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I'm going to demonstrate how to engine turn an aluminum panel on a drill press. There are other ways to do this, but this is what worked for me. If you wish to do alot of this, there are kits on the market that include wire brushes. I have even heard of guys using a dowel chucked in a drill with lapping compound applied. I did try this, but it was a mess and gave poor results.

To proceed; make a flat panel to clamp to your drill table. This can be 1/2" plywood, laminate, whatever you have handy. The size will be determined by what you are going to make. Secondly, use a strip of straight wood and fasten it to the base as a fence. (See first photo)

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You will notice the dowel in the picture; this is your tool. Adjust the fence and base so that your work piece is aligned so that the tool will contact the side nearest to you.

Before we go any further, let me show you the shop made tools. These are made from hardwood dowels to which is attached red Scotch Brite pads using hot glue. The size of dowel is entirely up to you. I started with 1/2" dowel, but decided I prefered 3/4". A large dowel would not fit in my drill chuck. That is why they are turned down on one end.
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Now, turning to your panel, the aluminum must be smooth and free of scratches. Any defects will show through the finish. The panel may be dressed using a power sander or by block sanding with wet or dry sandpaper, or as I did using a die grinder and those power lock buffing pads. Also, if you should mess up, you can polish the problem area and continue.

Now, take your panel and place it on the base, against the fence. Align the dowel with the near edge of the work piece and located at the left edge. Lower the rotating tool on to the work piece. You don't have to press it hard. Just touch it down for a moment. Then place a mark on the base next to the piece with a pencil, so you can return to this position. Move the work to the left a distance equal to 1/2 the diameter of the tool. Repeat touching the tool down and making a mark until you reach the right edge.
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Now you will make a wooden spacer equal in width to 1/2 the diameter and place it between the fence and work piece.
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Repeat the directions above, adding spacers as you go.
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I haven't tried staggering the alternating rows, but that would sure be something to experiment with.

And that's it! Shown is the completed panel.
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I see no reason why this process couldn't be adapted to the end mill. Perhaps someone could report on this.

I am in the process of making a dash insert for a '68 Wheel Horse Charger 12 that I am customizing. I'll show photos of that when it's completed.

Original forum post and discussion can be found at: http://gardentractor...rning-aluminum/


  • MH81, hamman, JD DANNELS and 7 others have said thanks
 
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