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Machine Shop Tips Should I Invest in Aluminum or Steel Saw Guides?

The number one reason to use an Aluminum Saw Guide is to help prevent back injuries. Not only do back injuries cost a lot when insurance or health and safety organizations are involved, but the impact of losing staff due to injuries can be detrimental to a Sawmill. Aluminum Saw Guides don’t last as long as Steel Saw Guides but the cost of ongoing replacement is significantly cheaper than the cost of a back injury.

Another reason to choose an Aluminum Saw Guide is that, when properly coated with a Type III engineering hard coat, they are far more abrasion resistant than Steel Saw Guides. This is because the coating approaches 70RC, making it harder than steel. Although more abrasion-resistant, keep in mind that they must be handled carefully since they’re not impact resistant, and will dent easier than a Steel Saw Guide.

Aluminum Saw Guides have also become integral for high-speed edgers. Because they’re significantly lighter, there’s less mass to move allowing for faster saw positioning—especially in curve sawing edgers. Due to the stress of moving a significantly heavier steel mass, Steel Saw Guides can cause positioning errors and possible breakdowns of machines. Another good reason to go with aluminum would be if your edger originally came with an Aluminum Saw Guide. In this case it’s best to stick with the lighter weight Aluminum Guide to ensure peak performance of your original equipment.

In addition to the above, there are clear rules of thumb when making a decision to use Aluminum Saw Guides instead of steel. When the thickness of the Babbitt area of a Saw Guide exceeds 1.00” (25.4 mm) then Aluminum Saw Guides can be used. If the Babbitt area is thinner than 1.00” (25.4mm) then there can be a strength issue with Aluminum Saw Guides as they tend to flex easily, causing possible sawing problems. Companies have successfully used Aluminum Saw Guides thinner than 1.00” (25.4 mm) on the Babbitt mounting area, but they were taking on the potential risk of bending. Steel Saw Guides are recommended for anything below 1.00” (25.4 mm).

I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about whether you should be using Aluminum or Steel Saw Guides.