150 cuts in 2" x 1/2" 6061 flat bar - best sawing option?
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    Default 150 cuts in 2" x 1/2" 6061 flat bar - best sawing option?

    I have the normal array of bandsaws plus a cold saw (coming). I have 150 parts to do, but I don't want a bandsawn edge and would prefer not to mill post sawing, because the length is ±1/16, so anything close on a chop saw will be close enough.

    So I'm debating whether a non-ferrous 5500rpm carbide tipped blade will do just fine in my Ridgid 10" wood chop saw, or is sawing that much solid going to tax it's pretend 2.25hp?

    If that's going to be too hard on the saw, my backup option is to put that blade on my (real, industrial) 5hp abrasive 14" chop saw. It doesn't spin any faster than the blade's max rpm and has a better clamping system than the miter saw anyway. Think that'd be a happier setup? I know wood saws are used on aluminum all the time, but I mostly see that on profile, where they're not sawing through a thick slab.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonPAtkins View Post
    I have the normal array of bandsaws plus a cold saw (coming). I have 150 parts to do, but I don't want a bandsawn edge and would prefer not to mill post sawing, because the length is ±1/16, so anything close on a chop saw will be close enough.

    So I'm debating whether a non-ferrous 5500rpm carbide tipped blade will do just fine in my Ridgid 10" wood chop saw, or is sawing that much solid going to tax it's pretend 2.25hp?

    If that's going to be too hard on the saw, my backup option is to put that blade on my (real, industrial) 5hp abrasive 14" chop saw. It doesn't spin any faster than the blade's max rpm and has a better clamping system than the miter saw anyway. Think that'd be a happier setup? I know wood saws are used on aluminum all the time, but I mostly see that on profile, where they're not sawing through a thick slab.
    I'd try the blade in your 14" chop saw since its got a better clamping system and is more rigid. Some WD40 should keep the blade from clogging up.

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    Not a single one of us knows what is good enough in your eyes. You could sacrifice 1/2" of material and do a sample cut on both and save us the scrutiny when neither is good enough.

    I assume you are machining these on a manual mill? CNC would be about 4 seconds plus tool change time.

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    I bet the 10" saw will be fine, a little wd40 and dont feed the saw to hard. I would just use whichever saw has the better blade if you need a nice edge, or is easier to set up a sturdy stop on. I have cut plenty of aluminum with a 10" chop saw at a past job. We just used wood cutting carbide blades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigjon61 View Post
    Not a single one of us knows what is good enough in your eyes. You could sacrifice 1/2" of material and do a sample cut on both and save us the scrutiny when neither is good enough.

    I assume you are machining these on a manual mill? CNC would be about 4 seconds plus tool change time.
    Perhaps my question wasn't clear. I wasn't asking whether a circular saw cut would be good enough quality. It will. What I was asking was the best way to make the circular saw cuts, given that the part length is non-critical.

    Yes, a manual mill - removing a tool change and milling operation is desirable vs stack cutting on the bandsaw and finishing the edges on the mill.

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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I realized that the 10" saw is a 5/8" arbor and the 14" is 1", so I'm going to have to pick. I think a 12" blade with a 1" arbor on the abrasive saw could be a good compromise and will be nice to have in the future.

    When circular sawing aluminum, if the horsepower and rigidity are there (they will be on the abrasive saw), can you feed pretty aggressively, or won't the blade take the pressure and I'm going to need to feed slowly anyway? If that were the case, I might as well use the cheaper 10". However, if the blade can take the faster feed, then the job will go a lot quicker on the abrasive saw.

    Seems like it might not be a huge difference one way or the other, by everyone's "just get sawing" responses?

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    Get a Tenryu brand saw blade made for aluminum and cut the stock standing on edge. Saw will bog down if you try to cut it flat. Their blades are fairly thin and use less power to cut.

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    My experience is if you push to hard the aluminum will start to stick to the teeth and load up the blade and then smearing the nice cut edges. Flood coolant would probably eliminate that....
    Also stack as many as you can together, clamp the other end all together, even a hose clamp works if you need to set it flat on a table.
    One benefit of the larger blade is each tooth does less work, so it may cut longer per spray of wd40

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    Spray a light stream of WD on the cut line every couple of cuts to keep the aluminum from sticking to the blade, and have at it. Shouldn't be a problem with any standard carbide chop saw blade. Just think of it as shiny wood. I've bought aluminum specific saw blades, and run the regular ole Freud ones from Home Depot, they both worked fine for my use.

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    You didn't say what brand of cold saw it is. If it is a good one with a double vise, I would probably use it. But that's just me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickseeman View Post
    You didn't say what brand of cold saw it is. If it is a good one with a double vise, I would probably use it. But that's just me.
    Yes, and auto downfeed (but is a super slow one meant for steel). That amount of down pressure those saws use, on aluminum, won't leave a very clean edge, perhaps?

