I have a need to cut 60º dovetails in aluminium but my mill, Arc's X0, will
only handle cutters up to 6.0 mm shank diameter. Can anybody suggest where
to buy suitably small cutters? I have tried the usual suspects like Arc,
Chronos, J&L etc. If all else fails I will have to make a fly cutter, but
being lazy I would prefer to buy something.
If you don't mind making the dovetails in sections; you can get a big
piece of hexagon bar and bolt the aluminium to this with a couple of cap
screws and use an ordinary end mill. The strips can then be bolted down
to make the dovetails.
A "proper" dovetail cutter seens to need a reasonably good and solid
mill to use and one need to take great care that it only cuts on one
side at a time.
My solution when I did this was to use built up construction. For the
male part you make one strip with two 60 deg angles, and bolt again to a
flat plate with recessed cap head bolts. Then for the female part, you
make two such strips for and then bolt with the 60 degree edges suitably
separated to a flat piece of plate; and it's easy to assemble because you
just put the whole lot together (incl. gib strip) around the male part,
clamp up with toolmakers clamps and then drill and pin.
It does away with the need to do fiddly gauging with ground steel rods
and micrometers. It does have a certain built up look when finished.
But it's easier than doing it "properly" especially when you don't have
a mill and all the milling is being done on a totally unsuitable lathe.