Aluminum parts may occasionally be incorporated into your project as a woodworker. So, y ou will need to cut these parts to the desired length. Because not every woodworker has a specialized power tool for cutting aluminum, you may wonder: can you cut aluminum with a table saw?
Well, yes, you can cut aluminum with a table saw, providing a suitable saw blade and a few good preparations that you can discover in detail in this article.
Thanks to this article, you will now be able to get even more out of your table saw, learn step by step how to cut aluminum at right angles, and much more. So read this article carefully and get a complete answer to your question, can you cut aluminum with a table saw.
- Can you cut aluminum with a table saw?
- Precautions to take when cutting aluminum on a table saw
- How to Use a Table Saw to Cut Aluminum
- Disadvantages of Cutting Aluminum with a Table Saw
- What Other Metals Can Be Cut With A Table Saw?
- Alternatives to cut aluminum
Can you cut aluminum with a table saw?
Aluminum can be cut with a table saw, as stated in the introduction to this article. But don’t stop here! If you want to cut aluminum correctly and safely, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The tools required to cut aluminum on a table saw will be discussed in the first section of this article. Then, step by step, you’ll learn what precautions to take and how to get started cutting aluminum on a table saw. To complete this task successfully, you must read all the information in this article.
What kind of saw blade do you use to cut aluminum?
When you ask yourself can you cut aluminum with a table saw you are actually asking at the same time, can you cut aluminum with a wood blade? That is the kind of blade that you as a woodworker always have on your table saw. So, can you cut aluminum with a wood blade?
Well, to cut aluminum on a table saw, you can use standard woodworking blades with a large number of carbide tips. Keep in mind that the tips of a regular wood saw blade are more likely to grab and break the aluminum.
Aluminum is relatively easy to cut because of its softness. Typically, you can use most brands of wood saw blades to cut non-ferrous metals occasionally. However, when using a wood blade, you need to consider the TPI (teeth per inch) of the blade. The higher the number of teeth on the saw blade, the smoother the aluminum cutting will be and the less likely the carbide tip to break.
The blade you need also depends on the thickness of the material you want to cut. In most cases, a standard nonferrous blade will work fine on most aluminum, but as you approach a thinner size you will need to reduce the number of teeth on your blade. How many teeth are needed per inch can be read in the table below:
|Thickness of Aluminum||Teeth per Inch of Diameter|
|3 mm (⅛ inch)||8|
|3 mm – 6 mm (⅛-¼ inch)||10|
|more than 6 mm (¼ inch)||14-16|
Almost all major blade manufacturers make blades that are specially designed for cutting non-ferrous materials. In fact, most companies have special grades of carbide for cutting aluminum alloys. I would recommend using these types of blades if you plan on cutting nonferrous metals on a regular basis. However, if you need to cut aluminum once, you can do this as described below with a wood saw blade.
Another important consideration when cutting aluminum is the use of cutting oil. The greatest risk is that the saw will catch the material and shatter it. This enables the blade to throw large pieces of shattered aluminum or the entire part at high speeds.
To prevent the blade from becoming clogged with grime or adhering to the aluminum itself, lubricate it with low-viscosity cutting oil. For this, I use WD-40. The lubricant not only reduces the risk of splintering, but also keeps the blade and aluminum cool, preventing overheating.
In addition to lubricating to prevent kickback, it is also recommended to clamp the aluminum workpiece firmly before cutting. If the blade does bite into the aluminum, then the chance that the part will fly away is a lot smaller.
Heat is generated by the high friction between the saw blade and the aluminum.
Because aluminum chips released during cutting can be quite hot, it’s a good idea to leave your dust collection system turned off for this operation.
This will prevent a hot piece of aluminum from ending up in your trash can with the drier wood dust and causing a dangerous fire.
Precautions to take when cutting aluminum on a table saw
Since safety comes first, there are a few things that you should check before you get started. These safety measures ensure that you can safely cut aluminum on a table saw.
Wear the appropriate safety equipment.
Accidents happen in a split second, so arming yourself with safety glasses or, better yet, a face shield ahead of time is a good idea. Always wear clothing that protects your arms from flying hot flakes. Earplugs will protect your ears from the loud noises produced by the cutting process.
It’s getting better and better to keep your hands away from the blade. Use is always a push stick that you saw me make in this YouTube video, or a hold-down stick like this one. A push stick helps you push the part forward while keeping your hands at a safe distance and still controlling the stability of the aluminum. I always use my crosscut sled to cut smaller parts.
