Author Topic: Tips for working with aluminum  (Read 6110 times)

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Offline Richard/RMW

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Tips for working with aluminum
« on: May 21, 2022, 09:07 AM »
There seems to be enough interest to perhaps fuel a running thread dedicated to this topic?

I've done a fair amount of aluminum work with woodworking tools, but would appreciate feedback on the finer points. Specifically, cutting precise slots using a router.

An upcoming project will require several 8mm slots in 3/8" bar stock and I need them precise, straight and tight width tolerance. I have a Shaper Origin & O flute bits so that seems the best route.

Any suggestions on DOC, spindle speed, etc? Also aluminum series, I tend to default to 6061 but it's just habit. @Cheese @rst

Thanks.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

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Offline hdv

  • Posts: 442
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2022, 10:26 AM »
Yeah, I agree about the dedicated thread.

I for one would be very much interested to learn more about this topic from fellow FOGers. I do some metalworking now and then in the shop when it is needed for a project, but most of it is based on educated guesses and information I gleaned in places like this. A little education definitely would not hurt. Not when it comes to doing things right and especially not when it comes to doing things safe.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2022, 10:37 AM »
Here are a couple of previous threads dealing with routing aluminum.

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/festool-jigs-tool-enhancements/routingmilling-8020-for-festool-clamps-using-an-mfs-a-1010/30/

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/festool-jigs-tool-enhancements/routingmilling-aluminum-angle-for-the-mfs-using-an-mfs-a-1010/msg575536/#msg575536

https://www.festoolownersgroup.com/other-tools-accessories/musclechuck-on-festool-of1010/msg577899/#msg577899

When I first started to use a router on aluminum I just chucked up a 4-flute HSS end mill because that's what I had and it had worked well for milling steel. I soon found out that the finished slots were oversize and the finish quality was not good. So after I wore that bit out I found a 2-flute HSS end mill in my collection and used that for a while. The slots were now closer to being the correct size and the machined surface was of better quality. I thought about it and I felt that maybe the 4-flute tool didn't have enough room between the flutes to remove & discharge the aluminum chips. I also noticed several small pieces of aluminum "welded" to the end mill.

That observation made me remember my earlier bandsaw fiasco. My band saw is a variable speed so that it can cut metals or wood and I had a special blade made from tool steel, Nicholson Bi-Metalloy III to cut stainless steel with. One day I needed to cut some 1/2" aluminum plate and I was too lazy to change the Nicholson blade thinking it's only a short length of aluminum. Well the 1st inch went fine, then I had to increase the feed pressure considerably for the 2nd inch and after that the blade refused to cut any further. Upon close inspection, the gullets between the teeth were filled with aluminum and there were sections of the blade where the teeth were gone, completely ripped off from the band. 

Here's a shot of the 2-flute HSS end mill, you can see the amount of damage on the end from just routing aluminum slots. This is the reason I moved to 0-flute solid carbide bits for aluminum work, it'd also be appropriate for brass & copper. I've not yet tried the ZrN (zirconium nitride) coated bits but they should prevent aluminum welding and provide a harder surface.



« Last Edit: May 21, 2022, 11:47 AM by Cheese »

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2022, 11:44 AM »
Pat Warner covered this with regard to making jigs and such in
one of his books. I'll will look for it next time in the shop and let
you know the title. I have no doubt copies are still available.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline hdv

  • Posts: 442
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2022, 12:10 PM »
Thanks @Cheese. I remember those first two threads quite well. I even bookmarked them at the time. I learned a lot from that.

@Bob D. Might that be his title "Fast, Easy & Accurate Router Jigs"? If so, I will order a copy.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2022, 12:21 PM »
Pat Warner covered this with regard to making jigs and such in
one of his books. I'll will look for it next time in the shop and let
you know the title. I have no doubt copies are still available.

Thank @bobd I'd forgotten about Pat as a resource. Prior to his passing we'd chatted a bit, I was aiming to do one of his in-person courses but never had an opportunity to get out there. His website also had a ton of info but looks like his heirs took it down. I should still have some of his old pdfs somewhere. I may even has his book.

He was a blunt guy, really enjoyed interacting with him. Pat's e-commerce system was "OK, I'll send it to you mail me a check...".

His router work with AL was amazing, I have a couple of his straight edges.

RMW

As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2022, 04:16 PM »
@Richard/RMW I treasure my stuff I got from Pat and my interactions with him. On forums he came across as a curmudgeon but he loved to help people and was a wonderful innovator. Towards the end he was self publishing ebooks of tips and techniques.

