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How to Cut Aluminum the Easy Way



The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you looking at?

Kevin Caron: This is a new public art sculpture I'm working on here in the studio, using brand new, shiny aluminum.

This is 16-gauge aluminum sheet metal. I've got to put some nice, gentle curves into the sides of the sheets, so, with my lines marked out I'll proceed to cut them. Come here and I'll show you how I'm going to cut it.

There's a variety of tools or methods I could use, but with the sheet being 50 inches wide and 48 inches long, trying to go into the Beverly shear, holding it at the other end while steering and cutting all that at the same time is too awkward to manage.

Another approach would be to use the plasma cutter, change the fitting on the back and hook up to carbon dioxide, or the argon, instead of using compressed air. With the inert gas, you get a better, cleaner cut, but you still get the little jagged edge which requires you to come back with a grinder and clean it up.

You know what I'm going to do? Go old-school. I'm going to use the plain, old-fashioned jigsaw; put a metal blade on it.

Here's a trick you can use to make it easy: if you're going to cut on aluminum or steel, or anything you don't want to scratch, just get some duct tape and coat the bottom of the pad, the foot, with some duct tape. Now it will slide across the aluminum and you won't leave scratches in it that you'd have to come back and grind out. That's all.

I'll just hook up the jigsaw, nice, slow, and easy, watching my mark, and slice that part off. I'll take off the piece that I cut, go to the other side of the metal and use that as a pattern.

Don't forget the curve! I'll lay out my line on that side, cut on the correct side of the curve, slice that one off, and now they both match. Move on to the next piece - just cheating.

You simply use your imagination; use the tools you have, whatever you have around you. You can always get the job done.

And speaking of getting the job done, I've got to get back to my contemporary art sculpture.

I'll see you later.

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