I'm a convert, HSS on Aluminum

I’m a convert.

I got some inexpensive Amana HSS 1/4" tools. A 2 flute, and 1 flute HSS square endmill. I worked up numbers in GWizard and cut a sample.

Using a HSS tool (@Vince.Fab, thanks!) , and alcohol as a lubricant/coolant, worked fantastic. Great finish, no welding, easy cleanup (Tony? DanO? Whoever suggested this, you’re great!).

Everything went much better than with carbide tools (with various non-Al content coatings), and dirt cheap. Less than $8 for a quality Amanda endmill is a steal.


Do you have a link to the mill you’re using? Would like to try this as well

HSS is sharp! I think it helps with cutting forces, but chips will look much different than carbides. The only 1/8 endmill I use are the Amanas


For people that want to check them out, single and double flutes at a very good price.


ToolsToday: Amana HSS1633, HSS1622


what type of alcohol? Isopropyl Alcohol?

Comes in a 1 gallon can from the hardware store. Denatured methyl alcohol. Mine was sold as “clean burning camping fuel” - “Kleen Strip” brand, usually by the paint strippers, acetone, MEK, etc. Tip: Decant into a smaller container and use, keep the large container sealed as much as possible. It absorbs water from the air so fast that the can can rust out pretty rapidly if repeatedly opened.

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@mikep Are you set up with a mister or drip?

Neither right now. Keep meaning to put mist on this one, just haven’t. In the meantime, am applying by hand with a little luer-lock bottle. Looks like the ones in this kit.

Is there any concern about electronics, metal cutting etc and misting something extremely flammable like alcohol? Seems like there could be a decent potential for explosions?

Sure, if you’re using a lot. I used about a teaspoon or two on the last job I did (a 3D Catan tile) - you’re not talking about pumping lots of alcohol.

Cool - I’ve been meaning to try some 1/4" bits to see if I can cut parts quicker with more depth of cut and/or faster cutting speed.

I use a mister - it was only $20 from Amazon. Just get one - it is so worth it.

I don’t always use alcohol but it does help a lot. I can sometimes hear the cutting getting tougher and that’s my clue to quick turn on the alcohol and after cutting another 2-3" things smooth out again and all is good.

With a vacuum to suck up the chips - the alcohol typically is evaporated before the dust shoe moves past that area. It smells a little but not that much. It will take a full day of cutting for me to use 1 cup of alcohol up. That is way less than when I apply a couple of coats of shellac to a woodworking project. So I don’t worry about the flammability since it is diffused in such a large volume of air.

I typically use 1/8" carbide bits from - buy them cheap in a 10-pack. Single flute, 1/8" with 0.015 depth of cut and 30ipm.

What do you use with those 1/4" bits - single or double flute???

I’ve got both single and 2 flute, I’ve done the most so far with 2 flute, which was working well at the speeds I was running. Haven’t had time to dig more through this, I’ve got some single flute, and some single and 2 flute 1/8" 1/4" shank endmills I want to try as well.

Just found this- apparently flammability isn’t much of a concern:

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Can you post a photo of the Catan tile(s) you are making out of Aluminum? Are you going to anodize them different colors for each resource?

I don’t have one handy of the aluminum one, but this is the set in maple. For the expanded set I have a cherry border that looks really nice. Was trying out the desert as “rolling dunes” in aluminum. I’ve got pirate lairs and water for explorers that are “sir not appearing in this picture” but you get the idea.

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That looks really nice! Thanks for sharing. If you figure out the aluminum desert, please share that.

Needs more work, but I’ll share some of the aluminum ones. I’d really like to do a brass set, but brass has gotten SO expensive…

I have a few 63-900 bits from Onsurd that I was thinking of using

I’ve used them in the past with composite materials but never in Alum. Has anyone ever tried these? I was thinking of making some hold downs out of some 1/4 plate I have.


I use a 63-725 O-flute to dry cut 0.045" thick aluminum sheets. The material is 3000 series which will tend to melt and gum up a normal 2, 3 or 4 flute endmill, but cuts smooth and clean with a O-flute.

I have not tried to mill a more machinable grade of aluminum with an O-flute. I’m curious to see your results if you decide to try it.

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