He had a piece of 1/4 inch stainless rod with a point milled dead center on one end that he used in some drill press jigs and things. I asked him about it and he said “I’ve got an extra, I’ll send it to you send me a check for the postage.”

Ron

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5539
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2022, 10:34 PM »
There seems to be enough interest to perhaps fuel a running thread dedicated to this topic?

I've done a fair amount of aluminum work with woodworking tools, but would appreciate feedback on the finer points. Specifically, cutting precise slots using a router.

An upcoming project will require several 8mm slots in 3/8" bar stock and I need them precise, straight and tight width tolerance. I have a Shaper Origin & O flute bits so that seems the best route.

Any suggestions on DOC, spindle speed, etc? Also aluminum series, I tend to default to 6061 but it's just habit. @Cheese @rst

Thanks.

RMW

That bit sounds right but I've only been cutting thin copper by trial and error so can't advise on speed/feed.

I can say I hope the slots you want to mill are not wider than the opening of the Shaper's base. That soft plastic is not good at gliding over metal shards. If you use the Workstation maybe you can drop the aluminum stock below the surface and then do something creative to set Z. Swarf might still be a problem...
« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 01:02 AM by Michael Kellough »

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2022, 12:28 AM »
@Richard/RMW I treasure my stuff I got from Pat and my interactions with him. On forums he came across as a curmudgeon but he loved to help people and was a wonderful innovator. Towards the end he was self publishing ebooks of tips and techniques.

He had a piece of 1/4 inch stainless rod with a point milled dead center on one end that he used in some drill press jigs and things. I asked him about it and he said “I’ve got an extra, I’ll send it to you send me a check for the postage.”

Ron

@rvieceli Ron I searched my files earlier today and found some email from 2012-15 that brought a smile. He was indeed persnickity, and delightful as well. He offered training in his garage in Escondido, which I'd hoped to do, and introduced me to the existence of metrology.

I did find some of the plans I'd purchased from him, I wish I could share them freely as they're a delight. He was also an accomplished photographer, an example of his skills:



I hope his tools and jigs went to a good home.

RMW

[edit] And a snippet of one conversation  [smile]



« Last Edit: May 22, 2022, 12:36 AM by Richard/RMW »
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2022, 11:51 AM »
Found a great thread on routing AL on the SO forum, lots of info that would apply to routing with the MFS also.

@Cheese in some of your posts you recommend IPA as lube. I just loaded up a spray bottle with 91%, do you think that's too strong and I should use 70% instead?

Thanks.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Michael Kellough

  • Posts: 5539
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2022, 12:02 PM »
Found a great thread on routing AL on the SO forum, lots of info that would apply to routing with the MFS also.

@Cheese in some of your posts you recommend IPA as lube. I just loaded up a spray bottle with 91%, do you think that's too strong and I should use 70% instead?

Thanks.

RMW

Be careful not to get alcohol on machined acrylic pieces. It will cause unseen stress cracks to open.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2022, 01:56 PM »
@Cheese in some of your posts you recommend IPA as lube. I just loaded up a spray bottle with 91%, do you think that's too strong and I should use 70% instead?

I can't remember what strength I used Richard but you should be fine. Remember it's flammable so no sparks.  [smile]  It also burns with a blue flame so it's tough to see, having said all that, I've not had a single issue in 4-5 years of using the stuff and it evaporates fast so no oily mess. I replaced the hot halogen light that's close to the quill with a LED light so that also eliminates a possible issue.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2022, 10:59 PM »
Well this is a timely email from Travers Tool, they're a viable alternative to MSC for metal tooling/machining products. Here are some tips on machining aluminum and other non-ferrous materials including some plastics.

https://solutions.travers.com/metalworking-machining/milling/the-pros-cons-of-high-and-low-helix-angles

Recently, I purchased a complete set of parabolic drill bits that have a higher helix angle than normal and my intention is to use them exclusively on aluminum and plastic substrates...let's see how that works.  [smile]  The cobalt bits will be reserved for steel and stainless.

As I noted earlier, any aluminum modified coatings (anything that contains Al) are NOT recommended when machining aluminum because they do not prevent the aluminum chips from adhering/welding to the tool.

https://solutions.travers.com/metalworking-machining/holemaking/drill-coating-selection-chart



Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2022, 11:42 AM »
Here's another email from Travers Tool on machining aluminum. It covers the basics and deals mostly with machining being done on a mill or lathe using insert tooling. There is a short section on CNC use.

