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cutting t-slots in 6061-T6

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j ferguson

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#1
I want to cut a t-slot in 6061 which will accommodate Sherline Tee-nuts. I think I understand the process; first cut a slot wide enough for the throat of the slotting tool and deep enough for the cut, then run the slotting tool down the slot. fortunately my design has slot open at both ends. It appears that most cutters sold for t-slotting are too big for this job, but cutters sold as Key-Seating tools for cutting woodruff key slots can be the right size. I can get one which will cut the slot depth at .125 (maybe a bit too much) and .375 wide. which would require 2 more passes to make slot wide enough for the .375 wide Sherline Tee-nut.

I'm a little worried about cutting two sides of a slot at same time in aluminum. should I be worried about chips cuasing problems when cutter teeth come out of one side of slot and cut into other?

If key seater isn't right for this, what might be?

john
 

4GSR

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#2
I've used keyseat cutters before cutting tee slots, but it was in steel. It does work. In aluminum, you could risk the chance of the keyseat cutter getting clogged up in chips if you don't run some kind air blast or coolant blast from an mister.
 

markba633csi

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#3
It will work, just stop frequently and clear the chips. Don't get impatient and try to feed too fast, the cutter may snap, especially an inexpensive one.
Mark
 

j ferguson

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#4
Thank you gentlemen. Now to buy a cutter.
I do have the mister I built according to a design I found here.
 

mikey

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#5
Having done this before, the issue will be chip packing, not heat or lubrication. I agree with the other guys - I would use a stream of air and back out to clear chips as needed. Your tool is cutting on three sides - top, side and bottom - and the chips have limited egress. Air will clear them better than coolant unless you use a flood. You also need to slow the cutting speed. Manual feed works pretty good - feed to get a slight positive resistance to feed so the teeth cut instead of rub.
 

EmilioG

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#6
Keo makes very nice t slot and key seat cutters. I was looking at them yesterday, but they are very expensive.
Melin may have an alternative.
 

ddickey

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#7
I just did this with a key slot cutter recently. Works fine if you follow what the other said. My material was 2024 though.
 

j ferguson

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#8
All this is a prelude to making a stouter table, the better to grind bits with, for my new Harbor-Fright 1x30 belt sander. It may be nuts to invest $250 in time and material in a $35 "tool", but i cannot imagine I'm the first.

It was once suggested that I jack up the very nice paint job on my restored at great and stupid cost SAAB 900 and change the car. I can't be the only one who overdoes it.

And yes, I read Mikey's very thoughtful counsel on belt grinding bits and what sort of machine would work the best, but I thought it might be better for me to go cheap at first, see if this is something that will work for me and if it does, THEN go first class, er ... not third class. This was the philosophy that drove me to buy a $179 3d Priinter and then find that it was so good that I made all manner of parts and cases on it for eighteen months before finally biting the $1500 MakerGear bullet.

Also I never bought the maxim "You get what you pay for." it's BS. The real thing is "You MAY get what you pay for, but you will seldom get what you don't pay for." See. Doesn't that make more sense?

As always, if you think any of this is stupid, it's ok to say so.
 

markba633csi

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#9
You also might want to snug up the gibs on your machine as tight as you can, almost to the binding point. Any play or backlash increases
the chance of snagging the tool and breaking it.
M
 
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