while at least...assuming you take the constraints of the material into consideration in your design.

    Now, you can get some alloys of aluminum that are pretty hard and are reasonably good bearing surfaces, so with the correct alloy about the only drawback would be a lower rigidity. But odds are that's not what you have....


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    • #3
      SGW, the stuff I hve is designed as tread plate don't know how hard it would be Alistair.
      Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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      • #4
        I'm with SGW, go for it. If you wear something out, it will be because you have done a lot of machining, and then you'll have a better idea of what the replacement should be made of.

        If you're fabricating things out of several pieces of plate, remember that you can't depend on screws for locating. Use dowels for positioning, screws to hold it together.

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        • #5
          Another good point uncle Dunc I just thought aluminum would be easy to mill.I dont have a milling machine as yet but read somewhere in a wooworking book that aluminum could be easily milled with a standard router as used for wood .Eventually I would like to get a small milling machine,in fact I,m thinking of keeping my eyes peeled for a second hand one now.
          Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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          • #6
            Rudy Kouhoupt makes lots of things, such as accessories and models, of aluminum.
            I see no problem at all in using it for something that is going to get the occasional use it would see in a home shop.
            I have used for tool holders for my Aloris type toolholder with no problems.
            Lots of present day medium duty machinery makes use of aluminum because of it's machining qualities, light weight and corrosion resistance.
            Jim H.

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            • #7
              I use aluminum mostly for fixturing where I may be cutting into the plate. I would shy away from it for taper attachments and such due to the "swedging" of the materil against the mating piece should a heavy load or twisting action come upon it.

              Fixturing with locating should include dowel pins as noted, or drill rod as an alternative.
              CCBW, MAH

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              • #8
                Hi Alistair

                I see from other posts that you have tread plate, and are aware you can cut/machine it as though it were HARD wood.

                This is true, I have used aluminium for some woodworking jigs etc. I have since purchased at "scrap" prices some very conveiently sized blocks and plates of aluminimum. These are for future metalworking "jigs".

                I have no aversion to using aluminium - taking in to consideration of course the lack of hardness and strength when compared to steel etc.

                Re your taper turning attachment, I would (where appropriate) make most of the "jig" from aluminiium, and "fix" steel guides to the wearing parts and/or use ball bearing guides against the wearing surfaces.

                I think aluminium is used less than it deserves. In many circumstances, larger pieces can be made into very useful mounting blocks etc. I "think" the Raymac tool and cutter grinder advocates an aluminium mounting block (?).

                The only caveat you have in your instance is the "tread plate" this has a pattern rolled into it, so you do not have a "nice" flat surface on [quote]<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">BOTH[QUOTE] sides.

                On the cover of issue 80 of "Model Engineers Workshop" there is a crossslide mounted spindle mill/drill. It looks to me like the plate holding the motor and spindle mounting is made of 1/4 aluminium plate.

                Regards

                Peter
                Originally posted by Alistair Hosie:
                I have several large sheets of aluminum they are aprox, 3/8ths of an inch thick.I have been thinking of using them for various jigs both for woodworking and machining. Nobody ever seems to be willing to use aluminum for making things for use with lathes or milling machines,why?.I figure I could with a little effort make a sliding taper attachment which could bolt onto my lathes crosslide would it be feasable? and if not why not? I know aluminum doesn't absorb shock as well as cast or steel but for a taper slide or a simple faceplate should it matter.Alistair</font>
                Kind regards

                Peter

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                • #9
                  I use Aluminum for wood working jigs that need some permanence. Use hardened drill bushings for holes that are drilled with the jigs and they will last forever. Use steel wear plates in areas with much wear.

                  I used Aluminum to make a fixturing plate for my Maximat 7 as the table was too dinky for a rotary table. I have a large toolpost block of Aluminum that holds my Foredom 1/4 hp flexshaft handpiece for minor milling and grinding.

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                  • #10
                    Milling Al with a router? Yep, works well. I have re-surfaced several cylinder heads with a router. Made a slide and used parallel bars to guide the router. Use lots of lube.

                    Also used a belt sander to un-warp a diesel head on an island. Worked ok but I would not do again as a matter of choice.

                    Won’t the little bumps on Tread plate make the job more interesting? (g)?
                    Steve

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                    • #11
                      You can make a lot of things out of Alum. But for something with a lot of wear, have it Anodized.

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                      • #12
                        for the same cost have it hardcoat anodised. Remember hard coat goes into the surface .002" and builds above the surface .oo2". It is saphire hard and I have used it for many years for slide-ways that do not get hammered upon. Also, it is not electrically conductive.(insulater) makes some real good high heat electrical connectors with "Molex" pins or equivalent
                        To know by reading is different than knowing by doing. OR:
                        What you have going into a situation is knowlege..What you have coming out of that situation (providing you survive!) is wisdom.

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