Hand held router, anyone used one on aluminum?
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  1. #1
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    Default Hand held router, anyone used one on aluminum?

    I have a job, 36" x 48" 3/8 thick 7075 T6. It needs triangle shaped pockets of various sizes 1/4" deep basically over the entire sheet. I can do most of them on my bridgeport but some will need to be done with a router. So, what to use for a cutter? The router is an old Unit Electric that I got from an auction at Bell Aircraft in Buffalo N.Y. Is there a certain type cutter that would be easier to control than others?
    The collet OD is much bigger than normal, I could make a collet to fit a 1/2" end mill. Ideas anyone?

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    Hand held router used on aluminum - Google Search

    If it was me, I'd use a slow helix HSS bit, or carbide if I was feeling bold. Maybe apply a lube wax over the cutting path, and clamp external fences in place that prevent you from overrunning the cut if the router gets a little rambunctious. Ideally, these would be milled patterns matching the final shaped cut in the plate.

    And I'd stick with a 1/4" bit, I'd treat it like a fuse if things really go TU.

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    I made a template for the outside of the router, cut with a 7/16 and finish with a 1/2, I used a Garr for aluminum.

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    I've done it with woodworking carbide bits, but an end mill would be better. Make a pattern and follow it with a router bushing.

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    use a bushing on the router
    like the picture make a template
    over sized to accommodate the difference between
    bushing od and bit dia.
    clamp that on to your work piece. that will keep you inside the
    lines that you want.

    I would probably use umm a 1/4 inch hss 2 flute end mill
    do it in 1/8 or 1/16 depth increments.
    and brace really good when starting



    router.jpg

    that's one set up for doing door hinges.
    I would also use my big variable speed router on the lowest speed.

    i see some other beat me to some of while out getting a picture

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    Onsrud make cutters especially for routing Alu lotsa info here Aluminum

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    I have used a hand held router on AL quite a bit over the years. One tip I can give is always pay attention to the direction of your feed. If you get carried away and ignore climb feed vs conventional you can get some surprising results.

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    To me a router spinns a little fast for HSS cutter ???
    I did it with carbide wood cutters but that was just a one time off
    Worked great though

    Peter

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    I've used one on cast iron, but not aluminum.

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    Never done it, but can't see why it wouldn't work. Carbide can run wicked fast in aluminum, but one caution. Since this is hand-held the risk of breaking an end mill is higher than in a mill. I'd go extra heavy on the PPE- face shield, safety glasses and a shield around the router opening, if you have one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad Hoffman View Post
    Never done it, but can't see why it wouldn't work. Carbide can run wicked fast in aluminum, but one caution. Since this is hand-held the risk of breaking an end mill is higher than in a mill. I'd go extra heavy on the PPE- face shield, safety glasses and a shield around the router opening, if you have one.

    Keep it pushing against the template Not freehand


    Peter

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    I use a 3hp Makita for adding a detail to a plenum I do for a customer.
    The detail is an inward sweep on the runners that would require a more extensive fixture for the plenum tube as the customer did not want a desernable transition line between the sweep and inside surface of the tube.
    I made a guide plate for the follower/bearing to ride.
    Carbide cuter designed for wood from a reputable cutter manufacturer.
    Use conventional for the roughing pass and then a climb pass for finishing.
    A firm grip on the router required.
    Control to catastrophic can be a few milliseconds time difference.
    I use WD40 as a lubricant with the tube still in its fixture inside the vmc enclosure with the fume extractor running.
    Shouldn't have to say it, but eye, hearing and breathing protection required

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    Slow the router down, use a speed control made for routers

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    since a hand held rotor will have a higher spindle speed then is optamin . I would suggest using as small a diameter bit as possible to keep the cutting surface speed to a reasonable number

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    Quote Originally Posted by Conrad Hoffman View Post
    Never done it, but can't see why it wouldn't work. Carbide can run wicked fast in aluminum, but one caution. Since this is hand-held the risk of breaking an end mill is higher than in a mill. I'd go extra heavy on the PPE- face shield, safety glasses and a shield around the router opening, if you have one.
    I bet that this is LOUD, so hearing protection may be needed.

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    The template/bushing combo will work great for profiling the edges of the pockets, but the real problem will be starting the cut in the center and working out to the edges. Maybe very shallow depth of cut till you're bottomed, then climb cut nibbling away the stock, just skimming. A conventional cut will want to bury the tool, Save that for the final pass. I'm thinking the bottom of the pocket is not going to look very pretty, is that a problem?

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    Another approach - How about extending and swiveling the ram on the BP to get the spindle far enuf away from the column to reach your pockets? I used to do this for large wooden furniture parts, worked great for me!

    Anything to avoid the hand router on 7075, won't be fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by richard newman View Post
    Another approach - How about extending and swiveling the ram on the BP to get the spindle far enuf away from the column to reach your pockets? I used to do this for large wooden furniture parts, worked great for me!

    Anything to avoid the hand router on 7075, won't be fun!
    had the same thought but assumed moonlight had already thought to do that
    still a good idea.

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    Handheld routers work well on aluminum for applying small bullnosed radii and 45* chamfering to 90* outside corners, using ball bearing follower carbide wood bits.

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    I spent two years on aluminum in a shipyard and they had me using a full one horsepower router with carbide cutters with half inch shanks. I was trimming and beveling plate ranging from 3/16 to 1/2. The cutters looked heavy duty but looked similar to wood cutting cutters. Wax was very effective but we were discouraged from using since the wax could contaminate welds. We had alcohol in squirt bottles that worked OK if applied regularly through the cut.
    The biggest problem was the alloy gumming up the cutting edges.
    People have mentioned personal protection and I support that. Some of the slivers were nasty even working through the leather gloves.


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