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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Cutting a Slot in Aluminum Tubing (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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ClintonMagus
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What would be the most cost-effective method to cut a lengthwise slot in an eight-foot piece of two- or three-inch square aluminum tubing? If possible, it needs to start and stop about six inches in from the ends.
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
IDOTRIX
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Darien,il
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I don't know if this is the best way, but the idea that first came to my head. Use a table saw with at least an 80tooth blade. Set the fence so when you set the aluminum onto the blade is cuts the slot where you want it. It may take a few passes to get the correct width. Hope that helps. Mike
remote guy
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Maryland
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The proper way to do it is with a Milling Machine but if you do not have access to one I would use a variable speed router with a 1/4" or 1/2" end mill in the collet.

Don't forget to lubricate.

Nick
EsnRedshirt
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Aluminum is soft, standard woodworking tools should be sufficient to cut it. The biggest challenge is keeping the tube straight during the cutting.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
makeupguy
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I have one of those "As Seen on TV" Dual Saws... I'd recommend this tool to anyone in a HEARTBEAT!!

This is exactly the type of job that's it's PERFECT for!
Chance Wolf
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If you want it done right and clean as a whistle, send it to me and I will jig it up on my CNC.
PM me if you are interested, it may be cheaper than you think.
I will cut you a good deal to help another Café brother out.
Chance
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

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ClintonMagus
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Chance, thanks for the offer. I will need fo finalize my design first. Based on my experience shipping pole vault poles, it will probably be about $100 - $150 freight each way to ship it.

Where are you located?
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Bill Hegbli
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Fort Wayne, Indiana
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You did not mention how wide the slit/slot has to be. I have used an abrasive circular saw blade to cut aluminum on a bench saw. Start the saw and gently lay the square pipe down on the blade. For something as long as you are using, I would have someone to hold the other end, and help lower it.

Make a jig to keep the aluminum against the gate.

You said it was square tubing, so it should fit against the gate on a bench saw. Just rip it.
Vietnam Veteran 1967, Sgt. E-5

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thegreatnippulini
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Clint, you could order the tubing from, say McMaster & Carr, have it delivered to Chance Wolf's shop, then pay for the shipping from his shop back to you.
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Chance Wolf
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I am in Wasington state. Is this a special type of aluminum tubing?
I have a local supplier. I can pick it up and reduce the shipping fees by one way.
Also, I think I can get a much better price on shipping.

There are a lot of other suggestions you can try.
I personally would be scared as hell to run a stick of aluminum down a table saw but it can be done.
The kick back potential is VERY high and could possibly send that tube right through your gut or someone elses.
Safety and precision seem to be most important in a shop.
I have found it best to approach a task the safest way possible.If you do not have the proper tools...sub it out...that is why I have all my fingers and no extra holes in my body Smile
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thegreatnippulini
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I have extra holes, but I make sure to put them to good use.

P.S., I also have all my fingers (and toes).... came close to losing one or two, but still have 'em all!
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2011-05-23 11:03, Chance Wolf wrote:
I personally would be scared as hell to run a stick of aluminum down a table saw but it can be done.
The kick back potential is VERY high and could possibly send that tube right through your gut or someone elses.

That's why he suggested having someone else hold the other end. Smile Don't you ever watch The Three Stooges?? Smile
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Chance Wolf
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My buddies and I HAVE been the Three Stooges back in the old days when I first began building Signs and other crazy stuff! I am AMAZED I am even alive let alone have all my digits.
There are always plenty of "make shift" ways to approach a task when the proper tooling is not available however the downside is that the risk factor increases dramatically depending on how "creative" the solution is.
My shop is pretty well equipped but there are a TON of tools I do not have that would make life even easier.
Tools can almost become an addiction for some folks.
Thank God I have not got hit by that bug. I just buy what I need when I need it.
...unless it is really cool Smile
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

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Zazz
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Just a reality check.
Three weeks ago a man came to work on my job with eight fingers and he left with seven and two others were saved, but in bad shape while working with a table saw.
He lost two fingers on a previous job. Safety was not his main concern.
Be safe out there.

