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Old 03-05-2014, 03:25 PM   #1
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Default Buying a Plasma Cutter.

So back to important things, like picking out a plasma cutter. I just got my Federal Tax refund in so now its time to make a purchase. I am looking at 3 specific ones, all are Chinese and cheap.

The first one is a
Stahlwerk Cut 50 Stahlwerk Cut 50
from amazon for $400 shipped and I would have it Friday.


The other is a Colossal Tech Cut 50 off ebay for $310 shipped. I am trying to decide if it is worth the extra $90 to have one by this weekend and be from Amazon so I have a real retailer to go to if there are any problems. The feedback of the Ebay guy makes it a little iffy for me. If I do go with the ebay one, that then leaves me $90 or so to either spend on consumables for it, or other air tools that I am looking to purchase very soon.

Then lastly a Plasma Cutter/Tig welder which falls right in the middle of my price range. I already have a Lincoln 175 TIG welder, so the Tig welder on that would just be used as a backup.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:30 PM   #2
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I think you need to determine what your using it for. plasma is only really good for mild steel. cutting stainless or aluminum wont work that great. stainless overheats and gets messy; aluminum takes a lot more than the power your showing.


I don't think that any of those units will be any better or worse than each other.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:35 PM   #3
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I have a nice eastwood that my wife bought me....still in box because I don't have the power in the garage to run it. :(
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shlammed View Post
I think you need to determine what your using it for. plasma is only really good for mild steel. cutting stainless or aluminum wont work that great. stainless overheats and gets messy; aluminum takes a lot more than the power your showing.


I don't think that any of those units will be any better or worse than each other.
It will be mostly used to cut mild steal and other random bits of metal. Not being great at aluminium or stainless does not bother me to much. I just want something that is faster then me sitting there with a angle grinder or dremel.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:03 PM   #5
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Can't help on the cheap ones with an opinion but since I got my Hypertherm I wonder how I got along without one for as long as I did.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:14 PM   #6
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Can't help on the cheap ones with an opinion but since I got my Hypertherm I wonder how I got along without one for as long as I did.
Rmcelwee has had an ebay plasma cutter since at least 2010 and it is still working fine last I checked with him. If I worked in an actual shop I would definitely be looking at a much better quality one, but working in my home garage, I can't justify spending $1200+ on something that won't get a huge amount of use.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:17 PM   #7
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Oh, I'm not saying that the cheap ones aren't fine, just that I couldn't make a suggestion on the ones listed. I was pointing out that I went as long as I did without one somehow and that it will be a useful purchase. People told me I wouldn't use it enough to justify it. They were wrong. And I'm just a home shop guy. Sure, there are times where it sits for three months straight then others where it's used daily.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:20 PM   #8
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Just the other day it was so handy to notch the brake shields while on the car to clear the Corrado rotor swap brackets. Either fiddle with the die grinder or zip out a couple of freehand notches in seconds.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:48 PM   #9
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I still haven't used my plasma cutter yet. I'm just unfamiliar, so I go for what I know.

I spent yesterday installing an air dryer, so hopefully I will use it in the next day or so.
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Old 03-05-2014, 05:57 PM   #10
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I really want to find a need for a plasma cutter. I cant find one.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I really want to find a need for a plasma cutter. I cant find one.
There is no need. Only want. You, I and anybody else can get by without one. I've done a lot of fab at home over the years. Cutting on the SAAB is what drove me to one. That said, I still did a lot with a bandsaw and when I needed more accurate cuts on bodywork I still used a cutoff wheel in the die grinder. Easier to control.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:15 PM   #12
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I ordered the plain jane Colossal Tech CUT50 from the same seller, earlier this week. Tracking shows it being delivered on Monday. I will try to post some pics and info once I get it. The seller answered several questions I had before and after the sale. He has been selling the Colossal Tech plasma cutters for 6 years now. He also offers a 1 year warrantee so it wouldn't have to be shipped back to China. I did two weeks of research and this one fit my needs. I already have two 220v outlets in my garage so there was no need for dual voltage capability. Also, I figured KISS would ensure that as few things as possible can fail.

The consumables might not last very long, but are dirt cheap and appear to last long enough for what I'll be doing. I would have liked one with Pilot Arc, but it adds complexity and the drag start will do everything I need to.
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:37 PM   #13
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I bought an eBay "UNT" multifunction equivalent from eBay seller CEFTech and the owner was very professional about the presale/sale. I figured the paltry price jump over the standard, was worth it to have backup welding if ever needed. Though if you've been using a Lincoln TIG you'll probably cry the first time you use one of these for welding.

The only absurdity was a 4ft ground line that I swapped with same gauge jumper cable. Didn't impact the results.

