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Old 01-10-2012, 09:09   #1
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Cutting Sheet Aluminum

I've had a hell of a time cutting an opening in a sheet aluminum instrument panel to fit new gauges.

Round holes are no problem -- a hole saw does it in a jiffy.

But retangular holes really screw me up -- a jig saw, no matter what kind of blade I use, violently vibrates the sheet without doing much cutting.

A Dremel tool with a cutting wheel just disintegrates the wheel.

I know I could clamp the sheet to a piece of plywood and cut it together with the ply, but then I would have to take a bunch of instruments out first -- PITA.

Is there some kind of nibbler or some other better suited tool for this job?

Thanks in advance for any hints.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:18   #2
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Re: Cutting Sheet Aluminum

I generally find a hand hacksaw cuts more accurately than anything else, for the situation you describe.
Lubricating the blade really helps I use diesel as recommended by an old metal boatbuilding friend.
Use a blade holder or just wrap some tape and cloth around the end of the blade.
Use a good quality saw blade.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:41   #3
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Re: Cutting Sheet Aluminum

Improved nibbler design provides maximum comfort and ease of use. The extra long handles (7") delivers enough force to easily cut through 18 ga. (.046") aluminum, steel, or plastic. The punch action of the nibbler makes it flexible enough to cut any shape ranging from a straight line down to a 5/16" radius circle. Simply drill a 3/8" starting hole and insert the punch and begin cutting by squeezing the handles together to remove material one slug at a time. That's all there is to it. Your cuts will be clean and completely burr-free. Ideal for creating access areas, instrument holes, lightening holes, and other applications requiring a clean, accurate cut. 1 lbs (0.5Kg) shipping weight.
Price: $16.95
Quantity
Aircraft Tool Supply | HAND NIBBLER | 64823

Airplane guys do a lot of sheet metal work. Sorry I couldn't get the picture to post. Follow the link if you want to see the tool.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:52   #4
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Re: Cutting Sheet Aluminum

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
Improved nibbler design provides maximum comfort and ease of use. The extra long handles (7") delivers enough force to easily cut through 18 ga. (.046") aluminum, steel, or plastic. The punch action of the nibbler makes it flexible enough to cut any shape ranging from a straight line down to a 5/16" radius circle. Simply drill a 3/8" starting hole and insert the punch and begin cutting by squeezing the handles together to remove material one slug at a time. That's all there is to it. Your cuts will be clean and completely burr-free. Ideal for creating access areas, instrument holes, lightening holes, and other applications requiring a clean, accurate cut. 1 lbs (0.5Kg) shipping weight.
Price: $16.95
Quantity
Aircraft Tool Supply | HAND NIBBLER | 64823

Airplane guys do a lot of sheet metal work. Sorry I couldn't get the picture to post. Follow the link if you want to see the tool.
Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:57   #5
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If you use a die grinder lube the blade with bees wax, no probs cutting.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:15   #6
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Re: Cutting Sheet Aluminum

Try this. Very nice results....

Front Panel Express:*Front Panel Design Software and CAD Conversion Service

Dave
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:20   #7
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Hole saws and hacksaws are crude and messy. To produce good quality cuts and holes in aluminum you use nibbles for straight cuts and dedicated hole cutters for holes and internal corners. Typically you can use a small range of hole cutters for most jobs. Procure a hand nibbles for small jobs and either an electric or pneumatic nibbler for bigger jobs. The few hundred dollars you spend will soon pay for itself. Finally use a demurrer to clean up the sharp edge left after hole cutting and nibbling. Done right you'll never use a hacksaw or file on sheet aluminum.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:21   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff
Hole saws and hacksaws are crude and messy. To produce good quality cuts and holes in aluminum you use nibbles for straight cuts and dedicated hole cutters for holes and internal corners. Typically you can use a small range of hole cutters for most jobs. Procure a hand nibbles for small jobs and either an electric or pneumatic nibbler for bigger jobs. The few hundred dollars you spend will soon pay for itself. Finally use a demurrer to clean up the sharp edge left after hole cutting and nibbling. Done right you'll never use a hacksaw or file on sheet aluminum.
I meant nibbler not nibbles. Stupid pretext...
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:22   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff

I meant nibbler not nibbles. Stupid pretext...
And deburrer not demurrer.
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Old 01-10-2012, 20:12   #10
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Re: Cutting Sheet Aluminum

Worm drive Skill saw. Carbide blade. Masking tape on base plate to protect surface. Hang on tight and plunge. Only good for holes larger than blade diameter but very fast. Dress with file

Steve
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