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 Post subject: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:41 pm 
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Hi,

Having recently been cutting lots of metal I'm finding using the big angle grinder and hacksaw to be hard work so I'm looking for a suitable alternative. I've used metal cutting band-saws which are accurate but slow; Rapidor power hacksaws and also many years ago used oxy/acetylene but these days I notice Plasma Cutters are readily available through eBay at very reasonable prices starting for as little as £130 new.

I've absolutely no knowledge or experience of plasma cutters and I've only seen them in action on YouTube so could members please advise or kindly offer any information on the subject; I don't mind spending around £200 and a plasma cutter that will cut up to 12mm thick will be plenty big enough for my needs.

I have a small SIP compressor to provide air power but I wonder if the air/water separator which is supplied with these plasma cutters will be good enough; small compressors tend to put out a lot of moisture?

Kind regards, Col.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:43 pm 
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I don't really know Col, but I did ask a mate of mine a while back about them. He does agricultural repairs and a bit of fabrication. He said he's stuck with oxy-acetylene, because plasma cutters are air hungry and he'd have to upgrade his compressor set up.
So you might be looking at a bigger compressor.



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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:21 pm 
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Hi,

Thanks for your reply Dave54. I did wonder about the compressor and the videos I've watched regarding plasma cutters state the air really needs to be dry which is a big problem with my compressors even my Hydrovane put out lots of moisture and is the reason I sold it on.

I've not used oxy/acetylene for many years but whilst burning I believe the regulator settings used to be 5psi for acetylene and 25psi for oxygen; I could use four oxygen bottles to one acetylene and both bottles certainly are not cheap also I don't want oxy/acetylene in the workshop as the workshop is directly beneath our bedroom.

This begs the question of whether a metal cutting saw would be better? I've seen a video where a DeWalt chop saw was being used to cut metal very quickly; I think these saws cost around £400?



I understand saws but plasma cutters are new to me hence the thread; I'm not in a panic to buy but I do want an easier method of cutting my metal which is mostly steel angle and box. I used to own a big Evolution mitre saw which cut lots of types of material including metal but I didn't like this saw because it was so light and felt very flimsy indeed. The plasma cutters appeal to me because there is very little physical effort required to use one but I don't want to throw my money away; are the cheap plasma cutters merely a gimmick or are they serious bits of kit? Anyone own one of these in a home workshop? Running a big noisy compressor doesn't appeal to me; I sold a big twin cylinder compressor I bought new but it drove me mad with the sheer amount of noise it blasted out; this was the reason I bought the Hydrovane but even the Hydrovane put out lots of moisture although the Hydrovane was brilliant when I used it for hours on end with an air chisel at the end of a 50' long hose removing pointing and the Hydrovane was very quiet.

There is also another option I could research; make my own metal cutting saw which would be a nice project to tackle? :scratch:

I'm doing a bit of research and thought it worthwhile asking before deciding which route to take; I don't do masses of metal cutting but the new saw bench I've just made involved quite a bit of steel cutting and using the hacksaw made me ill; I was operated on for Crohn's many years ago and both hack-sawing and filing tend to pull at the area of the operation; I'm worried about really hurting myself because I never know when to quit.

When I bought the Hydrovane it was described as good working order but I ended up doing extensive work on it; I'm also a member of Practical Machinist the largest manufacturing community on the web; I know I'm barking mad but here's how not to buy an Hydrovane compressor; another unique project I tackled;

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/general/hydrovane-6pu-compressor-problems-290649/?highlight=hydrovane+p6

Kind regards, Col.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:48 pm 
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Chez has got several videos about the Evolution saws on the UHM channel on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/ultimatehandyman/search?query=evolution?&ab_channel=UltimateHandyman

I've not tried one, but they look as if they'd be a Godsend in a small workshop. Perhaps not as rugged as the old industrial kit, but seems to make short work of cutting steel. Home workshop's always going to be some sort of compromise. (Although I've seen one or two that weren't!)
I wouldn't have Oxy Acetylene in a domestic workshop either. Too big a bang if anything does happen to go wrong! :shock:



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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:57 pm 
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as above a cut off saw is the way forward many job shops use them for cutting stock before machining, if its thin stock a shear does nicely



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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:49 pm 
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Hi,

Thanks Dave54; yes I've seen Chez's excellent Evolution video's and I know Chez is a fan of Evolution kit and for a home workshop it does the job but I'm used to more robust kit finding the big Evolution saw I bought to be too lightweight for me although I did impress the Evolution company when I emailed them the pictures below which I've previously posted on the forum. The Evolution was impressive cutting this heavy lump of cast iron but I wasn't only concerned about how long this saw would last but also how long the blade would last cutting steel; the blades aren't cheap? Perhaps I'm too picky and I fully appreciate the Evolution kit is cheap so it would be unfair to compare it with kit costing three times as much. I'm no way knocking Evolution kit. Please do not copy my use of the Evolution saw; I'm well aware of the dangers involved so took extra precautions. The cast iron blank was about 5" diameter for gear cutting I was doing at the time.

