Table saw has been a popular power tool among woodworkers for years. The circular saw blade mounted on the top of the arbor, which cuts in through depths of the wood, powered by an electric motor, has been regarded as the most powerful tool in getting excellent parallel lines of wood with utmost perfection. In all honesty, there’s nothing better than a table saw when you are strictly dealing with lumber, but it could be a bit tricky when materials other than wood are involved. You can compare different saws on Thesawingyard to find a compatible table saw that you can use to cut aluminum.
Although I should phrase it in the beginning that the best saws aren’t meant to just deal with woods, they work brilliantly well on a plethora of materials such as PVC piping, Styrofoam, plexiglass, and cardboards. But all projects don’t necessarily constitute all these materials; many times, you might encounter metals in the middle of the woods. Most stumbled metal in such projects being aluminum, a highly durable material that makes all the DIYers think, will my table saw work on it?
There’s a lot you need to know when you are dealing with aluminum. It possesses a lot of risks to you, metal, and the tool. Non-ferrous elements such as aluminum could be handled with table saws till you know all the prerequisites in your head.
Things to Consider when cutting Aluminum with Table Saw
1) Blade selection: Wood and metal are different in all dimensions of definitions. Woods are porous, soft, and could be dealt with any wood-cutting tool. While metals are sturdy and rigid, requiring much more than just a regular blade. Cutting aluminum with a table saw requires you to put in a blade meant to deal specifically with metals. For the unaware, choosing the wrong blade can cost you a lot of time and stress to cut through metals. To produce the cleanest impressive cut, you need to select the right blade beforehand, so you don’t have to deal with excessive dust cleanup in the end.
If you’ve stopped using your table saw on woods and want to focus solely on metals, it’s pretty easy to manage. But if you are at a stage where you are constantly dealing with both materials, it could be infuriating to change the blades every few minutes.
2) Lubricant: Lubrication is essential when you are working on aluminum with your table saw. It’s a no-brainer that the blade and aluminum both possess similar properties being metals. It’s crucial to provide a thick layer of lubrication in between the blade and the metal when you are cutting the aluminum, so the metal does not stick to the blade. It could be a daunting task to remove the aluminum from your blade. Make sure to lubricate the saw blade decently well before diving into the metal.
3) Dust collection: This single precaution is missed out by most DIYers but is known to cause a mishappening when not taken seriously. The majority of the table saws come up with a dust collection system that takes in all the little scraps of wood. Make sure to turn it off when you are dealing with metals, specifically aluminum. If you don’t keep this one thing in mind, there is a chance that a hot piece of aluminum lands in your dust barrel and triggers flames, which could cause unexpected irreversible damages.
4) Safety: When you start cutting through metals, it’s a whole different game that comes with its own set of safety risks. Improper safety gear exposes you to various dangers that might not look as such at first glance. It would be best if you had proper work gloves while cutting through the metals to prevent injuries, which creates enough visual sparkles. Eye and face protection is a must. You can’t afford to cut yourself slack in any way in such precautions.
5) Kickback: Kickback has been known as a severe high-risk hazard while cutting in through saws. While the risk is still pretty considerable with wood, it’s far greater with metals. Carefully stand in a position to avoid the kickback zone. Ensure to stay out of it while you are working. Know that when a material kicks back, it shoots right behind the saw, make sure no one is standing there.
All you need to do when you are cutting through aluminum (step-by-step guide):
- Unplug the table saw from its power.
- Cautiously, take off the blade you were using to cut through woods.
- Interchange the blade with the one you bought suitably for cutting through non-ferrous materials. Personal recommendation would be to use a 7.25-inch blade, given your table saw allows you to install this small blade.
- Lubricate the new blade carefully with paraffin wax (you can use beeswax as well). Glide the blade through an aluminum piece to check for lubrication. And, you can consider waxing the tabletop to ensure the smooth sliding of metal across the table.
- If you can, adjust the speed of the arbor to the recommended speed between 750 FPM to 1300 FPM.
- Make sure to wear your safety gear utterly. Put on your eye and face protection.
- Give the power back! Plug the saw back in.
- Put the aluminum metal piece on the top of the table saw. Make sure you aren’t in the kickback zone. Keep your hands on the saw as you would typically do. The only thing you should be carefully paying attention to is moving the metal piece slowly into the blade.
- Keep changing positions and angles to get the perfect cut. Turn off the table saw and unplug after you are done.
- The cut might not be perfect since table saws aren’t the best tools when it comes to dealing with metals such as aluminum. If you feel the need to smoothen out the messy edges, you can use a standard filer!
These were the steps you need to follow to cut aluminum with your table saw effortlessly. More than the precision of the metal cut, you should keep the precautions well enough in your head. If you have all the tools ready, it shouldn’t be tough to cut through aluminum; but always ensure proper safety in all regards when you are working with saws or other power tools.