Hot Brass wrote:Ok, that's fair. I honestly don't know any better. My motivation for coming to this forum was to learn.
It's not always easy to swallow advice dispensed by others---especially if you have predetermined notions of how you wish to approach a project. I'd like to encourage you to stay the course, but, in clear conscience, I can't do that.
Having come up through the ranks by sharpening my own tools, I realize how important it is. Unless you are running a CNC, where interchangeability is important, you can achieve perfectly good results in almost all cases by grinding your own HSS tools. It's cheaper, far more convenient, and you gain knowledge in the process. Most importantly, however, is that it sets you free. You can create tools of any description in a moment's notice.
Aluminum is one material where you gain very little, if anything, by using carbide. That's especially true if you're using brazed carbide tools, which often have grinds that leave a great deal to be desired.
Aluminum responds so well to HSS with high positive rake and chip breakers that it can, in general, out-perform carbide. Cutting pressures are reduced, and finishes can be better, although that's a function of spindle speed and rigidity. All in all, if you are running a small machine with modest construction, HSS is the definite winner.
I'd encourage you to do some reading on grinding---then to jump in with gusto! You can't learn it strictly by reading---it requires hand to eye coordination and experience----which you can get only by trying.
Feel free to ask questions. There's a large number of journeyman machinists on this site that can help.