How to Cut Aluminum

[Cover] How to Cut Aluminum

You can cut aluminum sheets with various ways using various tools. Each cutting method and power tool is suitable for a specific kind of sheets and use. No matter what manner is best for you, or what tool is most suitable for you, you can always learn how to cut aluminum. In this article, we’re going to expose the most common methods for cutting aluminum, showing you the basics.

Cutting Aluminum with Electric Power Tools

  1. Cut aluminum with a saw made for cutting wood. Preferably, choose a saw that is also made for narrow cuts. When cutting aluminum, use blades with thin teeth, whose size doesn’t surpass ¼ inch, that is 0.64 cm.
  2. Lubricate your blade with the mostly used WD-40 or saw wax. Apply the oil or the wax repeatedly, from five to six times the top half as well as the bottom one of the blade.
  3. Adjust the speed of your saw because wood-cutting saws are set at a very high speed. Using a saw at a high speed to cut aluminum may be dangerous.
  4. Then, clamp your aluminum sheet. Turn the bar counterclockwise to release it. Put the clamp, with the open end of the jaw over your workbench and the bottom of the jaw below the table’s top. Attach the aluminum into the jaw, rotate the metal rod clockwise, to fix it.
  5. Hold the saw and start cutting at a steady and slow pace to ensure your safety.
  6. Switch the saw off to re-adjust the depth. You need to retreat the blade’s guard, release the knob and turn the base of the saw until it reaches 0.25 inches beneath the metal, that is, O.64 cm. after adjusting the depth, fix the knob.
  7. If you want to make circular cuts, you need to use a jigsaw. Clamp your aluminum, place the saw near your intended cutting point. Then, move the blade downward at a distance 0.39 inches between the metal, and move the blade over the metal with the back of the saw directed to the opposite direction to which you want to direct the blade.

You can also use a table saw to cut aluminum. Here’s ho to do it properly:

Cutting Aluminum on the Table Saw

How to Cut Aluminum with a Cold Chisel

  1. Use a cold chisel one size larger than your aluminum sheet. Your chisel needs to be sharpened to 60/70 degrees. Use a honing guide to do so. Attach the chisel into the honing guide and fix it by fastening both sides.
  2. Direct the guide at the right angle and put the edge of your metal sheet against a cross-cut file.
  3. After you hold the guide with your hands, move the chisel in a back and forth motion.
  4. Fix the aluminum sheet firmly in your vice. The vice can be dismissed if you’re going to cut a line and start cutting, just place the aluminum on a flat surface. Use a piece of wood instead as a backup element.
  5. Place the chisel in line with the vice’s screw by placing the tip of the chisel against the metal. With a ball-peen hammer, hit the chisel’s handle and cut at a 90 degree with reference to the vice’s jaws. You shouldn’t use a claw hammer, it’s easily breakable and is not made to cut thick metal.
  6. Don’t stop hitting the metal until you see an incision. For it to appear, it always doesn’t take more than 30 seconds. This incision generally means that the metal is ready to be split in two with only your hands. If the process takes more than this average time, you’re either using an inappropriate chisel, or you should use a saw.
  7. Lubricate the chisel’s edge with a very small amount of oil to facilitate the process.
Hack Saw and Cold Chisel

Cutting Aluminum with Tin Snips

  1. To make circle-shaped cuts, use tin snips made for cutting curves. Draw the circle you want to cut on your aluminum sheet.
  2. Beat the back of a straight-blade screwdriver into the metal to make a pilot cut inside the circle you’ve already drawn.  
  3. When cutting towards the right, use green tin snips. Red ones are made for leftward cuts.
  4. When making straight cuts, open the tin snips at their utmost width, in order to make the cuts as long as possible.
  5. The cut strip should be maintained up, then turned to the side.
  6. When cutting extremely thick metal sheets, it’s advisable to resort to compound snips designed for straight cuts. This type is more useful
How to Use Tin Snips - Great Tech Tip from Eastwood

Wrapping Up with Safety Measures

  • Wear the necessary eye and ear protection and a pair of work gloves.
  • When using electric power tools, you can use a push shoe to attach the aluminum sheet into the saw, or to move it. In so doing, you can safely work without being too close to the blades.
  • Your fingers shouldn’t touch the saw blade.
  • Whenever you need to adjust your saw’s depth, turn off the machine.


Jeffrey Alfaro

Jeffrey is a craftsman and writer who specializes in testing tools and covering the tool industry for construction and woodworking professionals.

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