Cutting Aluminum in the Shop

Tips and cautions for cutting aluminum accent strips with woodworking equipment. March 26, 2009

I'm building one of those modern looking vanities that has aluminum strips inlaid side to side. What is the cleanest way to cut aluminum? I would like to mitre around the corners. Metal cut off blades seem a bit crude. Is there a specific saw blade I could use for the tablesaw?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
They make specific non-ferrous (brass and aluminum) metal cutting blades. They are typically 80 tooth triple chip negative rake. However, any triple chip laminate blade should work well.

From contributor G:
If you do it on a Sawstop tablesaw, do not forget to put the saw in bypass mode... Don't ask how I know.

From contributor R:
If you want accurate, clean miters, cut the aluminum square on the TS using a non-ferrous blade (a standard carbide blade will do for just a few), then mill the miters using a carbide chamfer bit in the router table. In both cases, plan on long sleeves and a face shield. The chips hurt.

From contributor M:
Contributor G, how much of a mark did it leave on the aluminum?

I agree with contributor R - carbide router bits work well.

From contributor G:
It just scratched the surface. Would have drawn just a little blood if it were my finger. It was quite a surprise when it went off. At least I know it works.

From contributor J:
Be careful cutting aluminum. It has a tendency to pressure weld onto the faces of the saw teeth. When the blade fattens up from welded-on aluminum, all hell breaks loose. In machine shops, they use a cutting fluid that prevents adhesion. I do it on a chop saw and spurt a little before each cut - half assed, but it's worked. The negative rake is a good idea, too. You might well have a blade that is close to what's recommended - check out a blade manufacturer's catalog and read the specs they use for aluminum blades.