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  1. #1
    Senior Member Patrick's Avatar
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    Looking for Aluminum cutting tips

    This weekend I'll be making some buckle/cleat combinations a la andersj's really nice work: http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/s...8343#post28343

    I just got in some 3/16" 6061 T6 that I'll be carving up.

    I've worked aluminum a little bit on my bike, but that was mostly polishing or just removing a tiny bit of material. This will be my first time cutting from scratch, so I was hoping for any pointers anyone thinks would be useful.

    I've got a Dremel tool with various appropriate bits, a good drill, a grinder, and I'd like to pick up some type of sandpaper/emory cloth that would work well.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Keep the speeds fairly low if grinding or sanding because it'll load the abrasives otherwise.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Patrick's Avatar
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    Thanks, Rapt. Does load the abrasives mean clog up the tool?

    I meant to ask before, what about cutting oil? If I do need it, can I use most anything or should I look for something special?

  4. #4
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    Use kerosene or some other light oil for cutting aluminum. A jigsaw with a metal cutting blade works great, or just a hacksaw. With 3/16th don't go too fine on the teeth. The general rule when cutting metal is use a blade with a tooth pitch that keep 2-3 teeth in the metal at a time, about 18 tooth sounds right. You can shape with files but aluminum is soft and you'll need a file card to clear out the file teeth. A dremel will work but the discs will load fast and break, same with a mini grinder.

  5. #5
    it's worth the $4 to get a brand new bit if yours aren't pretty sharp, you will want your holes to be very percise.

    i had great luck just rough-cutting with the hacksaw and then filing down. a vice was pretty crucial too.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Walking Bear's Avatar
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    Use belt type of sandpaper for the pollishing. It will work much better than sheet. Clamp the part down and pull the belt back and forth across what you want to finish.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Patrick's Avatar
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    Very good advice, thank you. I do have a vice. I used this project as an excuse to build a small workbench finally. I'll pick up some sandpaper. What grits for shaping and polishing?

  8. #8
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    for cutting I think I would use a jewelers saw - see http://www.widgetsupply.com/page/WS/CTGY/jeweler-saw for example

  9. #9
    Mark, drill, hacksaw, grind, file and sand, in that order.

  10. #10
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    Yes "load the abrasive" means the cutting material gets clogged with Al.

    Lots of good comments here. As far as cutting fluids go, Al works best with an emulsion (Think high water blended with with a lighter oil, and a soap type material to keep it all mixed....) But thats going to be hard to find in small quantities and making it is tricky unless you understand what you're after. Not to mention messy if you're using power tools. I don't think my dremel would like cutting fluids splashing about. If you really want to try some make a 50/50 mix of water and liquid dish soap, it's not ideal but better than nothing and easy to make.

    If you're working by hand its not really going to make a difference though.
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