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Jason's Build Log - 12' top beam 30" above - Hoping to cut sheet aluminum to custom sizes

Hello everyone, I’ve been reading this forum for a week now and have learned much, thank you all! I am in the beginning stage, so I wanted to introduce myself and my goals for the Maslow. I will do a complete build log (using current best setup data) and of course, will show off my results good and bad.

I work at My Favorite Art Place in Clearwater, Florida. We support the local fine art community by capturing their art and then printing it on a variety of substrates like canvas, wood, metal, paper, glass and plexi. We advertise custom everything, including metal sizes but we have yet to find a good way to cut sheet aluminum accurately with a clean edge (short of a $20K AccuShear). In speaking with our supplier, he told me they use a CNC router to cut the metal they sell to us, which is what led me to Maslow. Cutting aluminum .040 sheet stock is the primary goal, but obviously there are additional capabilities that we are all very excited about here as well.

FRAME: I plan to start with the 12’ top beam model, 30" above the top surface of the cutting area

SLED: I’m leaning toward the Metal Maslow sled with the Maker Made or Meticulous Z-axis (Rigid R2200 series router)

Everything else will be stock except for the 15’ chains and maybe a metal top beam bolted through the wood for greater rigidity.

I am new to CNC, but I do have experience creating 2D vector graphics and even some 3D experience from a while back +plus I am a competent wood-worker. I’m a computer and electronics nerd, so nothing scares me other than my inexperience with CNC machines.

I would love any input on my sled and z-axis choices, it seems the best option based on my reading, but I often notice I’m reading a thread from 2 years ago so things may have changed. I may make multiple sleds if needed, one for wood, one for metal, etc. I hope to start frame construction next week and we are ordering the Maslow kit once I’m confident I have made the right choices in sled and z-axis.

Any input is welcome, other helpful info is: We don’t cut much metal, so the speed is not an issue but accuracy is important. We do plan to use it to mill out recessed letters in wood and plexi and may even cut one-piece picture frames with a simple contour. I already have a commitment to cut some round frames with a routed 1/4" recess for the art to sit in. I can do this manually, but would love to see the Maslow do it for me. I want the machine as accurate as I can get it, while still being versatile enough to take on all the crazy and creative ideas we are going to throw at it.

Thanks in advance for any knowledge you can impart, and for reading along. Should be a great adventure!

Jason

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buy a makita track saw or any of the cheaper knock offs and use oslund 5 3/8" aluminum cutting circular saw blades about $28 each.
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=track+saw&_sacat=0&_udhi=150&_sop=16

very clean edge, if too sharp you can debur it with this
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=sheet+metal+double+debur&_sacat=0&LH_TitleDesc=0&_udhi=150&_sop=15

so for less than $200 you can cut straight aluminum easily, better than using a maslow for straight cuts.

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As far as a sled goes, you do not need a separate one for wood vs metal.
You also do not need a 2HP router to cut thin 1mm aluminum (0.40")
you will need single flute upcut bits on the smaller size around 5 or 4mm. 3mm tends to clog and 6mm is just extra work IMHO.

if you want to round the corners a little then I’d recommend getting a corner rounder machine.

your sled choice is fine as well as z axis. both companies have announced z axis options on facebook that use lead screws like the meticulous design. .

I have a maslow and a track saw and the track saw is far better for simple rectangular cuts. I work with aluminum for a living and I tend to get away just fine using cheaper tools. Even with the maslow anything in volume over 20 pieces I send to my local laser cutter, they can cut it nicer and CHEAPER than I can DIY.

one last thing, most aluminum suppliers have a sheer and for $10 will cut down sheet goods to size. easternmetal.com and americanmetals.us are both in florida. Eastern sells anodized aluminum sheet if you want a softer pearl look. vs the more contrasty metalic look of mill finish aluminum

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Thanks! That sounds like a workable solution, my only concern is a piece of info I left out of the first post. The metal is coated with a polyester resin coating which receives the image via a dye-sublimation process. It allows me to print on metal at photo resolution with a show car gloss finish. If the finish gets marred on the edges at all, the metal is ruined. If it gets too hot, it is ruined also. My supplier cuts really slowly with a cnc router without any cooling fluid and claims this is the only way to preserve the finish.

That said, I may go buy one of these and test with it just to see. I could likely adapt the saw to my existing vertical cutter (roller wheel type cutter, Fletcher 3100) and solve the problem that way. Regardless, we are getting a Maslow for many other reasons too so this thread will live on.

I also see your point about the maslow not being the right tool for long straight lines.

I didn’t see your other reply before I hit send. We do have an Accu-Cutter “Corner Mate” hand operated corner snipper with 1/8" 1/4" and 3/4" radius punches for it.

We have tried working with local sheet metal shops, but havent had much success. We usually need the cuts made in a 2 day window to meet our customer deadlines. We do maybe 2 or 3 custom cuts a week so it was. lot of running back and forth (20 minute drive) and we frequently didn’t get our 2 day turnaround which is why we want to go in-house. Also if something went wrong with the print, we had to start the whole process over again and have lost jobs due to the delays.

well wouldn’t be the first time a supplier exaggerated the circumstances to keep your business :slight_smile: just cut with the coated side facing the ground, no issues what so ever with heat. I use a little 18v ridgid router to cut circles out of aluminum, cuts fine with the right bit. with the wrong bit its frustrating as heck.

a little bit of dry lube on the saw blade before each use will help keep it from clogging up with aluminum chips, clogged chips are what generate heat.

or just coat after you have cut. but you probabaly buy it precoated.

