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Old 23-11-2011, 07:55   #16
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

all you need is a nibbler

Klein Tools Nibbler Tool (76011B) from The Home Depot
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Old 23-11-2011, 08:28   #17
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

I cut sheet aluminum with a variable speed jigsaw and take my time not pushing the blade too hard.
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Old 23-11-2011, 08:31   #18
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
You may not want to buy one for just this job, but the trick way to do this is with a router with a small carbide 'flush trim' bit. You make a plywood cutout that matches the hole you want to cut clamp it to the panel wherever you want the hole, and then run the router around the edge of the cutout. And volia - a completely clean, exact to any shape, hole just where you wanted it.
That, a nibbler, and a plasma cutter are all methods I’ve used with great success. I cut aluminum all the time with woodworking tools.
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Old 23-11-2011, 08:50   #19
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

IMHO: If a reciprocating jig saw won’t work (due to vibration or oscillation), neither will a hand file, for the same reasons.
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Old 23-11-2011, 09:56   #20
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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That, a nibbler, and a plasma cutter are all methods I’ve used with great success. I cut aluminum all the time with woodworking tools.
yes, so do I, with an aluminum hull and decks! I just made some nice shaped/angled aluminum mounting pads for new larger 'secondary footblocks' (for turning our furling lines and 'short sheets' and preventers).

I use a jigsaw a lot because its very convienent and not so much set-up as the router, but I do find it the most problamatic and frustrating tool, because the blades get clogged with the aluminun and they dull really quickly, I suppose this is because I usually don't have access to whatever the proper blades are for aluminum. What are the best jigsaw blades for aluminun - bosch style? Should I spray or oil the blades with something (like I do drill bits and taps)?
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Old 23-11-2011, 10:01   #21
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Drill 1/4" holes in the corners. Then use the Dremel again with a cutting wheel but don't cut all the way through. Just score it. Then score again. Try to get the metal so thin that you can just push it in.
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Old 23-11-2011, 10:12   #22
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Wow, a wealth of information and wisdom! Thanks! CF at its best.
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Old 23-11-2011, 10:19   #23
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Hello did that exact job (Victron install) funnily enough!

To get a hole in my panel (for other instrument, didnt want the Victron one), my panel is very firmly installed in a wooden frame, in situ, I drilled holes into the aluminium, and then used a jigsaw to drive from hole to hole. If your panel isnt fixed in place perhaps you should fix it to something like a heavy workbench to stop any vibrations from upsetting your jigsawing
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Old 23-11-2011, 10:25   #24
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

You did not mention the thickness of the aluminum you were trying to cut. If it is less than a 1/16" a hand held nibler will give you nice control of the cut out. You did mention that the panel was near live circuits, so if using a nibler or a cutting disc make sure you protect all circuits from the metal that will be flying around as you make your cut.... Metal pieces love to short out circuits.....
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Old 23-11-2011, 11:04   #25
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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There is a very slow way getting your hole cut. Drill many many small holes along the line of the cut as close to each other as you can....than get a slightly bigger drill bit and do it all again. If time doesn't matter that would be one way.
With a file you can clean up the opening and remove all sharp edges.
I am assuming the piece of aluminum is less than 1/4 inch thick.

Cutting such pieces can be done with a small drill press to make holes at the corner, and with an electric jigsaw cutter with the appropriate blade, joining up the holes. The trick is to brace the piece firmly enough so that it doesn't move, and to clamp a guide to keep the cuts straight.

It makes a hell of a mess, but having recently cut 1 1/2 inch thick HDPE as mount rings for circular ports, I much prefer aluminum plate.

PS: I fabbed up backing plates in 1/4" aluminum circular and bar stock for most of the deck mounted gear on my 33 footer. Rounding the edges on a grinder and bevelling any drill holes is a good idea if you are going to mount it with sealant.
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Old 23-11-2011, 11:55   #26
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

I have used the correct size hole saw drill 2 holes think of the number 8 then trim the corrners with the hack saw blade
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Old 23-11-2011, 12:08   #27
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Rotozip
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Old 23-11-2011, 12:43   #28
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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Yes, exactly. The sheet flexes with the jigsaw blade, creating a godawful racket, and not cutting anything. Argh! The jigsaw is a single-speed job so nothing to do with that. I do not have an angle grinder but might borrow one.
Better to borrow a jigsaw with high speed. Maybe try a very fine tooth blade too, although you'll need to clean it often to stop it clogging with ally.
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Old 23-11-2011, 15:01   #29
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Clamp the panel to a 1/2" piece of plywood (slightly bigger than the panel~ good side to wood), clamp then cut. A wood saw cuts AL easy. I prefer a nibbler for finer work but to each his/her own.
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Old 23-11-2011, 15:07   #30
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Yes, a cutting lubricant will help.
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