The biggest takeaway for me was the suggestion to use solid carbide cutters that are polished or ZrN coated. ToolsToday & Amana offer this type of tooling.

https://www.toolstoday.com/v-12759-46577.html


https://f.hubspotusercontent00.net/hubfs/5257956/Content%20Guides%20And%20Downloadable%20PDFs/Aluminum_Machining_Guide.pdf?__hstc=140417324.a8c63363ca2961ef7165a1909847d0f2.1653158759239.1653398154712.1653404742539.4&__hssc=140417324.4.1653404742539&__hsfp=1202131086&hsCtaTracking=65f888a2-5b48-4464-99b6-eaa3454d60d1%7C57f7fc69-2ae0-4cf2-ab4d-e1fda9329917

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2022, 11:11 AM »
@Cheese thanks for posting those links, I took a quick look and will take some time over the weekend to study. There are 2 chunks of .375" MIC-6 arriving today, so I hope to do some test cuts this weekend.

From my limited experience with true 3-axis CNC machining, I gleaned that getting acceptable results cutting AL is a combination of speeds & feeds leading to an acceptable chip size and avoiding galling, along with using lubricant. One of the challenges is feeding fast enough with a handheld tool, which is largely a question of rigidity when compared to a typical CNC Mill.

I have a roughing mill I may try in conjunction with boring starting holes for the 8mm slots I need. Cut everything with an offset and then switch to an O-Flute bit for final pass. I am hoping to hit a tolerance if a few thou in the slots. I also need an 18" long straight reference edge on this part.

@Bob D. reminded me of Pat Warner which led me back to our conversation on Metrology and his emphasis on rock-solid jigs, securing materials and rigidly controlling interaction with the bit. Back in ~2015 I'd purchased his eBook on Jigs & Fixtures, which included this illustration of his jig for achieving straight edges:



This takes me to a chicken/egg quandary I frequently have, the need to make the thing to use to make the thing...

I also recognized the rabbit hole I'm heading down relative the Pat's comments on the two types of WW I posted earlier. Upon reflection, I see now that a lot of the frustrations I've experienced with cutting parts is due to not properly securing/indexing stock. Some of this is due to trying to use the MFT/TS for some odd cuts that are tough to properly secure the materials, partly due to not having a robust setup for holding smaller stock whil cutting. This opens the can of worms debate on using the MFT/TS to cut things that a table saw is better suited for, but now I'm drifting away from the original topic of cutting AL.

In any case, thanks for the input and I'll report back on progress and what I learn.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2022, 11:01 PM »
@Cheese thanks for posting those links, I took a quick look and will take some time over the weekend to study.
1. There are 2 chunks of .375" MIC-6 arriving today, so I hope to do some test cuts this weekend.

2. From my limited experience with true 3-axis CNC machining, I gleaned that getting acceptable results cutting AL is a combination of speeds & feeds leading to an acceptable chip size and avoiding galling, along with using lubricant. One of the challenges is feeding fast enough with a handheld tool, which is largely a question of rigidity when compared to a typical CNC Mill.

3. I have a roughing mill I may try in conjunction with boring starting holes for the 8mm slots I need. Cut everything with an offset and then switch to an O-Flute bit for final pass. I am hoping to hit a tolerance if a few thou in the slots. I also need an 18" long straight reference edge on this part.

3. This takes me to a chicken/egg quandary I frequently have, the need to make the thing to use to make the thing...

4. I also recognized the rabbit hole I'm heading down relative the Pat's comments on the two types of WW I posted earlier. Upon reflection, I see now that a lot of the frustrations I've experienced with cutting parts is due to not properly securing/indexing stock. Some of this is due to trying to use the MFT/TS for some odd cuts that are tough to properly secure the materials, partly due to not having a robust setup for holding smaller stock whil cutting. This opens the can of worms debate on using the MFT/TS to cut things that a table saw is better suited for, but now I'm drifting away from the original topic of cutting AL.


1. Nice stuff Richard...locally I'm able to purchase some random pieces as drop which means a 50% drop in price. That's nice stuff, you will be spoiled, a flatness of ±.005" if I remember correctly. 

2. Feeding fast is important but feeding at a consistent rate is probably more important, especially when it comes to solid carbide tooling. Solid carbide is extremely stiff, that's the reason it's commonly used for boring bars on lathes, but any sudden movement also means it can crack & break. Strong...stiff...but it fractures. [sad]

3. Ya, I'm modifying a Festool 50 mm hose to work on a Kapex and it will take me more time to produce the fixture/jig I need to modify the hose end than to actually modify the Festool hose end. It's all part of the game  [smile]  and then they wonder why engineering always takes "too long."

