Cutting Aluminum on a Table Saw

I haven’t done any 2x2 square, but I have done 2"x1" vertically, on a 22.5 degree miter.

I put two 2x1’s in to make a 2" square and looked at the blade and guard paths for a square cut, and it certainly looks viable.

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thanks. we’ll be ordering one!

For some reason our manufacturing lead was using this very loud circular saw to cut the aluminum tubes that make up our frame when we literally have a vertical and horizontal bandsaw as well as a mill. I asked him why he was doing that and he said it made more precise cuts but then I looked at the tubes and saw there was a significant amount of metal burred on the inside of the tubes. I then compared it to a bandsaw cut tube and the bandsaw result is much better as well as the ease of use.

If you need to cut large plates of aluminum, use a circular saw, not a table saw. It is FAR safer for everyone involved. If the saw catches and binds you might kill the blade or have the saw kick out of the cut(I’ve never had either issue on a lot of cuts) which matters way less because you shouldn’t be directly behind the saw. If a table saw decides it wants your aluminum plate its going to slam it back right at you. Anything that you could fit into a chop saw size wise should be cut with that style of tube or a bandsaw.

Use ONLY carbide tooth blades!

A circular saw is off-the-charts more dangerous than a table saw in most circumstances.

I made a slide deck about safety years ago and data at the time convinced me that my kids would never use a circular saw in our club.

If you’re cutting up large material and you’re by yourself, that’s about the only time where a circular saw may be more safe.

Also, a band-saw and a table saw aren’t really comparable when making long cuts. A table saw is designed for long cuts. And band saws are not safer. I wish I could find more info regarding this, but here’s one image from my presentation. Also, if you plan to ask, no, I don’t know who OSBIE is.


OSBIE - Ontario School Boards’ Insurance Exchange (first result in a good search “OSBIE shop accident”)

Your data is from this article:

More provocative than the chart you posted is this one (I think):


One could reasonably conclude that woodworking and woodworking tools are more dangerous than metalworking and metalworking tools. I would opine that this is because metalworking saws and the like all have work-holding, where woodworking tools generally do not.



Note: table saws tend to have higher numbers of accidents because they’re used a lot. This data does not seem to include hand-held power tools. Hard to compare circular saw data to table saw data because circular saws are frequently used on construction sites, on ladders, up scaffolding, etc increasing the likelihood of an accident.


I look at your data and draw almost opposite conclusions, influenced by thinking about which machines have user-held parts vs complete workholding integrated.

Your OSBIE Shop Incidents counts look heavily influenced by the “kinds” of cut being made.

Bandaws & Jigsaws are used to make weird shapes, with users having to hold the workpiece themselves and figure out with experience what radii they can cut down to. It’s not surprising that they’d total more than 50% of your instance counts. While they’ll have high instance counts, the severity is rather low - workpieces don’t get slammed into your abdomen, they’ll trap a hand on the blade.

(I’m surprised sanders/benchgrinders aren’t on the list, I’ve definitely had way more interesting experiences on those than on chopsaws or bandsaws.)

The fact that 26% (a full quarter) of reported incidents are coming off tablesaws - with tablesaws only being used for straight, simple cuts - is impressive in a bad way. And likely related to the fact that users are handling their workpiece themselves rather than attaching it to a machine bed.

The radial saws account for just 3% of incidents, likely mostly because workholding strategies are in place on those machines.

We use a lot of circular saws, and listen while our students are cutting so that we can catch when the teeth are starting to go out and replace the blades before weird things happen during cuts. While radial/circular saw safety incidents can be very high energy / high severity, proactive workholding and blade quality / technique monitoring can significantly reduce the overall risk associated with the machine. We haven’t had a recordable on our circular saws.

Are you thinking about severity and then posting data about occurrence?

I think the flaw with both of the OSBIE charts is that we don’t know the actual usage rate compared to the reported injury rate, so we can’t draw any conclusions. It’s entirely possible that Ontario’s curriculum doesn’t include significant metal shop work, so there’s very few injury claims. You can apply this same idea to the tools, the most injuries come from the tools used the most.


That’s fair. Do you have a different or better dataset to look at?

A more useful statistic would be to normalize the data to injuries per100,000 hours of use (or some similar discrete time increment).


The problem with table saws is it is one of the few tools that you are pushing the work into the directly blade. The blade will take off body parts before you can react. The blade guards are generally mediocre at best. And you are in the direct kick back path of the work. Vertical band saws are little bit the same about pushing work into the blade, but they take longer to cut off the body part. Having said that, I have cut myself on a band saw, but never on a table saw. It is probably because table saws scare me. Vertical band saws are probably the safest, but you cannot cut plate as the OP desires. Cuts on bigger shapes can wander a bit. We square them on the mill if it is important.

This is definitely an area that safety is not theater and constant training and awareness is crucial.

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I can tell you that few freshmen and sophomores rarely see the metal shops in Ontario. Many kids in Ontario end up taking a shop class in grade 9, as it satisfies a graduation requirement. My class was a manufacturing mixer (mostly wood, with a short foray in to welding and metal fab). Three kids cared about the tools, safety or their grade in the class. I’ll let y’all do the thinking.

If the school even has a metal shop. The school 2702 started out of had turned their metal shop into a dance studio the year prior…

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For my current project, I needed some 1/8" aluminum angle with unequal width wings so that the long wing could serve as both structure and a shield to the open sides of some toughbox gearboxes, and the short wings could provide mounting of the gearboxes without interfering with the motor or bearing mounts. I had hoped I could cut these with a handheld band saw and some steel bar used as a guide, but I was unhappy with the results. Not really having space in my garage for a real metal-cutting vertical bandsaw, I thought I’d give this little guy a try:

I put a review on Amazon with most of the same stuff, but here’s the bottom lines:

It’s loud - louder idling than most of my home saws are when cutting. I also wouldn’t want to use it for more than a few minutes a day cutting aluminum because of the vibration. I’m not at all proud of it, but I actually whittled myself some pool-noodle earplugs today, cause, damn.
It’s slow - a few inches a minute at best cutting 1/8" 6061-T6 aluminum.
You need to dial this tool in like something from Harbor Freight. Mine had the support bearings in the blade guard much too far apart, and the blade isn’t quite square to the table, making it hard to keep the piece against the fence.
The aluminum blade is useless - worked great for the first ten or twelve inches, but after eighteen it was noticeably dragging. I changed the blade to the “metal” cutting blade a few inches later.
The fence markings aren’t quite right - if you use it to align the fence and rip anything longer than about 8", the piece will bind on the rive knife (support for the blade guard). Use a tape or stick to measure from the blade and rive knife to the fence.
If I haven’t talked you out of it yet, there’s a good review of the saw for woodworking purposes and corrective measures for the fence and blade orientation in a series of videos starting here:

I’m not returning it because it will fill a few niches - just not as many as I’d hoped for. This is a tool I’m glad I have, but I hope I don’t need to use often.

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