work safely with aluminum

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work safely with aluminum

Postby tonyj » Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:32 am

Without question, the most dangerous part of my build has been working with aluminum, and I bet that will hold for most the people building. I did a search and it has been a while since someone posted on the safety issue with aluminum.

I had a little accident yesterday, and my guardian angel let me off with another warning. I still have both my eyes and ten working fingers. I was cutting some 1/6 aluminum flat with the chopsaw and at the end of the cut, the saw grabbed the aluminum and before I opened my eyes to do a digit check, all I could think was "Will Madjack really want to see these photos?"
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I was extremely lucky. All I suffered was a bruised and nicked thumb and a botched piece of trim. It could have been soooo much worse. I put myself in "time out" (I frequently yell and scream at myself when I catch myself doing something really stupid!) and it got me to thinking about the danger of trying to use woodworking tools to do metal working. I know it can be done, and lots of you out there have probably done it on a professional basis. All I can say is that it is my opinion that woodworking tools should not be used for metal work, but if used for that (and I will be guilty of continuing to do so) extreme care should be taken to make sure the piece you are machining doesn't end up causing your body harm.

I hope that others with far more experience in this area than I offer their suggestions to help make sure no one has a very sad story to tell.

My limited suggestions--foremost, always use a full face shield, long sleeves, and if possible, gloves. Use backing blocks and feather boards where necessary. When ripping angle on a table saw, drop in a zero clearance blade insert, and use feather boards.
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Better yet, order the closest size of uneven leg angle. If possible, cut with a bandsaw, shears, or tin snips. Try to find the right metalworking tools for what ever process you are doing.

Norm always starts his show with "Always follow the instructions for your machine and wear safety glasses." He is right.

Metal or wood, work safely! Or pray for a watchful and lenient guardian angel. :worship:
Still graced with two eyes and ten fingers (due in no small part to luck!).

Just when you think a problem is solved, an uglier result replaces it.

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Postby madjack » Mon Aug 14, 2006 12:46 am

Tony, yes most definitely I want to see such pictures for their warning value to others...whenever I talk about working metal I try and remember to STRESS the importance of saftey gear...in our shop it is priority one and both myself and my partner will knock each other or anyone else that violates those rules right upside the head...literally...many folks say, "aww comeon is it really worth the trouble"..to which I say "YES", it only takes an extra moment to put on/use the proper saftey gear...the effects of not using it will last a lifetime.......THANKS FOR THE REMINDER...surely glad you still have all 10 fingers and a couple of eyes
madjack 8)

p.s. we follow all of your suggestions religiously and use multiple feather boards on the table saw...the nice thing about there usually being two of us working together(beside the obvious 3rd hand) is that we can keep a check on each other and do so...and since both of us are saftey conscious, neither of us get PO'd if called on something stupid ....
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:35 am

Tony, Great post, we need more on shop safety. One Cabinet Fixture shop I worked at the guy next to me didn't have any idea that when he trimmed a piece of aluminum flat stock the small scrap would become a missile at me. I always lay aluminum on a scrap piece of wood at the chop saw as the saw will pull it under the fence and it gets pretty scary. I have special carbide blades with no hook in the 80 teeth just for cutting non Ferris metals and will not use a regular cabinet blade for cutting those metals. When I rip aluminum or brass on the table saw I make a jig that sandwiches the metal between two boards to control the popping of the metal. Non Ferris metals can be cut very safe and successfully on wood working equipment if you follow good common sense safety practices. :relaxing: Danny
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Postby tonyj » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:07 am

Danny--Thanks! Just the kind of advice I think everyone needs, or needs to be reminded.

How stupid of me--I didn't even think to change the blade! And this ain't my first rodeo! :x
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Postby kerryd » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:52 am

hi all , new here , any time you see chips that small ,there's trouble ahead. Zero or negative hook works best . A shot of saw wax may help too. But I've snaged my share too! KD
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Postby Steve_Cox » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:13 am

Good Message Tony, safety should be priority #1.

Another little hint about ripping and cutting aluminum on the table saw would to keep the blade height down as low as possible, just up enough to complete the cut, no higher. If you try it, you'll enjoy less chips flying around above the table, less opportunity for the blade to grab the workpiece, and less chance of binding on the blade.
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No gloves here

Postby John Foote » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:48 pm

If the glove hits the blade, your hand is going in there with it.
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Postby Sonetpro » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:56 pm

I've found that when you are cuttin it with a chopsaw, I alway's cut with the flat side to the fence. Never cut it with the flat side on the table The blade likes to grab it like that.
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Re: No gloves here

Postby madjack » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:56 pm

John Foote wrote:If the glove hits the blade, your hand is going in there with it.


John, if the glove hits the blade, you are too late...you have already screwed up.......................... 8)
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Postby s4son » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:05 pm

I've all but stopped using my chop saw for trim. I had a piece get caught and it shot out and I couldn't find it. My wife found it later in the day, it had gone about 25 feet out the garage door and was laying in the yard. No I cut it to within an inch or so with the tin snips and trim it on the bandsaw.

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Re: No gloves here

Postby John Foote » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:14 pm

madjack wrote:
John Foote wrote:If the glove hits the blade, your hand is going in there with it.


John, if the glove hits the blade, you are too late...you have already screwed up.......................... 8)


Granted, but screw-ups happen. If my bare hand goes into the blade, I pull it away, near instantaneously, minus some amount of flesh and whatnot. If I'm wearing a glove, and the blade grabs the glove, my hand goes into the blade and just hangs out there for awhile, until I or somebody turns off the saw and extracts the glove and it's assorted meat by-product contents. Any saw accdent is ugly, but a glove accident seems far more likely to to be stump ugly.
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Postby madjack » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:56 pm

..agreed John...I rarely wear gloves unless I am dealing with something hot or the work piece is very sharp...spinning blades and gloves or loose flopping clothing are invitations to disaster...also beware of any jewelry and of course your hair...common sense, situational awareness and a commitment to doing it safely are your best defenses against accidents...
madjack 8)
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Postby Nitetimes » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:20 pm

madjack wrote:...also beware of any jewelry and of course your hair...common sense, situational awareness and a commitment to doing it safely are your best defenses against accidents...
madjack 8)


Drill presses, mills and lathes can be particularly hazardous to us longhairs!! I have on occasion seen guys nearly scalped by having their hair pulled out.:lol: :lol:
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Postby madjack » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:40 pm

Nitetimes wrote:
madjack wrote:...also beware of any jewelry and of course your hair...common sense, situational awareness and a commitment to doing it safely are your best defenses against accidents...
madjack 8)


Drill presses, mills and lathes can be particularly hazardous to us longhairs!! I have on occasion seen guys nearly scalped by having their hair pulled out.:lol: :lol:


...I've seen that, I've seen guys hanging upside down on their "chain drive' wallets, I've saw a guy lose a finger because of a ring...I've seen some really stupid stunts results in extremely serious injuries...doit right and doit safe and keep them booboos at bay...it only takes a second of stupidity or a lack of attention to cause a lifetime of hurt...
madjack 8)
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Postby Mike Spicer » Sat Aug 26, 2006 12:34 am

Tony

I have had my share of mihaps cutting thin alum. Now I always use wood on both sides of alum when using the chop saw. When I use the table saw i try to make a wood jig.
This is what i made to cut the leg off angle. It worked fine but it would have been better to have back up for the scrap piece Too.

Tony I tried cutting the leg off my angle the way your pic shows. the scrap piece went down into sawblade slot and really tore things up. thats why i made the jig below.

Mike

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