Experience and mastery can backfire. The more you stack up years of cutting metal, the farther you stray from basic knowledge—these are the ones that can keep you safe or save you a lot of trouble.
But while your expertise can help compensate for the small mishaps most of the time, there may come a time when it won’t. So, we’re giving you a couple of reminders that root back to when you were just starting out. Whether you’re a Hobart plasma cutter user or not, these quick knowledge bites will help you start your year with a beginner’s mind, so you can become a wiser expert for the rest of your metal-cutting days.
Most experts and would-be experts are guilty of taking more safety risks than they should. At one point or several, you may have started cutting metal without your gloves or ditched your flame-resistant clothing for something casual. There are more of these safety risks scenarios you may have gambled on and won.
It is cool to see a master doing their dangerous work and make it look effortlessly safe. Just imagine a snake charmer who kisses a cobra’s head. That level of impressiveness is akin to what metal cutters are doing. Yet, even a snake charmer keeps an antidote for that unfortunate occasion of a cobra’s bite.
A metal cutter, on the other hand, doesn’t get post-incident prevention. You either go all-in on safety or suffer the danger at some point. So here’s a reminder for you to be on the safe side. Don’t be adventurous. Wear your safety equipment and stay alert. You don’t want that plasma—with about 4.5 times as much heat as the surface of the sun—to cut you. At the end of the day, you’re still more badass if you remain in one piece while tearing metal apart.
Expert metal cutters learn a simple trick to save them time: keeping the amp configuration at the high range. Keeping the amp up, you can technically skip the pre-cutting setup, plugin, and skillfully adjust your plasma torch’s travel speed to match the metal’s thickness.
Keeping the amp up is a neat trick for those with skills, but it’s never truly economical. Approximating your cutting torch’s travel speed can result in poor cut quality. It can also spit heavy sparks back to you or cause dross build-up.
Another thing to consider is cost. If you’re always operating your plasma cutter at a high amp, it can add up to your power consumption bill. In addition, your torch consumables will wear out fast, and you may be buying more replacements than you should.
The solution is to go back to basics:
If you have a trusty Hobart plasma machine or something similar, you’ll tend to use its nozzle drag a lot. For the Hobart users, the plasma cutter comes with a drag tip that incentivizes you to keep on using it. Not only is it long-lasting, but it also yields precise cuts when you do the nozzle drag.
Hobart drag tips, no matter how durable, can still wear out. It is fun to do drags because it’s easy and yields the best results, but it will shorten the lifespan of your drag tip. It wouldn’t hurt to do a standoff every once in a while. It will preserve the life of your drag tip and will give you the nice feeling of cutting through the air.
One thing experts do to keep their cutting torch at its optimum performance is change consumables frequently. You may be measuring the usefulness of your consumables in terms of the number of hours used.
Replacing consumables after a certain time does ensure quality, but it can be impractical. There’s nothing wrong with going back to when you used to spend your consumables until it shows visible wear. You can always inspect your consumables before starting to cut. If it isn’t chipped or burnt, it can still serve its purpose.
This one is a common mistake for Hobart users who have taken a break from cutting metal—when you pick up the plasma cutter after a long period and start using it again, assuming everything is still intact. A Hobart cutting machine may be durable and it can fire up the torch-like you just used it yesterday. But, be careful, some parts may have deteriorated, and you may be setting up the machine to incur more damage.
Frequent Hobart cutting machine users aren’t spared from this mistake as well. You get too engrossed with all the projects lined up and forget to inspect your machine.
No matter how frequently you use your Hobart metal cutter, you must do an inspection. Check the cords, air filter, torch machine gears, bearings, and motor. Clean or replace it if necessary.
Just in case you don’t own a Hobart cutter yet, go buy yourself one. If there’s anything your beginner self will tell you this—go for a high-quality cutting machine the first time.
Buying cheap means buying low-quality cutting machines, and if you mean to stay consistent in improving your metal crafting skills this year, the Hobart cutter can keep up with your endeavors. The price is steep, and you’ll shed some tears, but if you’re serious about becoming a wiser expert, the joys of having an excellent cutting machine like Hobart outweigh the initial struggle.
If you have a plasma cutter that’s not working anymore or if you’re still borrowing one from your welder friend, now is a good time to buy one for yourself. So get a Hobart and begin again. And as an expert or would-be expert equipped with beginner knowledge laid out in this article, you have a shot at starting from all levels of experience.
Speaking of knowledge, there are tons of information about metal cutters on the Welding Buddy website. The information you’ll find caters to all skill levels. Time to brush up and review some more beginner-level tips and techniques today.