4. That's one of the reasons I never went down the MFT rabbit hole, then again I do have the luxury of owning a table saw which you do not have the space for. I don't use the table saw often but it does scratch an itch.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2022, 11:12 PM by Cheese »

Offline Cheese

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #16 on: May 25, 2022, 11:17 PM »
Goodness...these people at Travers Tool are working overtime.  [big grin]

Here's the latest guide I just received tonight on polishing aluminum.

https://solutions.travers.com/metalworking-machining/finishing/how-to-polish-aluminum

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1394
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2022, 09:17 AM »
When I first started working in 1970, the company I worked for sold aluminum sheets and extrusions.  Our customers used animal fat to lubricate the steel saw blades (no carbide back then).

I used to train the installers and I traveled with my German Shepherd.  He was exceptionally interested in the lubricant. 

Nowadays they have synthetics that work much better.  They are easy to use.  You just rub it on the cutting tool.  And the cuts are much cleaner.

The odds are that it will not interest your dog, but it is best to keep it out of his reach.  They may still be using some animal fat in the concoction.

This is available from Grainger.  I did not check Amazon.com.



Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2022, 10:04 AM »
I did grab a cutting wax lube off Amazon last week, definitely will give that a try.

The long weekend begins for me today and we have no plans/company coming. Weather is even cooperating for once. Should be lots of fun [big grin]

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2022, 03:24 PM »
@Richard/RMW Whilw I'm all for trying new stuff and being self sufficient, might be a time to visit a pro. After trying for a few years to get my son to buy a Bridgeport I've about goven up  [sad]

The is still a working machine shop in my vicinity with real machinists, (down from about 4 shops). If I'm nice and polite and mention that I'm not in a rush, they will do stuff for me  [tongue]

It is rarely more than an hour to an hour and a half of machine time since they charge from set up to clean up.

Might not cost that much to get what you want.

there are also some cnc laser folks online that will do as little as a one-off if you send them a dxf file . Even some that will work with jpg and pdf

Ron

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2022, 05:16 PM »
@Richard/RMW Whilw I'm all for trying new stuff and being self sufficient, might be a time to visit a pro. After trying for a few years to get my son to buy a Bridgeport I've about goven up  [sad]

The is still a working machine shop in my vicinity with real machinists, (down from about 4 shops). If I'm nice and polite and mention that I'm not in a rush, they will do stuff for me  [tongue]

It is rarely more than an hour to an hour and a half of machine time since they charge from set up to clean up.

Might not cost that much to get what you want.

there are also some cnc laser folks online that will do as little as a one-off if you send them a dxf file . Even some that will work with jpg and pdf

Ron

I may go that route, but the MIC-6 was only $40 on eBay so I figured I'd give it a try. It's an addiction thing...

I was originally going to use sendcutsend but I tested them with some simple brackets and the laser cut finish was not good enough. They are an awesome company and hugely patient coaching me thru the learning curve to get them files they could use but laser just won't work for this project. Also, their material is nowhere close to flat enough to use as a fence, again not a complaint just the limitation of their offerings. This is what led me to MIC-6 for the flatness.

I did end up with some very nice adjustable stops from the experiment...



Thanks.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2022, 05:22 PM »
What are you going to make?

Ron

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2022, 05:29 PM »
V2.0 of the fence in the photo, with an indexed material stop. Like I said, it's an addiction.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2022, 05:52 PM »
I made a table for my drill press out of mic6. It’s nice to work with an prices have really jumped. I had a strip of mic6 I wanted to use as a fence. It had two rough saw cuts on the long edges. I had them machine the edges flat and parallel to each other within a thousandth and I think it was about 80 bucks.

Ron

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1394
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2022, 06:37 PM »
The cutting speed of a router is almost certainly too fast for aluminum. A single cutter will be effectively slower that a double, but probably still too fast. There are cutting speed charts on the Internet. Look them up.

Consider phenolic sheets. Dimensionally stable and some grades are very strong. The paper laminate phenolic is the cheapest, and may be satisfactory. Much stronger grades made with linen are available. You can machine these with a router much like a very thick sheet of Formica.

The company I used to work for made short run stamping tools using phenolic sheets as the die base and mounting the punches in the phenolic. These tools typically were used for fewer than 5,000 piece runs, but occasionally they could stretch a little beyond that.