Yeah we buy the metal pre-coated, but I’m glad to hear that heat won’t be a problem. I will pick up a track saw and blade this weekend and try adapting it to my Fletcher vertical cutter. Awesome idea, thanks again. I saw someone make a vertical cutter on the back of a maslow frame too, I will look at that thread again and make sure I don’t want to do it that way. Appreciate the advice from someone who does this regularly.

Jason

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these are the blades I use, make sure they fit the arbor of your saw. they are smaller than the typical 6.5" blades, but you just plunge them deeper. Most of the time I never cut anything thicker than 1/8" aluminum so smaller blades work fine and save $$$

Quick Update: The blade is here and the saw and track are inbound. Home Depot takes 8 days to “Expres ship” my saw and tracks for store pickup, Amazon would have had it here in 2 days…live and learn.

I have ordered the Metal Maslow kit and I picked up the lumber for the frame this morning. On a side note, the boss said let’s go ahead and grab the Maker 300 3D Printer while we are at it. :slight_smile: What’s one more complex machine to learn on the fly…right? LOL I will post build pics along the way when something interesting happens. Most of what I will be doing has already been done.

12 Ft. Top Beam (Metal Bar) 30" above top edge of cut area.
Metal Maslow sled and Z-axis
Counter-weighted chain tensioner
Vertical Track Saw on back of Maslow Frame

I have a ton of production work today but I plan to at least measure and cut all the parts for the frame. I’m like a little kid waiting for Santa to arive.

Jason

My Metal Maslow kit arrived today, WOW. I ordered it Tuesday afternoon and it is here Thursday. Impressive! Now I really have to work on my frame.

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I know I read a post detailing which Aux port did what, but cannot relocate it now. Anyone have a link? Not sure where to plug in the cooling fan, power shut off relay, etc. I love that the Metal Maslow came with a smoke detector. :slight_smile: It’s like they know me…

Frame is 50% complete, electronics have been set up and tested, today was spent cleaning the areas where the Metal Maslow and Maker 300 will go.

Jason

Did you mean this one?
https://forums.maslowcnc.com/t/maslow-electronics-wiring-diagram-for-aux-outputs/1850

Peter

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That will work, thanks Peter. Lots of things come in the metal Maslow kit that aren’t in any instructions but I’m figuring it all out.

Jason

Finally an Update - Things slowed down with Covid-19 but we finally finished the room for my Metal Maslow. We put sound dampening material inside in hopes of keeping our art studio as quiet as possible.

@aluminumwelder Roland, the track saw and blade combo you recommended cuts our metal beautifully, I cannot thank you enough for the recommendation!!!

Here are some progress pics, basically a stock frame with 10.5" taller front legs, and the 1.5" 12-foot metal top beam through-bolted on top of the 10’ top 2x4. I added some braces and left enough of a lip to rest the top beam on for easier installation, it is very sturdy and I am pleased with it so far. Now to add and hook up the electronics. - Jason

End of day shot, Monday, calibration and testing. Excited a scared all at the same time.

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Success, after a bit of trudging through the calibration process I m making successful cuts. These will be a series of hexagonal picture frames that will be filled with moss and hung in a geometric pattern. There is a 1/4" rabbet for a foam backer milled into the back edge. They measure basically perfect on all sides, larger stuff will be cut today. :slight_smile: I still need to put my dust collection system on, but I am super happy with how it is working!


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Day 2, more of the same type stuff, just a little bigger and more detailed. This is for a Mother’s Day present, it will have pics of the 4 kids with mom in the heart in the middle.

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Jason,

Your setup is almost exactly what I had in mind for my garage/workshop. Hope to get started on the project in mid-May when my workload tapers off a bit for the summer.

A couple of questions. First, you went with the Rigid router rather the Makita router that’s a standard part of the metalmaslow kit. Any particular reason, and could you offer any feedback on that decision?

Second, do you have a photo of your complete frame that might show how you did the framing behind the 4x8 bed?

My intended use is cutting templates for outdoor deck & dock furniture for use around the house and cabin.

Jeff

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I would stick with the Makita router, the Rigid router is “head heavy” and caused me to have to modify my linkage, the Makita will be much smoother to setup. In hindsight I didn’t need the horsepower or RPM that the Rigid gave me, I will likely replace it with a Makita in the near future.

I literally built the stock frame from the Maslow plans, with 3 simple changes:

  1. I made the front legs 10.5" taller than designed, which when you add the 1.5" metal crossbar, it sets your motors 1 foot above stock which should be an optimal configuration…my cuts so far make me think this is true.
  2. I added small supports under the arms that hold up the top bar to support the extra weight of the metal top bar.
  3. Metal top bar is drilled and through-bolted to the stock wooden top crossbar in 4 places to keep the assembly super rigid.

The hardest part was rigging up the counter weight system (still not happy with mine, but it works) and getting through the initial calibration. Once i got done, I have been nothing but happy with the machine.

I will help in any way I can, and will grab a pic of the back of my machine once it is done with it’s current cut.

Jason

This is great feedback.

Regarding the router, staying smaller was the direction I was intending to go, just wondering if there was something I was missing. This is very helpful confirmation.

I’ve found the plans for the standard frame, so with your clear description there is no need for a photo (but thanks for the offer). Metalmaslow is now sold out of the 12 foot metal bar, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be making more. So my thought, adapted from something I read somewhere on this forum, is to use 12’ lvl to a got a long and rigid top bar. That should a pretty straightforward adaptation to what I see in your photos.

Thanks for the feedback … your posts are incredibly helpful.

Jeff

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