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Author: Subject: Cutting aluminium and maintaining an edge
Slimy38

posted on 4/4/19 at 01:27 PM Reply With Quote
Cutting aluminium and maintaining an edge

I have a sheet of 1.5mm aluminium for body panels, and I'm trying to preserve as much material whilst I chop it up. I have one of those drill attachment shears, but when I tried that it left one side of the cut curling away. I'm guessing aviation snips would be similar.

I was thinking of using scrap wood clamped above and below, then using a metal blade on a jigsaw. Would that work or would it just tear up the metal?

Apart from that, does anyone know of a clever method/tool that leaves two pieces of usable metal, rather than one usable piece and one that resembles a discarded Brexit policy?

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minitici

posted on 4/4/19 at 02:08 PM Reply With Quote
I normally scribe a line then cut about 1/2" away from the line then use tinsnips to cut to the line.
You can roll the 1/2" you cut off away as you cut and the panel remains straight.
Don't cut to the end of the snips on each cut or you will get jagged cuts.

The initial cut can be done with shears, cut off wheel, plasma cutter or nibler.

Only way to maintain two neat sides to a cut would be a guillotine or have the parts cnc laser cut....

[Edited on 4/4/19 by minitici]

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nick205

posted on 4/4/19 at 02:25 PM Reply With Quote
I used a set of metal nibblers with a drop of oil in them to cut my ally sheet. It might take some effort, but material wastage is none.





All my internal ally panels and ally floor were cut this way...






[Edited on 4/4/19 by nick205]

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40inches

posted on 4/4/19 at 02:55 PM Reply With Quote
By coincidence I have cut a sheet of 1050 ally today, to make doors for the MK.
I started off with the nibbler, got bored so got out the jig saw with a fine metal blade, used the
slowest speed, job done in no time

[Edited on 4-4-19 by 40inches]

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Slimy38

posted on 4/4/19 at 03:00 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 40inches
By coincidence I have cut a sheet of 1050 ally today, to make doors for the MK.
I started off with the nibbler, got bored so got out the jig saw with a fine metal blade, used the
slowest speed, job done in no time

[Edited on 4-4-19 by 40inches]


Did you use anything to support the cut, or was it just jigsaw on metal?

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40inches

posted on 4/4/19 at 03:09 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Slimy38
quote:
Originally posted by 40inches
By coincidence I have cut a sheet of 1050 ally today, to make doors for the MK.
I started off with the nibbler, got bored so got out the jig saw with a fine metal blade, used the
slowest speed, job done in no time

[Edited on 4-4-19 by 40inches]


Did you use anything to support the cut, or was it just jigsaw on metal?


Held the sheet over the edge of the bench, cut as close as I could without cutting the bench.
Slow speed on the jig saw doesn't make it grab, and you can get a nice straight cut.

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Bluemoon

posted on 4/4/19 at 03:31 PM Reply With Quote
^^ Yep that's my method all my panels cut this way, just make sure the metal is covered with masking tape or the protective plastic layer is in place so the bright aluminum panels are not scratched up..



[Edited on 4/4/19 by Bluemoon]

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jps

posted on 4/4/19 at 04:33 PM Reply With Quote
I've had OK results cutting 3mm sheet with a fine blade in a jigsaw, but it did need to be sprayed every few inches with WD40. And I broke a few blades before I tried the WD40!

Much better on 1 and 2mm sheet has been using a specific Bosch alu jigsaw blade - which is much coarser teeth, like a standard wood balde. But it has cut very cleanly for me.

I usually get the sheet over a black and decker workmate to try and support underneath where the jigsaw is. It has meant doing a bit of shuffling of the sheet as the cut progresses. I sometimes clamp a length of box section at an offset to any straight edges so I can run the jigsaw against it. Hard to line up properly though.

In both of the above the cuts are basically just the width of the blade and the result is the same both sides of the cut. The edges do need some cleaning up though, either wet'n'dry or a deburrer.

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Slimy38

posted on 4/4/19 at 04:43 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jps
Much better on 1 and 2mm sheet has been using a specific Bosch alu jigsaw blade - which is much coarser teeth, like a standard wood balde. But it has cut very cleanly for me.



Ooh, very useful!! I didn't know you could get specific aluminium blades, I was just going to use the metal blades that I had been using for the steel. I'll grab a few of those, thanks!

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jps

posted on 4/4/19 at 05:01 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Slimy38
quote:
Originally posted by jps
Much better on 1 and 2mm sheet has been using a specific Bosch alu jigsaw blade - which is much coarser teeth, like a standard wood balde. But it has cut very cleanly for me.



Ooh, very useful!! I didn't know you could get specific aluminium blades, I was just going to use the metal blades that I had been using for the steel. I'll grab a few of those, thanks!


These are the ones I have been using: https://shop.bosch-professional.com/gb/en/accessory/t-227-d-special-for-alu-jigsaw-blades--2592784

Only problem I have is that the blade vibrates loose every few inches - but I suspect that is down to me using my Dads B&D jigsaw, probably purchased in the late 1980s!!!

