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DIY - Cutting Eurorack rails with a hand saw
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Author DIY - Cutting Eurorack rails with a hand saw
StrangeAttraction
Hello.
I'm about to diy my own case and was wondering if some fellow wigglers have attempted to cut the eurorack rails (e.g. the standard doepfer ones) to size using a hand saw?
How did it go?
I'm planning to purchase some 1m rails from Gie-tec and just cut them to size myself.
R.U.Nuts
I never cut Eurorack rails but cutting aluminium in general is not much harder than cutting hard wood -given that you have the right saw. But you'll need to file the ends which is also not hard -given you have... well you know...
StrangeAttraction
R.U.Nuts wrote:
I never cut Eurorack rails but cutting aluminium in general is not much harder than cutting hard wood -given that you have the right saw. But you'll need to file the ends which is also not hard -given you have... well you know...


I thought so. Aluminium seems quite a soft and easily bendable metal.

They will need filing for sure. Same as my taxes. Doh.
jasev
StrangeAttraction wrote:
Hello.
I'm about to diy my own case and was wondering if some fellow wigglers have attempted to cut the eurorack rails (e.g. the standard doepfer ones) to size using a hand saw?
How did it go?
I'm planning to purchase some 1m rails from Gie-tec and just cut them to size myself.


Yeah i have, just use a hack saw
JohnLRice
I've cut rails many times. I used a hacksaw as other have said but the hardest parts are getting the lengths exactly right and the ends square. To help make square ends I used a cheap plastic miter box like the one below, although it really isn't the best type I think:


I wish I had at least found one like this, since those pegs in holes would make it a lot easier to keep what I was cutting from moving:


A lot of these miter boxes are made for cutting wood so they aren't the best for hacksaw use because wood saw blades are thicker then hacksaw blades and the miter box slots are a little too wide. I'm sure there are miter boxes around for hacksaw use, I was just impatient and just grabbed the cheapest thing I found at the local hardware store.

I ended up always cutting rails just slightly longer then needed and then I'd use a metal file to trim down the length and fix any slight angle issues.

There are better tools and methods then what I used but if you are only going to make only one case one time ( meh hihi ) and it's just for your own use you can get by with inexpensive tools etc.
StrangeAttraction
Great suggestions everyone. I like the idea of using a miter box, leaving the length a bit longer and filing down to a flat surface.
Cybananna
I cut mine with a hacksaw. I didn’t use a miter box and they were close enough but definitely not square ends. Was easy to do
Foghorn
C'mon John, getting correct length is not that hard.

Just put the rails in the vise on the milling machine, take a small cut and measure them with your 36" digital calipers.
That's what I do.

I don't even use the CNC mill.

Um..DOH, I used the CNC mill to make the wooden ends on my "base for Percussion" rack confused
I wanted to make sure each end was the same as the other.
Then I had to mill the rails so they would fit. very frustrating
Oh well

On a real note I have seen a jig that holds a hacksaw just like the file is held in a chainsaw sharpening rig.
It was at one of those "sharper image" type of mail order sellers. I forget the real name.
I think it could clamp to the rails being cut.

Foghorn
JohnLRice
Foghorn wrote:
Just put the rails in the vise on the milling machine, take a small cut and measure them with your 36" digital calipers.
hihi

Foghorn wrote:
On a real note I have seen a jig that holds a hacksaw just like the file is held in a chainsaw sharpening rig.
I just found these little chop saws! If I need to make a case or something similar again I'll get one. There are super cheap ones for about $35 but I would skip those, get one that has an abrasive cut off wheel and a good sized motor. On the low end this one sells for $50 to $100 depending on where you look. Well worth the cost to save on time and frustration.:
Blairio
My brother is a carpenter, and his golden rule when cutting anything is:

"Measure twice, cut once."

Also if you don't use a saw very often, practice sawing on a piece of scrap material. That way you'll know what to expect when you cut the real thing.
batch
You can also file them flat
themormansound
Just take it easy with a metal hacksaw blade (tiny teeth) and then clean up with a file.
Kandavu
A Dremel with a cutting disk & safety goggles will do.
Graham Hinton
JohnLRice wrote:
I just found these little chop saws! If I need to make a case or something similar again I'll get one. There are super cheap ones for about $35 but I would skip those, get one that has an abrasive cut off wheel and a good sized motor.


Abrasive discs always make a burr and make the metal hot. In the same price bracket you can get a chop saw or mitre saw with a TCT blade. These cut the metal so cleanly that you can see the crystal structure and it barely gets warm.
starthief
Blairio wrote:
My brother is a carpenter, and his golden rule when cutting anything is:

"Measure twice, cut once."


Also, make sure you don't have any modules mounted to the rails before you start sawing. Mr. Green
JohnLRice
Graham Hinton wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:
I just found these little chop saws! If I need to make a case or something similar again I'll get one. There are super cheap ones for about $35 but I would skip those, get one that has an abrasive cut off wheel and a good sized motor.


