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Old 23-11-2011, 15:18   #31
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

As mentioned a wood saw (skill saw that builders use for cutting 4 by 2) with a carbide blade is the easiest way to cut Ali sheet. You can get Ali cutting blades for them which make it easier for the bigger jobs. Lubricant is a must with ali to stop the clogging, use wd40 or crc not oil. For drilling ali drill bits should have positive rake on the cutting edge to stop the "grabbing".
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Old 23-11-2011, 16:28   #32
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

I have my doubts about using a dremel zip disk on aluminum. Aluminum is very soft, and gums up all sorts of tooling. I suspect the disc would bind up as well. Give it a try but be careful.

I would go with a router bit, one pilot hole to start the cut and you should be ok. The manual nibbler is a good tool but you may find your hand getting awful tired after a while.

My third choice would be multiple holes and follow up with your sabre saw, rotated forward so the blade goes shallow.
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Old 23-11-2011, 16:30   #33
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

I vote #1 for the nibbler for panels 1/16" or under. You can pick them up cheap at electronics hobby stores and the cut will need no finishing off. The big problem with aluminium is that it clogs cutting discs and fine tooth cutting blades unless you apply liberal amounts of light wd-40 style lubricants (or even a proper aluminium cutting lubricant which resembles water). The only other alternative, like others have said, is to firmly clamp a bit of scrap wood behind it then cut it with a saw.
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Old 23-11-2011, 17:03   #34
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Believe it or not soapy water in a trigger bottle is one of the best (and cheapest) lubes for aluminum... easy to clean up too! Fine blades in jig saws load up real quick. Max 16TPI in a jig saw.
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Old 23-11-2011, 18:27   #35
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

The router with a pattern bit or flush trim bit (depending on which side you have the pattern on) will give you the cleanest straightest cut out of all of these options. I use a small Porter Cable laminate trimmer for stuff like this, it gets in corners and tight spots much easier.
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Old 23-11-2011, 18:42   #36
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

35 posts on how to do a cutout on an aluminum panel, really?
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Old 23-11-2011, 19:29   #37
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

FWIW there are two abrasive/cutoff disc types for the Dremel tools. The cheap discs look like a thin slice of sandstone, dark red-brown, and are very brittle. Put any load on them except directly edge-on and they shatter. The more expensive and stronger discs are black, not just a slice of abrasive but something like a fiberglass matrix so they take more load. The black discs and working at a dead right angle are both important of you want to slice, not break blades.

Four corner holes and the dremel, or a METAL (fine tooth like 32tpi) hacksaw blade really ought to do it. Just needs a little patience if the metal wobbles a bit. They;re sold with simple handles (like a file handle) for applications like this, but a batch of duct tape or epoxy putty is a good enough handle for one-time use.

The nibbler is best for "less than tin can" thickness but that's also a fine way to go. Home Depot usually charges 40-50% more than what is normal for those type of tools.
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Old 23-11-2011, 20:11   #38
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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.
It is a rule in cutting metal that the saw/jig/stab blade must have a number of teeth per inch that allows 3 teeth to be in the metal at all times. That is the teeth per inch must be high enough so that 3 teeth are always within the thickness of the metal. Aluminum presents a particular problem as it is rather soft and easily clogs up the saw blades or tool's teeth.
- - With very thin sheets you use a slitting saw or wheel or a set of metal cutting shears. You can also use a "stab" hacksaw. That is a hacksaw blade in a short holder such that most of the bare hacksaw blade extends beyond the handle.
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Old 23-11-2011, 21:26   #39
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

!!!... Fein Multimaster with plunge saw blade... done in seconds.

The Rotozip is messy for this and needs a guide just like any router tool.

I normally never have trouble with jig saw on aluminium.

ciao!
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Old 23-11-2011, 22:37   #40
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

I have done a lot of aluminum fabrication in the past and have used every mentioned method to do various cuts. One of the things I have learned is that aluminum cuts way better regardless of the method used when the proper blade dressing is used. There is a stick type called Alu-Cut available at welding supply stores that is good. I have also used beeswax with good success. Run the grinder or blade in the beeswax and then do your cut. The difference between using and not is amazing. For beeswax just get a cheap toilet seal ring or candle.
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Old 23-11-2011, 23:07   #41
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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Do I need to clamp the panel to a sheet of thickplywood and cut through that with the jigsaw? (I was using a fine-tooth metal cutting blade)? The finer the tooth the less grab. And wax the blade.
With all the suggestions it's probably all screwed up by now. But I think you answered your own question in the first post.
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Old 23-11-2011, 23:44   #42
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Im a boatbuilder having built many Aluminium yachts in round bilge form. I would get a 4inch grinder with a 1.5 to 2mm cutting disc in it, i would spray the disc with some WD40 lubricant and i would carefully cut it wearing appropriate face, ear and hand protection. Dremel's are for jewelers lol.
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Old 24-11-2011, 08:16   #43
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

Actually, using a Dremel as a plunge router can give excellent results at the bench, but with a steel boat, I use the grinder significantly more often. As in I buy them at Canadian Tire because the cheap ones they buy will burn out in a couple of months, and they'll replace them no questions asked.
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Old 24-11-2011, 08:46   #44
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Old 24-11-2011, 08:51   #45
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Re: A Stupid, Embarassing Question about Cutting Aluminum Sheet

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Originally Posted by Lagoon4us View Post
Im a boatbuilder having built many Aluminium yachts in round bilge form. I would get a 4inch grinder with a 1.5 to 2mm cutting disc in it, i would spray the disc with some WD40 lubricant and i would carefully cut it wearing appropriate face, ear and hand protection. Dremel's are for jewelers lol.
Might as well be using dental tools.
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