Aluminium work?

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Forum topic by ZeroThreeQuarter posted 03-04-2010 11:58 PM 1418 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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120 posts in 3057 days

03-04-2010 11:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: aluminium question finishing

Has anyone here by chance worked with Aluminium before? I got some scrap pieces that i’m contemplating using in a bench, but i don’t know much about it other then cutting it and getting it welded by a friend of mine. I’m looking for info on how to either clean it up or buff it. I’ll be taking a picture of it later today when i pick up the pieces. They’re all C-channel style pieces, about 2” x 4” and 1/8” or so thick.

Thanks ahead of time.

-- Your mind, much like a parachute, works best when open.

10 replies so far

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3246 days

#1 posted 03-05-2010 12:06 AM

Welding it is supposed to be difficult-I’m not a welder. But I do know that bolting aluminum channel together will is pretty solid.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 03-05-2010 12:12 AM

The problem will be oxidation after it’s cleaned up. You will either need to paint it, anodize it, of keep a coat of oil on it.

You can cut it will most woodworking tools (no jointer or planer).

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4931 posts in 3960 days

#3 posted 03-05-2010 12:16 AM

There are as many alum. alloys as there are for many othere metals. Some soft, some hard. Gotta be sure what you’re workin’ with to determine the correct application.


View ZeroThreeQuarter's profile


120 posts in 3057 days

#4 posted 03-05-2010 12:26 AM

thanks Bill, I kinda had a feeling that would be the case. The cutting and welding isn’t my big problem, it’s the final finish/application that’s my issue.

Gary – What kind of oil would be used if unpainted or not anodized?

-- Your mind, much like a parachute, works best when open.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3742 days

#5 posted 03-05-2010 01:53 AM

As Gary said, you can cut it with your woodworking tools. (I would recommend a band saw). Also as said if it has been sitting around, oxidation and impurities can be a big problem when you try to weld it. A wire brush finish looks nice, you can also sand and polish it (buff it with polishing compound). Just how good do you want it to look?

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View BradHess's profile


63 posts in 3012 days

#6 posted 03-05-2010 02:24 AM

We used to use simichrome to polish custom made bike frames made out of aluminum at a past job. We then powder coated them, however I know that before I started their they used to just polyurethane them to protect them. The only reason they switched to power coat was the polyurethane did not hold up to UV as well.

View jayjay's profile


639 posts in 3046 days

#7 posted 03-05-2010 03:03 AM

More than likely it’s probably 6061 aluminum, ER4043 filler would would fine to weld it up with GTAW process. If you plan on anodizing the part after welding, 5356 filler might be a better choice for its color matching properties. However, if you’re going to paint or powder coat, I’d go with the ER4043, as it has better wetting action for welding. Stainless steel wire brush and wipe down with alcohol prior to welding. If the scale is thick, sand down with a silicone carbide sanding disc first, then SS brush, alcohol. Try to stay away from scotchbrite for precleaning applications, because it contains aluminum oxide as an abrasive, and aluminum oxide is what you’re trying to remove in the first place. After welding, scotchbrite is an excellent choice to polish up the metal and weld area. If other than just for visual asthetics, a simple buff and polish with scotchbrite would be plenty. There isn’t any real need to cover it up with anything unless it was going to be exposed to the weather.

-- ~Jason~ , Albuquerque NM

View UrbaneHillbilly's profile


22 posts in 3050 days

#8 posted 03-05-2010 03:20 AM

One thing you can do to hold a shine and avoid oxidation is shoot it with some automotive clear coat. I have a bike that was stripped down to aluminum and after a good polish we used auto clear on it. I was worried it wouldn’t hold on a shiny polish but it did.

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3288 days

#9 posted 03-05-2010 03:58 AM

put a buffing wheel on the grinder and go to town with any compound u got i did this at my work and used compound that is for buffing acrylic and my handles came out great then shot them with some laq. for the finnish plus to keep them shinny.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3056 days

#10 posted 03-05-2010 04:09 AM

You might want to take a look at past issues of Shop Notes. There are lots of projects in the issues that include working with aluminum. Many of the uses or aluminium are to reinforce corners, but it might be useful. Unfortunately I don’t know how to access them other than looking in the actual magazines. Like Wayne says, the nice thing about aluminium is that it’s soft enough that it can be cut, drilled, and shaped with woodworking tools.

-- Glen

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