Cutting Aluminum on Router Table - Router Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Default Cutting Aluminum on Router Table

Hi,
I suppose cutting aluminum is best on the sable saw, but is there a way of making cuts on the router table? That question is for my information for another day. Right now I’m interested in just trimming 1/4” aluminum sheet to size. I bought aluminum sheet from Midwest Aluminum and Steel and the tolerance quoted is -0” to +1/8”. The company does a little better than that. Some dimensions are right on. Other dimensions are 1/32” proud, one is 3/64” proud, and some are 1/16” proud. I don’t wand any surprises so I’d like to know how the router table will cut. First I have new and sharp straight bits to work with. I was thinking to setup the fence like a jointer by fixing second fence and put a rule along that fence but extending a few inches over the first fence. Then I’d stick a feeler gauge between the rule and the first fence to offset the fence by the amount I want to cut off. Then I’d tighten it. I have a screw adjustment for the fence assembly and I can move the complete fence in to expose the bit the amount I want to cut off. I had the idea of taking my multimeter set to resistance measurement and clip one end to the rule and the other to the router bit. Then I can set the rule along the second fence and over the bit. Then using the fine adjustment of the fence assembly, slide them back exposing the bit gradually until I see zero ohms. Then the bit is right in line with the second fence. I realize I must rotate the bit so that a cutting edge faces out. Also, by first and second fences, I mean going right to left. I have a question. If I set this up to cut say 1/16” exactly, will it cut 1/16” exactly or do I have to compensate for something? I was thinking of running the table at full speed for this. I have a nice 3.25hp PC motor in my table and the table is the top-of-the-line Woodpecker. It seems well made to me. I am soliciting advice. Can somebody help me. Thank you in advance. Sincerely, Chris Redding.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 02:23 AM
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welcome N/A..
bit speed and rake of the cutter would be an issue...
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 02:45 AM
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1/4” is thicker than anything I’ve tried . I don’t know the gauge, but I router checker plate aluminum with no issues. Well other than prematurely wearing the bit out .

If I had to router 1/4” , I’d cut it with a jig saw first as close to the line as I could get , and clamp a guide and use a router to finish .
It would be messy, but I’ve heard of guys having someone spray wd40 as they’re cutting
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 05:21 AM
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Aluminum is a bit tricky. The first thing to know is what alloy. Some cut quite well while other are terrible. 2000 and 6000 series can be easily milled, 3000 and 5000 series not so much and will need a fair amount of clean up. I've mostly done 6000 (6061), with good results. Cutting 3000 series even with a super shallow DOC was an exercise in frustration - a very poor quality cut. The router seemed to push the metal around more than cut it. I was trying to mill a 40 mil sheet for bending into a complex shape.

Given that you are trying to shave a tiny bit off it might go ok but I would be tempted to try grinding. Mark your edge and grind to that. If you do use the router, slow it down to the slowest speed you have. Definitely use a lubricant - wd40 is fine but even mineral oil is usable in a pinch.
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:54 AM
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Welcome to the forum, Chris! Add your first name to your profile to clear the N/a in the side panel. Add your location, as well.

Photos always help in getting good advice and we do like photos so show us your shop, tools, projects, etc. whenever you're ready.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 12:17 PM
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All I can tell you to slow the router down . At high speeds you will get build up on the bit that seems welded to it. Best bet is the band saw on slow speed or table saw if you can slow it down. If the piece is big enough a straight edge clamped on and a skill saw work as well
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftFinger View Post
All I can tell you to slow the router down . At high speeds you will get build up on the bit that seems welded to it. Best bet is the band saw on slow speed or table saw if you can slow it down. If the piece is big enough a straight edge clamped on and a skill saw work as well
I used a panel blade in my table saw mounted backwards . But as I mentioned I was cutting thinner material.
A table saws not going to work to well if things are out of square though, so a Panel blade in a track saw or skill saw may be a good alternative

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Hi,
This is what I’ve learned so far. The aluminum is 6061, which is desirable. WD40 is good. Slow speed and feed. I should check bit after each cut and replace or sharpen bad bits. Carbide is desirable. I looked at the following page:

//daycounter.com/Calculators/GCode/Feed-Rate-Calculator.

You need to put “https:” in front.

I think I need to use the lowest speed on my router table (10,000rpm) with a mini bit, 1/8” and the feed is a maximum of 34 in/min provided I have 2 flutes and 17 in/min if one flute. I have a 1/8” into 1/4” adapter. I think it important to do the math regarding feed. For example, one cut is 35”. That will take one or two minutes depending on the flutes. I can use the chronograph on my watch to check my progress and maybe take a sharpie and divide the edge into 6 or 12 parts and keep up with the feed and for each 10 second interval, I’ll cut to another sharpie mark. Finally, I think I’ll try a downward feather board and focus on inward force against the fence and move right to left at a slow and uniform rate. And pray. Chris.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 08:32 PM
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It would be square after I used the table saw Rick
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 09:06 PM
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In the shops I have seen aluminum cut on a router table. but like was pointed out the softer the aluminum the harder to cut. All of the glaziers who install the aluminum for the store fronts and window walls on the highrise buildings use Johnson stick wax on the chop saws for lube. In the shops on the routers they use an oil emulsion of some sort of oil and water to cool the routerbit. Their machines are built for that with recycling oil bath sumps, I wouldn't use that at home on a woodworking router table. Cutting Aluminum is so messy I would not do it in my shop, unless on the tablesaw to keep the mess contained as much as possible.
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