Dan
Chance Wolf
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You got it Dan!
Most folks do not fully comprehend the danger involved when using a table saw.
I have watched guys use the absolute most STUPIDEST "techniques" on a table saw!
I squirm every second while watching.
And the kicker is they will not listen to my advice or say "I have been doing this for years"

The Number 1 Rule in my shop:
NOBODY uses my table saw.
I cannot withstand the liability nor stomach the fact that someone loses a finger or two in my shop under my watch.
Never underestimate the sheer force and power of a table saw. It is a deadly machine and safety should never be shunned for even a split second...because that is all it takes to lose your favorite finger(s)
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!

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makeupguy
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Michael and Chance!!

What you're talking about is EXACTLY why the Dual Saw is perfect. It's small, it's easy to control, and it has NO kickback!

You clamp your tubestock, run the saw up the piece.. and be done in about 10 min or less.

The saw was the best $200 I EVER SPENT on a hand tool!

When I taught high school tech theater classes, I had a girl removed from my class mid-semester once because shame came within about a foot of cutting off 4 fingers because she wasn't paying attention. Fortunately, I was near the master electricity switch and killed the power to the shop. It was the only close call we had that I'm aware of.. but it was enough to scare me a bit more than half to death. I didn't go back for a second year of teaching.
Chance Wolf
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I will take a look at the Dual Saw. It looks to be a very versatile tool.
I think it may have limitations if there are close tolerances etc. but otherwise sounds safe and slick!
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!

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Chance Wolf
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OK...just watch the demo video for the Dual Saw
WOW!! That is one cool tool! Looks like a shop must have.
Question. How long do the blades last through heavy use on harsh materials?
How much are replacement blades or can they simply be resharpened?
Thanks
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!

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Craig Dickens
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I make cuts like this all the time on square or rectangular aluminum tube using my tablesaw. Safely! Here is what I do-- first you HAVE to have a blade for cutting non-ferrous metal. Regular wood blades are dangerous for this use since they have a pitch for grabbing the stock. The blade is 80 tooth -5% pitch and is around $80.00 from Mcmaster-Carr. I have 2 so when one is being re-sharpened I can still work. The blade must be sharp. I clamp on 2 feather- boards to apply top and side pressure and clamp the workpiece to the rip fence. I SLOWLY raise the blade up into the workpiece ( NEVER lower the work onto a spinning blade!) until it breaks through and then lower it down slightly. Keeping a firm grip on the workpiece, it is unclamped and slowly run through till the end point. The saw is turned off and when the blade stops spinning the blade is lowered and the piece removed. I lubricate the blade for every cut. Also, always stand to the side of the workpiece just in case. You should be doing that for all cuts anyways.
I have several rules for working with the tablesaw. When I get tired, I stop. No conversation, music or distractions. If the cut required feels wrong, I stop and figure out a jig or device to make it as safe as possible. You HAVE to have fearfull respect for these machines. One wrong move and it is over. I have several sacrificial push-sticks and NEVER allow my hands within a foot of the blade.
I was watching an episode of ROUGh CUT on PBS a few weeks back where he showed a move of lowering stock onto a spinning blade to make a cut. He had clamped a block at the end of the rip fence as a guide. Absolutely crazy! I would never lower work onto a spinning blade!
For small slots, I have used a plunge router and edge guide making multiple grazing passes till breaking through. Workpiece needs to be clamped tight and you move very slowly.
e-mail at:magicaldickens@aol.com
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Chance Wolf
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Craig,
Your absolutely right in execution. Most of these methods and accessories are not in the average Joe's home workshop and they typically leave out a step or two thinking they can get by..and then ZZZIPP! Off goes the finger.
I was not stating that the task could not be done. It is just a more advanced procedure that I would not recommend home builders to attempt. As I still do not recommend.
I have seen shows as well with guys leaving less than a 1" gap between the fence and blade then running their fingers THROUGH the gap!! God it just makes me cringe! I think the push-stick was invented the day after the first guy lost his finger in the new invention of the table saw. I must have a dozen custom push sticks I have designed for various applications. They are easy to make and simply necessary for safe cutting.
Good to hear you play it safe!!!
HIGH(all)FIVE Smile
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!

http://www.wolfsmagic.com
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