1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. PLEASE: Read the FORUM RULES BEFORE registering!

    Dismiss Notice

Wood Router Bits - They work on Metal!

Discussion in 'TOOL JUNKIES - TOOLS & TOOLING (Love Tools? This Is Your Forum)' started by joe_m, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    I woke up this morning thinking I wanted to build an infill plane with the sides dovetailed to the bottom. Of course the only dovetail milling bit I have was too shallow. On a whim I grabbed an old carbide router bit with a 1/4" shank, slapped it in the mill and gave it a spin. I tried to mill out a single dovetail in a 1/4" side, 1/2" deep - almost the full depth of the router bit. I was certain it wasn't going to work so I didn't even bother changing the speed from whatever it was on.

    Well, I fed very slowly by hand and it cut perfectly. No melting, no hammering, no chipped cutter. I was going to order some inexpensive dovetail cutters online ($15ish + postage) and wait a week for delivery, but now I'm just going to pick up a couple of router bits on my next trip into town (under $10, no postage, instant gratification).
     
  2. Charley Davidson

    Charley Davidson United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Murfreesboro 30mi. south of Nashville
    State:
    Tennessee

    -Return to Top-

    I have been contemplating using some 1/2" shank bits in my mill also, I'm assuming your machining aluminum.
     
  3. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    Nope - 1/4" thick mystery steel bought from Lowes!

    I went ahead and milled out the rest of the dovetails on the piece. I went too fast for the 3rd from the left. That started some vibrating and I ended up with a slightly rough corner. Otherwise, all is good so far. To saw those out and file by hand would have taken me forever (with cr@ppy results).

    dovetailedmetal.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
    Subwayrocket, savarin and royesses like this.
  4. 8ntsane

    8ntsane Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38

    -Return to Top-

    Thats intersting bit of infro.
    I happen to have 2 boxes of router bits, and wondered if they could work on steel. Ive often though about trying those round over bits on the mill. I think Im going to try it out. Router bits are cheap enough, and available in many stores.

    Thanks for sharing
     
  5. xalky

    xalky United States Global Moderator Staff Member Director

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Naugatuck
    State:
    Connecticut

    -Return to Top-

    Thats good info. And they come in many shapes and best of all, they're cheap.:shush:
     
  6. Rbeckett

    Rbeckett Platinum Rest In Peace

    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Bronson
    State:
    Florida

    -Return to Top-

    So are all the tools all carbide? Or did you guys use some HSS too? That would be way too good because router bits are available everwhere including flea markets and big box stores on a Sunday afternoon. Could very possibly make a cheap prototyping tool for a one off or proof of concept build. I always wondered what the difference between router and milling bits could be, other than angles of relief and attack. Those could also be ground once the bit became dulled too. Yup, thats a great little find for a Sunday need it now project. Thanks for the idea, did you get any pics while you were doing this? And did you use any kind of coolant?
    Bob
     
  7. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canada Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    357
    Trophy Points:
    83
    City:
    Kelowna
    State:
    British Columbia

    -Return to Top-

    I had read about using carbide router bits on aluminum, as long as you use the speeds and feeds for aluminum. It makes sense that it would work for other metals as well. I'd expect similar results for HSS.

    Joe, did you cut a straight slot in each location first, or just give 'er with the dovetail?
     
  8. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    One pass to remove it all (slow feed).
     
  9. xalky

    xalky United States Global Moderator Staff Member Director

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Naugatuck
    State:
    Connecticut

    -Return to Top-

    I gotta try this out. I have lots of carbide tipped router bits.
     
  10. 8ntsane

    8ntsane Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38

    -Return to Top-

    Im very interested to try this. I have several of the round over bits, and just gotta test it out. Thats amazing you did this without first cutting a straight slot Joe.

    I will report back with my results using router bits. Of coarse the quality of the bits can vary alot, and getting the feeds right could take a bit of trial and error. My mill doesnt turn near as fast as a router, but it does go to 4600 RPM before I use the VFD to over speed it. That may help being able to get the RPM up, but still no where close to router speeds.

    Ill let you guys know how things go.
     
  11. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    The bit I used was just an old carbide-tipped dovetail bit, 1/4" shank, that I had laying in a box under the router table. I don't have any of the old HSS router bits to try out but if I ever find some cheap at a garage sale I'll grab them. I don't use any coolant - not because I know it's better dry or anything, it's just that I have no clue because my total milling time is less than 20 hours so I'm still willing to try anything once. I still haven't looked under the hood to see what the speed is set at but it's probably right in the middle of whatever the 12 speeds the Enco mill-drill came with.

