How to cut Aluminium stock down to size?

I’d like to get some larger pieces of Aluminium and cut them down to size to mill on the Nomad as needed. I assume I’m not the only one who would like to do this so how do other folks do it?

Hacksaw? Jigsaw? Chop saw?

Power hacksaw?


Ah, but how do you cut down the stock in order to make the parts for the power hacksaw? :slight_smile:

I’ve been thinking about a bandsaw like this one, a jigsaw like this one or just a regular handheld hacksaw.

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How big are you talking?

Wherever you’re getting them should be able to cut it for you.

There’s nowhere nearby to get them so I have to order online. I can ask that they be cut but there are minimum sizes and the smaller the piece, the higher the price, plus I need to wait for delivery each time.

Instead, I’d like to order them in plates of 500x500mm or so then cut off smaller pieces as I need them.

I order 12" x 24" sheet and plate 6061 online as well, and I use my Milwaukee cordless jigsaw and a coarse blade (10 TPI) to cut them. I have cut the 1/8" and 1/4" thick pieces so far. the biggest issue is clogging the blade ad having to stop and use a wire brush to knock out the melted aluminum from trying to go to fast.


How thick? You can get good blades meant for cutting aluminum for a table saw or circular saw. I wouldn’t want to cut anything really thick, though.

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I’d say the max would be 10mm and I’d probably buy smaller plates for that. The normal size would be more like 5mm.

I might take a plate to the hardware store and ask them if they have anything that can cut it, I think they can demo their equipment.

Easy to cut with a circular saw and a Diablo blade for aluminum.


I use this on my chop saw.

Or, as mentioned above, non-ferrous blade on a table saw.


I use Evolution Rage metal cutting (ferrous and non-ferrous) blades in a chop saw and it works great. Hacksaw works ok, but can be a a lot of work.

Welcome to the world of “Tool Creep” - first it’s the bandsaw, the table saw, the chop saw…the better table saw…the bigger bandsaw…


Haha, indeed. But, never too many or too good…


Need based

I’m selling my 7x12 bandsaw because its damn near impossible to move efficiently. Would much rather have a mini hand bandsaw on a horizontal frame.

This cut 2"x2" 6061 for me the other day easy. Don’t ask for speeds and feeds though :sweat_smile:


Too true, sometimes need/want blur a bit.

I’m willing to bet Mr Vince.Fab will upgrade to a Datron sooner then later. Need based of course :blush:

I find here if you order flat bar instead of plate it is actually less cost. So I usually order the max width flat bar (4”) in whatever length is standard and then hand hacksaw a single cut across it to length. Or in the case of 1/2” or thicker order it in 4” flat bar, 8” length.

I know noise is a concern for you and suspect any of these solutions will be LOUD.


Noise is definitely a concern for me and I do find this somewhat worrying. The Bosch GST 25 Jigsaw seems to be among the quietest options but even it produces 82db(A)/93db(A) of sound pressure/power, which is lawnmower level noise.

However this should be a few seconds worth of noise every now and then, I think I should be fine just doing it outside. It’s not like the mill that will make noise for hours on end.

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That, in my experience, is the least expensive, quietest method.

Sawing by hand can be very fast and accurate with good blades and good technique. Practice is needed.

Hand hacksaw with a 12" blade is probably my most used tool for both Aluminium and steel when cutting singles or small numbers. A good, rigid frame is key. It’ll cost about $US15 for a decent one. I like the cast aluminum type. USE GOOD BLADES. USE THE ENTIRE BLADE LENGTH. Pace matters. medium speed, full strokes, steady pressure-don’t force it- is faster and more efficient than what you most often see.

With any saw, minimum of three teeth engaged to prevent grabbing, but the larger the teeth within that rule, the faster the cut, the cooler the cut, and the better the chips clear.

My opinions follow, so get the large salt grain out.

Other options (I have a lot of tools, and have used many others on jobs. When I take a job on myself, I make sure the customer pays for tools in the price) include:

portable handheld bandsaw. Fast, quietish, versatile, a little limited in the cuts it can make by the 150mm throat depth, but is very versatile without needing to get too creative. Good ones are not cheap, and cheap ones are not really that good. Fairly easy to control the mess. This is my primary recommendation. If you can afford a decent one, it will do a LOT as long as you don’t ask it to cut in the middle of a 1mX2m sheet. Low-end decent is going to be $US150 and up. I prefer corded, but the cordless are as good at this point, but for price and battery life.

Drop-type bandsaw: can be inexpensive. Great for bar and rod, limited for plate. “convertable” types really aren’t. One of these will never be a standard bandsaw. The cheapies from box stores are ok, but they can be pretty frustrating to set up well. The correct blade is a must, and do not force the cut. Good ones have feed rate control, the cheap ones do not. These are moderately quiet, compared to a circular saw, and can control the mess fairly well, but take a lot of space.

standard bandsaw: you can, sort of, use a wood-cutting saw to cut Al. I do not recommend it, though. Noisy and hard on the machine. Versatile.

