Manually cutting thick aluminum
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  1. #1
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    Default Manually cutting thick aluminum

    I have a plate that is 4 feet wide x 31 feet long x 4 1/4" thick. I need to cut it in half to get it into our machine. I was thinking of purchasing a beam saw like the 16" makita or skilsaw but that might be a dangerous option.

    Does anyone know of a way to cut this? I know a water jet can cut it just fine, but no one want to do it in a week and for a somewhat reasonable price.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bondo View Post
    I have a plate that is 4 feet wide x 31 feet long x 4 1/4" thick. I need to cut it in half to get it into our machine. I was thinking of purchasing a beam saw like the 16" makita or skilsaw but that might be a dangerous option.

    Does anyone know of a way to cut this? I know a water jet can cut it just fine, but no one want to do it in a week and for a somewhat reasonable price.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    I think setting it on 4 sawhorses, so nothing moves after the cut, will be safe.
    The track saw is safe, the Makita 16" I don't think has enough power.
    There are track saws with larger belt driven motors, kitchen cabinet shops use them for cutting tops.

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    If you don't mind doing the job in two cuts, one from each side, Makita make a 18 V cordless metal cutting saw. Type DCS553. Goes to 57 mm - 2 1/4 inches deep so will just make it.

    I have its little brother, DCS552 which only manages 50 mm deep. Not tried mine on anything that thick but its light, decently handleable and gets the job done.

    Can't see that sort of saw doing particularly fast job but something to be said for not having trailing cables and bits about the place or dangerous power levels leading to things jumping around if support proves inadequate or something tries to jam.

    Clive

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    Weighs not quite 7500, so be careful

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    This would get you close from 1 side:
    Error | DNS Resolution | Northern Tool + Equipment

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    That sounds like a really majestic plate.

    I think you'd be safe with progressively deeper cuts using a skillsaw (with a really good fence clamped) ----- as long as you blocked up the center supports higher than the end supports, so as you remove material, the kerf will widen.

    Also, could consider heavily perforating with a 1/2" twist bit and jacking up one end to pop it like a graham cracker (only half joking).

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    I would try a chainsaw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    I would try a chainsaw.
    More wisely, I would have "someone else" try it with a chainsaw... [make sure they're wearing body armor].

    I would use #6's approach, he's suggesting exactly what I would (the saw, not drilling, which would be more tedious to do but could work in a crisis).

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    I have cut close to 1" aluminum with my track saw with good enough results. The only time it was worrying is when it grabs and/or kicks back, in which case the size of your plate is an advantage as it is not going to move from the sawing action alone.

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    A couple of passes with a skill saw won't have a problem. It's shiny wood.

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    I have one of those beam saws 2 possible problems 1 they are expensive,
    2 the blade is expensive and its set up for cutting wood geometry isn’t the best for cutting aluminum
    Now if you could find a used saw and get an aluminum cutting blade. Then just the problems with
    Cutting aluminum with a circular saw.
    Well supported material other then all those hot chips and the noise, probably not particularly dangerous
    The heft of the saw makes then less likely to kick back on you.
    Might burn out the motor and definitely will trash the stock blade

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    Any chance you (or neighbor shop) have a Marvel vertical frame saw? Bring the saw to the plate. I think most of them will do 18" depth. Then do the remaining foot with a circular saw.

    Circular saw seems like the way to go. There are even 16" aluminum specific blades available specifically for "thick" parts. Aluminum Saw Blades - Industrial Quality Aluminum Cutting Saw Blade

    You can make an extra secure fence using two aluminum bars to trap the saw on either side if they are straight. You could even mill a slot on the corner of each bar to trap the shoe if you are worried about kickback. Kickback shouldn't be much of a problem other than getting the cut started. Clamping a couple 2x4's to the starting edge would give you something easy to start in.

    A ride on shoe style rail setup would also work, there are a bunch DIY examples of those.

    Otherwise, safety glasses, face shield, hearing pro, and a LOT of WD-40.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    More wisely, I would have "someone else" try it with a chainsaw... [make sure they're wearing body armor].

    I would use #6's approach, he's suggesting exactly what I would (the saw, not drilling, which would be more tedious to do but could work in a crisis).
    Proper PPE is always assumed sir.

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    I have a 12" metal cutting skilsaw. I have cut 2.5" thick aluminum plate with it. I went about 1" per pass otherwise the blade would get hot and start to bind in the cut.

    It cuts pretty fast with the right blade for the job.

    I believe a 12" will cut a bit over 3.5" deep at 90 degrees. I would probably cut 1.5" deep on one side then flip and finish from the other side.

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    I cut aluminium on table saw, big blade for aluminium, 30mm is no problem.

    And our neighbour-company uses circular handsaw with clamp-on tracks for cutting big plates.

    So, it can be done. But DO NOT cut it DRY. You have to use emulsion coolant, otherwise it will be hell.

    If you cut it trough in one pass, then you can put oil-emulsion soaked thick cardboard under plate, so when the blade cuts cardboard, it also grabs oil.

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    I would find a saw house and let them do it. You can skip buying all kinds of equipment, and you can also skip the trip to the ER.

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    Pointless and bullshit answer. If guy has such a big plate at workshop, he surely KNOWS what hes doing and wont need advice like "outsource or you go to ER"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madis Reivik View Post
    Pointless and bullshit answer. If guy has such a big plate at workshop, he surely KNOWS what hes doing and wont need advice like "outsource or you go to ER"
    maybe for someone who lives in some third world shit hole where barefoot idiots do everything with a torch and a sledge hammer

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    Thank you for the replies, I understand that using a circular saw I could get kick back, and that is why I'm asking first. I have no problem using the circular saw, even the 16", but I dont want to spend a lot of money on something that wouldn't work, that would become an expensive paperweight.

    What tooth blade do you recommend? I see skill makes a 10 1/4" saw, but a 12" would work as well. Obviously it will be carbide tooth and I plan on using a spray mister to lube the cut.

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    OK about the Mikita beam saw I’m not sure it would be up to the task
    Even with the right blade
    They really aren’t intended to do long ripping jobs.
    Fairy sure you would end up with a paper weight.
    Also fairly sure you could have it cut for less than the price of the saw.
    Now skill does make a slightly larger version of the 7 1/4 worm gear drive saw.
    I think it’s an 8 inch made for cutting 3 by lumber Calder for in modern building
    But that would require cutting from both sides.
    Better you then me having to do it


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