It is dimensionally unaffected by heat and cold. Do some Internet research to see if it makes sense.

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2022, 07:35 PM »
send-cut-send
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2022, 07:16 AM »
The cutting speed of a router is almost certainly too fast for aluminum. A single cutter will be effectively slower that a double, but probably still too fast. There are cutting speed charts on the Internet. Look them up.

Consider phenolic sheets. Dimensionally stable and some grades are very strong. The paper laminate phenolic is the cheapest, and may be satisfactory. Much stronger grades made with linen are available. You can machine these with a router much like a very thick sheet of Formica.

The company I used to work for made short run stamping tools using phenolic sheets as the die base and mounting the punches in the phenolic. These tools typically were used for fewer than 5,000 piece runs, but occasionally they could stretch a little beyond that.

It is dimensionally unaffected by heat and cold. Do some Internet research to see if it makes sense.

I'd love to use phenolic, but my own experience is you cannot trust it to be truly flat. Because of the use flatness is the most critical aspect. I used 3 knobs in V1.0 to pull it against the extrusion and still had to capture the ends of the Alcubond panel to ensure flatness along the entire length.

Thanks to all for the input.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline mino

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2022, 07:30 AM »
Ref cutter speed, it is not only about it beng high per se.

It is about the cutter being run at "its" speed which must be observed. Then some cutters require cutting fluid to be used etc. etc.

In other words, you start with a cutter, and the machine and the process must match what the cutter was made for. Not the other way round.


Sure, there are "high-speed" cutters like the Festool 491036 one. But most aluminum cutters are for CNCs designed for way lower speeds than a wood router allows.

With aluminum the main "problem" is chip removal and prevention of chips "gluing" themselves to the cutter. If you look at that Festool cutter, its shape is completely focused on chip removal. Above everything. That is why it can work at 10k rpm ... That and its 5 mm diameter.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 07:33 AM by mino »
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.

Offline Packard

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2022, 08:23 AM »

Offline Cheese

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2022, 10:00 AM »
Here is an aluminum cutting speed chart.  http://www.duramill.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2015-Speed-and-Feed-Guide.pdf

In any case you can throw the chart out the window if you use phenolic sheet instead.

https://www.piedmontplastics.com/blog/phenolic-sheet-explained

https://www.americanmicroinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/le-phenolic-datasheet.pdf

To use that chart you have to change the SFM to RPM, here's the formula.

RPM = (3.82 x SFM)/Diameter of cutter

So, if you want to maintain a rate of 800 SFM, a 1/4" dia cutter should be turning at 12,224 RPM...or there abouts.

Also those speeds look a bit fast, especially for uncoated tooling, I've always used the range of 500 SFM to 1500 SFM. Here's the chart I use.



Interestingly enough, Festool recommends using their routers for aluminum work. Here's an excerpt from the 1010, the 1400 & the 2200 owners manual.








Now this item surprised me initially, but after thinking about it, it does make sense for edging or radiusing aluminum. This is an excerpt from the MFK 700 owners manual.


« Last Edit: May 27, 2022, 10:02 AM by Cheese »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2022, 11:38 AM »
Here's a video of a guy using a plain Jane Dewalt router to machine aluminum. The fixture he made to hold the aluminum panel is particularly well done.  [smile]

https://youtu.be/-gboj2XhuW0?t=8

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1394
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2022, 12:02 PM »
I've seen two axis tables used with drill presses as an ersatz milling machine.

The bearings on drill presses are designed for vertical movement; not horizontal movement, so I don't know what this does to the drill press. For light work, it is probably OK.  Just $145.00.

https://www.vevor.com/rotary-table-c_10128/compound-milling-machine-work-table-2-axis-cross-slide-bench-drill-vise-fixture-p_010230619047?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuPih54SA-AIVF6_ICh1H_AqvEAkYCSABEgKY6PD_BwE

Northern Tool sells a bench top milling machine for $1,000.00. I've bought some of their own branded equipment and they have always been of good to excellent quality. 

https://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200660255_200660255

Offline Cheese

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #32 on: May 27, 2022, 12:42 PM »
I've seen two axis tables used with drill presses as an ersatz milling machine.

The bearings on drill presses are designed for vertical movement; not horizontal movement, so I don't know what this does to the drill press. For light work, it is probably OK.  Just $145.00.


The real issue with a drill press is tool slippage in the chuck. You need collets or diamond coated chuck jaws to prevent tool slippage and I'm not completely sure that diamond coated chuck jaws will work every time.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1394
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2022, 12:53 PM »
For milling aluminum?  I've seen people use drill presses as milling machines in the past. Perhaps for tool steel, special chucks would be needed.  But not for light gage aluminum.