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    I have cut lots and lots of aluminum bar, plate, channel, angle, etc with no difficulty using a 10" Bosch sliding compound saw and a good triple grind carbide tipped saw blade for thick aluminum. Diablo (Freud) make some nice ones. Ballpark $50. As mentioned use WD-40 every few pieces. I use a stick lube on the blade every once and a while also. Be SURE to really adjust the blade perpendicularity to the table, and also get the blade angle to the piece set and locked down at 90 degrees. The so-called index mark is sometimes off by enough to cause heartburn later. As far as length goes, I suggest using a hard stop. For short pieces I clamp a piece of 1" square bar to the side table extension and lock it down. For long pieces I am sure you could bolt on a bar to the saw with a lockable collar. You will make a mountain of chips, so some thought to containing/managing them would be prudent. Also an air gun at the saw to clear chips (they will be dry to slightly oily from the WD-40) off the infeed and outfeed tables is nice. Also, if the bars are long, some carefully adjusted and stable infeed/outfeed roller supports will avoid errors due to non-flat material. Finally, I like to clamp the infeed stock before cutting. It just works better for me. This is an easy job if you set it up well. In my experience, the 10" Bosch would cut your 1/2" bar no problem if fedin a sensible manner. Should take an hour more or less.

    Best Wishes,
    Michael

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    I used to install fancy shower doors. I've cut thousands of thick aluminum extrusions with a small wood chop saw and wood blade.

    The new metal blades for skilsaws are pretty damn amazing. I have an old 1950's 1800 rpm 12" skilsaw that I use frequently to cut both wood and metal with. A 12" metal blade is spendy, but it will cut through thick steel easily. I've cut a bunch of 4" refrigeration panels and 2.5" structural metal insulated panels with it. Like 500+ cuts on one blade and the blade is still sharp as day one.

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    I use a 10" Hitachi sliding compound saw with a $20 Concord blade for aluminum, better than an 80$ Freud and cheaper. I do help it cool with the shop ventilation system when I am loading new bars when cutting up more than 200 lbs of aluminum. 2"x3" cuts are about as much as I like to take at a time, which for me is several bars stacked together. Been doing this for years. I bought the saw 20 years ago to do finish work on our house and found it quite handy for cutting up aluminum. Handy as hell for 12" bar with the sliding head.

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    Do you have a belt sander and auto feed on your band saw? Let it auto-feed on the band saw with a quick hit on the belt sander.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonPAtkins View Post
    I have the normal array of bandsaws plus a cold saw (coming). I have 150 parts to do, but I don't want a bandsawn edge and would prefer not to mill post sawing, because the length is ±1/16, so anything close on a chop saw will be close enough.

    So I'm debating whether a non-ferrous 5500rpm carbide tipped blade will do just fine in my Ridgid 10" wood chop saw, or is sawing that much solid going to tax it's pretend 2.25hp?

    If that's going to be too hard on the saw, my backup option is to put that blade on my (real, industrial) 5hp abrasive 14" chop saw. It doesn't spin any faster than the blade's max rpm and has a better clamping system than the miter saw anyway. Think that'd be a happier setup? I know wood saws are used on aluminum all the time, but I mostly see that on profile, where they're not sawing through a thick slab.
    I'm not quite sure what you are referring to as a "bandsawn edge". I cut lots of 6061 aluminum of various thicknesses, on an older Startrite horizontal bandsaw and don't have problems with saw marks or edge burrs. Since the material is only 2 1/2" x 1/2" you could bundle 4 to 5 on edge and use a 6/10 variable tooth bimetal blade at around 60 fpm. This should leave an edge with no saw marks, and if the down pressure is correct there should be no burrs.

    At 6 psi downfeed pressure and a little WD40 from time to time the saw will cut straight to within .005" with no marks.

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    I have a question that I've been meaning to ask.

    I had to make 3 or 4 cuts in 1/2" X 10" 6061 flat bar. My son appropriated my good circular saw, so I used a cheap Harbor Freight 7" circular saw with a cheap carbide rip blade for wood. The first cut I cautiously took 1/8" deep passes. That cut like butter, so the next 2 cuts I did in one pass. It cut so easily it was almost like cutting wood. No WD-40, zero buildup on the blade teeth, zero damage to the teeth.

    That was very surprising, especially the lack of buildup on the teeth. I'm a hobby guy with very little experience to draw upon, but that goes against everything I've read and seen in youtube videos about the 14" metal saws, where aluminum buildup on the teeth seems to be a prevalent problem.

    A cheap saw, a cheap blade inappropriate for the material, way too fast SFM. Why did that work so well?

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    You were careful to not push to hard on the blade?
    Also when you had the blade set at 1/8" deep think how much blade is actually cutting, maybe 1" or so? When you set the blade a deep as it will go so the cut is almost straight through the material the length of the cut is maybe 9/16".

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    The negative rake of a proper blade will leave a better finish and cut smoother but tends to be more prone to welding.

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    An aluminum supplier that I use cuts his aluminum stock with Diablo carbide blades on a DeWALT abrasive saw. I asked him about the other saw in the ship that included a Makita and Evolution and he said they don’t last. The Diablo blade held up well he said. He is cutting aluminum all day long.m


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