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I need to cut a 1/4 inch slot in 1/4 inch inch thick aluminum. I currently have

  • A drill press
  • A router in a router table
  • Carbide bits for the router

My current plant is to drill the beginning and ending holes of the slot in the aluminum with the drill press. Once the holes are drilled I intend to use the router with a 1/4 straight bit to connect the starting and ending holes to form the slot.

My question - has anyone ever done anything like this before, and if so, did it work? Is it dangerous to health and tools?

  • It may be a better idea to hog out most of the slot with a series of smaller holes on the drill press. – Matthew Gauthier Jun 28 '18 at 19:49
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I have used wood tools (mitre saws, circular saws) to cut aluminum with no ill effects to either the equipment or the work piece. Just don't try to take too big of a bite with the router. You don't mention the depth of your cut. Make multiple passes if it's more than 1/4 inch.

Proceed slowly and wear your safety equipment.

  • The material is only 1/4 inch - so it would all be done in one cut. Maybe I don't need the starting and stopping holes now that I think about it. – Steve French Jun 28 '18 at 17:56
  • the stop start holes would keep it neat and dimensionally accurate. It's possible I don't really understand what you doing, specifically. – Tim Nevins Jun 28 '18 at 19:26
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    @Steve French, I do use a starting hole to keep the router from jumping, trying to plunge cut with a router could have nasty results, pre drill the starting hole for best results. – Ed Beal Jun 28 '18 at 19:44
  • Alloy matters with aluminum. Run a test piece and make sure you don't have something that turns gummy when you apply the router bit. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 29 '18 at 1:04
  • You can try doing the cut in one pass with the router, but I wouldn't. There are too many variables to come up with a definitive answer, but I would take no more than 1/16" at a pass – User95050 Jun 30 '18 at 14:41
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I cut aluminum all the time with carbide cutters. Both skill saw and router. I find the best advice would have a jig or block of wood clamped for a router to help keep your line where you want it if it grabs, go slow and I find a face shield and gauntlet welding gloves to be needed as the router really throws the metal chips and they can be both hot and sharp. Added, I just remembered that I have used my band saw with bimetal blades (wood cutting but fine tooth) to cut a bunch of press plates (aluminum .1 to .250 thick) on a few projects but mostly skill saw and router.

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