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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Default Router tables- Wood, Plastic or Aluminum

Hi there!
I was checking out the router bits at MLCS from a link on a Router Bits thread and I came across an Aluminum Router Plate Kit. I remembered that I have a 3/16Ē or maybe itís a 1/4Ē piece of aluminum sheet stock I picked up as scrap piece out of a dumpster. Itís a fairly large piece about 2x3 and Iíve been looking for a project worthy of such a fine piece of Aluminum for 6 or 7 years now.

I was wondering if there was any advantage to using Aluminum as a router table. I donít want to waste it and truthfully I completely forgot about it until I saw the MLCS Router Plate Kit.

If you had a piece of aluminum such as this what would you use it for?

I actually had a couple of pieces of varying sizes and I used one smaller piece to make a welding clamping jig. I had thought about another welding table but the aluminum doesnít hold up so good around heat.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnnyB60 View Post
Hi there!
I was checking out the router bits at MLCS from a link on a Router Bits thread and I came across an Aluminum Router Plate Kit. I remembered that I have a 3/16Ē or maybe itís a 1/4Ē piece of aluminum sheet stock I picked up as scrap piece out of a dumpster. Itís a fairly large piece about 2x3 and Iíve been looking for a project worthy of such a fine piece of Aluminum for 6 or 7 years now.

I was wondering if there was any advantage to using Aluminum as a router table. I donít want to waste it and truthfully I completely forgot about it until I saw the MLCS Router Plate Kit.

If you had a piece of aluminum such as this what would you use it for?

I actually had a couple of pieces of varying sizes and I used one smaller piece to make a welding clamping jig. I had thought about another welding table but the aluminum doesnít hold up so good around heat.
Hi Johnny - Sounds like a nice hunk of metal ya got hangin around. 1/4" Would make a decent router plate. Problem with bare aluminum is it oxidizes very quickly and the oxide will leave black marks on pretty nearly everything it touches, including your projects. Stuff is bear to sand out too. All commercial plates are coated with something. Most are anodized but I'm sure someone, somewhere has coated them with something else. I have the MLCS one that the anodizing wore off of and it was less than $10 to have it powder coated. Don't know how long that will last but was cheaper than a new plate and I didn't have to drill it again.
If you have a way of machining a good sized, 3 1/2" or so, hole in it for the bit to poke through your in business. Hole really only needs to be large enough to accomodate the bits you are using but a large, rabbetted hole allows you to implement different size inserts for various bit diameters.

John Schaben

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 12:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying, I had forgot about aluminum marking up wood.

I donít know if this is pure Aluminum because is dull with blue markings on the outside surfaces. It might even be anodized, but I donít know what anodized aluminum looks like. It has been sitting in my garage for a very long time and it doesnít look oxidized and its really shinny when I drill into it. I do know that when I tried to cut off a triangle piece off the other piece that the saw blade got so full of aluminum that it was useless. Actually if I remember correctly I went through a package of SawZaw blades trying to make the other piece rectangle.

I might have to take it to a machine shop to cut that size of hole. I know Iíll go through a lot of hole saws trying to do it myself. Now that I think about it, maybe it would be cheaper to buy one from MLCS.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 01:15 AM
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Thanks for replying, I had forgot about aluminum marking up wood.

I donít know if this is pure Aluminum because is dull with blue markings on the outside surfaces. It might even be anodized, but I donít know what anodized aluminum looks like. It has been sitting in my garage for a very long time and it doesnít look oxidized and its really shinny when I drill into it. I do know that when I tried to cut off a triangle piece off the other piece that the saw blade got so full of aluminum that it was useless. Actually if I remember correctly I went through a package of SawZaw blades trying to make the other piece rectangle.

I might have to take it to a machine shop to cut that size of hole. I know Iíll go through a lot of hole saws trying to do it myself. Now that I think about it, maybe it would be cheaper to buy one from MLCS.

hehehehe, Well, I'm sure the aluminum will come in handy sometime
Actually, here's a pretty decent phenolic plate:
Search results for: 'router table plate'
Problem with aluminum is the speed of the sawzall is probably to high. It melts at around 750*F. You would have better luck with a hand hacksaw for small cutoffs. Cuts pretty decent on a bandsaw if you have one with a slow speed also.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 04:53 AM
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In time, Aluminum will leave marks in the material in which will be a PITA to remove. If, however, you take good care of it, willing to take the time for "maintenance" on an aluminum top, you should be fine. It does have it's pro's an con's. Do some searching here on the forum. Other members should chime in.

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 07:47 AM Thread Starter
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I took another look at it last night and itís more like 3íx4í. I was trying to remember when I picked it up and I remembered having to move it from my old house to this place, so itís been close to 20 years that Iíve been storing this. I donít know what was used to originally cut these, but the smaller piece was moon shaped a with a 90 deg angle on one corner if that makes any sense. It reminded me of a bottom cutout of a fancy ďRĒ and was cut perfectly.
I donít know what Iím going to use it for, but I just hate to scrap it. At one time I was thinking of making a table extension for my table saw, but then I spotted a couple of cast iron extensions on eBay and bought them instead.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 10:33 AM
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Should work ok Johnny
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-30-2010, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Should work ok Johnny
I was thinking about it today at work and I thought about coating it with wax or something.

I stopped at Lowes on my way home and saw a 3 pack of 3-1/2Ē bi-metal hole saws for $20 on clearance, but I donít know how Iím going to rabbet it. I wish my drill press had a longer throat depth so that I could wield something up to mill a rabbet.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-08-2010, 07:37 PM
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Just use your router and a sharp carbide bit. Take light cuts and wear safty glasses, but you will be amazed at how easily it cuts. Be prepared to clean up a pile if feathery aluminum chips. I actually made my table insert out of 1/4" aluminum and it went so well I made two more for different routers. Make a pattern out of 1/4 MDF and double side tape it to the aluminum. You might also want to screw the corners down with flat-head screws tapped into the aluminum plate. I made the rough cuts on the bandsaw and cleaned up the last 1/16th inch with the router and a flush trimming bit. Go slow and make sure to clamp the whole thing down good.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 09-13-2010, 05:36 AM Thread Starter
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Just use your router and a sharp carbide bit. Take light cuts and wear safty glasses, but you will be amazed at how easily it cuts. Be prepared to clean up a pile if feathery aluminum chips. I actually made my table insert out of 1/4" aluminum and it went so well I made two more for different routers. Make a pattern out of 1/4 MDF and double side tape it to the aluminum. You might also want to screw the corners down with flat-head screws tapped into the aluminum plate. I made the rough cuts on the bandsaw and cleaned up the last 1/16th inch with the router and a flush trimming bit. Go slow and make sure to clamp the whole thing down good.
Wow, thatís pretty interesting. I like the idea of using the MDF as a pattern between the aluminum and the router because I donít think it would be quite as scary. Plus I think that maybe the wood chips might help keep the aluminum chips from sticking to the bit as Iíve experienced in the past with metal saw blades. Thanks for the info.
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