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View jimintx's profile

Bandsaw blade to cut aluminum

by jimintx
posted 07-10-2017 11:30 PM


27 replies so far

View KelleyCrafts's profile

KelleyCrafts

3990 posts in 1275 days


#1 posted 07-10-2017 11:32 PM

Of it’s occasional cutting I use a regular bandsaw blade to cut soft metals like brass.

-- Dave - http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7499 posts in 2735 days


#2 posted 07-10-2017 11:46 PM

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4184 days


#3 posted 07-11-2017 12:26 AM

Don’t do it. Standard woodcutting band
saws run way too fast. You’ll just wreck
the blade.

I did it once and got through about 18”
of 1/8” aluminum before my blade was
ruined.

A jig saw is a better choice.

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1930 posts in 3549 days


#4 posted 07-11-2017 01:32 AM

You might check Lenox out to order bandsaw blades for non-ferrous metals.

I also heard that WD-40 is a good lubricant when cutting aluminum.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

926 posts in 2120 days


#5 posted 07-11-2017 01:36 AM

Loren, I think you have pointed out a key factor I was missing: blade speed. Thank you.

The blade speed on this bandsaw is 2,700 ft per min. That is noticeably higher than the recommended speeds that are shown in the chart posted by Mr. Unix.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#6 posted 07-11-2017 01:58 AM

Are you wanting make straight cut or curved? What about using a jig saw. Most of them are variable speed and they sell metal blades for Jig saws.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/DEWALT-4-in-8-TPI-Aluminum-Fiberglass-Cutting-Jig-Saw-Blade-HCS-T-Shank-5-Pack-DW3755H/202550683

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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jimintx

926 posts in 2120 days


#7 posted 07-11-2017 03:57 AM

Alaska, you and Loren both said that the jig saw was the better way to go.
I now understand and agree.

I mostly had in mind making straight cuts, and maybe rounding around a few corners.

This idea got started for me as I was planning on going to purchase aluminum, 2” wide “bar” at my local hardware, probably 3/16’ thick, and make some plates that would be in the range of 6 inches long. Then I would be drilling a few holes, and rounding the corners of these.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4184 days


#8 posted 07-11-2017 04:03 AM

You can cut it on a table saw or miter saw
safely. I’ve done that often. For safety
in cutting small aluminum parts you might
want to make some sort of carrier board
with a clamp. The hot chips can burn skin
but it cuts consistently and won’t seize
in the blade or anything like that.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7499 posts in 2735 days


#9 posted 07-11-2017 04:11 AM

Get a cheap 7-1/4” carbide tipped circular saw blade and slap it in your table saw – that way you won’t trash a good blade. I have cut aluminium (and other non-wood stuff) on my TS, but I slow the blade speed down a bit, which not everyone can do. They do make specific non-ferrous cutting blades for the TS, but unless you are going to be doing a lot of cutting, probably not worth it.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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bandit571

23963 posts in 3219 days


#10 posted 07-11-2017 04:33 AM

They do make bandsaw blades for metal…..all you would need is the right length of blade.

Think Horizontal Bandsaws. Portable Bandsaws…

Have a shop vac sitting right beside the cutting action….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#11 posted 07-11-2017 05:00 AM

Deleted

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#12 posted 07-11-2017 05:03 AM


They do make bandsaw blades for metal…..all you would need is the right length of blade.

Think Horizontal Bandsaws. Portable Bandsaws…

Have a shop vac sitting right beside the cutting action….

