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Thread: How to cut aluminum tubing?

  1. #1

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    How to cut aluminum tubing?

    looking for a easy way or trick to cut, say 2 inch od aluminum tubing straight through with a hand hacksaw without veering off in one direction or the other?

  2. #2
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Big tubing cutter.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  3. #3

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    thought of welding a couple of pieces of angle iron up, on a piece of steel and keep the hacksaw blade working against the angle irons.
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    Chicken Hawk's Avatar
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    Mark your cut line, start your cut on top of tube, then only cut down the face of the tube following your cut line. Rotate tube as needed. The key is to cut one side at a time working your way around while following your line.


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  5. #5

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    Carbide tipped chop saw.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    Big tubing cutter.
    gonna try one.https://www.ebay.com/itm/Tubing-Cutt...wAAOSwH4lcebJr

  7. #7
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    Carbide tipped chop saw.
    Any wood blade works fine, I have a 25 year old Makita chop box that has the cheap blade it came with that has made thousands of alum cuts.

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

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    That tubing cutter will work well but for some tubes, you do not mention the wall thickness which truly matters in this task.
    For cutting with a hacksaw as the original question, with a standard size sheet of paper, a magazine cover being a great source. Wrap the sheet around the tube to use as a guide for marking the tube with say a Sharpie type marker.
    Now with the hackwaw, roll the tube as you progress with the cut allowing you to follow that guideline.
    This should allow you to have a straight cut with less second process finishing needed.
    The chop saws can work well but many blades can develop a harmonic and become unstable resulting in a wide ratty cut. Some blades can also gum up which results in the teeth filling, again the result does not do you well. Use caution with conventional abrasive chop saws, there are so abrasive wheels that can be dangerous when they fill with molten aluminum, plus again they can be unstable resulting in wide cuts.

    In reality the hacksaw is far from the worst tool to use for this task. guided right it can offer the least second process finishing.
    If paying attention, when the blade wanders, less damage may be done from wandering from the desired cut line.
    Other reciprocating saws when guided well do fine as in powered saws. Can be tricky though when the blade tip is inside the tube since it hay not treat you well when it hits the inside of the tube or if the blade passes through, the tip end can wander off line resulting in a not happy result.

    Wood working bandsaws work sweet with aluminum. Stability of the work table and blade choice can matter, again clogging teeth being a possible issue.
    And as Glenn state, no need for carbide tips, very few of the carbide compounds are formulated for aluminum cutting.
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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieN View Post
    The chop saws can work well but many blades can develop a harmonic and become unstable resulting in a wide ratty cut. Some blades can also gum up which results in the teeth filling, again the result does not do you well. Use caution with conventional abrasive chop saws, there are so abrasive wheels that can be dangerous when they fill with molten aluminum, plus again they can be unstable resulting in wide cuts.

    Wood working bandsaws work sweet with aluminum. Stability of the work table and blade choice can matter, again clogging teeth being a possible issue.
    And as Glenn state, no need for carbide tips, very few of the carbide compounds are formulated for aluminum cutting.

    Trick to help prevent aluminum from gumming up and clogging the teeth on power saws. Spray the saw teeth, and the aluminum along your cut line with WD40 or PB Blaster. Will give you a smoother finish on the aluminum.

  10. #10
    Southern Aero's Avatar
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    All of the above plus number of teeth in the saw blade for smoothe cuts. Coarse blades usually work better in solid aluminum but the fine blades can work better in thin wall. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1 1/2 teeth in the wall of the tube if possible. As Charlie said mark it with a paper wrapped around the tube and cut outside the line slightly and finish by hand with file or sanding.

    But if you have a good, square cutting cold saw would save a lot of time!
    ......... It doesn't cost any more to go first class! You just can't stay as long.

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    In 40+ years of using shop production wood saws to cut aluminum I’ve never had a gummed blade or any blade wobble using carbide tipped blades. That applies to cross cutting on a chop saw or ripping on a table saw, but all of my blades are fine toothed finish blades. Coarser blades have too much grab. Steel blades may work but I haven’t used one in decades. I have a hydraulic band saw for steel and cutting aluminum on that saw is a no-no. It gums the teeth. Those don’t get sharpened, they get replaced.
    Last edited by stewartb; 09-22-2019 at 10:43 AM.
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  12. #12

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    charlie, up to .049 wall, i cant hear worth a shoot, chop saw will wack it right off, but the noise, cords, flying shrapnel, saving maybe a finger or a little blood, running 60 yards to where my saw is, going to try the tube cutter deal. if i have to do a 45 or more angle on the end then its back to the electricity. your piece of paper idea is a good one.

  13. #13

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    Tubing cutter will make a burr on the inside, so advance the cutter slowly, lots of rotations per adj, then a Bowie knife for the deburr. From sleeving hang glider LE.
    What's a go-around?

  14. #14
    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Some tubing cutters have a triangular shaped reamer that folds out to remove that burr.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

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    Grant's Avatar
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    Exhaust Tail Pipe Cutter Steel/Metal Tube Adjustable Saw


    Amazon
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  16. #16

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    Use a miter box like this one: https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRAFTSMAN-1...Box/1000595083

    A cheap box for occasional work. Get a better box if you have a lot to cut.

    John Ciolino
    Bearhawk Patrol

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    algonquin's Avatar
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    When I want a square cut I put the tube into the lathe, start the cut and finish off with a hack saw and clean up with a file.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skywalker View Post
    Tubing cutter will make a burr on the inside, so advance the cutter slowly, lots of rotations per adj, then a Bowie knife for the deburr. From sleeving hang glider LE.
    I modified a 16' hang glider to break down into thirds, 2 sleeves per section, in the early 70's. Backpackable pretty much, and my wife and I toured Columbia and Ecaudor for 3 months, flying off random mountains, a tubing cutter (sharp, the good ones have replaceable cutters) and a rat tail file to get rid of the burr. Little pressure, many turns, is best.

    We heard about a guy who controlled access to one peak near Medellin, who had an airplane welded down over his ranch entry, was told not to go there.....years later, figured out it was Pablo Escobar's place, and the plane was a Super Cub. Turns out he was also messing around with hang gliders at the time, who knows we may have hit it off. If we weren't shot first. Anyway, tube cutter gets my vote for least cost, best cut, portable also.

  19. #19

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    If I am cutting with a handsaw or Dremel I put a hose clamp on the tube to use as a guide.When most of the way through you can rotate the clamp 180 and finish the cut.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by willyb View Post
    If I am cutting with a handsaw or Dremel I put a hose clamp on the tube to use as a guide.When most of the way through you can rotate the clamp 180 and finish the cut.
    you know willy b, i tried a few different things, and your hose clamp way, WORKS. fast, no noise, straight, quick.
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  21. #21

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    When I want an accurate cut through tube up to 3" diameter I use my table saw with a carbide blade, accurate for angled end cuts too. I've cut up to 3/4" thick plate. Warning; don't cut anything LESS than 1/8". Use gloves, face shield, ear phones. I also use my Porter Cable router for cutting unusual shapes like the 3/4" thick universal joints at the ends of float struts, but I made a router table with a sliding "vise" to hold the metal, great for shaping a radius/tangent using a pivot bolt in the vise.
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