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Can you use a Miter Saw to cut aluminum?

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Forum topic by Wingstress posted 11-03-2009 01:17 AM 59627 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Wingstress

328 posts in 2171 days


11-03-2009 01:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Is there any difference between a typical compound miter saw and a chop saw? I have a 10” Rigid miter saw I bought a few years ago at home depot. I would like to cut some aluminum bars using this saw. I figured I could find a 10” metal cutting blade and slap it on and start cutting.

I’ve seen metal cutting chop saws that look just like my saw, but I didn’t know if hey don’t run at different speed.
Will it burn the aluminum?

Thanks for the help!

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT


14 replies so far

View BeachedBones's profile

BeachedBones

201 posts in 2058 days


#1 posted 11-03-2009 01:45 AM

You can cut aluminum and even steel using a miter saw, as long as the blades you use are appropriate. Also keep in mind that It will cause more wear than normal woodworking use. If you plan on cutting a lot of metal I’d get a proper saw for it. If you just need to cut a couple pieces for a project you’ll be ok. (don’t forget goggles, metal shavings in your eyes aren’t fun) For steel those metal cutting disks work fine, for aluminum you want something with teeth, or else it’ll just clog up the disk. I normally use old just-about-junk carbide blades to cut aluminum. Clamp the material well, and go slow or the saw might grab/bend/twist the aluminum. Both saws should run less than 5000 rpm and work about the same.

If you’re making a lot of cuts together or cutting thick metal, do it in steps letting the metal cool between each step.

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

View tinnman65's profile

tinnman65

1130 posts in 2070 days


#2 posted 11-03-2009 02:39 AM

I must agree with BeachedBones he pretty much nailed it, we use all kinds of saws at work to cut aluminum including just a plain old circular saw, but I might add the right blade is a must and a good metal cutting blade isn’t cheap. If you don’t have much to cut you can always use a thin abrasive wheel in a small grinder. We just call them cutoff wheels at work I don’t know what name there sold under but they work great.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. β€” Scott Adams

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14752 posts in 2332 days


#3 posted 11-03-2009 03:40 AM

Cutting Al will plug up the teeth of your blade. Clean fequently. Edit, I’ve never had the Al burn, but it galls easily.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

529 posts in 2137 days


#4 posted 11-03-2009 03:55 AM

Cutting aluminum shouldn’t be a problem. As long as the bade has carbide teeth it will cut it fine. I’ve used regular wood cutting blades to saw sheet aluminum on a table saw. You can buy special blades made specifically for cutting non-ferrous metals. I’ve never had a problem with with burning aluminum on a saw.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View patron's profile

patron

13034 posts in 1997 days


#5 posted 11-03-2009 04:15 AM

when i worked in the boatyards ,
one day these guys showed up and unloaded lots of aluminum sheets 1/4 ” ,
and then brought in sears woodworking tools ,
tablesaw , bandsaw , joiner ,6” belt/disk sander and various hand machines ( skillsaw etc ),
all low level craftsman tools .

and proceeded to build a 40’ fishing trawler !
no special blades , just carbide , and regular band saw blades .

ungodly noise , but just cut slow and secure the work .

the joiner was what blew my mind .

they did the whole thing with woodworking tools !

then welded it together .
took about 1 month .

now i cut aluminum when ever i need it for projects without worrying ,
just go slow .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Wingstress's profile

Wingstress

328 posts in 2171 days


#6 posted 11-03-2009 04:19 AM

Hey thanks guys. I usually would have used my angle grinder, but I actually need these things to be square so I figured my miter saw would be best. The idea of taking a normal saw blade into aluminum is a little nerve racking, I would have never tried it on my own.

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View KevinVan's profile

KevinVan

91 posts in 1807 days


#7 posted 11-03-2009 04:44 AM

Make sure you take the dust bag off….Ask me why the plastic dust connector is melted on my saw..DoH!!
I burn’t the bag and melted the plastic when I cut some rebar. I turned my back and my saw caught on Fire!
I was using one of those fiber blades.
Your probably are Ok with aluminum.