- bandit571
</blockquote

The blades you speak of. Will they stand up to 2700 FPM?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#13 posted 07-11-2017 05:04 AM

Delete

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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bandit571

23963 posts in 3219 days


#14 posted 07-11-2017 05:05 AM

Have to ask the pipe fitters that USE them….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#15 posted 07-11-2017 05:07 AM

When cutting aluminum on the table saw you want a full face shield. DAMHIKT

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#16 posted 07-11-2017 06:08 AM

All the plumbers and pipe fitters I have seen on the job have always used something like this(see pic). The welding shop at ASD has a Horizontal band saw but it’s way slower than 2700 FPM. They use it for flat sock and square sock etc, never seen them use it for pipe. I suppose this is just an Alaska thing.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1872 posts in 2853 days


#17 posted 07-11-2017 06:45 AM

It can be done but you need plenty of lubricant. Aluminum will fuse to the blade and gum it right up but the lubricant stops that. Wax works for me (use it liberally) but for those that don’t mind the mess, a paste lubricant like AnchorLube will work nicely.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1453 posts in 3297 days


#18 posted 07-11-2017 02:19 PM

As an amateur machinist and woodworker for 60 years I want to clear up some answers.

1. You can cut aluminum and brass with a wood-cutting bandsaw blade just fine. There is a rule about metal cutting with a bandsaw though. You should always have two teeth in the metal or you take a risk of striping a tooth from the saw blade. Think about it. But you CAN cut without two teeth in the metal if you are very careful in feeding the metal through the saw very slowly. There is that risk though of stripping a tooth.

2. Wood cutting speed with a wood cutting blade is O.K. in cutting aluminum and brass with a bandsaw. Not so with steel and iron. You need a slow speed due to the heat build-up which ruins the blade and you really need a metal-cutting blade.

3. You can cut relatively thin (up to about 3/16”) aluminum and brass with a table saw. A standard steel saw blade will do it, though I would only try it with an old blade and not one of my best ones. A carbide blade will do it with ease. You can even cut thin steel sheet up to about 1/16” using a diamond abrasive blade. On all of these feed the stock slowly.

Over the years I have done most of these with success so I can testify these work.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1625 posts in 2266 days


#19 posted 07-11-2017 03:14 PM

Using lubricant is the key. I’ve cut 2”od solid copper, and 1” thick Aluminum on my saw with no ill
effects other than a mess to clean up. Right after cutting the metal, I cut wood with the same blade. ............ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2845 days


#20 posted 07-11-2017 03:39 PM



As an amateur machinist and woodworker for 60 years I want to clear up some answers.

1. You can cut aluminum and brass with a wood-cutting bandsaw blade just fine. There is a rule about metal cutting with a bandsaw though. You should always have two teeth in the metal or you take a risk of striping a tooth from the saw blade. Think about it. But you CAN cut without two teeth in the metal if you are very careful in feeding the metal through the saw very slowly. There is that risk though of stripping a tooth.

2. Wood cutting speed with a wood cutting blade is O.K. in cutting aluminum and brass with a bandsaw. Not so with steel and iron. You need a slow speed due to the heat build-up which ruins the blade and you really need a metal-cutting blade.

3. You can cut relatively thin (up to about 3/16”) aluminum and brass with a table saw. A standard steel saw blade will do it, though I would only try it with an old blade and not one of my best ones. A carbide blade will do it with ease. You can even cut thin steel sheet up to about 1/16” using a diamond abrasive blade. On all of these feed the stock slowly.

Over the years I have done most of these with success so I can testify these work.

- Planeman40


What I what to know is can you do that on a band saw the goes 2700 FPM that the OP says his band saw is?

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5767 posts in 3779 days


#21 posted 07-11-2017 03:58 PM

2700 fpm does sound excessive. If your band saw is belt driven over pulleys, just change the pulley diameters to get down to the fpm you want. Brass is much harder than aluminum so a much slower speed is needed. I cut aluminum all the time on my 14” band saw with no problem. As noted above, keep at least 2 teeth per metal thickness; 3 would be better, but don’t go too fine because the small gullets in the blade will not carry away the chips and will end up fouling the blade. If cutting very thin aluminum sheet, I would recommend backing it up with some plywood to keep from distorting the cut edge.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2988 posts in 1758 days


#22 posted 07-11-2017 04:45 PM

I admit I’ve cut 1/4 6061-T6 Aluminum sheet on my bandsaw without problems (1/2” 8TPI blade).

