Nomad 883 Pro: Aluminum sheet (presumably 1050)?

I picked up a small sheet of (presumably) 1050 aluminum from the local Home Depot. After researching how to cut this stuff I was met with some resistance as the stuff they sell in the big box hardware stores is apparently not very worthy of milling.

This stuff is thin (0.65 mm) but I’m wondering if I should even attempt it? I have 3-flute end mills from Accupro. I would be cutting for insets for an engraving project that I’m doing (engraving was done on wood and this metal fills in what was removed).

I picked up some True Tap HD Cutting Fluid from CRC but have yet to use any of it and this would also be my first aluminum job.

Can anyone advise if I should just not bother and see if I can find some thin 6061 sheet metal? I hate to let what I bought go to waste but it isn’t worth it if it isn’t going to mill well or if I end up ruining the cutter.

I don’t know about their aluminum, but I can attest that big box “assortment rack” steel is generally pretty crappy.

On the theory that the more skilled we become, the better we get at making do with marginal materials, perhaps since this is your first attempt it would be worth stacking the deck in your favor with known good material, and save the big box store stuff for a future project.

If you happen to have a Metal Supermarket in your town, they can be a good source for small time purchasers like hobbyists and small contractors. I especially like the remnant room for picking up bargains.

Other good sources are , and on the more industrial side of the spectrum, the mill supply company, McMaster-Carr ( ). Be advised that while McMaster-Carr will sell to you, they are not a hobbyist/retail supplier, so do your homework, and no whining, lest they get where they don’t want to fool with us little guys.

Perhaps others can give you more specific advice on the material you already have.

There’s a bit about aluminum alloys at

The K&S Engineering aluminum found in most hobby shops is 6061-T6 which mills nicely:

1050 is an “ok” Al alloy. It’s nowhere as strong as 6061 - and has poor machinability.

For general work and n00bs I recommend learning with 6061-T6511… easily available, good machinability, commonly used, generally useful, and plenty of people have experience working it.

Learning alloys isn’t easy. There are significant differences - even between similar sounding ones - and these can trip up a n00b. It’s important to ask, learn, and understand. 6061-T1 is markedly different than 6061-T6; 6061-T6 and 6061-T6511 are different.

My go to Al alloy is 6061-T6511 (T6 when I can’t find T6511). I also sometimes use 6262-T6 (T6511 too) and 6063-T6. When I have something very specific to do - tensile strength, corrosion, etc. - I dig out my Ryerson catalog (an app now-a-days!) - and study before I order.

Stay away from 7xxx Al alloys - there are very tough (by design, they begin to overlap with steel in some applications) - and chew up tools fast. One chooses them because they need them - and one has to learn when they need them.

I often order from and



I strongly recommended TiB2 and ZrN coated end mills for machining Al alloy.