-- ALS IK KAN β€œto the best of my ability,”

View frostwood's profile

frostwood

38 posts in 1843 days


#8 posted 11-04-2009 12:29 AM

Just be sure to wear your safety glasses.

-- With each new day, celebrate life. Love God with all of your heart. Share Jesus with those around you and make a positive impact on those you meet. Bob

View jerryz's profile

jerryz

164 posts in 1935 days


#9 posted 11-04-2009 12:48 AM

I build antennas for another hobby of mine (Amateur Radio) and I get the aluminum tubing in 6’ length and cut it to size with my Dewalt Miter Saw.
Perfect cuts, just be easy, wear gogle or safety glasses and don’t rush the job you will be rewarded with really nice looking cuts. Have fun and be safe.

View redbajabug's profile

redbajabug

6 posts in 2112 days


#10 posted 11-28-2009 10:22 PM

I just starded working for an aluminum fab place, the guys said I was easer to train than a iron worker because i know how to use the wood tools already. We use a sliding compound, table saw, band saw and skill saws to cut all aluminum without special blades, just lots of oil and go slowly

View mynoblebear's profile

mynoblebear

722 posts in 1763 days


#11 posted 11-28-2009 11:09 PM

You might want to have a way to clamp the piece in addition to holding it because if it rotates just slightly in the middle of your cut things go bad fast and carbide starts flying. I have cut all non furious metals with a chop saw however the correct carbide blade is a must.

-- Best Regards With Personalized Rocking Chairs And Furniture On My Mind, http://mynoblebear.com

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 1763 days


#12 posted 11-30-2009 12:07 AM

I used to repair aluminum gas tankers. I used a band saw with bi-metal blade 10tpi. If you spray the blade with a spray bottle and dish soap and water 10/90 mix. the teeth will not fill up with aluminum. Personally I would not use my CMS or TS. Bandsaw blades are much cheaper to replace.

View rustedknuckles's profile

rustedknuckles

160 posts in 2408 days


#13 posted 12-04-2009 12:08 AM

Blaine,
I did not know that, what is it that causes the explosion? Perhaps you are inadvertantly making thermite?

-- Dave- New Brunswick

View dlmckirdy's profile

dlmckirdy

195 posts in 1789 days


#14 posted 12-07-2009 08:51 PM

Grinding aluminum on a carborundum wheel will cause an explosion because the aluminum actually melts due to the heat of the friction and then clogs the pores on the stone. The hot gasses have nowhere to go, so they find the path of least resistance and violently escape (explosion). Grinding wood on a carborundum wheel can cause the same thing, though it burns away at a lower temperature, so it isn’t as dangerous – DON’T TRY YHIS AT HOME!

My first real job was in an aluminum/iron works. The aluminum work was done inside with woodworking tools (Unisaw, Rockwell radial arm saw, Skilsaw, Rockwell drill press). We did use a metal working lathe and flywheel punch, and, of course welding. All the iron working was done outside with shears, fibre cutoff wheels, flame cutting, etc. My first lesson was to NEVER use a fibre saw blade or stone grinding wheel on aluminum (there are specialty wheels for aluminum, but they are very expensive). Alway use carbide cutters, shears, and power sanders on aluminum. Also, never use a toothed circular (Skilsaw, table saw, miter saw, radial arm saw) saw blade on steel/iron. You can take an old (non carbide) plywood blade mounted backwards to cut sheet steel. The teeth are not actually doing the cutting, but are providing cooling.

The difference between a miter saw and a cutoff saw is that the cutoff saw is all steel/iron construction because of the heat and sparks generated when cutting steel/iron. It is nowhere near as accurate as the miter saw. The cutoff wheel is a fibre reinforced carborundum material – do not use this on your aluminum framed miter saw!

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

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