Metal-cutting bandsaw (standard type with a table): A most useful general purpose tool for metal stock prep ans shaping. But, very pricey and small ones are not worth it. If you need a small one, get a handheld and make a mount and table for it (Adam Savage did one up a few months ago. there have been commercial kits since the 1960’s or before, and it is a rite of passage to make ones own in a small fabrication shop)

sawzall (handheld reciprocating saw): can cut anything with the right blade, and there is a blade available for ANYTHING. Good quality cuts with care, but is considered a rough tool. Inexpensive, fast, noisy. Messier than the bandsaw or handsaw, but can be controlled.

handheld jigsaw: see sawzall, but make it a little slower and more precise, with the ability to follow a straightedge or curve more easily. Fewer blade options. Versatile. Can be quieted more easily than a sawzall (the material needs to be rigidly held so it won’t vibrate, keep the sole tight to the stock)

— Many people find, as I did, that a sawzall is the most versatile tool in the stable. Often not the right tool, but the right-enough tool. Hands are away from the blade, aggressive, but can do finer work with the right blade, reasonably priced. But noisy.

skilsaw/handheld circular saw: as noisy as the sawzall, or moreso, more mess. Fast. Can get straight, precise cuts with a little care. Lots of blade options. I do not like using these on metal. Use the correct blade or danger comes to town.

handheld metal-cutting circular saw: looks the same at first glance, but turns slower and has more torque. Designed for metal-cutting blades. Pricey, but pretty safe for the task, compared to the conventional skilsaw. I don’t own one, but have used them on jobs.

Tablesaw: see skillsaw, and add more space required. I do not use a table saw for aluminium, but some people do.

table-type jigsaw: not a stock prep tool, but can be used. Slow. Noisy with metals, but not terrible. Good control of the mess. You need the correct blade.

Zip-cutter (rotary tool with baseplate, trim router, whatever you call them. Most common application seems to be drywall cutouts): There are cutters intended for aluminum and sheet metal for these. They work, but are noisy, leave a wide kerf, can be tough to control, and are messy. Some people like them. I do not. Useful to put a hole in the middle of a panel,when one must, but not, in my opinion, a good basic stock prep tool.

handheld angle grinder: when you don’t have the right tool, this will do it, but you won’t like it. CRITICAL to use the correct wheel. Using non-Al rated wheels on Al WILL cause them to fail. Not recommended unless there is no other option. Noisy, messy, risky for the inexperienced. I have done it on the job when it had to be done. Used the Al rated cutoff wheels. I will say that ten cuts of 50mm square Al square tube was less pleasant than about 500 cuts on No6 (18mm) rebar (same job). I do not recommend for Al stock prep.

Chop saw (toothed blade): ok with the right blade. Can be precise, good ones have good chip control. Economical if you already have the chop saw. The ones designed specifically for metal cutting are not cheap, though. Really not cheap. I do not own one. I rent or borrow when needed, which is rare. Noisy. See @Griff above for his take .

Abrasive chop saw have the same issues as a handheld grinder, with less verasatility. Only for bar cutoff.

compound mitre saw (or similar): never tried for Al. Hope I never will

Radial arm saw: Ok, this is getting ridiculous.

Chain saw: No. Just no. Frighteningly, I have seen it done, both for Al tubing and sheet steel roofing/siding. Scary. Negative 6 stars. Eight thumbs down. Or missing, as the likely eventuality.


Thanks for that huge list! Great to hear from someone that’s used all these and I’ve considered most of the tools you mentioned at one point or another and it’s really helpful to hear about the ones I can completely rule out.

I think in this case I might start off with a regular handheld hacksaw. Cheap, easy to find, portable and very flexible.

If that ends up not being enough, I might go for a portable bandsaw. I don’t think the throat depth will end up being a huge problem.

How are these in terms of noise? Do the metal cutting blades and slower speed help with the noise? How does it compare to a bandsaw?


I’ve used my 12" Bosch many times for just that (An el-cheapo12" Harbor Freight sliding compound miter saw worked too, but not accurately enough so I returned it). That Bosch saw was/is quite popular with bath/shower enclosure installers. Less expensive [Oshlun blades] cut cleaner than Freud on it. I also use Oshlun 10" blades on my table saw and have a 7 1/4" Concord blade for my portable circular saw. Metal cutting bandsaw blades also work fine on a vertical “woodworking” bandsaw. So, you have lots of options. If it’s a straight cut and it fits, I usually use the miter saw because it’s really accurate and the Oshlun blade basically lives on it. (It works nicely on plastic and wood too with the right feed rate.) As usual, the faster you cut it, the noisier it will be.

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So I bought a hacksaw with a 24 TPI bimetallic blade and it does indeed cut Aluminium plate without too much trouble! With the Aluminium clamped down it makes a negligible amount of noise too.