This guy upgraded the bearings, but is using the stock chuck.


Offline festal

  • Posts: 339
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #34 on: May 28, 2022, 08:07 AM »
If you have a Nova Voyager, it can be converted to Nova Vulcan (discountinued milling drill press)  One guy on youtube did the conversion and there are 3 part videos of the process with part lists

« Last Edit: May 29, 2022, 09:49 AM by festal »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #35 on: May 29, 2022, 09:41 AM »
If you have a Nova Voyager, it can be converted to Nova Vulcan (discountinued milling drill press)  One guy on youtube did the conversion and there are 3 part videos of the process with part lists

Unfortunately, I believe Nova is no longer selling the additional parts needed to convert it to a collet chuck system.

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #36 on: May 29, 2022, 01:00 PM »
If you have a Nova Voyager, it can be converted to Nova Vulcan (discountinued milling drill press)  One guy on youtube did the conversion and there are 3 part videos of the process with part lists



That ship has sailed. I watched those videos. The Vulcan is no longer sold by Nova and no parts available to convert/backfit a Voyager they told me in an email last year. I was looking for a Vulcan but had to settle for the Voyager, and I think I was lucky to get that the way things have been the past two years.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline festal

  • Posts: 339
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #37 on: May 29, 2022, 01:02 PM »
If you have a Nova Voyager, it can be converted to Nova Vulcan (discountinued milling drill press)  One guy on youtube did the conversion and there are 3 part videos of the process with part lists



That ship has sailed. I watched those videos. The Vulcan is no longer sold by Nova and no parts available to convert/backfit a Voyager they told me in an email last year. I was looking for a Vulcan but had to settle for the Voyager, and I think I was lucky to get that the way things have been the past two years.

figures lol. 


Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #39 on: June 04, 2022, 09:51 AM »
Something I just ran across, affordable coatings for machining aluminum from Harvey Tool are TiN & ZrN.

https://www.harveytool.com/resources/tool-coatings

Offline tsmi243

  • Posts: 272
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #40 on: June 04, 2022, 10:15 AM »
In regard to Pat Warner- 

I never got around to ordering his ebooks (or newsletters, I think he called them) until it was too late.  His business was not continued by anybody after his passing.  And it doesn't seem right to ask for a free copy from somebody who has them.   

Is there any ethical way to share the info in them? 



Offline dwillis

  • Posts: 122
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #41 on: June 04, 2022, 06:36 PM »
Along the topic of cutting aluminum, I recently cut quite a few countersinks in holes that I drilled in 3/8" aluminum bars using a tool steel countersink (not carbide). As a result the countersink was gummed up with aluminum (probably too high of a speed on the drill press and no lubricant). To easily remove the aluminum buildup I soaked the countersink in a solution of water and lye (drain opener or sodium hydroxide).

For you chemists out there sodium hydroxide plus water reacts with aluminum to form aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen gas, so don't have any ignition sources around (ask me about an "experiment" gone wrong in high school chemistry during an unsupervised afternoon [scared]). Also follow the safety instructions with the lye, it's nasty stuff.

After a few hours (rate depends on strength of sodium hydroxide and water solution) the aluminum will be gone and the tool clean. Plus you can pour the used solution down the drain because it's also used to clean clogged drains. I haven't tried this method on carbide tipped tools, so if anyone has experience with carbide please let us know.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2022, 01:31 AM by dwillis »
Remember that the only scientist to walk on the moon was a geologist.  Dr. Harrison Schmitt - Apollo 17 - Valley of Taurus-Littrow - 11 to 17 December 1972.

Offline Mini Me

  • Posts: 250
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #42 on: June 04, 2022, 07:55 PM »
In regard to Pat Warner- 

I never got around to ordering his ebooks (or newsletters, I think he called them) until it was too late.  His business was not continued by anybody after his passing.  And it doesn't seem right to ask for a free copy from somebody who has them.   

Is there any ethical way to share the info in them?

From a naive onlooker's view it seems that all his work was simply abandoned by the family which those who were aware of his work would find disappointing, I know I did. Does that mean all the IP is simply locked up even though there is no interest from those who controlled his estate?

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #43 on: June 05, 2022, 09:18 AM »
After a few hours (rate depends on strength of sodium hydroxide and water solution) the aluminum will be gone and the tool clean. Plus you can pour the used solution down the drain because it's also used to clean clogged drains. I haven't tried this method on carbide tipped tools, so if anyone has experience with carbide please let us know.

