How To Cut Aluminum In A Woodworking Shop

We’re used to cutting wood with both power tools and hand tools.  After all, it’s a woodworking shop, and our projects involve working with wood.

However, sometimes we incorporate a metal into our work.  Perhaps it’s a piece of furniture, maybe a coffee table, and we want to make it unique with a metal rack beneath the table surface for magazines.  That was just a quick idea, but I’m sure we could come up with many more.

But it’s a woodworking shop, and the tool inventory is for cutting, shaping, sanding, joining, and assembling wood pieces.  How about the integration of metal in our projects?  A piece of aluminum that needs to be cut to the right dimensions and fit into the design? 

Key Points:

  • General woodworking tools enhanced with the right blades and run at the right speeds can but aluminum workpieces.  Those woodworking tools include table saws, band saws, and miter saws, although wood-cutting blades won’t serve you well.  A proper blade will make the cut easy. 
  • Safety precautions are important, generally, in the woodworking shop, but when cutting metals like aluminum, those precautions take on added meaning.  Unlike a piece of wood, aluminum pieces can generate chips and small bits that will fly off the cut, and you need to protect yourself from them.

It seems that we already have the tools, or at least tools that can be enhanced in some way to allow the cutting of metals.  Today we want to talk about aluminum and aluminum alloys.

We can envision their use in unique furniture designs, whether household furniture or perhaps a workshop bench.  Let’s dig a bit to see what we can come up with for you.

Safety First In The Woodworking Shop

We’re talking metals here, aluminum, to be specific.  Cutting can generate aluminum chips and small bits of flying metal.  Cutting metal is also going to make much more noise than cutting wood.  This suggests we need eye protection and hearing protection, and skin protection.

Safety glasses.  For eye protection, always wear safety glasses.  While this is or should be standard practice in your woodworking shop, cutting a meal like aluminum makes it even more important.  

Ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones.  It’s noisy when cutting metals, more so than when cutting wood.  Either of these is a smart safety precaution when cutting aluminum.

Work Gloves.  Metals can be sharp, and flying pieces of aluminum chips can be dangerous.  The cut edge of aluminum can be sharp, too.  We don’t think much about sharp edges on wood when we’re cutting, but cutting a piece of aluminum can create a sharp edge.  Work gloves can protect your hands, fingers, and skin.

So, safety first.  Now onto the cutting part.

How Do You Cut Aluminum In A Woodworking Shop?

Aluminum Angle Iron

You already have most of what you need to be cutting aluminum in your woodworking shop.  A few enhancements, the safety precautions mentioned above, and you are good to cut away.

Power tools already in your shop can help.  The tools you use to cut metals will depend on the type of metal:  ferrous and non-ferrous metals.  Aluminum falls into the non-ferrous metal category. 

As a brief aside, the main difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals is the presence of iron. Ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals do not. This difference in composition gives ferrous and non-ferrous metals different properties.

Ferrous metals are typically strong and hard, and they are often used in applications where strength and durability are important. Examples of ferrous metals include:

  • Iron: Iron is the most common ferrous metal. It is strong, durable, and relatively inexpensive.
  • Steel: Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It is stronger and harder than iron, and it is often used in construction and manufacturing.
  • Cast iron: Cast iron is an alloy of iron and carbon that has a high carbon content. It is strong and hard, but it is also brittle.

Non-ferrous metals are typically more ductile and resistant to corrosion than ferrous metals. They are often used in applications where these properties are important. Examples of non-ferrous metals include:

  • Aluminum: Aluminum is the most common non-ferrous metal. It is lightweight, strong, and resistant to corrosion.
  • Copper: Copper is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is also strong and durable.
  • Nickel: Nickel is a strong and hard metal that is also resistant to corrosion.
  • Tin: Tin is a soft and malleable metal that is also resistant to corrosion.

In general, ferrous metals are stronger and harder than non-ferrous metals. However, non-ferrous metals are more ductile and resistant to corrosion. The choice of whether to use a ferrous or non-ferrous metal depends on the specific application.

There are several tools, both power and hand tools, that you likely have in your shop.  We’ll go through them to determine whether they can help with cutting aluminum and what we might have to do to help them make those cuts.

Band Saw To Cut Aluminum

Bandsaw Cutting Metal

You can cut aluminum with a bandsaw. In fact, a bandsaw is a great tool for cutting curves in aluminum. You can use a standard wood blade for most cuts, but a metal-cutting blade will give you a cleaner finish.

