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Cutting tubing accurately

Discussion in 'General Talk' started by autox3d, Mar 30, 2016.

  1. autox3d

    autox3d Journeyman
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    I need to cut 1/4 inch aluminum tubing to use as a spacer in my linear guides.

    I tried 3 d printing a jig with my tubing cutter but the tubing cutter has too much slop.

    A saw leaves jagged edges and a production lathe will cost too much.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Jonathon Duerig

    Jonathon Duerig Veteran
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    For cutting small pieces, I think you need to use a hacksaw and miter box. There may be some jagged edges, but you can use a file to smooth them down.

    On larger pieces, you can use a miter saw with a carbide aluminum-cutting blade.

    In general, I have found that the smaller the piece the harder it is to cut accurately and safely. A 200mm beam is super-easy. A 50mm one is tricky. A 5mm spacer is almost impossible to do accurately. So I'd be interested if anybody else had other suggestions for this as well.

    -D
     
  3. Rick 2.0

    Rick 2.0 OpenBuilds Team
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    I came across an Instructable a few days ago that while it may be a bit excessive in the way it was built, may give you some ideas toward a solution. Dremel Chop Saw
     
    silopolis and Mark Carew like this.
  4. GrayUK

    GrayUK Master
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    silopolis likes this.
  5. Ronald van Arkel

    Staff Member Resident Builder Builder

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    Gray, be careful what you wish for! :rolleyes:

    They have okay stuff for the price but most of it is just made to use once. Things I've come across that were nice looking in their blisters or on photos on the internet, are in reality not even close to what they should be. But hey, if it looks good in the blister it sells.

    Now, they also have cheap tools that can be modded to something useful, sometimes you need to swap directly the cheap bearings on drills, or wash the bearing and grease them with good grease, and get a good cutting disc on their saw-blade sharpener as the disc that comes with it is pure junk. Their screw drivers... well... you can use them to... anything BUT tighten or loosing screws ;)... Really, no joke, they are just no good for what they are made for! Philips heads screw drivers lasted 2 screws and yes, I know how to use a screw driver so it wasn't me (this time :D ).

    -Ronald
     
  6. GrayUK

    GrayUK Master
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    Sounds like a Chinese outlet!! :D
    We have similar, it's called "Poundland" but you know you are buying crap. :rolleyes:
    I often wonder why people spend time and money, just to make rubbish.
    The same can be said about a lot of movies of a similar ilk. :D
    Nowt so queer as folk, we say here.
     
  7. Rob Taylor

    Rob Taylor Veteran
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    That's exactly it. Imagine the wildly variable quality available at Poundland, then make it a tool store with similar suppliers, with compressors, welders, automotive gear, machine tools, everything ever.

    It's a magical place, as long as you keep your head screwed on (and are willing to make repairs as necessary). They do have an extended warranty where you bring it back and they swap it out no questions asked, however, which can be useful when you're taking more of a risk on something. Personally, I try to maintain a rule: don't buy anything more complicated than a motor and belt from them- stuff I can easily rebuild myself if necessary. I did break it when I got an angle grinder, but I don't use one frequently enough to warrant a Makita, and it was $13 or something. Essentially disposable (seemed identical to me to that one Wilko used to sell for £15).

    In terms of cutting tubing... A Dremel cutting wheel in a drill press? Shouldn't require much lateral force. I'd probably have a combination square, a flat plate and a piece of wet'n'dry handy too, for cleanup/adjustments. Without a lathe, I doubt it's going to be quick and repeatable.
     
  8. Rick 2.0

    Rick 2.0 OpenBuilds Team
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    Ronald, I live less than a mile from a Harbor Freight and I shop there all the time. It's just a case of know what you are getting into. Read the product reviews online before you go. And while the merchandise is low quality, I've never had any issues with things snapping or busting. The real issues are generally fit, finish, alignment, etc. Harbor Freight actually does a pretty good job of keeping the standards to a certain minimum as they're on the hook for any returns and they certainly don't want stuff they can't sell taking up shelf space. But I find things like their sandpaper and electrical connectors are just as good as what you get at the home center for a fraction of the price. It's also the only place in town where I can find anything metric.
     
  9. Jonathon Duerig

    Jonathon Duerig Veteran
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    First, regarding Harbor Freight: I look at them as a cheap way to learn about a new tool. When you are trying out a new kind of tool that you don't have experience with, it is often hard to tell in advance what features matter and what 'high quality' really buys you. So you can go into Harbor Freight and buy one for very little money. Then you might find that you never needed the high end item for your purpose anyhow. And if you do end up throwing away the HF tool, you will then have a clear idea of what you requirements you have when buying something better.

    Second, V-slot can also work decently as a v-clamp for small diameter tubes. So you might be able to make a V-slot jig to hold your tube at a precisely repeatable position for cutting.

    -D
     
  10. Ronald van Arkel

    Staff Member Resident Builder Builder

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    Hello Rick.

    Ow yes, if you can hold things in your hand before you buy is a big plus for sure. I'm not saying that they just sell junk but you have indeed to know what you are getting into. It seems that a lot of their Drillmaster tools have "dry" bearings and it's recommended to grease gearing (if metal) and the bearings (if they are open). Note taken on the sandpaper and electrical connectors, thank you. For me it's a bit hard to buy from them (trough eBay) as I'm living 1000 to 1100 miles from them but I have friends that go there whole the time and they give me a hand checking stuff out before I buy.

    It was just a bit much I think to wish for a store like that ;). It's also a bit personal and I wanted to warn about the quality, sure you get what you pay for.

    -Ronald

    Edit:
    For finishing I would drill holes in wood the diameter of the spacer and use a sander to get the nice finish. Sure they need to be close to the right size before you start sanding them or you have to find a way to adjust the height of the spacer in the wood.
     
    #10 Ronald van Arkel, Apr 4, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  11. silopolis

    silopolis Well-Known
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    hi,

    Unless you can clamp your stock both sides of the blade and reduce the clearance around the cut, it's hard to get a clean one.

    Maybe you could combine @Jonathon Duerig idea of a v-clamp (DIY examples all around) with the one of @Ronald van Arkel of a "sanding cap" by fastening the cap to the v-clamp. This way the long part would be clamped to the V profile, and the thin one plugged into/hold by the cap.

    Going further, if your tube diameter allows it,you could make an ad-hoc miter box by drilling a longer piece of wood (that could be hold in a vise) and making a slot for the saw at the desired length from the end. With a perpendicular slot, this could even clamp the tube with the vise strength !? An endcap with just one nail could make a rotating stop to ease and speed the cut of many pieces. Made an awful drawing w/o the clamping slot nor the endstop.

    Jérémie
     

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  12. blindflight

    blindflight Veteran
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