Best Saws to Cut Aluminum C-Channels

My team is looking for a good saw to invest in, as a hacksaw isn’t very efficient when cutting large parts. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Some teams use files, however they may take even longer to cut throw C channels. Bolt cutters and get the job done very quickly however aren’t very precise. Your best bet is probably to use a circular saw.

A bandsaw would probably be the fastest, I’ve only used full-sized ones, but you can buy a miniature vertical bandsaw at most hardware stores, just make sure you have a metal blade as most of them come with blades that are meant for wood.

Other teams have used tools like angle grinders, chop saws, and table saws. I’ve never used any of these to cut C-channels or any other thin metal, so I can’t say for sure how effective they are.

I’ve never really had issues with using a hacksaw though, good technique, a properly bolted down vice, and a 24 and/or 32 TPI blades chew through aluminum and soft steel.

3 Likes

A dremel with exchangeable bits is the best option for anyone on a budget. You could replace the bits for anything of your choice and it’s dirt cheap to replace the bits. It’s also extremely precise but you need to invest in a vice grip if you want to use a dremel safely and effectively. Otherwise, invest in a bandsaw for larger cuts.

4 Likes

A dremel is what our team uses to cut metal from very fine pieces to medium pieces.

Alright, thanks I think we’ll try the bandsaw. We have a 24 TPI blade hacksaw with a vice, and it works well, but it gets a bit awkward when trying to cut c-channels in half.

Thanks for the input, I think we’re ok with the hacksaw for smaller cuts now. We just want something to make large cuts a bit faster, so we’ll just try the bandsaw for now.

You can get professionally cut 1x1 angles from c-channels cut in half from Robosource.net. Much neater than a band-saw cut. https://www.robosource.net/high-strength-lock-bars-1x1-angle/215-1x1x35-aluminum-angle-10.html

1 Like

Alright, thanks so much. I’ll check that out too.

We use this:

Works well enough for small cuts, we just need to file down the edges.

1 Like

What kind of hacksaw do you have? I can saw an aluminum c channel in half with my hacksaw in 30 seconds

I’m thinking @AaronL meant “in half” meaning lengthwise, to create 1x1 angles.

handsaws if you can do it. otherwise bandsaws.
edit I accidentally typed handsaws twice lol

I personally do not like using halved c channels because of how little bend and twist it can take before it warps. In a lot of cases you can use standoffs instead.

Here’s a post I shared with the VEX World Coaches Association (https://www.facebook.com/groups/281101222239202/)

This is our “power tool workstation” for VEX Team VIRUS.

Power%20tool%20workstation
Not seen, off to the right of the picture is a 1" belt sander, and to the left, is a vise/hacksaw/file station.

Here’s the details on our power tool bench:
Bench: https://www.harborfreight.com/46-in-mobile-storage…
Chop Saw: https://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-55-amp-cut-off-saw…
Drill Press: https://www.harborfreight.com/8-in-5-speed-bench-drill…
Vise: https://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-jaw-capacity-drill…
Band Saw: https://www.harborfreight.com/10-amp-deep-cut-variable…
Band Saw Stand: https://www.swagoffroad.com/SWAG-V40-Portaband-Table_p_63…
Belt Sander: https://www.harborfreight.com/1-in-x-30-in-belt-sander…

If you are a K-12 school, check into Harbor Freight’s grant program, you might get free stuff.

Be sure to use coupons for everything (you’ll have to get on their mailing list). The bench and band saw usually have a coupon, the others you can get one-at-a-time with 20% off coupons.

We got a foot-switch for the band saw stand. You’ll also need band saw blades, sanding belts (the sander comes with a “wood” belt, switch to metal belts, cut-off wheels, drill bits.

There’s a lockout safety switch too, parts from Automation Direct, plans in the “files” of the world coach’s page.

As for splitting C-channels down the middle, the band saw can do it, but we use the Robosource 1x1 angles because it is much neater.

5 Likes

The best move is to invest ~110 dollars in a bandsaw as well as a metal cutting blade for it. You get wicked fast and detailed/precise cuts in aluminum, polycarb, or steel.

1 Like

man were just a bunch of broke kids can’t afford luxuries like that

1 Like

Without our sponsors, we’d all be broke! Some teams are lucky and get a bunch of school funding.

2 Likes

well I’ve been taught by my upperclassmen to use 3-hole wide c channels to produce 1*1 angles. because then you’d get 2 corners without the rough edge of half a hole like you get when you do it with a 2 wide c channel and 1 really long aluminum strip which you can use to brace your lift or something

3 Likes

We use a dremel but it is not as clean and the cuts can be sharp.