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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't tried routing aluminum, But I've heard of people doing it!

I'm looking for any tips & bit recommendations for routing some 1/8" thick aluminum.

What I'm looking to do is epoxy a 1/8" thick aluminum cover onto a drill press table & then route out the slots for the tables T-Slots.

Here's a few before & after pictures of the drill press table I'm planning to add the aluminum top/cover to.

Doug
 

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All aluminum is not equal. Stay away from SO grade it is soft and will gum up your bit. The harder the aluminum you can get the better. Also use a coolant on it when you rout it, it will be messy you will have coolant and chips all over and running onto the floor. The coolant is water and oil emulsion. Are you cutting it outside or on your router table ?

You might consider cutting the plate into strips on the table saw and spacing them out the width you want, that is only 2 cuts. I have dry cut aluminum on the TS before, be careful feed it slow.

Herb
 

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I worked in the aerospace industry for many years making custom cabinetry for planes, everything from Gulfstreams to Boing 777's. We custom made a lot of the hardware and used 2024-T3 clad aluminum. It cuts well on a tablesaw using a carbide metal cutting blades but can be cut with carbide wood blades, the cut is not as good with the wood blade. We used standard carbide router bits, usually, Amana or Whiteside but other good quality bits will work fine.

The 2024-T3 clad aluminum is great for template routing. You can make your templates just like you would for wood items. Good sharp carbide bits leave a good edge, don't use a dull bit thinking you don't want to ruin a good bit. A dull bit will not give you a good cut and will also generate more heat and cause more problems. Use a steady feed, not too slow or you might heat up the aluminum and cause welding, same as you would use when routing wood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
nice job on the restorations the table
Thanks for the complement!
Most of the repairs were done with nickel welding rod, A final coat of JB-Weld was used to fill in any gaps caused from the welding.

Yes you can router Aluminum here a video showing it being done
That helps out quite a bit, Thanks!

I was thinking of something similar to what was shown in the video.
My idea is to make a plywood template (larger than the top) that locates the slots & also provides extra support for the router while near the out-side edges.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
All aluminum is not equal. Stay away from SO grade it is soft and will gum up your bit
I already ordered a 1/8" thick, 18" X 18" piece of aluminum from Amazon the other day.
It's 5052 aluminum! Not sure if it's soft or not, But that's what I'll be working with when it gets here.

You might consider cutting the plate into strips on the table saw.
I have dry cut aluminum on the TS before, be careful feed it slow.
Saw cutting may be a possible option, But in my case I would probably use my customized RAS.

I have a RAS that I added T-tracks to, It makes a big difference being able to clamp the piece being cut to the table.
Here's a pic. of my RAS top!
Last two pics. are of a set-up I used to re-cut a lift gear for the drill press I'm working on.
The cast-iron gear had several damaged teeth that I welded with nickle rod & re-cut the teeth with a 10" abrasive wheel.

Doug
 

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5052 aluminum is 2.5%(weight) Magnesium, 0.25% Chromium. It is described as suitable for universal, aerospace, marine use. Seems like a good choice for the purpose.
 
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@dwall174
Great setup on the RAS. The 5052 is a good choice. The Glaziers use the Johnson stick wax on their chop saws for cutting Aluminum. But I think that it is a thing of the past,
here are the latest:
https://www.amazon.com/cutting-wax-...ps ,you are competent in metal working. Herb
 

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Doug
Great idea for the RAS table, hope you won't mind if I steal it. Can't believe that nothing like that had occurred to me in 40 years of owning one, and cursing with holding down thin pieces.
Might I ask what the array of holes on the fence are for?
 

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Doug, another question: is the trailing arm with the small wheel specific to the gear-cutting operation, or do you use it generally as a splitter/anti-kickback device? The one that came with my DeWalt is worse than useless, but I have not come across a better. Always looking to improve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great idea for the RAS table, hope you won't mind if I steal it.
Not at all, Steal away!

Might I ask what the array of holes on the fence are for?
Those are for dust collection! It works pretty good for 90 & 45 degree cuts, But it really doesn't help on rip cuts.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Doug, another question: is the trailing arm with the small wheel specific to the gear-cutting operation
Yeah I fabricated that arm/wheel from the kick-back paw on the older style Craftsman blade guard which was used for cutting the gear. The two gears were bolted together in-line with a 5/8" bolt, That little wheel was used on the out-side gear (good gear) to line-up the cutting wheel.

The new style guards that were given out during the Craftsman RAS recall are a lot better design!
They have an adjustable splitter & a improved adjustable in-feed/kick-back arm.

I ended up removing the little kick-back paws (last two pics) those sharp little paws were always in the way while setting up a cut.

Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great idea for the RAS table, hope you won't mind if I steal it.
Seeing that you may be using some of my ideas anyways, Here's another one to steal.

Being I used the combo miter slot/T-track along the front edge, I was able to make a sliding table-top that rides in the miter slot. It works good for squaring up live edge wood & also lets me make tapered cuts.

Doug
 

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I am most grateful - you have inspired me. I was thinking of downsizing to a tabletop saw, but now I think I need to pimp my RAS.
It is great to see how a real expert finds solutions to problems, as opposed to dilettante like me.
 

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5052 aluminum is 2.5%(weight) Magnesium, 0.25% Chromium. It is described as suitable for universal, aerospace, marine use. Seems like a good choice for the purpose.
something like this, I'd have chosen 7075-T6, it's nice and hard, and easier to cut, the lower grades are good if you want the aluminum to bend, rather than break though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I decided to go ahead & use my RAS to cut out most of the slots on the aluminum top plate for my drill press table.

I'll post some of the set-up pics on my RAS TOP thread.

I still need to epoxy the plate to the table top, But after that's done (probably after Thanksgiving) I'll use a 1/2" flush-trim bit to even the edges up.

Here's a couple pics of the plate after cutting it out and using a 1/2" carbide burr & die-grinder to rough out the rounded ends of the slots.
 

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