    I'd like to see pics if anyone gets a roundover or fancy profile bit to work. That would open up so many possibilities.
     
  12. Toolslinger

    Toolslinger Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    City:
    New Brunswick
    State:
    New Jersey

    -Return to Top-

    I've done a load of routing on aluminum with chamfer, and roundover bits in just a hand held router. Be prepared for an extreme mess... I've also done some 1/2" plate on my CNC router, and that makes the hand held mess look like nothing...

    I've done a little bit of steel with solid carbide spiral up bits on my Linley jig bore when I needed to mill something small. I still haven't come up with a mill that's right for me/my space, so I can't really report on any serious work, but in all cases, the bits have done very well once I managed to get a handle on the feed rate where it cuts well.

    Onsrud sells router bits designed for aluminum, and you can get all the speeds/feeds/chip load data from their website. I imagine that might be helpful to someone that actually knew what they were doing with a milling machine in reference to steel as well.

    -Tim
     
  13. Benji

    Benji Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8

    -Return to Top-

    I use the HSS ones on steel and the carbide ones on CI and aluminum. I use them both on my lathe and My Burke #4 mill

    forming-the-curve-with-a-ro.jpg Turning-the-cove.jpg edge-rounding-with-a-router.jpg
     
    Brain Coral and royesses like this.
  14. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    Yea! That's what I'm talking about. Router bits as toolbits on the lathe! That's information I can use. My chess set just got a bunch easier.

    Thanks!
     
  15. Benji

    Benji Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    8

    -Return to Top-

    I have been doing it for about 5 years now.
    At first I was sure I was going to ruin something.

    It just worked. I have been using them ever since.
     
  16. xalky

    xalky United States Global Moderator Staff Member Director

    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Naugatuck
    State:
    Connecticut

    -Return to Top-

    I've ripped down 3/8" aluminum sheets on my 10" table saw with a 40 tooth carbide blade. The chips are hot and they fly everywhere but it cuts like butter, and it's quick for rough cutting to fit in the mill. The blade was fine. I used some wd-40 to keep the blade lubed.:))
     
  17. joe_m

    joe_m Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Huachuca City
    State:
    Arizona

    -Return to Top-

    I've cut aluminum with a radial arm saw, but was too chicken to use a tablesaw. My TS is a cabinet saw with an enclosed base that is usually half full of sawdust and with my luck a stray piece of swarf would start the next great wildfire in southern AZ.
     
  18. Toolslinger

    Toolslinger Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    City:
    New Brunswick
    State:
    New Jersey

    -Return to Top-

    If you're cutting aluminum with either a table saw, or in particular a radial arm, you might want to consider your blade...

    Ideally you want to be running a negative hook angle on the blade for aluminum. Really, it makes a huge difference... Particularly on the RAS. You should be running negative on the RAS anyway for everything to keep it from self feeding. They're a bit of a pain to find, but well worth the effort. I've run 4" x 8" x .25" wall aluminum tube on my 16" RAS doing miters. Its loud, but it cuts like butter, and doesn't throw the head at you. Its actually easier to find the right blade up in that size than a 10". I have settled for a 0 hook angle on my 10" RAS, but then I really avoid aluminum on that saw.

    We have also diced up 1/2" alu plate on the vertical panel saw. No problems there either apart from being somewhat unnerving...

    We don't mess with any oil or coolant as the machines spend most of their time dealing with wood, and we don't want any transfer of leftovers to the wood. Odds are you're not going to begin to have a problem with heat, the blade spends most of the time out of the material cooling off. Our only issue has been chips sticking to the blade now and again, but that's readily cured by stopping, and knocking the buildup off carefully so you don't chip a tooth.

    -Tim
     
  19. Charley Davidson

    Charley Davidson United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Murfreesboro 30mi. south of Nashville
    State:
    Tennessee

    -Return to Top-

    Check into Diablo saw blades, I think Lowes & HD sell them, Made for cutting metal.
     
  20. Toolslinger

    Toolslinger Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    City:
    New Brunswick
    State:
    New Jersey

    -Return to Top-

    Freud makes the Diablo series. Nice stuff typically(they're all I run for my table saws for ripping lumber), and they have a 10" -5 deg hook blade for non-ferrous. I don't really like it because its really thin... Something like .09 or so. That's actually nice if you're running a smaller (low hp) saw as it cuts easier. I don't really like it for aluminum though because the thin kerf blades tend to vibrate/wobble more than a full kerf blade. Once you start to vibrate, you start blowing the sides, and points off the teeth. That doesn't happen quite as much in wood as its a softer material, but in metal its murder.