I also regularly cut 1/4” and 3/8” copper rod on another bandsaw with the same blade I use for wood (1/4” 6TPI)

No notable dulling in either case.

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

926 posts in 2120 days


#23 posted 07-11-2017 08:01 PM

2700 fpm does sound excessive. ...
- MrRon

Yep, that’s some teeth running by quickly. FWIW, I got the 2,700 fpm from an owners manual for this saw.

My fairly new Rikon 10-346, which is NOT the one I am asking about for metal cutting, is set up to offer two speeds per the specs. A belt and pulley shift is the method of changing speeds. Specs from Rikon show the slow one at 1,445 fpm, and the fast one is 2,950 fpm.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View REO's profile

REO

929 posts in 2610 days


#24 posted 07-11-2017 10:30 PM

I cut aluminum regularly with the same blade and speed as those used for wood (Jet 14”) use wd40 for lube. I have also cut 2” on the table saw with a standard wood cutting carbide tipped blade no trouble either. slow feed to let the chip clear or they will seize in the gullets. then you have to use a needle nose to get out the goober and start again.

View builtinbkyn's profile

builtinbkyn

2961 posts in 1476 days


#25 posted 07-11-2017 11:28 PM

Any high tooth count, thin kerf blade will cut sheet aluminum. However Dewalt makes blades for cutting ferrous and non-ferrous metals that cost around $10. They’re 7 1/4” blades that fit a 5/8” arbor. Lowes, HD and your local hardware store should have them.

Here's one.

Using your bandsaw will make a mess of the tires, embedding aluminum chips in them.

-- Bill, Yo!......in Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View papadan's profile

papadan

3584 posts in 3904 days


#26 posted 07-12-2017 12:52 AM

I was at the borg a few days ago and picked up a package of Bosch blades for my 9” Ryobi band saw. Bosch # BS5912-3pk. The package has a 1/8” -15 TPI, 1/4” 6TPI, for wood and a 3/8” 18TPI for cutting steel. I didn’t notice it in the store, but the metal cutting blade will come in handy for Al., Brass, Copper, and small mild steel.

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

3080 posts in 2561 days


#27 posted 07-12-2017 04:00 AM

Using step pulleys, I slowed down a 14” BS to about 450 fpm for cutting plate bronze (originally), but also use it regularly to cut mild steel and even stainless. It’s a little slow for aluminum, but works okay for short cuts. I have my local saw shop make up bimetal blades with variable pitch. A blade lasts for a long time. As others have mentioned, WD40 is a good lubricant for aluminum. The advantage of the BS is that the long (and thin) blade carries heat away from the cut. Too fine a toothed blade does tend to clog up with aluminum. I hate it when I have to cut really thick aluminum (3/4” or thicker), as there is a lot of heat buildup.

I have tried carbide tipped steel cutting blades on the TS and radial arm saw, but the longevity wasn’t so good. There are saws made especially for these blades, which I think turn at a slower rpm. I was cutting 2” diameter pipe. Made a nice clean cut while the blade was sharp, but it got dull before long. The wear on the carbide is very visible.

I use 1/16” thick 4.5 inch abrasive disks on my angle grinder all the time, and they cut fast and cleanly, though all the sparks make it hard to follow the line accurately. The disks do wear out quickly, though. The thin disks make a reasonably small kerf. The bigger (14”) disks are too thick for my uses, and waste too much metal.

I use a thin kerf combination blade to cut aluminum, also the crosscut blade on the miter saw. Again, WD40 helps to keep down the chip buildup. I wear gloves and long sleeves to fend off the chips, which shoot at you at a pretty high velocity. And of course, full face protection. Don’t wear fleece, as the chips stick to it like burrs on a dog.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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