Here are some tips for cutting aluminum with a bandsaw:

  • Use a sharp blade. A dull blade will make the cut more difficult and may cause the aluminum to melt or chip.
  • Use a slow speed. A slow speed will help to prevent the blade from overheating and will also give you more control over the cut.
  • Apply a lubricant. A lubricant will help to prevent the blade from sticking to the aluminum and will also help to keep the cut cool.
  • Clamp the aluminum in place. This will help to prevent the aluminum from moving during the cut.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges of the aluminum.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to cut aluminum safely and effectively with a bandsaw.

Here are some specific bandsaw blades that are good for cutting aluminum:

  • M42 bi-metal bandsaw blades: These blades are made from a combination of high-speed steel and tungsten carbide, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting a variety of metals and are a good blade for aluminum.
  • High-speed steel bandsaw blades: These blades are made from high-speed steel, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting thin aluminum pieces.
  • Carbide-tipped bandsaw blades: These blades are made from tungsten carbide, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice of blade for aluminum pieces.

No matter which blade you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using it.

Table Saws Will Cut Aluminum

Table Saw Blade

You can use a table saw to make the cut.  However, there are a few things you need to do to make sure the cut is safe and effective.

First, you need to use a blade that is specifically designed for cutting metal. A standard wood blade will not be sharp enough to cut aluminum cleanly, and it may also cause the aluminum to chip or melt.

Second, you need to use a slow speed. A slow speed will help to prevent the blade from overheating and will also give you more control over the cut.

Third, you need to apply a lubricant. A lubricant will help to prevent the blade from sticking to the aluminum and will also help to keep the cut cool.

Fourth, you need to clamp the aluminum in place. This will help to prevent the aluminum from moving during the cut.

Fifth, you need to wear safety glasses. Aluminum can create sparks and chips when it is cut, so it is important to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to cut aluminum safely and effectively with a table saw.

Here are some specific table saw blades that are good for cutting aluminum:

  • High-speed steel table saw blades: These blades are made from high-speed steel, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting thin pieces of aluminum.
  • Carbide-tipped table saw blades: These blades are made from tungsten carbide, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting thick pieces of aluminum.
  • Abrasive cutoff blades: These blades are made from a special abrasive material that is very effective at cutting aluminum. They are a good choice for cutting thick pieces of aluminum or for making curved cuts.

No matter which blade you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using it.  It is recommended that you use a push stick when cutting metals, including aluminum.

An Angle Grinder Will Cut Aluminum

On Sale
DEWALT 20V MAX* Angle Grinder Tool, Tool Only (DCG413B)
  • Brushless motor of the angle grinder requires no brush changes.
  • DEWALT grinder’s brake stops wheel in 2 seconds or less on average
  • Kickback Brake engages when a pinch, stall, or bind-up event is sensed and the electronic brake…

You can cut aluminum with an angle grinder. However, there are a few things you need to do to make sure the cut is safe and effective.

First, you need to use a blade that is specifically designed for cutting metal. A standard grinding wheel will not be sharp enough to cut aluminum cleanly, and it may also cause the aluminum to chip or melt.

Second, you need to use a slow speed. A slow speed will help to prevent the blade from overheating and will also give you more control over the cut.

Third, you need to apply a lubricant. A lubricant will help to prevent the blade from sticking to the aluminum and will also help to keep the cut cool.

Fourth, you need to wear safety glasses. Aluminum can create sparks and chips when it is cut, so it is important to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Fifth, you need to clamp the aluminum in place. This will help to prevent the aluminum from moving during the cut.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to cut aluminum safely and effectively with an angle grinder.

Here are some specific angle grinder blades that are good for cutting aluminum:

  • Abrasive cutoff wheels: These wheels are made from a special abrasive material that is very effective at cutting aluminum. They are a good choice for cutting thick pieces of aluminum or for making curved cuts.
  • Cutting discs: These discs are made from a combination of high-speed steel and tungsten carbide, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting a variety of metals, including aluminum.
  • Nibblers: These tools are designed to cut small, precise cuts in aluminum. They are a good choice for cutting holes or slots in aluminum.
Milwaukee M12 Fuel 16 Gauge Variable Speed Nibbler – No Charger, No Battery,…
  • Fast, Clean Cuts in 16GA Mild Steel Up to 7 Feet per Minute
  • Power to Cut 22GA Spiral Duct Seams
  • Power to Cut 18GA Stainless and 12GA Aluminum

No matter which blade you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using it.

Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind when cutting aluminum with an angle grinder:

  • Always wear safety glasses when cutting aluminum.
  • Use a sharp blade to prevent the aluminum from melting or chipping.
  • If you are using a power tool, make sure the blade is properly aligned.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges of the aluminum.
  • Be aware of the sparks and chips that can be created when cutting aluminum.
  • Dispose of the cut aluminum properly.

