Cutting Aluminum Questions and Tips

So I have been taking a good amount of time lately trying to get my machine dialed in for maximum precision, now that I have been able to cut a couple small projects I have decided I want to see how far I can push it.

I have seen several people cut metal on the forum, and I happen to have a source for cheap aluminum in my area so I thought maybe I would give it a shot.

So before I start I thought I would open up the floor to an tips and trick.

I have been looking at buying metal cutting bits to begin with and have read that you need to move a lot shallower cuts, but other than that I am a complete novice.

I was also thinking about an oil bath and was wondering if anyone had attempted that. How do you contain the liquid? and how do you mount it?

Thanks in advance.

There is tons of info on forums for bits sources and what to use, your choices will heavily depend on what you need and what did you do to your machine if anything.
I can give you my idea how I contain liquids.

I took a piece of MDF 1/2 inch and I clamped it on the surface that I use for my general wood and what not cutting.
I warked edges with marker to make sure I always claim it in same spot than I used resurfacing 1 inch bit to make sure surface is parallel to my router.
Next what I did is I cut 1/8 deep pocket square in the center to make sure I fit my typical 12x12 square.
When I cut alu I always start with drilling holes in 4 corners if design allows it and I just use very short screws to just secure material in place.
When done I just remove the jig I made and clean it off the machine. The overlap allows me to be generous with WD-40 I use but I would imagine if you look at other materials beyond MDF you can build something that would allow you to just make bath.

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I use an eye dropper and 3 in 1 oil. The eye dropper lets me put just a bit at a time. Also use the dust shoe as it helps keep the bits from flying all over the place. (you can get away with not using cutting oil with aluminum but it does help the bit stay cool and last longer)
This works good for small stuff.
For anything larger I would still use the eyedropper and place the oil where the bit will be going by.
Also when your cutting take shallow passes. Its better to take a tiny bit than to try to hog out a larger amount.
I have cut flat-bar aluminum and I have the dewalt 611. it also helps to have a rag handy. Here is a pic of one of the things I did. its about the size of a 50 cent piece or 40mm x 40mm

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Wow that is super Impressive. I thought if I used the dropper for the oil it would get sucked up directly by the shop vac. That is why I thought a bath would trap the chips as well as keep everything cool that way I can cut without the dust shoe on,

How do you clean the oil on the dust shoe. I would think it would get pretty messy on your next project.

The oil did not cause me any grief. however that pic above was done without any lube.
It did create a lot of chips. Some of the chips I had to clean up. I put up some blocks to help shield and keep the chips from flying too far. Then vacuumed them up. Cleanup was simple as I just wiped down the dust boot.

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I was able to cut 01 tool steel pretty easily with my stock 16 xcarve.

Edit: just the fuller.


Oil / cooling fluid bath => Simply mount a plastic container large enough to hold the stock to your waste board. You may be required to use some form on sealant. Alcohol is good

To cut aggressively in metal you need a rigid spindle, something the Xcarve or similar hobbyist machines are not.
Therefore you need to go gentler => fast and shallow usually work well but YMMV :slight_smile:

How long did it take to cut that? I presume you went slow, shallow depth per pass, and so on.

10 minutes per side I believe it was

I was having trouble believing you till I looked up the word “fuller”.



Actually, now that I looked up what a “fuller” is, I believe you, but now I am a bit creeped out.

I;d like to know as well haha

Its also called a “Blood Groove”.

That would be me.

If I remember there was research done that showed it didn’t work that way.

the argument is not only inaccurate in technical and historical terms (see below) but also with respect to physics and biology. The surface area of the blade is too little, and the friction between blood-slick wound and smooth blade too low for any real sticking to occur. When a blade does resist a simple withdrawal movement, a fuller, as the “blood groove” ought to be known, will do precious little to help. A smart twist of the rifle accomplishes far more, and has been taught for as long as armies have used sword or knife bayonets