I wouldn't use that solution on carbide tooling as even something as benign as Simple Green can attack the binder in carbide. This is from Simple Green

"Caustic oven cleaners are sometimes recommended as the best way to clean table saw blades. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in many spray-on oven cleaners. This can cause severe respiratory irritation, nausea, dizziness, skin burns, and more. Other varieties of commercial blade and bit cleaners often don't stay wet for the prescribed amount of soaking time, which doesn't do much to loosen residue from the blade.
In addition to being toxic, oven cleaner and saw blade cleaning products with caustic ingredients can potentially damage saw blades. They attack the binder in the carbide and the brazing used to secure the teeth to the blade."


https://simplegreen.com/cleaning-tips/rooms/garage/saw-blades/

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #44 on: June 05, 2022, 10:02 AM »
" I recently cut quite a few countersinks in holes that I drilled in 3/8" aluminum bars using a tool steel countersink "

I don't think you'd have this problem if you used a Weldon Zero Flute Countersink.
https://heritagecutter.com/BrubakerWeldon/PublicStore/

I've used soapstone on a file designed to cut steel when cutting aluminum to help keep the file from getting clogged. It works in a pinch but a file designed for Aluminum is a better option if available.

Regarding Pat Warner the WayBack machine probably has most of what was on his site plus at least 6 of his books are currently available on Amazon. We will probably never know but it is possible that he left instructions on how to handle everything connected to the website, his books and other IP he owned. Those instructions could have been take it all down and never release it again. That doesn't sound like the Pat I came to only briefly know in a couple emails years ago when I bought a couple books directly from him along with two of his router bases. I'm just saying it's a possibility.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2022, 10:26 AM by Bob D. »
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It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #45 on: June 05, 2022, 12:30 PM »
" I recently cut quite a few countersinks in holes that I drilled in 3/8" aluminum bars using a tool steel countersink "

I don't think you'd have this problem if you used a Weldon Zero Flute Countersink.
https://heritagecutter.com/BrubakerWeldon/PublicStore/

I've used soapstone on a file designed to cut steel when cutting aluminum to help keep the file from getting clogged. It works in a pinch but a file designed for Aluminum is a better option if available.

Regarding Pat Warner the WayBack machine probably has most of what was on his site plus at least 6 of his books are currently available on Amazon. We will probably never know but it is possible that he left instructions on how to handle everything connected to the website, his books and other IP he owned. Those instructions could have been take it all down and never release it again. That doesn't sound like the Pat I came to only briefly know in a couple emails years ago when I bought a couple books directly from him along with two of his router bases. I'm just saying it's a possibility.

Ron Covell recommended on YT using soap as lube when grinding AL, I've tried it on a 12" disk and it helps prevent loading. I also use zero flute countersinks and they work great.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #46 on: June 05, 2022, 01:01 PM »

I don't think you'd have this problem if you used a Weldon Zero Flute Countersink.
https://heritagecutter.com/BrubakerWeldon/PublicStore/


Even better than the Weldon (I use a Weldon for chamfering 20 mm holes in ply/MDF) I found the KEO Zero flute countersinks are machined from cobalt. I've used the Festool HSS Zero flute version on aluminum and only managed to chamfer 15-20 holes before the cutting degraded significantly. The KEO cobalt (M35) countersinks are slightly harder than HSS (HRC67-70 vs HRC63-65) but they are tougher so that the razor thin cutting edge in the Zero flute is retained for a longer time.

https://www.mscdirect.com/product/details/45117595




Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #47 on: June 05, 2022, 02:48 PM »
Good to know, thanks @Cheese
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline tsmi243

  • Posts: 272
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #48 on: June 05, 2022, 03:08 PM »

Regarding Pat Warner the WayBack machine probably has most of what was on his site plus at least 6 of his books are currently available on Amazon. We will probably never know but it is possible that he left instructions on how to handle everything connected to the website, his books and other IP he owned. Those instructions could have been take it all down and never release it again. That doesn't sound like the Pat I came to only briefly know in a couple emails years ago when I bought a couple books directly from him along with two of his router bases. I'm just saying it's a possibility.

His website was mostly just teasers for the ebooks, though.  The content of the ebooks was emailed out by Pat after purchase.  The Wayback won't have those.


Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #49 on: June 05, 2022, 03:38 PM »
The KEO zero flute countersinks are great.

