Need to cut metal

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DeltaCabBuilder
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Need to cut metal

Post by DeltaCabBuilder » June 30th, 2020, 8:39 am

Ok, slowly getting set up for metal. My day job is owning/operating a cabinet shop so I have all the wood equipment I need - table saws, shapers, 4x8 CNC... CNC no good on metal :ymsigh: Unless it aluminum...

Have a new Lincoln 180 MIG/Flux core machine but now need a torch. Some have suggested a plasma, but that is more $ and cannot heat only for bending, etc like I remember doing on the farm when I was a kid. Will the small suitcase style torches work for limited use? Like the Lincoln Port-a-torch kit?

Plans are for a Mack, hoping to have someone local with a CNC plasma cut the parts. Wife has me building a roof on a rusty old trailer she got from the neighbor for 100 bucks. She's hoping to sell flowers from it.... Already had a schooling welding a hole up in a 60 year old rim from it.

I think it will be to my advantage to complete flower trailer first. b-(



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dacolson
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Re: Need to cut metal

Post by dacolson » June 30th, 2020, 9:24 am

Lol. Yes. Take care of the wife first.

There are lots of options for metal cutting. The torch is fine but puts a lot of heat into the material and can cause warping so I don’t use it for door cutting where fit up is important. If the torch is your primary cutting tool, the port-a-torch may run out fairly quickly on the oxygen side.
You can get a decent small plasma cutter from 250-500 on Amazon - Lotos for example. I know a handful of guys who use them and really like them. You can use small propane or map torches for bending.
If you are avoiding buying plasma, look to the angle grinder or a metal cutting blade for your circular saw. Diablo Steel Demon for ferrous metal will work with a standard 7 1/2” circular saw as long as max rpm is under 5800. Go slow and the blade will last much longer. It is great for long cuts on 1/8 to 3/8 plate and doesn’t put a lot of heat into the metal. Plunge cuts are hard to do but possible. Both the saw and angle grinder are messy and loud. If I had to use just one tool for cutting, I’d probably pick the angle grinder. It’s the most versatile. And you’ll use it for grinding and smoothing as well.

Good luck and welcome!


Smoking meat - Offset RF Smoker. Big Green Egg. Homemade mailbox cold smoker.
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Dirtytires
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Re: Need to cut metal

Post by Dirtytires » June 30th, 2020, 10:38 am

Plasma is awesome but your best friend when beginning metal work is a pair of 4.5 inch angle grinders. They are relatively inexpensive, lightweight and versatile. I say two because you will always need a cutoff wheel on one and the other can have your grinder or flap wheel on it. Really saves down on time to change out wheels and gives your tools a bit of a rest between operations to cool down and last a little longer. Getting two of the exact same tool is also nice as the switchers are the same, wheels are interchangeable and they use the same change-tool.

One thing to note is that the more expensive brand name grinders are much more quiet, better balanced and will last considerably longer than the cheep ones out there. Definitely worth spending a few extra dollars on a nice one as you will use them a lot.

You can always upgrade to the plasma and rotating head Metal bandsaws later.



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Re: Need to cut metal

Post by mp4 » June 30th, 2020, 10:39 am

ditto on the angle grinder - it is versatile, relatively inexpensive and once you learn how to use it, decent in putting out a quality product.

As for torches, I've had the little sets before and they're handy because of how portable they are. Refill the tanks a few times though and the savings will be gone. I would suggest getting a medium sized set of tanks on a short term lease if you just want to try them out. If you know you want them long term then look for a lifetime lease from a reputable gas supplier. I like Victor torches personally...

If you decide to go the torch route, know that they have different sized tips so you can get one for light metal and something for thicker steel. Many people think a cutting torch tip is "one size fit's all", but there's a wide range of tips and it is definitely worth having different tips handy.
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Last edited by mp4 on June 30th, 2020, 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.



DeltaCabBuilder
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Re: Need to cut metal

Post by DeltaCabBuilder » June 30th, 2020, 12:22 pm

Thanks for all the replies. Yes, I have plenty of grinders, an ancient Craftsman 7", a Makita 4.5" corded, a Makita 4.5" cordless that eats batteries and new Makita 4.5" variable speed we use for granite/quartz work. I hear ya on the multiple grinders, will remember that.
I will see how far I get with the grinders, then likely go with a torch as they are more versatile than a plasma. My son-in-law who farms has a propane torch he will let me have, but I will need an oxygen bottle. But I am a little short on room for the huge propane bottles they use. But for cheap I may go that route.



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Re: Need to cut metal

Post by Dirtytires » June 30th, 2020, 11:11 pm

Sounds like a plan....really can’t go wrong as long as it works for your application.

I don’t typically bend anything other than 0.25 round bar so a torch would not be of much use for me. Can definitely see how it would be super useful on a farm tho.



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