Inventables Community Forum

Help with cutting Aluminum

If you are looking for thick stock I get mine from ebay. I can not even touch a piece like this around here for this price. bought it a few weeks back for a upcoming project.


midwest Indiana I love it here but the only thing near me is corn and meth. The closest place is a hour trip and $50 for the same thing.


The nice part of my last job as a jail officer I knew all the meth heads and they stayed clear of my placeThe slum lord that owns most of the homes down the block lost all of his renters because I moved here lol he hates me. there are only 3 occupied homes down a 2 block stretch of road now. :smiley:

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I Still have ties to the place but I changed jobs last year because of the lack of any pay increase. and being a small town almost every inmate knew me from growing up with me or from some other job or just related to them that in it’s self makes the job even harder.

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Check your local Fastenal store.

If you are looking for good metal at good prices, check out and Both have a huge assortment of metals and fair prices. Their products are in top condition and arrive fast. The random rack to Howard’s is a great place to pick up stock for projects from .125" to over 4" thick. We use either or both of these places weekly for production runs and they are both great to work with. Howard’s random rack is a bit cheaper overall and the more you order, the better the shipping comes out. But you will be hard pressed to get the same size stock week to week so setting up production runs on plates of stock is not as easy as ordering a standardized stock size from Midwest and running the same Gcode job after job when you change out plates.

Try to get the same alloy and temper so your feeds and speeds can move from one job to the next without issues. If you try to cut 5082 at the same feeds and such as 6061 T6, you will find issues and start to dislike milling aluminum dry.

It can not be said enough, keep the chips clear on aluminum while you mill. Air blasting will do a fine job if you are able to keep a steady firm air-stream at right angels to your cutter.

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I started ordering from midweststeel also. Amazing prices on 6061 (and even mic6), I managed to get a 14"x14"x5/8" slab for <$40!

What type of single flute are people using? Have you ever tried the Inventables single flute upcut?

Everything is working great. Just wish the bits would last longer I can make 30 thin i start to get not sharp edges

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Wipe the bits down with oil between cuts. Works for me. Also, coated end mills are the way to go!

Like between files I run or between each part

Yah, it seems like you should get more from your profiling bits. I did 100 medallions with one profiling bit, but went through 4 or five engraving bits. I order those in bulk now because they are so fragile. Also, I do not cut any metal (profiles) with less than a .125 bit, so that might be the difference. But I have forced air blowing on the bit constantly (when the router is on).

Can I get more details on the project you are talking about. Fred’s speeds bits metal. Air system I would love to get more life

The medallions (I made the handy display case with the x-carve too!):

Profiling: DOC: .005 (per pass); Feed: 40 ipm; Bit: 1/8" two flute destiny viper
Engraving: DOC: .001 (per pass, .002 total); Feed 40 ipm; Bit: 30 degree engraving, .01" tip

Air System:
Ordered this:
And connected it to my compressor (Calfornia Air Tools, Super quiet) with this:
because, if you cut this yellow air hose, it fits perfectly info the loc line on the mister. I do not use mist, just the forced air. I have the air compressor set to 20-30 lbs and it clears chips perfectly and also cools the bit. I spritz the bit with wd 40 sometimes, but it is not necessary.

The metal is brass: 0.125" x 2" Extruded C360 H02 (Half Hard) Brass Rectangle Bar from

Using these same settings, I made a holder for my Yeti Tumbler for my boat (a real life safer). Here is a close up. I did sand this a bit but the profile fiinish in this 1/2" aluminum was very, very nice. The two chamfered holes in the top were cut first and were used to hold the piece while profiling. I do not believe in using tape (crazy), or clamps (bit hazard). I always figure out a way to securely affix the metal to a planed flat milling surface. I also surface plane the metal to ensure an “level to the machine” surface for etching:

For the BB Medallions, I cut them all out. Then etched them with a jig I made for this project. You can see how each medallion (and any future medallion I make) is held securely in this jig. This is a very, very rigid machine and a very secure hold down. What you can’t see to the lower left is a tapered hole for “zeroing” my machine. I mannually snug my bit into this hole in the jig that is permanently affixed to my machine. THen, I zero my machine and can etch any or all of the slots whenever I want.

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im really interested in what you are saying here about your JIG and “zeroing” the machine to the same hole. I have come to the same conclusion, that I need something like that. I have some questions:

How do you “zero” the machine - “exactly”?
ie: do you unplug and move it by hand?
or: do you put the bit in the router first - and then use the arrow keys to “move it close” and down into the hole?
or: are you saying you put the bit in the Jig Hole first, then move the machine over the bit, then slide it up in?

Basically, I am concerned that moving at 0.1 Vs 0.001 nudge’s will mean the zeroing will be off a little, enough so that engraving my items in the jig would not end up being spot on.

Could you maybe post a little video showing the process? tha

This is my recomendation

Hello - This post is quite old and I don’t do it this way any more. But make a conical hole with a v bit or engraving bit. Turn machine off, manually move bit over hole, lower bit so the conical point settles into your zero hole. Set your machine to zero/zero and off you go.

cool. thanks!
So, do you have a “better way” now?
Biggest problem I face at this time is some reliable way to get the same zero point and the same material position. Iv’e ended up making “jigs for my jigs” and that works, but I wonder if there is a better way…

Yes, I have a Tormach 440 and use a probe. But I still use my x-carve like machine for wood.

Fair enough… lol
I feel like a $13k investment in a new machine should not be the only reliable way to get the same zero point… lol

Perhaps that is the reality of the situation.