Tech Tips: Plasma Cutting Basics

Tech Tips: Plasma Cutting Basics

Sometimes instead of welding metal together, you want to cut it apart and a great way to do that is with a plasma cutter and that’s what I want to talk about today. This is the Tomahawk 375 Air. the reason why they call it the 375 Air is because it has a built-in air compressor. It’ll cut quarter-inch material with its own built-in air compressor. It’ll cut 3/8 max with external air. So if you have a shop or home and you have a compressor or you have bottled compressed air, you can hook it up to the back and cut maximum 3/8 plate. For demonstration purposes today, we’re going to run it with its own built-in compressor and it’ll cut quarter inch max. Now if you want to cut material that’s thicker, let’s just say you’re going to cut half inch, you could step up to the Tomahawk 625. That machine will cut up to 5/8 in. material And if you need to go thicker than that, like 1-inch, you could step up to the Tomahawk 1000. That machine will cut 1-inch material. Another need thing about the Tomahawk 625 series of plasma cutters and the 1000 is you can actually hook those up to CNC tables, so if you’re going to do any CNC or repeatable work, the Tomahawk 625 and the Tomahawk 1000 are perfect machines for the Torchmate 2×2 and the Torchmate 4×4 tables. And the thing about plasma is it’ll cut anything that conducts electricity. Steel and stainless and aluminum. So if it conducts electricity, plasma will cut it. That’s the neat thing about plasma. The neat thing also about this machines is all the controls are right here in the front. No need to go inside the machine or the back of the machine to do anything. You adjust your air pressure in the front, you adjust your amperage setting, turn your compressor on and off, your gun connection and ground connection’s right here in the front. Nothing in the back, nothing to mess around with. Plasma has a bunch of safety features, too. You’re dealing with hot, hot gas so you’ve got to be careful. One of the safety features is this trigger guard. This trigger guard prevents you from actually premature pulling the trigger. Also, Lincoln has a Parts in Plac device here where all the parts have to fit in the torch the right way. So if you miss a part or you put something in wrong the machine will not. The next thing you want to do is adjust the machine based on the material that you’re going to cut. I know I’m going to cut something around quarter inch or so, so I’m going to turn the machine up to about 25 amps. Now that I got the machine safe, you’ve actually seen I’ve got myself safe, also. And the first thing I’ve done is I’ve actually put on my Lincoln Starlite number 5 glasses. Unlike welding, it’s not as bright as actually welding. Plasma cutting is bright and there is a little bit of spark, so you want to protect your eyes and your face. Number 5 minimum shade. I’m also protecting my hair and the top of my head with my Lincoln doo rag. And I’ve also got my flame-retardant Lincoln shirt on with my Steelworker gloves, so I’m all protected and ready to make a cut. But before I do that there’s a couple things I want to go over. Plasma cutting will actually tell you when you’re going too fast or too slow, and one way it tells you that is if you go way too fast the spark will come right towards you, back on you. You don’t want that. You want the sparks and all the dross to go down on the floor. So if you’re going the rights speed all the sparks and the dross will go on the floor. making the right cut. Remember plasma will cut anything that conducts electricity. You can go left to right, right to left, it really doesn’t matter. Alright, we just made a cut, as you saw, and remember you want all the dross and all the spark to go towards the floor. Again, if you’re going too fast, the sparks will come to you and won’t properly cut all the way through, so you want to make sure all the sparks are going to the floor, drop the piece off, you’re ready to go. Remember, you can make circles, you can cut the corners, you can cut the whole piece, or you can use a guide, and actually put a guide down. Cut a straight line if you need a straight line, cut a triangle. It’s totally up to you. Because the plasma curve is on an angle, it actually cuts on an angle. As you get towards the end of your piece, you actually want to angle the torch back a little bit, so you make sure you nip that edge off so you get an actual drop cut. If you don’t and you’re too much at a ninety, it might not cut that corner, it might just hang there. Remember, never use the torch as a hammer. If it doesn’t cut all the way through, take a hammer, knock the piece off. But again, if you come across, angle back a little bit as you get forward the end, it’ll drop right off. Then what you’re left with is a little bit of dross on the back. You can either take a a small file or you could take another piece of material and actually knock some of that dross off if you need to. A small file would work really well, too. This is the 375 Air. Remember, we have the Tomahawk 625 and the Tomahawk 1000. If you want anymore information on Lincoln Electric products, visit our website at

40 thoughts on “Tech Tips: Plasma Cutting Basics

  1. right on…that's nice
    Now you guys need to send me one of those, let me put it through its paces for ya !!
    seriously, come check out what I'm up to =)

  2. The larger plasma machines generally require a higher volume of air and therefore need an external air source that can provide that volume.

  3. What other equipment at home (besides the plasma cutter itself) do you need to start plasma cutting or is just a regular powerplug enough? And what's the difference between a built in compressor and a non-built in compressor?

  4. Hate to jam him up but technically EVERYTHING conducts electricity. Some materials just take more amps to get the power moving.

  5. One day I will be able to afford one of these. Since I got out of the military I am looking for a good hobby so I chose welding after I found a nice Lincoln 140 HD.

  6. Hello, I have a question, I have the tomahawk 625 and the retainer cap turns black in a little part of it. this is normal? Which kind of material is it? can I burn it? Regards!!

  7. Will a plasma cutter cut through two layers of steel? Say you're laying-up a replacement panel on a car. It would be great to cut through both layers to size the panel correctly. Thanks.

  8. Am I correct in saying that this doesn't require any other gases other then the compressor that is on bored or an additional one for making deeper cuts? I am asking 'cause I'm still learning about plasma, I know how to weld I just never got into plasma.

  9. My thermal dynamics 81 on full automation exploded today… lol. I'm not sure what we did wrong. It's taken us so long to get everything working, it cut out about 4 things and then when we were cutting the 5th thing, it was almost done and there was an explosion on the table as well as a fireball that came out of the thermal dynamics machine.

  10. Hammer torch. Gotta luv them morons that do that. I dock them $100 if I see them do that. $100 off their clothing/boot account.

  11. Just set your Lincoln Weldment (registered trademark) piece of high purity steel onto your Lincoln AccuCut (registered trademark) vented plasma table and flip on your Lincoln FreeFlow (registered trademark) low resistance circuit breaker to supply power to the machine through the Lincoln EasyFlow (registered trademark) low resistance Lincoln RedWire (registered trademark) high purity copper conductors. In addition to donning the above Lincoln brand safety apparel, Be sure to turn on your Lincoln CoolZone (registered trademark) high cfm fan to pull in fresh, clean air through your Lincoln NeverDust (registered trademark) shop air filters.

  12. How do I run a 220 extension cord all the way out to the railroad tracks?
    I'm tired of this horseshit, I need my sleep at night…

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