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Plasma Cutter Questions

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  • Plasma Cutter Questions

    Cheers, I'm new to the site and to Plasma cutting. I'll be purchasing a Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 39 or 52...Any comments on this one? My instructor says this is what I should get. I want to do intricate art work and was wondering if I should be using a 000 nozzle for this type of work? When doing such intricate work do you turn down the amps so you can go slower, allowing you to have a steader hand? Sorry if this sound like a lame question, but I tend to go fast when I'm using my class plasma cutter, which of course messes me up and my instructor is usually MIA most of the time... go figure. Here is an example attached of what I aspire to create. Have you every seen such beautiful shovel!!! ha I appreciate all your help

    PS - If anyone know of some really great Metal Art/Plasma cutting tutorial books, I'd love the input.

  • #2
    The Thermal Dynamics is an excellent choice because it has one of the thinnest kerfs (cuts) of any of the plasma cutters. If you can swing it, get the 52, because virtually every plasma owner will tell you to not under-buy! I did, and ended up wasting hundreds of dollars selling my TD Cutmaster 38 just to gain 10 more amps.

    Your cutting hand will get steadier (use both hands, resting one on the work, if necessary). Don't feel you have to pattern each shovel exactly like the last...allow yourself to be "guided by your mistakes". Practice is everything...pick up some scrap to ruin first, but choose scrap that can be sold if the practice piece turns out good!
    Senior Member
    Last edited by Hotfoot; 10-30-2008, 08:43 AM.
    "Good Enough Never Is"


    • #3
      I'm not familiar with Thermal Dynamic's cutters so I'm not sure about your question on the "000 nozzle"...This sounds like an oxyfuel cutting tip designation but it may also be how Thermal Dynamics rates their plasma nozzles. I use hypertherm and have the option of their "fine cut" nozzles, std 40 amp, or std. 60 amp nozzles. I usually always purchase the 60 amps and use it for everything...thick and thin material. The kerf is only a few thousandths wider than the 40 amp. (Hotfoot is right...Buy the largest plasma cutter you can afford...I would rather have the option to cut thicker material if needed over a few thousandths thinner kerf. As far as travel speed, I try to go as fast as I can while staying smooth. I also saw the lace patterns of Cal Lane about a year ago. I wasn't too interested in cutting out flowers like she does but I cut about a dozen shovels with Texas stars, horses, names, etc. They are fun to cut...Everyone seems to like them. You'll be surprised how good they turn out even if your cuts are a little rough...It just gives the shovel more character. I don't know of any plasma cutting tutorial books but you should be able to search this site for a ton of ideas. Hotfoot and JimYo have posted a lot of great photos of their projects. There are a lot of other talented people on this site that can give you some tips. Hope this helps! Please post photos of your shovels or projects...We love to see everyone's project pictures.


      • #4
        Thanks for the info. I apologize for the "000" I had a brain slip mixing up my tools. I'm just hoping to do the intricate type of work that Cal Lane does. I've battled with buying the next model up as far as Plasma and at first I was convinced that I would go up and now between my husband, the dealer and my teacher say stick with the "39" which has a max cutting size of almost 3/4 of an inche. They know what I want to do with it and say it should be more than adequate. There is more hassle with the next step up as it needs the 220 outlet, so hubby would have to put a new one in.

        Can you tell me if you can go slow with a plasma cutter for more percision or is there an issue with that?

        Thanks Again!


        • #5
          Originally posted by SoozequeD View Post
          There is more hassle with the next step up as it needs the 220 outlet, so hubby would have to put a new one in.

          Can you tell me if you can go slow with a plasma cutter for more percision or is there an issue with that?

          Thanks Again!
          Hubby is most likely gonna have to install a dedicated 120v 30 amp outlet to get the 39 to run without tripping a breaker

          "INPUT POWER 120-230v, single phase, 50/60hz, 29/17 amps"
          Ed Conley
          Screaming Broccoli, Inc

          Miller Passport Plus, Spoolmate 100
          SO 2020 Bender
          Miller 125c Plasma
          "Hold my beer while I try this!"


          • #6
            Originally posted by SoozequeD View Post

            Can you tell me if you can go slow with a plasma cutter for more percision or is there an issue with that?

            Thanks Again!
            It somewhat depends on just how slow you are talking about. Generally speaking, you will find that a very slow cut with the plasma cutter will give a wider kerf, a little more ragged edge, and a lot more dross (slag) on the back side of the cut - which, of course, will have to be cleaned off.

            Don't be too concerned with going very slowly for precision. With practice you will find that you can move fairly quickly, with precision, and get a nice clean cut.

            I also agree with the above posts. Get the biggest that you can afford. Tell your husband to wire you up for 240. Once you get the hang of a plasma cutter it is hard to figure out how you ever lived without one.



            • #7
              I'm gonna disagree (sort of) with some, and say that the 39 would be more than you are likely to ever need. I have a 38, I almost never need to cut anything over 1/4", which it does very well. I have used it on occasion to cut 1/2" steel, and it does a nice job on it.

              You really don't want to run that machine on 120v though. It will cut, but performance is hindered severely. Even on thin stuff it just doesn't cut as well.

              You will find that slower cutting speed = unsteady hand, and sloppy cuts. With practice you will be able to make nice clean cuts, and follow lines drawn for a pattern quite easily.


              • #8
                I never worry about travel speed when cutting by hand...I just want to be as smooth as possible. If I try to rush it and cut fast, I usually end up with some really rough edges. If I slow down too much, I also have problems with ragged edges and there will be more dross/slag on the back side. I suggest you concentrate on smooth movements at whatever speed works best for you. You will get better and more confident as you cut more. Practice as much as you can. Keep one of your first pieces to compare to after you have used your plasma for a few months.
                I also use plywood patterns of letters, numbers, circles, and some common shapes. Clamp it to your steel plate and drag the torch around the plywood pattern. You can usually travel a lot faster and the plywood doesn't get hot enough to burn up when cutting thin material. Use 1X4s or 2x4s clamped on your plate for straight guides. On straight cuts, I have much better results when I pull the plasma torch towards me.


                • #9
                  Thanks to everyone for being so informative - I settled with the Thermal Dynamics 39, hubby put in a dedicated 120V 30amp plug. He'll put a 220 in when he gets more time and I think I can plug into that for more power if I need it. I think that's what I heard. I only hear blah blah blah blah when I have to listen to electrical jargon. I've gotten better in just 2 days with getting lot of detail and I was wondering....

                  I'm currently using the 30amp tip that came with the machine - If I use a 20 amp tip will I get a smaller cut?