When I posted this thread I was thinking about cutting steel section such as box and angle but I'd forgotten I also cut thick metal for the lathe which the plasma cutter definitely couldn't handle; I've been looking at the cheap metal cutting band-saws on eBay but I'm unimpressed because they are variable speed meaning electronics which I dislike; plasma cutters too have electronics so I'm a bit up in the air with lots of muddled thoughts on metal cutting?

I made an hinged stand for my big angle grinder and this does a decent job but it sure heats the metal being cut to cherry red and throws lots of dust and sparks around being very unpleasant to use; its also got a good loud voice.

I don't need variable speed and if I designed and constructed my own metal cutting saw I could use a belt drive motor whilst making the saw very robust indeed of welded construction; I have three top quality 3hp low speed motors and the only costs to make my own would be the starter and the blade; I've got a pair of new pillow block bearings and the spindle could be turned on the lathe; I've got plenty of round bar stock.

I was hoping a member had bought one of these cheap plasma cutters and could advise as to how good/bad they are; everything is good looking at manufacturers information.

Thanks flash.

Kind regards, Col.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:33 am 
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A plasma cutter is far from ideal for cutting box and angle. They are designed primarily for cutting plate and sheet. It would do it, but one of the last tools I'd pick for the task. You'd need to clean the ends up with a grinder afterwards in many cases.
A small water trap is all that's really required, damp air does affect it slightly, I doubt you'd notice on a Chinese cheapy.

Metal cutting horizontal bandsaws are cheap to run and have a good blade life, and also one of the quieter of the lot. 6x4 types are readily available and work well with a little fettling.
We've got 2 at work, one big one and a smaller one. The smaller one is quicker for repeat cuts in small section. Both get used a lot. Blades last very well, even cutting stainless.

Cold cut saws such as Thomas/Pedrazolli work well for light sections and they are accurate. They will cut heavier stock, but slow. Blades are re-sharpenable to a point. Got one in the workshop but rarely gets used due to it being slow.

Light duty Evolution types like the above aren't all that accurate, but they are fast, and easy to cut mitres. Noisey as you mentioned though and blade life won't be all that.
There are bigger versions, loosely based upon an abrasive part off saw, but different speed and blade... Just as noisy, but a bit more robust, not all that easily switched between mitre and square cuts. They are fast though, and the blades last quite a bit longer. Good capacity too, can cut 114mm CHS if I remember correctly.
We use one of these types for site based work usually.

Nodding donkey, slow progress, but very robust.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:04 am 
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not sure but nyc cnc uses a cut off saw and also makes a mounting kit for it, I will see if I can find the video (posted above :roll: )

edit. ah its a dewalt DW fixture plate they make, and actually uses in the shop

https://saundersmachineworks.com/collec ... ture-plate


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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:22 pm 
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Hi,

Thanks for a great reply Hitch; just the information I needed. :salute: I'll not bother buying a plasma cutter as it appears there are too many negatives not only in what it will cut but also lots of compressor noise; I'm pleased I asked though rather than simply buying a plasma cutter to suck it and see? I'm no longer taken in by the machinery manufacturers or sellers who only tell the good story; what a top forum though for asking you guys for opinions and useful information.

Thanks for including the interesting video flash which I've just watched; one of these mounting kits would be a reasonably easy project for me and one I could adapt for use with my big angle grinder. :thumbleft:

I used to own a big Startrite 10 speed 3 phase industrial 24" Volant bandsaw; this would cut anything thrown at it but it proved much too big for the limited use I had for it; unlike proper metal cutting band-saws this Startrite was a vertical bandsaw and was limited to 24" it could cut in length whereas dedicated metal cutting band-saws will cut any length.

Looking at the replies I think for my needs a metal cutting bandsaw is the answer so I'll buy one; any particular make better especially in relation to the robustness of the variable speed control?

I must be out of shape feeling tired out after a session in our front garden wielding the big heavy petrol hedge trimmer around. :cb

Kind regards, Col.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:21 pm 
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I think the sealey sm65 is a fairly well regarded light machine... a new one may be over budget though...

You may want to add a suds tray and pump onto a basic
one...
I think the slightly smaller ones are a much of a muchness, clarke, draper, sealey etc...not had much to do with hobby ones.


Certain models can double up as a vertical saw too, could be useful for certain tasks...

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:59 pm 
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Hi,

Many thanks for your valued suggestion Hitch which I appreciate. It's pointless asking for good advice on UHM if I don't take any notice of it and I'm not one for wasting someones time or effort so how about this;

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/252730360150?_trksid=p2057872.m2748.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

I've just emailed the seller requesting his details then I can collect; Selby isn't too far distant and for a change I dropped on lucky; I offered £300 which was immediately accepted but as the saw was advertised at £325 and the seller says he's lost his job I'll hand over cash which will save PayPal costs for him; I like to play fair and neither of us will lose out.

