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6C33C OTL - Construction Journal Continues -Cutting the aluminum

Posted 1st December 2012 at 03:00 AM by wlowes

I am keeping this journal for my own record. There is no new engineering in this project. This is just my own journey while building my first tube amp.

Major milestone achieved today. I finally took the plunge and cut the aluminum. I am very happy with the results. Each and every part fits perfectly.

I planned this project around Front Panel Express. I used their tool designing and redesigning the lay out until I was confident in my layout and fit. Problem is FPE is expensive. Then I saw some comments from other builders that the edge FPE leaves is not really finished. I went searching for a more cost effective solution. I landed on cutting using WaterJet while searching for local CNC shops. There is a company in Toronto close to where I work www.pva-enterprises.com that has an advanced waterjet cutting machine. I exported my FPE file and sent it in for a quote. Given I need a left and a right panel for the 2 mono's I got them to cut both panels in one pass as their machine has 2 cutting heads. With just a few adjustments to the design, left and right panels were mirror images. This resulted in very nice panels with edges that can show at less than half the cost of FPE.

The beauty of the water cutting system is it can cut darn near anything. You could make the top panel out of wood, aluminum, copper, steel .. even marble! It will cut aluminum that is 3" thick. By choosing a local supplier I also eliminated the cost of shipping.

There are some drawbacks. The finish is just raw aluminum. I plan to sand it with fine grain paper to get rid of scratches, and then buff it to a mirror finish to show off the tubes. I also could not do any real etching. The only way to cut lettering is to cut right through the plate. I opted to forgo labels.

I am fery happy with the waterjet cut. Next step is metal finishing and then on to assembly.
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