How can we cut aluminum square tubes

Sawing aluminum

Properties of aluminum

The machining and processing of aluminum differs significantly from that of other metals. It is above all the properties of aluminum that lead to:

  • special softness of aluminum
  • Formation of an oxide layer
  • low melting point

Sawing and cutting aluminum with suitable equipment

Specialized companies have suitable machines and devices for professional sawing and cutting of aluminum. Aluminum sheets are folded there on the folding bench, for example. Metal saws that are cooled are also suitable for sawing large blocks.

The plasma cutter can also be used to cut large aluminum components. The water cutting device is then used for complex cuts and shapes. This enables you to cut even the finest cooling fins in an aluminum component.

Sawing and cutting of aluminum by the do-it-yourselfer

Do-it-yourselfers typically do not own these devices because they are expensive to purchase. In addition, there are usually only a few parts to be sawed or cut. This does not mean that these high costs are amortized. This is why the following tools and machines are usually used by do-it-yourselfers when sawing aluminum:

  • Cutter knife (4.99 € at Amazon *)
  • Tin snips
  • Jigsaw
  • Circular saws (table or hand-held circular saw)
  • Angle grinder (€ 48.74 at Amazon *)

The use of Stainley knives and tin snips for aluminum

Only very thin aluminum sheets can be cut with the Stainley or cutter knife, the sheet metal shears should not be more than 1 mm thick. The accuracy of the cuts is rather imprecise, but ultimately depends on the tools available and your cutting experience.

The jigsaw for sawing aluminum

The jigsaw is suitable for sheet metal and thicker profiles (but definitely well below 1 cm). To do this, the pendulum stroke must be switched off and the speed or the number of strokes reduced significantly. The feed to be performed is also low, in any case significantly less than when sawing wood. You can also use coolant with the jigsaw.

Saw aluminum with circular saws

Most circular saws are actually designed for woodworking, but aluminum can be sawed to a certain extent. In addition to the appropriate saw blade, a correspondingly low speed should also be selected for the circular saw. The feed rate must also be low here.

The use of coolant is only possible with a circular saw with a guide, but it still remains problematic. With a table saw you have to do without the coolant. The table saw's motor hangs under the table and the risk of coolant running into it and causing a short circuit is simply too great. The use with the table saw is therefore the least suitable.

Cut aluminum with the angle cutter

The angle cutter isn't necessarily the perfect choice either. The speeds here are inherently high and very difficult to keep low. There is even less to think about using coolant. But since the speed is already high, there is the greatest risk that the aluminum will melt at the cutting edge. Make sure that you only use metal dividers to cut aluminum.

The saw blades for sawing aluminum

The saw teeth should be as straight as possible and have plenty of space for the chip. In addition, saw blades for metal must be used. Multi-blades are absolutely unsuitable for aluminum. Also make sure that no other metals have been cut with the saw blades. Ferrous metals and other metals can trigger a chemical reaction when they come into contact with aluminum. This includes pitting corrosion, among other things.

The coolant for sawing aluminum

Again and again you can read about do-it-yourselfers who use alcohol as a coolant. It is actually used in the professional sector, but only in compliance with the safety regulations. Because under certain circumstances the alcohol can ignite when sawing aluminum. When sawing aluminum, it is therefore preferable to use water-based emulsions for cooling.

The oxide layer

As soon as aluminum is exposed to air, an oxidation layer forms within a few minutes. This can be desirable, but it can also be disruptive (for example when gluing, welding or painting).

Depending on how you saw the aluminum, you may have to rework it afterwards. Here we show you how to grind aluminum, here how to file aluminum.

Author: Tom Hess

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