While their primary purpose is to cut out a spot to sink a flat head screw flush or below the surface, they are also an excellent tool to deburr a drilled hole. Just take off a small sliver and it gets rid of the sharp edges and gives it a finished look.

Ron

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum...6061 vs 6063
« Reply #50 on: June 15, 2022, 01:26 PM »
Received this email today pointing out the differences between 6061 & 6063.

https://www.kloecknermetals.com/blog/comparing-6061-vs-6063-aluminum/

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #51 on: June 19, 2022, 12:53 AM »
I finally had a chance to try out the Shaper Origin on AL today, the results were good.

Started with some parts from SendCutSend and used the SO to modify and add features. One aspect that really helped was the ability to use the same design I made in F360 to generate both the .dxf they used to laser cut the parts and the .svg the SO used. These are 1/4" 6061:



Same SVG to cut the MDF fixture and the additional features. I just flipped the part over/around in the fixture as needed and repositioned the SVG. SO's use of probing and gridding made this possible.



The parts from SCS were a couple tenths of a mm oversized, easily fixed with a belt grinder and lapping. Then I needed to mill in an offset in the slot for a tee nut and a very shallow channel so the scale would be below the surface. I had a generic 2-flute carbide upcut bit in the SO & I gave that a try for the first pass, then changed out to a 1/4" O-flute. No surprise, the O-flute worked much better but the spiral upcut worked also.





Finished parts.



These are for narrow rip guides for the TS-55. I have a bunch of leftovers from the Rip Dog days, and I wanted a set of guides that I could use on 1/4" and thicker stock. Turned out great.







Given how well this worked I think I'm ready to tackle the fence using the MIC-6 plate.

RMW

As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Bob D.

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Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #52 on: June 19, 2022, 06:45 AM »
Your narrow rip guides look great @Richard/RMW.

What is the turnaround time from SCS?
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #53 on: June 19, 2022, 07:29 AM »
Your narrow rip guides look great @Richard/RMW.

What is the turnaround time from SCS?

Placed the order on the 12th, shipped 16th arrived yesterday. Cost was ~$10/part with shipping.

I'm making a Hardy type setup for a workbench that will need a 1" square cutout in 3/8" steel plate, that'll be the next order.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #54 on: June 19, 2022, 07:51 AM »
@Bob D. one of the guys I do business with uses these people and really likes them. Might want to see what they could do.

https://laser-bros.com/

Ron

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 9868
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #55 on: June 19, 2022, 09:33 AM »

Placed the order on the 12th, shipped 16th arrived yesterday. Cost was ~$10/part with shipping.


Lookin good... [smile]  The cost per part seems very reasonable considering the turnaround time.

What speed were you running the SO and how much of a cut were you taking?

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #56 on: June 19, 2022, 09:50 AM »

Placed the order on the 12th, shipped 16th arrived yesterday. Cost was ~$10/part with shipping.


Lookin good... [smile]  The cost per part seems very reasonable considering the turnaround time.

What speed were you running the SO and how much of a cut were you taking?

@Cheese agree on SCS cost, caveat being I ordered 4 to cover their $29 minimum, only really needed 2. Even at the minimum they'd only have cost ~$15/part delivered. I've been really satisfied with their service.

I ended up pushing the speed up to max (26K) and got to 1mm cuts after making most at .5mm.

The heavier cuts were lengthening the slot/offset by about 10mm. Another nice thing with the SO was I could just shift the svg and make the cut. I've had the tool since they first came out but I'm only just starting to make full use of it, the WorkStation is now set up permanently.

RE: depth of cut, I'd been worried it would catch and pull, fighting me. It wasn't a problem, actually seemed to pull in AL less than it does routing ply.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1734
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #57 on: June 19, 2022, 10:09 AM »
Nice work Richard. Love your clear safety shoes  [big grin]

Ron

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #58 on: June 19, 2022, 10:22 AM »
Nice work Richard. Love your clear safety shoes  [big grin]

Ron

Steel-toed flip-flops are being re-soled.

This time of year I leave a couple pairs of sandals in the truck, otherwise I'll find myself at the Acme without shoes...  [doh]

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2309
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #59 on: June 19, 2022, 03:00 PM »
Ka-ching!



 [thumbs up]

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 6584
  • No longer in Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Tips for working with aluminum
« Reply #60 on: July 01, 2022, 05:36 PM »
Not aluminium but fun none the less.

Builder wanted brass spherical finials. Had the budget for me to design and turn.

The last drawings are a possible door knob project.

Tom

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