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Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Community Veteran
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Hole Cutting in Aluminium

I have a project.... requires a 19mm hole to be cut in two pieces of 9mm aluminium ( 25mm wide ). 
I have a pillar drill, and an electric drill..... I do not have a metal cutting, hole cutter.... so I am looking on Ebay at these....
First one requires a separate "arbor" to be purchased....    second one, is one unit...
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BI-METAL-HOLESAW-HSS-FOR-PLASTIC-WOOD-METALS-/161695981804?var=&hash=item2...; @  £2.52

and the arbor is.....
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HOLESAW-A1-A2-ARBOR-COMPLETE-WITH-PILOT-BIT-ALSO-PILOT-BIT-SOLD-SEPERATE-/...;   @ £3.05p  free p&p

Total for the two.... £5.57p

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hole-Saw-Holesaw-Drill-Bit-Carbide-Steel-Cutter-Tool-Kit-for-Metal-Wood-Al...;   @ £3.19

Asking for expert opinion, on the design and cutting capabilities of each one... which one would (probably) give a more accurate.... clean finished... cut ?
The hole(s) in the aluminium will be home to a ball bearing race... that will not be having any "stress" on ... but need to be a "good fit"...
Any hints on the actual process of cutting the holes... e.g.  slowly... or normal drill speed... amount of pressure..... lubrication during drilling ? 
16 REPLIES
Community Veteran
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

I don't know what other tools you have available, but I had to cut through some aluminium panels recently.
The device I used was a sort of oscillating saw, similar in concept to the devices that are used to cut plaster casts off limbs without causing any flesh damage.
Knife through butter.................  Cool
Community Veteran
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Not exactly an "expert" , or indeed, useful response......
Did you not read the first and second lines of my post  ?  Roll eyes
and did you not deduce from that information,... and the linky`s I posted,...
that I required a ROUND hole and would be using a PILLAR DRILL.
Huh

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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Quote from: shutter
that I required a ROUND hole

Don't worry, you're not loosing it mate.. I understood your opening post Wink
I'm sure chenks will be along shortly to tell you you're asking the wrong people on the wrong forum Wink
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Oh dear, someone (not 7up) got out of bed the wrong side I think.  Shocked Thanks for the totally unwarranted abuse!  Cry
The point I was trying to (helpfully) make was that an oscillating device, rather than a rotary one may get a better result cutting aluminium.
The shape of the bit can obviously be round, even if the drive does not continuously turn at high speed.
Not to mention that holes can be cut then opened out wider with grinding/polishing.
A gentle apology might be in order when you've reread your post.  Wink
I know what you HAVE but also said
Quote from: HPsauce
I don't know what other tools you have available
rongtw
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Shutter i wouldn't advise buying either of the ones from Ebay as they will be a cheaper version and they quality is suspect  Lips are sealed
If you need a accurate tool it would be best to get the TCT cutter for aluminum as the saw blade type ,especially with aluminum are likely to block the teeth  .
if it was me i would be looking for a Starrett as they are a good make  Wink  maybe more cash but worth it    http://www.starrett.co.uk/shop/holesaws/tct_stainless_steel_hole_saw/
and cut with no lubrication and steady pressure 
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Grafter
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

I'd go for the second of the two you've linked to.
Proper carbide cutting teeth and the whole cutting unit is driven by the chuck rather than the first one where the pilot drill does the driving and the cutters just along for the ride.
It'll give a much neater and precise cut.
Pillar drill it. Some light machine oil will lubricate and help cool the tips. Low speed, light pressure, let the cutting tips do the work.
Couple of test cuts wouldn't hurt if you've got some spare stock.
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

You don't say what grade of aluminium. If the job is critical you may need to consider that it will actually be an aluminium alloy with some work hardening from the rolling process. Pure aluminium is only used for electrical purposes and near impossible to machine  Smiley
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

@HPSauce.... no abuse intended... and I can only get out of bed one side anyway !...  Cutting panels with a straight oscillating saw is not what I was asking about..  As I mentioned what tools I had, it was clear from my post that was what I intended to use. 
@rongtw..... Thanks for your advice... Had a look at the linky, and, yes, they are expensive at over £11.00 each size... ( nice of them to put a check mark on every one  !" ! ! ! )... also reading the spec, it says maximum of 2mm thickness... my job is 9mm so not good on that point...  reading further on the spec, it does mention "carbide tips"...  so that ties in nicely with promod`s suggestion of the second choice.
@Promod.... Thanks for your advice, too... makes sense to use one driven by the drill, had not thought of that.... and thanks for the working tips.
@ Peter Loftus.... The job does require "some" accuracy, in respect of alignment of the bearings in the two blocks comparative to each other... and the grade of aluminium is unknown, but used for model making, so presumably, relatively easy to work with .... so long as the holes are "square" in their aspect to the surfaces of the blocks, then that will be fine, Hence the use of the pillar drill.
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

If.its sold for model making then it should be partially work hardened and free machining. It should form a nice chip from the cutting head and not require any cutting fluid IMHO
Edit/ pure unalloyed aluminium would form a long "sticky" swarf and would tend to "tug" during machining
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

@HPsauce.... thanks for that linky.... very helpful, and useful info on there....
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

A more conventional drill bit (with stepped down shank to fit a standard chuck would be my preference over a holesaw for holes up to around 25mm: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/REDUCED-SHANK-HSS-DRILL-BITS-FOR-METAL-STEEL-WOOD-PLASTIC-14-16-18-19-20-2...
Drill SLOWLY (slow rotational speed and don't push too hard), if it gets hot, stop and let it cool down, a bit of coolant doesn't hurt but you can just take it slow instead.
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Community Veteran
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Thanks w23.... nice find..... have ordered the second one in my original post... so will see how that performs, but have bookmarked that page for future reference..


.  Much appreciate the help so far  Wink
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Re: Hole Cutting in Aluminium

Olaf Lies VW board member  Grin Grin Grin
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34397426
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