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coyoteboy

posted on 4/4/19 at 07:14 PM Reply With Quote
Pneumatic nibbler. Worth every penny of the £20.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silverline-244980-Air-Nibbler-190/dp/B000LFW9XA/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=nibbler&qid=1554405257&s=diy&sr=1-8

Used mine to do all sorts like cut holes in wings for snorkels, no damage to the remaining body.

[Edited on 4/4/19 by coyoteboy]





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ianhurley20

posted on 4/4/19 at 09:23 PM Reply With Quote
I've got two tools that make really good cuts. A nibler (mines elecrtic but no different than the air one above) which works well on ally and stainless etc but needs some linishing after. The other one is an air powered metal shear tool (now about £10 from Aldi) which takes out a 5mm strip of metal and needs a decent air supply but works really well





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James

posted on 4/4/19 at 10:59 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by minitici
I normally scribe a line then cut about 1/2" away from the line then use tinsnips to cut to the line.
You can roll the 1/2" you cut off away as you cut and the panel remains straight.
Don't cut to the end of the snips on each cut or you will get jagged cuts.

The initial cut can be done with shears, cut off wheel, plasma cutter or nibler.

Only way to maintain two neat sides to a cut would be a guillotine or have the parts cnc laser cut....

[Edited on 4/4/19 by minitici]



Exactly what I did except I used the angry grinder with a thin blade to make the initial cut- then followed along the actual cut line with tin snips.

Don't forget the gloves and goggles!

James





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luke2152

posted on 4/4/19 at 11:10 PM Reply With Quote
Jigsaw with the metal laid on grass works for me. The grass is soft enough to let the blade dig in but firm enough to hold the sheet. You have to push quite hard to stop the jigsaw going up and down and it scratches the surface so make sure its on the back side.
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Angel Acevedo

posted on 5/4/19 at 12:35 AM Reply With Quote
For long straight cuts I used a carpenter table saw with Carbide teeth.
Shorter cuts I´ve done with jigsaw or chain drilling then filing/sanding as needed.





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40inches

posted on 5/4/19 at 09:07 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Angel Acevedo
For long straight cuts I used a carpenter table saw with Carbide teeth.
Shorter cuts I´ve done with jigsaw or chain drilling then filing/sanding as needed.

That shows some commitment

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DANMAN

posted on 5/4/19 at 10:11 AM Reply With Quote
Like others I have used a jig saw or saber saw with aluminium blades in the past, particularly handy for radius type cuts or large circles. I always mask up the piece I am cutting and use CRC (like WD40) as it makes a neater cut, is better for blade longevity and less likely to grab and ruin the piece you are cutting. Having said all that, I now use a plasma cutter for most stuff steel or aluminium. A 1m long cut literally takes about three seconds, one of the best tools I have ever bought so worth considering adding one to your workshop if you don't have access to one.





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Tazzzzman1

posted on 5/4/19 at 10:46 AM Reply With Quote
I bought one of these a few years back.
Really good and quick for cutting metal sheets. Just fits into a standard pistol drill Drill bit nibbler

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Charlie_Zetec

posted on 5/4/19 at 11:29 AM Reply With Quote
Air shears like TH ESE every time, with minimal wastage (usually the width of the cutting blade). I've got Clarke version, but you can get cheaper ones at <£20 online. Only thing is you usually need a reasonably large compressor (tank size, not necessarily motor size) for longer cuts.





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Angel Acevedo

posted on 5/4/19 at 03:56 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 40inches
quote:
Originally posted by Angel Acevedo
For long straight cuts I used a carpenter table saw with Carbide teeth.
Shorter cuts I´ve done with jigsaw or chain drilling then filing/sanding as needed.

That shows some commitment



I show commitment when chewing through Fiberglass...

ETA:
Now on a serious related comment, the Alu-Fiberglass blades will cut only a meter or so of 3 mm fiberglass before going dull.
How much do they last cutting alu?


[Edited on 4/5/2019 by Angel Acevedo]





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Bluemoon

posted on 5/4/19 at 04:04 PM Reply With Quote
^ not had one go dull when cutting aliuminum fibreglass is very abrasive and will dull most blades quickly
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jacko

posted on 5/4/19 at 04:37 PM Reply With Quote
I cut aluminium sheet panels every Day at work and we use a jigsaw with a fine blade spray a light oil on the aluminium and on the blade it stops the blade clogging

Jacko

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JonBowden

posted on 5/4/19 at 05:35 PM Reply With Quote
Have you tried using air shears? I haven't yet cut much this way by what I have done has worked well.





Jon

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loggyboy

posted on 5/4/19 at 05:52 PM Reply With Quote
I jigsawed with wood clamped over to stop scratches. A brush was handy to remove swarth as thay gets caught under jigsaw or wood and scratches.













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jps

posted on 5/4/19 at 05:55 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Angel Acevedo

Now on a serious related comment, the Alu-Fiberglass blades will cut only a meter or so of 3 mm fiberglass before going dull.
How much do they last cutting alu?


[Edited on 4/5/2019 by Angel Acevedo]

I've used a 1mm cutting disc in the angle grinder for longer cuts in GRP.

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