A stock X-Carve (1000mm) will cut Aluminum

I’ve seen a few posts over the past few days saying “I want to cut aluminum too… what modifications do i need?!?”.

You don’t need a Z-Axis upgrade…
You don’t need an iron bar for your x-axis…
You don’t need to wave a dead chicken over the spindle before you start…

Just do it!! With a little common sense a stock X-Carve can do what you want.

  1. Get a good bit. This is what i use…

  2. Stay within reasonable speeds:
    feed rate: 30 in/min & 0.005 in depth per pass works great in Easel.

  3. On the 1000mm stay to the left and out of the middle! Yes, the X Axis on the 1000mm can cause chatter. Staying to the left (12x12) and going slow is the key.

I cut aluminum all the time on my (mostly) stock machine… The only modification i’ve done is the ‘30 minute x-axis upgrade’ but i’ve also cut without it.

Here are some new brackets for my 3D printer (replacing 3d printed brackets) i cut out of 6061 aluminum.
3D STL converted to SVG then imported into Easel (using the cut settings above)… Cut time was 12 minutes each.

Have faith in the stock machine and just do it!!


Well said, and nice projects! The mods are nice, but definitely not mandatory by any means.

What was your 611 speed when you were cutting? Did you use any cutting fluid/lubricants?

My spindle speed is about 2 1/2 on the DW611 and I didn’t use any fluids.

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Thanks for sharing!
I just want to set my system up so when I cut metal its rigid enough that I am not having to pick up nuts that vibrate off. LOL
One job I did the eccentric nut fell off in the middle of a job on my Z axis. So I got the hardware and did the Z axis stiffening mod and then added lock nuts on the ends.

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I think a lot of the trepidation about cutting aluminum came from the old 24v spindle that shipped with the original version of the X-Carve. That thing barely even cut wood properly. Since switching to the DeWalt (the new standard) I’ve been able to cut aluminum, copper, brass, you name it. Aluminum especially… it cuts like butter.


nice job though I love to cut aluminum I use a little wd-40 though helps to extend the life of the end mills

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If you don’t want to use cutting fluid they also sell coated bits.

Nice clean parts @BrianM


you mean like the


type coatings?


also one thing to consider is the grade of aluminum 6061 cuts different from say 3003 aluminum and if you want to get really good results there are end mills specific to each grade of aluminum

I fully believe you hit it with the one statement - GET A GOOD BIT - way too many people in here grab some super I got a 40 pack of bits for $5 from China and then complain that they do not get amazing results… Nice job there!

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I only use the vipers for alu. But you’ll break them faster with an onmodded machine.

You don’t NEED mods to cut aluminium, but they do help A LOT in keeping your cutting times reasonable.


What are vipers?

widely accepted as the best bit to cut metals on a shapeoko/xcarve

oh very nice I might have to give them a try I mostly us Onsrud tooling and have never had a problem in any material with them

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This is really cool. Thanks for giving us your feed/cut rates and such. Where do you guys get your aluminum stock from? I’ve looked online before, but it seems to be really pricey, especially if I’m going to screw up a few cuts learning what I’m doing.

best place to get aluminum is your local metal supplier in your town

sometimes if your looking for different samples you can go to machine shops and see if you can get scrap pieces or trade work for aluminum

I know like 1 of my metal suppliers here in town has a laser cutter which won’t do pocket cuts in metal and mine will so they are interested in doing business with me so they actually gave me aluminum for free

did you 3d print your clamps? link?

My clamps are all 3D printed… They are cheap and easy to replace when i accidently cut into them :blush:

There are a few designs up on Thingiverse.com already, but i’ll post my design files up to Thingiverse when i get home.

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I get mine from a local supplyer. The online price for a sheet of 6061 12"x12"x1/8" is about $12US.

Amazon (~$17 shipped with Prime), Ebay (~$15 shipped) and even Inventables (~$20 shipped) are good places to find it online.

what 3d printer do you have? how long does it take to print a clamp?
I’m still super suspicious of 3d printing. the visible layers I can see in the plastic make me suspect the parts are fragile.