It is always advisable to use the right tools that are made for specific materials. It is why many hesitate at using a wood blade to cut aluminum which is a strong metal compared to wood. However, it is possible to use a wood blade if you take the proper precautions.
Cutting Aluminum with a Miter Saw & Wood Blade
Can I use a miter saw to cut aluminum? You can cut aluminum with a miter saw using a non-ferrous metal cutting blade. A miter saw a good choice for cutting aluminum extrusions, channels, pipes, etc.
But can you use a wood blade on a miter saw to cut aluminum?
Aluminum has excellent machinability and is relatively easy to cut. You can use a wood blade with a large number of teeth to cut through aluminum.
It should be noted that most brands of wood blades are strong enough to cut non-ferrous materials. You can even find special grades of carbide designed for cutting into aluminum. But if you are planning to use a wood blade, you’ll need to consider the TPI or number of teeth of the blade.
Wood Blade on Aluminum
The key aspect is the number of teeth on the blade. The more teeth (higher TPI), the smoother the cut will be. Lower TPI blades have deep gullets and bigger-sized teeth. These will grab the edges of the aluminum channels and pull the workpiece towards the blade.
When cutting into aluminum that is less than 1/16th of an inch, you will want to use a blade that has more than 10 teeth for each diameter inch. This means if you have a 12-inch miter saw, use a 120 teeth blade.
- 10 (TPI) x 12 (blade diameter in inches) = 120
In fact, many companies produce such wood blades that have many teeth, up to 200, just for that use.
If the aluminum is thicker, such as 1/8th of an inch, then you will need to use a blade with 10 teeth per diameter inch. For 1/4th of an inch thickness, the number of teeth is reduced to just 8 per diameter inch. The limit is 6 teeth per inch for aluminum that is thicker than a quarter inch.
Can I Cut Aluminum with a Chop Saw?
By chop saw, if you mean a miter saw, then yes. You can cut aluminum on a chop saw (miter saw) with a non-ferrous metal cutting blade.
Do not use an abrasive disc to cut aluminum on a metal cutting chop saw. Aluminum will clog abrasive cutting discs and will result in excessive heat and may eventually shatter the disc.
Cutting Aluminum with Circular Saw
When it comes to cutting large aluminum sheets, the miter saw is not an option. In such situations, a circular saw or jigsaw with a metal cutting blade is the best option.
You can use a circular saw to cut aluminum with a non-ferrous circular saw blade or a fine carbide-tipped wood blade. When you cut aluminum with a handheld circular saw, take your time and do it slowly. If the cut is not perfectly straight it will get caught between the metal. When this happens, let the trigger go and take the saw back a little. Start the saw again by feeding it slow and let the blade do the cutting.
Aluminum Cutting Tips
Secure the workpiece
The most important tip when cutting aluminum with a blade made for wood is taking the proper safety precautions. This means ensuring that the material is properly secured.
In woodworking, you can hold the workpiece by hand and cut it on a miter saw. However, aluminum will tend to cling to the blade and can be dangerous. It is best to use multiple clamps so that the aluminum stays in place.
As a general safety rule, you should wear safety goggles and clothing that is relatively tight to your skin. Loose clothing might catch if you are too close to the blade when it’s moving. Also, take off any jewelry or rings that might catch on the blade as well. This means that you should not wear loose gloves as that might catch on to the rotating blade.
Be careful about the sliver of material clinging on the cut edges. These are sharp and may cut your fingers.
One of the most dangerous aspects of cutting aluminum is the cut-off part being pulled towards the blade with high momentum. If the cut-off piece flies towards your face, it can result in serious injuries.
As opposed to safety goggles, you can wear a full safety mask or shield that will protect your face and neck. You could also clamp a piece of wood on the cut-off side of the work to avoid it getting pulled by the blade.
Use Cutting Oil
The use of cutting oil is another important aspect when cutting aluminum. The biggest danger is that the saw will catch or grab the material which may cause it to splinter. If that happens, it is likely that anyone standing nearby will be hit with the shrapnel generated by either the blade or the aluminum chipping off at high speed.
I strongly recommend clamping the aluminum workpiece securely before attempting to cut it.
Be sure to lubricate the blade with a low viscosity cutting oil to keep it from becoming loaded with debris or catching on the aluminum itself. I use WD-40 and found that kerosene and paint thinner also work well.
The lubrication not only reduces the chance of splintering but also keeps the blade and aluminum cooler which prevents overheating.
Use a Fine Blade
Be sure that the wood blade you use is a fine blade with a large number of teeth for cutting aluminum. Keep plenty of lubricant handy and allow the blade to cool a little between cutting. This will help keep the material intact and reduce the chances of injury.
What is the Best Saw Blade for Cutting Aluminum?
The best blade to cut aluminum is non-ferrous blades with fine teeth.
Diablo D1080N Blade
- Blade Type: Circular Saw Blade
- Arbor Size: 1-inch
- Suitable: Miter Saw, Circular Saw
- Model: Diablo D1080N
- Price: Click Here to See the Price
Remember, the blade should be suited for cutting non-ferrous material and have the right number of teeth for the thickness of the aluminum.