Using a cutting torch requires more knowledge than possessing the correct operating procedure techniques and know-how. When creating a personal workpiece or progress on a home improvement project that involves metal, it is essential to know what these power tools are made up of before use.
With widespread use, far reaching various industries, these pieces of equipment have helped in the process of joining two adjacent metals (welder) and cutting the metal into separate proportions (torch). While the welder is intended to yield similar results for most metals, a cutting torch works differently due to the factors that affect it.
Among these factors would be grasping the burning processes or combustion and determining the producers of each cutting torch’s pressure regulators, torch tips, hose lengths, and cylinders that contain the gas and fuel.
As a way of shedding light on cutting torches, we will be discussing the 5 cutting torch parts every welder should be aware of, followed by a few distinguished brands to consider and accessories that will aid you during your construction.
A cutting torch or oxy-acetylene torch is a piece of equipment with at least two tanks (oxygen and acetylene) used to heat a metallic surface to its autoignition temperature. The objective is to ensure that the oxy-acetylene compound causes it to burn into a metal oxide.
Let’s trace the cutting torch back to its glorious history. This tool was first discovered by John Harris in 1899 while researching synthetic rubies. During his data collection, Harris accidentally cuts through a metal plate beneath the synthetic rubies with oxy-acetylene, yielding the world’s first-ever flame-cutting torch.
A cutting torch involves the process of transferring heat from the tank to the torch tip. In addition to that, a cutting torch can easily be identified by its oxygen blast lever or trigger. The actual cutting method incorporates heating metal and should result in autoignition to attain a cherry red physical change.
After achieving this temperature level, the cutting torch user shall press the oxygen blast trigger to produce more heat in contact with the metal. The oxygen that comes into direct contact with the metal forms an oxide that immediately becomes a liquid iron oxide and is thrown away, leaving a cut. Heat plays the primary function when it comes to cutting metal. The cutting torch provides the heat, while the metal, itself, increases the temperature on its own while it burns.
An iron oxide’s melting point would be around 1,565 degrees celsius, which takes half of the time to fully cut through a piece of metal. Although one follows a soapstone marker to indicate which direction to cut, some iron oxides would remain on the workpiece, becoming a “slag” that could even burn heavy leather boot soles.
For safety reasons, always have an ABC extinguisher prepared, and wear tight-fitting clothes alongside heavy leather gloves and goggles. To fully grasp what makes this tool powerful enough to cut through metal, we’ll take a closer look at the individual cutting torch parts such as the oxygen and acetylene valves, torch tip, handle, and mixing chamber.
It is important to be conscious of what a torch tip is since it is the site where oxygen and fuel gas have been mixed into oxy-acetylene and are about to be pushed to burn and cut across metal. Even with just a torch tip, one can set a cutting torch apart from another. The rationale behind it is that each torch tip accommodates a particular fuel gas and its respective chemical attributes, allowing the user of a cutting torch to achieve the same results (cutting) but with a different execution.
There are two kinds of torch tips: a one-piece torch tip and a two-piece torch tip. A one-piece torch tip consists of copper alloys that would deal with chemicals like acetylene. Aside from acetylene, it also works hand in hand with propylene and methyl acetylene propadiene (MAPP).
The tips would have either 4 or 6 preheated holes that can handle light and medium preheats. On the other hand, two-piece torch tips consist of an outer shell, inner membrane, grooves for the flames, extremities of grooves, cutting oxygen passage, and a splined insert that eliminates a need to heat and drill several holes.
All the aforementioned parts of a two-piece torch tip are meant for fuel gases that will burn slower and cooler. If you opt to use propylene and MAPP gas for your cutting torch, a two-piece torch tip would be highly recommended.
This part of the cutting torch is responsible for regulating, directing, and controlling oxygen flow. A cutting torch user simply has to open, close, or partially shut the passageway to manipulate the amount of oxygen that exits the torch.
Initially, the oxygen valve should be tightly sealed, then fully opened, and later controlled based on the low-pressure gauge during the cutting phase. The oxygen valve and its respective hose are commonly labeled with the color green to signify oxygen.