    -Tim
     
  21. 8ntsane

    8ntsane Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    38

    -Return to Top-

    Lots Of good infro in this thread.
    Thanks Guys
     
  22. Metalmann

    Metalmann Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    warsaw
    State:
    Indiana

    -Return to Top-

    Yes, years ago I used them for chamfering steel at work. I brought a few in from home just to try them out, and some of the other older machinists thought I was nuts. Due to the 1/4" shaft, you couldn't hog, or feed them very fast. I've always been a wannabe scientist, always trying something new when people would say, "That won't work." Prove them wrong, as long as it can be done in a safe manner. You'll learn a lot faster.

    Now, I'm just another one of those old machinists.:lmao: Except, I still experiment.:whistle:
     
  23. savarin

    savarin Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    1,446
    Trophy Points:
    113
    City:
    Townsville

    -Return to Top-

    Brilliant thread, heaps of excellent info.
    Thanks
     
  24. kwoodhands

    kwoodhands United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    43
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    mays landing
    State:
    New Jersey

    -Return to Top-

    I've used both HSS and carbide router bits on steel,brass.aluminum etc.Recently I made a sine bar that called for milling a Vee on each end for the round stock to sit in. Didn't have a router bit like that except for those with bearings.I did have a HSS bit that was 1/2 round about 5/16" in diameter. Worked perfect in stressproof steel.No sign of wear.
    mike
     
  25. JimDawson

    JimDawson Global Moderator Staff Member Director

    Likes Received:
    3,566
    Trophy Points:
    113
    City:
    Sandy
    State:
    Oregon

    -Return to Top-

    I agree, I have never tried a HSS router bit in the mill, but I use carbide ones all the time. Cheaper than end mills, and available locally at the hardware store, Harbor Freight, or the big box store. I just finished about 4 hours of cutting with a 1/4 inch solid carbide bit in aluminum, still feels as sharp as new.
     
    FLguy likes this.
  26. wawoodman

    wawoodman himself, himself H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    452
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    City:
    Seattle
    State:
    Washington

    -Return to Top-

    I've cut aluminum on the table with a carbide negative rake blade, and I've used a couple of router bits (in a router.) Now I've got to try the HSS on steel!
     
  27. Ed ke6bnl

    Ed ke6bnl Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    120
    Trophy Points:
    43
    City:
    Agua Dulce
    State:
    California

    -Return to Top-

    I cut up carbide saw blades with one tooth .5 in with and use them for a parting tool for steel and aluminum. Work good and cheap maybe 7 per $1 used saw blade from the swapmeet.
     
    ch2co and ELHEAD like this.
  28. ELHEAD

    ELHEAD United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    75
    Trophy Points:
    28
    City:
    Florence
    State:
    Alabama

    -Return to Top-

    Same here , works great in AL.
    Dave
     
  29. ch2co

    ch2co United States Grumpy Old Man H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    346
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Mile High Colorado
    City:
    Center of Colorado 5362ft
    State:
    Colorado

    -Return to Top-

    I have cut a lot of 5/8" 6061 aluminum on my old radial arm saw using a "metal cutting" ( alum. Brass.)
    The danger and problem of cutting in the conventional wood cutting way became apparent back when I was first cutting 1/8" alum. The process is like climb milling in that the blade direction is trying to climb up the piece you are cutting. I found that starting the blade on the front side of the work and pushing the blade carriage back towards the backstop eliminates the problem of the blade pulling itself into the work and jambing as it tries to climb up and over the work. I take 3 passes to cut the 5/8 plate, and the cuts are superior to all but the finest of bandsaw cuts that I've seen. Always use a stick lubricant blade and use good ear protection.

    I've also used router bits in my minimill for edge shaping, etc. never on steel yet, thanks for the tip.
    When milling steel, (seldom) I have found that Canola oil with its high smoke point in the kitchen seems to work better than any other lube I've tried.
    Just the rantings of
    CHuck the grumpy old guy
     
  30. Subwayrocket

    Subwayrocket United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    279
    Trophy Points:
    63
    City:
    Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
    State:
    Pennsylvania

    -Return to Top-

    A few weeks ago needed to round over a hand tool I made. I figure it wouldn't hurt to try one . The carbide tip router bit cut mild steel no prob , no chatter . I'd imagine Alum would be a breeze .
    I had it pushed up pretty far in a collet and I had the wheel bearing off the bit. It is a half inch shank bit, below is a pic . I went on ebay and got 2 more , chamfer and another roundover .
    Although I haven't tried it, I would probably not use 1/4" router bits .
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    YonicoRoundoverBit.jpg
     

Share This Page