I'm not happy buying a cheap bandsaw of this type because cheap when it comes to machinery usually means cheap all the way round; buy once but buy well; being a tight Yorkshireman I'll cry myself to sleep tonight parting with so much cash. :lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm sure my arms will appreciate owning this bandsaw and unlike a plasma cutter it will also cut thick bar material for the lathe. :huray:

Kind regards, Col.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:58 pm 
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Good buy that Col! :thumbright:



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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:10 pm 
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good point hitch, cooling fluid when cutting would be ideal as it reduces the heat and reduces sparks

The likes of a Everet run a few grand tho and take up space

what about a handheld/portable bandsaw ?



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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:08 pm 
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I was hoping to have look through a few tonight at my laptop, but you've beat me to it!

Hopefully it will do you well. Not sure its one that doubles as a vertical bandsaw or not? Looks like not... But it does have a quick action vice, and appears to have a stop for repeat cutting of smaller lengths, very useful. The head swivels rather than the vice too by the looks of it, much better.

The blade that comes with is probably junk, lots of hobby users swear by blades from TuffSaws...worth givving them a call perhaps, describe what you mainly cut.... id think a 10-14 varipitch would be ideal for a machine like that.
Don't force the blade, with the right tension and a slow and steady feed, you should happily cut 1.5mm wall even stainless, up to 3 or 4" solid. We tend to use a 4-6 varipitch for just about everything on the big one, and 5-8 on the smaller one.

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 Post subject: Re: Plasma cutter?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:13 pm 
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Hi,

I looked at the hand held band-saw's flash but wondered about how to set them up for accuracy; good idea though and would have been another option. :salute:

Thanks again Hitch for your help. :thumbleft: No its not the model which doubles as a vertical bandsaw but I already have a Wilmac vertical bandsaw. The vice looks a nice unit and as you say is quick acting. Thanks also for letting us all in to the excellent Tuffsaws website which I've had a quick look at and will use in future for my bands; I'll contact them asking best bands for my needs.

What a day today. Yesterday when I had my bid accepted on the bandsaw I emailed the seller for collection details such as his address; would there be any assistance in loading; how accessible was the bandsaw etc. The reply was his street and a postcode saying when you get near phone me and I'll guide you in. I seldom use my mobile phone and no way would I be guided in anywhere using it. Bron and I visit streets where their identity must be top secret because of no house numbers. I emailed again and this time I was informed he was directly across from the church but still no house number? I Googled the address and opened the street view to find the church but directly across from the church was a derelict school on a "T" junction the junction the start of his street?

Why can't life stop kicking me in the teeth even for the simplest thing like a proper address? I had arranged to collect at 10:30 this morning but as I went to bed last night I still didn't know from which house. This morning I was up early and for a change I switched on BBC1 to see a bit of the news? I was greeted by the sour faced Manchester United manager staring at me and I thought this guy always looks suicidal; this was followed by world #7 female tennis player; I thought I'd switched on for the news but it appeared to a sports channel so this started my day off on a nice note. GRRRRR.

I phoned the seller and asked if there would be any assistance with loading; I had already asked this by email and also if I needed to take a selection of tools with me and could he please divulge the secret house number; he kindly gave me his house number with directions and said we would muddle through with the loading? Directly across from the church was in fact 100 yards down the street so I would have enjoyed knocking on every door until I found him if I hadn't been so persistent.

When I pulled up at his house I was alarmed to see a very long driveway of 3/4" pebbles with two big vehicles and massive gates; I backed the Yeti into the crunchy driveway and rang the front door bell to be greeted with a mad dog bouncing off the inner door glass panels; it was going berserk. I was called to the side of the house and eventually the bandsaw was in sight at the very furthest corner of his big cluttered workshop. OH hum what fun. We ended up physically carrying the bandsaw along the gravel past the vehicles then at the Yeti I removed two socket screws to separate the bandsaw from its base and at last it was loaded and roped into the Yeti. The guy though was pleasant and very helpful but he knew I was collecting and I ended up with a lot of unnecessary hassle. I did hear the bandsaw run.

Back home as usual when I needed a lift I unloaded the Yeti on my own; on the bench I could inspect the bandsaw better; the motor was very loose in fact I hadn't a clue as to how he could have used the bandsaw like this; the tin guard catches the pulleys and is noisy but once I adjusted the motor and placed my hand on the guard this bandsaw is like brand new and I'm so far very pleased. It's not a Chinese lightweight in fact its a decent bit of kit and just needs setting up which I'll do before putting it into service. One of these days I'll buy something and it will go straightforward but I'm not holding my breath; why don't people answer simple questions and why do so many object to displaying their house number or even giving their house number when asked as in this instance? If something is worth having its worth fighting for so this must be a top bandsaw? The Yeti being a 2.0L diesel was showing 65 mpg on the motorways which is brilliant given the size of it.

Just the story of a day in my life and every day is the same with no let up. Now where the heck can I squeeze this bandsaw into my workshop? :scratch:

Kind regards, Col.

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