Miter Saws And Aluminum

You can cut aluminum with a miter saw. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure the cut is safe and effective.

  • Use a blade that is specifically designed for cutting metal. A standard wood blade will not be sharp enough to cut aluminum cleanly, and it may also cause the aluminum to chip or melt.
  • Use a slow speed. A slow speed will help to prevent the blade from overheating and will also give you more control over the cut.
  • Apply a lubricant. A lubricant will help to prevent the blade from sticking to the aluminum and will also help to keep the cut cool.
  • Clamp the aluminum in place. This will help to prevent the aluminum from moving during the cut.
  • Wear safety glasses. Aluminum can create sparks and chips when it is cut, so it is important to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.

With these tips in mind, you should be able to cut aluminum safely and effectively with a miter saw.

Here are some specific miter saw blades that are good for cutting aluminum:

  • High-speed steel miter saw blades: These blades are made from high-speed steel, which makes them very sharp and durable. They are a good choice for cutting thin pieces of aluminum.
  • Carbide-tipped miter saw blades: These carbide blades are made from tungsten carbide, which makes them very sharp and durable. Carbide blades have carbide teeth, and they are a good choice for cutting thick pieces of aluminum.
  • Abrasive cutoff blades: These blades are made from a special abrasive material that is very effective at cutting aluminum. They are a good choice for cutting thick pieces of aluminum or for making curved cuts.

No matter which blade you choose, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using it.

Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind when cutting aluminum with a miter saw:

  • Always wear safety glasses when cutting aluminum.
  • Use a sharp blade to prevent the aluminum from melting or chipping.
  • If you are using a power tool, make sure the blade is properly aligned.
  • Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp edges of the aluminum.
  • Be aware of the sparks and chips that can be created when cutting aluminum.
  • Dispose of the cut aluminum properly.

Hacksaws For Cutting Aluminum

Hacksaws are hand saws, as you know, and we supply the power to use them.  It’s a good option for small cuts or for cutting in places where power tools won’t fit.

Tin Snips For Cutting Aluminum

Tin snips are a good option for cutting sheet metal aluminum. They are easy to use and can make clean cuts.

Carbide-Tipped Blades For Cutting Aluminum

We’ve mentioned using carbide-tipped blades for cutting aluminum and will expand a little bit on them.

Bestsellers
WEN BL1040 10-Inch 40-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Professional Woodworking Saw Blade...
WEN BL1040 10-Inch 40-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Professional Woodworking Saw Blade…
Perfect for slicing through both hard and softwoods of all kinds; Ultra-thin 1/10-inch kerf (2.4 mm) provides clean and efficient cuts
$10.63
Bestsellers
WEN BL1200 12-Inch 100-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Ultra-Fine Finish Professional...
WEN BL1200 12-Inch 100-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Ultra-Fine Finish Professional…
Perfect for slicing through both hard and softwoods of all kinds; Ultra-thin 1/10-inch kerf (2.8 mm) provides clean and efficient cuts
$26.75
Bestsellers
WEN BL1032-2 10-Inch 32-Tooth and 60-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Professional...
WEN BL1032-2 10-Inch 32-Tooth and 60-Tooth Carbide-Tipped Professional…
Ultra-thin 1/10-inch kerf (2.4 mm) provides clean and efficient cuts; Perfect for slicing through both hard and softwoods of all kinds
$22.03

Carbide-tipped blades are good for cutting both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. They are extremely hard, heat-resistant, and impact-resistant. Carbide cutting edges and carbide bits can last up to 10 times longer than regular steel blades and bits.

They can cut harder, denser metals like hardened steel, cast iron, alloys, and higher grades of stainless steel.

You can use a carbide-tipped abrasive cutoff wheel for nonferrous metals like brass, aluminum, copper, or lead. The pitch and design of the blade you choose will vary depending on the thickness of the metal.

For example, you can use a wood-cutting saw with carbide-tipped blades to cut most aluminum.  Use a fine-toothed blade, and, if possible, choose a saw blade that creates narrow kerfs.

Video Of A Miter Saw Being Used to Cut Aluminum

Yes, it’s a metalworking shop and not a woodworking shop, but a miter saw is a miter saw.  He’s using a carbide-tipped blade and wearing all of the safety gear we recommend, even though he has a collection hose connected to the saw.  He uses wax to lubricate the blade, although there are other lubricants that can be used when cutting both nonferrous metals and ferrous metals.

You have the tools already in your shop, and with the addition of the right blades, cutting aluminum in a woodworking shop becomes easy and straightforward.  Just remember:  safety first.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you found this interesting, please share!

Comments are closed.