When you are working on a project that requires cutting metal, using a cutting torch will be necessary. While it is a reliable tool, you will need extra precaution when using the equipment. After all, there would be open flames, hazardous substances, and other reactive chemicals involved.
It may seem intimidating to operate this welding tool, but here are the three most important tips on using a cutting torch to get you started.
- Minimize the Risk of Accidents
If you are trying to learn how to use a cutting torch, start by putting your safety as the number one priority. Below are some steps you can incorporate into your preparations.
- Wear the appropriate equipment, including fire-resistant protective gear and heavy-leather boots.
- Get the best eye and face protector for you. Each type serves different purposes. Check their manufacturers, models, and markings to be extra sure.
- Wear a fabric cap and hood to protect your scalp and the back of your head from UV radiation.
- Keep an ABC fire extinguisher near you. It is especially useful when oil and plastics are on fire.
- Double-check if your hand shield or welding helmet fully protects your face. Otherwise, return the equipment and have them replaced.
- Observe and test if your skin is fully protected from UV radiation. Make sure the attire you are wearing consists of work-weight fabrics, long sleeves, pant legs, and buttoned-up tops.
- Know everything about eye protection, such as how to reduce reflection, how to protect the lens from cracking, and how to prevent fogging.
- Have an immediate replacement for your protective equipment. Discard damaged, worn out, and malfunctioning safety gear.
- Assemble the Cutting Torch
It’s not that difficult to assemble your cutting torch. Below are a couple of quick tips. For more accurate information, consult the manufacturer of your torch.
- Place your acetylene cylinder (color-coded as red or maroon) on the left side of your trolley and the oxygen cylinder (color-coded as black or blue) on the right side.
- Clear the cylinder valves of any visible oil or grease.
- Match your oxygen fittings with right-hand threads and acetylene fittings with left-hand threads.
- Wipe the cylinder valves with a clean and oil-free cloth. Then, rapidly open and close them to blow out dust.
- Check for any gas being vented. If there are people nearby, direct your valve outlet away from them.
- Ensure that the regulator screws are all set to zero pressure.
- Screw your oxygen regulator into an oxygen cylinder valve. Never exert too much force when screwing.
- Attach an oxygen flashback arrestor to your oxygen regulator, and then tighten its spanner.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 for the acetylene cylinder and flashback arrestor.
- Connect the acetylene and oxygen hoses with the appropriate flashback arrestor.
- Gradually open the oxygen cylinder valve, and then put the pressure-adjusting screw on the oxygen regulator to blow out foreign matter. Close the cylinder valve when you’re done.
- Connect the oxygen torch to its corresponding hose and repeat step 11 before connecting the acetylene torch to its hose.
- Connect the ends of your torch mount arrestors to the end of the hoses.
- Be sure the torch valves are closed and all spanners are tightly sealed.
- Choose the appropriate nozzle and fit it to your cutting torch.
- Start Cutting with the Torch Properly
Feeling excited to cut across metal? Before lighting the cutting torch, check for combustible materials near your work area. Afterward, you’re ready to get cutting.
- Use a striker to ignite the torch. Never use a cigarette lighter or matchstick to do the job; otherwise, you would burn yourself.
- Increase the flame to 10 inches long once it steadies at the torch tip. The shape of the inner flame should be a clean cone.
- Position the inner flame’s tip on the surface of your metal. With a steady hand, concentrate the flame tip’s heat on the metal for as close as 0.95 centimeters until you observe a pool of molten metal on one spot.
- Ignite the molten steel by slowly releasing the oxygen jet. Once the metal has ignited, you can increase the pressure of the oxygen jet to make a clean cut across the metal.
- Turn off the torch in this order: torch valve, oxygen valve, oxygen cylinder valves, and then the regulator pressure screw. The same order applies to turning off the acetylene tank. Note that some models do not follow the aforementioned order. For your assurance, refer to your cutting torch manufacturer’s instructions.
If you are in need of a visual demonstration of the entire procedure, you may watch this video.
Mastering the basics of using a cutting torch will surely be advantageous to your craft in the long run. Using a cutting torch can be hazardous, especially if you disregard simple precautions.
Remember: understanding how to use a cutting torch to cut metal means understanding the equipment itself. Most mistakes commonly start from people forgetting that they are dealing with fire when using a torch to cut metal. Keep all flammable objects, including yourself, away from your work area and, as mentioned, prepare an ABC fire extinguisher should any flames blaze.
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