Select the right blade:
It is critical that the blade’s strength matches that of aluminum. Chances are the blade will break or bend if you don’t use the right blade. You could read more about this above. Be sure to follow the table to determine the correct number of teeth on the blade so that you can safely make perfect cuts.
Remember to turn off the dust collection system if the table saw is designed to cut wood. Because the hot pieces of aluminum can ignite a fire in the container.
The aluminum has a tendency to heat up and flake. To prevent this, as well as to be able to cut smoothly, lubricate it well before you start and add oil regularly. You could read more about this earlier in this article.
How to Use a Table Saw to Cut Aluminum
If you want to cut aluminum with a table saw, it is recommended that you follow certain procedures. The steps below minimize the risk of accidents while working on a project and increase the finish of your part. Follow this step-by-step procedure when you want to get started.
- Before you start the machine, the first and most important step is to ensure that you have followed the safety precautions that you have just read.
- While making any adjustments to the table saw, unplug the power cord.
- Replace the blade with an aluminum-cutting blade if you don’t already have one on the table saw.
- To reduce friction, lubricate the blade thoroughly with oil. You can simply use WD40 to accomplish this.
- You’re better off doing this if you have a table saw with adjustable speed. The speed should be adjusted according to the thickness of the metal plate. The recommended cutting speed for aluminum is 1000-1200 feet per minute.
- Determine the leaf height now. Positioning the blade higher than the metal may result in kickback or tearing of the edges, but it will allow you to cut more quickly. Smooth cuts can be obtained with a much lower blade height, but the cut will take longer.
- You can now start the machine and start cutting the aluminum. Don’t forget to use a push stick to keep yourself out of the recoil zone.
Disadvantages of Cutting Aluminum with a Table Saw
Like you could read earlier in this article, there are also some drawbacks associated with cutting aluminum with the table saw. I hereby list them all for you, and you can decide for yourself whether you will cut aluminum with your table saw in the future or whether you could choose to get started with a different saw. (later in this article I’ll give you some alternatives)
The most common complaint about using a table saw to cut aluminum is the amount of metal shavings that get all over the place. Not only on, but also in your table saw. Also, the flight of the saw blade can cause many of these metal shavings to fly to your face.
Having these shavings all over the place is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous. That’s why I recommended using a face shield when cutting aluminum with a table saw earlier in this article.
These razor-sharp metal shavings also make cleanup a chore. You can’t simply wipe away the chips with your hand. Compressed air can be used, but it may not be effective if the chips are larger. To remove them from your saw, you may need to use a soft-bristled brush.
Changing the Blade
If you want to cut the aluminum, you can use a wood blade for this if it has the correct TPI. If not, you will have to change the blade regularly.
Changing the saw blade isn’t a big deal, but switching back and forth between blades can be a pain, especially if you’re pressed for time.
Kickback is a serious hazard when cutting with the table saw, no matter what material you are cutting, but since you are using a table saw to cut material it was not designed for, the risks are greater.
If you are going to use your table saw to cut aluminum, you may want to adjust it first and make sure all the pieces are aligned properly. Check that the blade and stop are both parallel to the miter slot.
In addition, be sure to use a pushing tool to move the metal inside the blade. The push tool can prevent your hands from being drawn into the blade in case of kickback.
Finally, consider your position as well as the positions of those around you. Check that no one is in the recoil zone. When a material kicks back, it typically fires directly behind the saw.
What Other Metals Can Be Cut With A Table Saw?
Aside from aluminum, the most commonly used metals in the industry are brass, steel, and titanium. The hardness of the blade determines whether or not you can cut those metals. Tin can be cut on a table saw because it is not as hard as those metals. Some blades even have a diamond coating to aid in the cutting of tough metals.
If you have the right blade, you can cut even the hardest metals, such as titanium. Against tough metals, the wood cutting blade would crumble. If you intend to cut steel, titanium, or similar materials, you will most likely require harder blades. Almost any metal can be cut with a table saw if enough force is applied and the proper blade is used.
Would I cut other metals besides aluminum on my table saw? The answer is no. I’d rather invest in a hacksaw like the one below and use whatever power tool it’s up to. I believe this will only benefit the life of the machines as well as the quality of the cut.
Alternatives to cut aluminum
Electric shears cut thin pieces of aluminum without distorting the edge or splattering metal shavings in your face, and they’re more portable than a table saw.
Aluminum sheets up to 1/8 inches can also be cut with bench shears. These are generally preferable for smaller metal pieces. If you need to cut longer pieces of aluminum sheet metal, electric scissors are the way to go.
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