Like the oxygen valve, the acetylene valve is also a device that largely controls the amount of acetylene that enters the combustion chamber and exits the cutting torch. All it takes to regulate, direct, and control the flow of acetylene is to twist and turn the valve fitting. It is usually labeled with the color red and should match the color of its hose.
A cutting torch user is mainly responsible for monitoring the pressure gauge and balancing the amount of acetylene with the appropriate amount of oxygen. Acetylene is an unstable and dangerous chemical that could explode when mishandled.
A cutting torch’s mixing chamber should be located inside the body where the primary chemical reactions transpire. The oxygen and acetylene valve would normally connect to this chamber made up of two stainless steel or brass tubes then linked to the torch tip where the oxy-acetylene shall be released with a lever.
Some manufacturing companies, however, integrate the mixing chamber within the torch tube itself. To determine the size and style of a mixing chamber, one would have to measure the size of the entire cutting torch.
This part of the cutting torch should be the location where you can grip the cutting torch. It is also a passageway compatible with any flow of fuel gases. Studies suggest that the lower part of the mixer is located on the upper side of the handle. This explains why the handle would seemingly “overheat” and why leather gloves are required.
When combustion occurs, the handle lets oxygen and acetylene mix and react at the base of the chamber. As soon as it becomes hot within 30 seconds, it should signal the cutting torch user that something is not right. The handle should always be cool, not hot.
Now that you know what the cutting torch parts are, choosing the right one for you would be another topic. Each time you select a torch part, one of your principles should include having a background of the manufacturing company or brand that sells the cutting torch. In this section, you may explore 3 popular welding and cutting torch companies for your cutting torch needs.
On a survey by Sensible Digs, Victor ranks number one when it comes to cutting torch sales as of 2021. Their products have been positively reviewed, and among the roster of feedback, customers claim that Victor sells cutting torches and its parts for as low as $ 237.25 on Amazon. If you are reliant on brand reputation, you can get your very own cutting torch parts from Victor.
Their packages usually include oxygen and acetylene flashback arrestors, a hose coupler kit, and a Victor edge performer 2.0 where you can assemble your cutting torch and use it. Its features comprise a cutting depth up to 6 inches or 152.4 millimeters. It also welds up to 6.4 millimeters, and it comes with additional accessories such as a striker and a low-pressure gauge.
The regulator is their latest ESS32 model, while their cutting attachment is the CA1350 series. As a finishing touch to the package, Victor’s WH100FC torch handle comes with a built-in flashback arrestor and check valves.
Another great producer of cutting torch parts would be choosing from the brand, Smith. Using their Miller Electric item as an example, the cutting torch can be bought separately on Amazon for as low as $351.90. It would normally weigh about a pound per item, and its quality material would be copper.
What makes Smith cutting torch parts special is its custom flame cutting torches and wide array of standardized cutting torches all over the internet. Besides the regular oxy-acetylene cutting torch, Smith offers a heavy-duty gas ax cutting torch and an extra heavy-duty gas ax cutting torch. Their packages come in pairs of 1 cutting torch and 1 spare torch tip or 1 torch handle, and 1 hose. This is a great choice for people who wish to obtain or collect certain types of cutting torches.
If you need a third option, cutting torches are readily available online at a more affordable price at Airco. Their cutting torch parts are always shipped for free and distributed as a brand new and premium quality item.
The price range of an Airco cutting torch would often fall on or between $50 to $300. With that amount, you already have your cutting torch parts, made from Airco’s finest brass and inline tube arrangement. This brand is a big steal for customers with a tight budget.
Once you own a cutting torch, you can now choose the accessories that would come with it. Accessories make a great addition to your craftsmanship, may it be for welding or cutting. Most of the time, they are made to make your life easier.
Cutting torch accessories include:
As for specific spare parts, there are some that you can purchase separately should you need to replace or refashion your torch kits. You may purchase a medium-duty acetylene regulator, cutting attachments, compatible handles, or cutting tips. Normally, cutting torch accessories would cost you a hundred or less because these accessories are attachments to the cutting torch you will assemble.
So there you have it. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you.