View Full Version : General Metalworking Silly Question for a silly project

Jon Wilson
02-27-2013, 1:50 AM
This may not be what you guys think of when you hear "Metalworking" but it's about as close as I will ever come.

I'm trying to cut out initials in this piece of aluminum stock. I'm pretty limited on tools. By that I mean to say, I have a Dremel :D
I should also add that the finished initials will measure at or below 1" x 1", preferably a little smaller, maybe 3/4" x 3/4"

Off hand does anyone know the bit(s) I would need to cut through this material?

Aside from the dremel route is there an economical way to cut the initials through?

Hope I don't sound completely stoopid!

Oh, the stock I'm using...

Bruce Page
02-27-2013, 2:10 AM
Any of the high speed burrs will work, the coarser ones will not load up as fast.
By cut out you mean through, right? I think you would get better results using a coping saw.

Jon Wilson
02-27-2013, 2:25 AM
Yes, Cut through, completely.

If it matters at all my plan is to cut out my initials and then using a micro torch burn my initials into finished projects.

I looked at getting a custom branding iron but they are just WAY outta my price range.

I'm not in love with this idea so if anyone has a better suggestion, I'm all ears.

Keith Outten
02-27-2013, 11:36 AM

You could build a bridge with a Dremel Tool if you had the time and patience. Thirty years ago I was cutting stainless steel pipe and plate with my Dremel tool making belt buckles.

If you have a scroll saw that is another option with the right blade and I second Bruce's suggestion to use a coping saw.

You could also have custom inserts made that you can use by drilling a shallow hole with a forsner bit, then install the insert with a drop of glue. Lots of people here in the Engravers Forum make custom medallions or inserts for people here from thin wood, plastic and a host of other materials. If your projects are valuable this is the hot setup.

Last but not least I expect someone with a CNC Router could engrave inserts for you, I don't remember anyone doing it this way but it is possible. I have done some diamond drag work on some very small tags and a CNC Router can engrave with various type of cutters.

Check the Friends of The Creek Directory, lots of help there.

Andrew Werby
03-04-2013, 5:58 PM
If you don't have a CNC machine, the best way to do this is with a jeweler's saw. You'll just make a mess with your Dremel tool. It's like a coping saw, but with finer blades. Get it from a jeweler's supply house. Here's one in Baltimore: http://www.tfeinc.biz/products.html Get blades for it that are fine enough so that at least 2 teeth engage in the thickness of the material at once, so it cuts smoothly. Draw the outlines of your letters on the metal with a marker. Drill a hole to start the cut in the wide part of each letter (you can use your Dremel for that) and thread the blade through, then tighten. This is what jeweler's call "piercing", and it's one of the basic operations involved in fabricating jewelry by hand.

Andrew Werby

Gary Hair
03-04-2013, 9:10 PM
One other possibility is to drill around the letters and then use the dremel to clean it up - that should maximize the usefulness of the dremel.

Ryan Baker
03-04-2013, 9:37 PM
I agree that a fret saw (which you can get just about anywhere for about $10, like Woodcraft) would work much better for this than a Dremel. The Dremel will make a jagged mess that will take a lot of filing to clean up.

That said, I wonder whether this method will really produce good results. Have you tested it? I'm thinking that the aluminum is going to get hot enough to partially burn the wood around the letters. If you can burn the letters fast enough it might work OK. Spacing the template just off the wood might help too.

Let us know how it works. It might be a really interesting way to make custom brands.

Rich Fennessey
03-04-2013, 11:18 PM
I've not done anything like this but I'm wondering if your thinner piece of aluminum will retain enough heat to do any branding. I'm thinking you might want it to be quite a bit thicker or lay it on top of another block of aluminum or iron to provide some thermal transfer capacity. Your microtorch might work if you don't expect to heat up the whole thing at once (not sure what size your planning). Having it all heated would probably give you better uniformity on the burning. You might be able to just buy some metal letters depending on the size you want. I know I've looked at metal mailbox letters but I don't think they are solid on the back.

Sounds like you need to hire someone with a laser engraver assuming what you are branding will fit under the hood. Another option, but not very uniform, is to use a magnifying glass on a sunny day. I've burned stuff in wood this way just playing around. Not very elegant but the price is right. You can get a small concentrated burn this way and can vary the size by using different size magnifying glasses and/or playing with the focus distance.