Machining a Chamfer in Aluminum Plate

Carbide bits designed for wood will work acceptably well in soft non-ferrous metals. August 15, 2011

Question
I need to put a 45 chamfer on aluminum. The chamfer is only 5/16" by 5/16". Can I use a carbide tipped chamfer bit run at slow speed to make the cut? Or do I need to use an end mill? Whatever bit I use, I can use it in a router or in my milling machine. The cost of each is roughly the same ($32). The chamfer must be perfect, that is exactly 45 to either edge of the aluminum plate. The plate is 3/4" thick and 6061-T6.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
I've done it both ways. The carbide router will work fine. I learned by experimenting. I can pretty much work all non-ferrous with standard wood tooling. Negative hook blades on the saws are designed for non-ferrous. That's another option as well - table saw!



From the original questioner:
Thank you, and away I go.


From contributor J:
Use the router bit, but do it in two passes. One shallower, and then one to get your final depth. Those chips will be hot too.


From contributor R:
The chips aren't that hot. A face shield would be best. The heat from the chips will make you flinch. For a straight cut, the table saw is great. Chances are you already own a negative hook blade from your radial arm or chop saw. If using a router table, you might want to put a cloth filter on the motor top, as this is the air intake and could suck some aluminum chips in, which are electrically conductive.

Non-ferrous can be done with many standard woodworking tools. I've even jointed aluminum and brass. There's another option for your chamfer. It doesn't get close to hot enough to set anything on fire, but keep the dust collector off for your own peace of mind until you see this for yourself.



From contributor D:
A regular carbide tipped 45 degree chamfer bit with a bearing is much easier than the end mill. We sell many wood designed bits that are used on aluminum or other soft metals; they work fine and are much cheaper than having one made with less hook for aluminum. We do, however, make custom bits for large industrial shops that require long runs.