Abrasive discs always make a burr and make the metal hot. In the same price bracket you can get a chop saw or mitre saw with a TCT blade. These cut the metal so cleanly that you can see the crystal structure and it barely gets warm.
Thanks Graham!
broccolifish
JohnLRice wrote:
I've cut rails many times. I used a hacksaw as other have said but the hardest parts are getting the lengths exactly right and the ends square. To help make square ends I used a cheap plastic miter box like the one below, although it really isn't the best type I think:


I wish I had at least found one like this, since those pegs in holes would make it a lot easier to keep what I was cutting from moving:


A lot of these miter boxes are made for cutting wood so they aren't the best for hacksaw use because wood saw blades are thicker then hacksaw blades and the miter box slots are a little too wide. I'm sure there are miter boxes around for hacksaw use, I was just impatient and just grabbed the cheapest thing I found at the local hardware store.

I ended up always cutting rails just slightly longer then needed and then I'd use a metal file to trim down the length and fix any slight angle issues.

There are better tools and methods then what I used but if you are only going to make only one case one time ( meh hihi ) and it's just for your own use you can get by with inexpensive tools etc.


I have the yellow miter box, and it's terrible. The handsaw that goes with it is pretty bad, too. Your black plastic one is probably at least as good.

My experience cutting trim with the yellow box is what inspired me to buy a cheap chopsaw.

I think it's unlikely to be much harder to cut square with a hacksaw than it is to cut with a hacksaw in a miter box, especially if you mark your cut really well first. Aluminum is soft, and you're not making a long cut.
Parnelli
You will get a better cut with a hacksaw blade with smaller teeth; and faster cut with larger teeth. you should have 3 or 4 teeth engaged with your cutting surface as a rule of thumb.

Grinding and cutoff wheels tend to gall up on aluminum; it melts as much as it cuts filling the pores on the cutting surface and generally ruining the wheel.

Dang, and here I purchased all my rails precut!
Summa
I wouldn't recommend doing it manually, getting it 90° and without the need to file it down there's two options imho.

1. get a proper tool like a Mitre saw with an Aluminum blade.

2. Ask Gie-Tec to cut it for you, I do that all the time and they'll not charge you any extra.
Foghorn
Summa wrote:
I wouldn't recommend doing it manually, getting it 90° and without the need to file it down there's two options imho.


To add to this at least start by scribing a line to work to.
darken the rail with a magic marker and scribe a line using a square and something sharp.

then you can look and see how badly you cut it.

in an emergency, aluminum can be finish filed or sanded by hand or with a hand grinder (dremel etc..) if the cut is not straight


Foghorn
pricklyrobot
If you have any little burrs that you can’t reach with a file, you can pretty much whittle aluminum with an X-acto blade.
Rex Coil 7
Good layout .... hacksaw slightly over-length .... use a hand file to take it down to size as well as putting a finishing edge on the cut.

When cutting aluminum, if you use an abrasive wheel in a motorized device of some type, get a bar of soap, apply the soap bar to the abrasive wheel while the machine is running. The soap fills the porous abrasive wheel so that the aluminum will not "pack" into the wheel. When the wheel "packs up" the cut becomes really ugly and galling of the material occurs, and you're not "cutting" any longer, you're just "melting" your way through the aluminum.

But still .... patient layout, properly using a hacksaw, and filing down to dimension is the absolute best way to do aluminum Euro rail cuts.

Be sure to let the hacksaw do the work ... don't do ten thousand strokes-per-second with the saw, and use the entire length of the saw blade. Slow, concise, patient, accurate cuts.

Workmanship, folks. Use it.

cool
Parnelli
Quote:
When cutting aluminum, if you use an abrasive wheel in a motorized device of some type, get a bar of soap, apply the soap bar to the abrasive wheel while the machine is running. The soap fills the porous abrasive wheel so that the aluminum will not "pack" into the wheel. When the wheel "packs up" the cut becomes really ugly and galling of the material occurs, and you're not "cutting" any longer, you're just "melting" your way through the aluminum.


Hey I've been metal working for over 40 years and had never heard of this! My answer was to berate the guy who messed up my grinding wheel in the first place or make them buy a new one, lesson learned.

Very cool tip, in fact all great advice, thanks! applause
Rex Coil 7
Parnelli wrote:
Quote:
When cutting aluminum, if you use an abrasive wheel in a motorized device of some type, get a bar of soap, apply the soap bar to the abrasive wheel while the machine is running. The soap fills the porous abrasive wheel so that the aluminum will not "pack" into the wheel. When the wheel "packs up" the cut becomes really ugly and galling of the material occurs, and you're not "cutting" any longer, you're just "melting" your way through the aluminum.


Hey I've been metal working for over 40 years and had never heard of this! My answer was to berate the guy who messed up my grinding wheel in the first place or make them buy a new one, lesson learned.

Very cool tip, in fact all great advice, thanks! applause
No no ... thank YOU. I always have a better day when I learn I've helped someone.

(and you're very welcome) nodnod Dancing Star
Parnelli
I'll make sure and pass it on before I retire in August... it's my duty to do so! thumbs up
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