Like Stein, I don't know how I ever did without it. I have used it continuously on my rebuild and it has yet to fail. True stainless requires more to cut and less for aluminum- but I've just regulated the power, speed and air pressure to compensate, netting the same results as mild steel. The key is using guides- straight edges, or something formed from wood if it's intricate. It's like having an Xacto knife for metal.

I'd still be on my first tip had I not tried to cut w/o air. This thing throws an arch so well that it barely touches the metal and your cutting. Good air flow keeps the tip clean.

Pic below of "why I like it" - arched cuts in 3/16" steel rectangle tube using garbage can lid as guide. Simple no drama cuts. Win.

Attached Thumbnails
Buying a Plasma Cutter.-13_0608_fe3-subframe-07-800.jpg   Buying a Plasma Cutter.-13_0608_fe3-subframe-00.jpg  
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:54 PM   #14
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My comments:

STAHLWERK CUT 50 - the on/off on the back looks like it would be a pain in the *** to me since mine sits on a HF mig cart and the switch would be hard to get to. I don't see what the consumables look like or how much they are (didn't research this any). Be sure you can get them.

KCB 312 Multi Functional - Looks like it might use the same consumables that I use on mine. Would be a plus to be able to drive a few miles and pick up some from me or split the cost on the order of new ones. Also, I don't have a TIG so if you ever wanted to sell it or downgrade I might be interested in a swap with you.

Plasma Cutter 50AMP CUT50R - air pressure on the front probably isn't a big deal. Not sure I have adjusted mine since the first day I had it.


As I said in an email to you (I'll note it here in case it helps someone), my father has a cheap plasma and his does not cut as fine as what mine does. He found a distributor down the road from him that was closing down shop. Not sure if there is a problem with his or not. We swapped wands and it did not help. I'm not sure this is a problem with some of the cheap ones or if his is just broken.


Interesting that the screen printing is crooked in this pic. Just shows the level of quality that you are dealing with:



Yes, mine is still going strong. I had to replace the on/off switch due to the plastic breaking ($1.50 from HF parts department). I have it on a cart with my MIG and use it maybe 5-10 times a year. I don't have a steady hand but get ok results. Mostly I have used it for artwork but use it like a "real man" from time to time.









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Old 03-07-2014, 12:11 AM   #15
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I finally used mine today, made a huge mess. I think my tips are too large for the 1/8" steel I was cutting. I did not get the minimal dross I see online, it was melted metal along the back. I can see how it would be useful, but I am at a loss how people freehand complex shapes. I was also just guessing at the settings.

Anyone make any usable flanges with plasma?
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:23 PM   #16
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My Collosal Tech CUT50 plasma cutter showed up today. 15 min of assembly and I was ready to make sparks. I only have the garage wired for 20A 220v service right now so I only installed a 20A plug on the cutter. I set the air at 65 psi and cranked it up. It cut 1/8 plate like butter set at 30A on the dail. My shaky *** hand didn't make the prettiest cuts till I grabbed a welding magnet and used it as a straight edge. Pretty cuts with very little slag, less than 1/16 kerf. Most of what I want to do is 1/8 to 3/16 plate. I will need some practice since I have never used a plasma cuter, but I think I will get lots done with this one. It can't be beat for only $290.

I tried some 1/4 mild steel and 1/4 stainless and it worked great. It seemed like 40amps was all I could get with the 20A feed. I couldn't get all the way through 1/2" or 3/4" ms plate. I'm sure it will work with a 30A feed. I will wire in an additional 30A circuit this weekend and try it again.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rdCarMX5 View Post
I finally used mine today, made a huge mess. I think my tips are too large for the 1/8" steel I was cutting. I did not get the minimal dross I see online, it was melted metal along the back. I can see how it would be useful, but I am at a loss how people freehand complex shapes. I was also just guessing at the settings.

Anyone make any usable flanges with plasma?
Cutting takes a bit of practice. The speed at which you move has a huge impact on the cut quality. Move too fast and the torch will spray upwards and not cut, move too slow and it will make a huge nasty cut with lots of slag. The speed just below "sparks in your face" will make a nice, pencil lead width cut. a good ground is very important to a nice cut.
I use aluminum for templates and line tracing. Steel tends to stick to the torch tip, causing erratic cutting.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:29 PM   #18
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After installing a 30amp outlet and getting some advice from the seller to turn down the air to 45psi I was able to cut through 1/2 plate fairly easy. I almost got through 3/4" plate, but no luck. There is no way that it will cut 1" , unless I am just horrible and screwing it up. For the price I am more than happy if I can only cut up to 1/2".

usaprovidersinc is a great seller with great communication and after sale support. I might even try him for a Chinese Tig next tax season.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:59 PM   #19
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1/2", 1" ??? What are you building?! Now that I think back, when I first got my plasma cutter I cut rocks in half.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:18 AM   #20
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For fab work I doubt I will ever use more than 1/4" to 3/8" thick stuff. The heavier cutting is nice to have when modifying existing parts like cutting off a mounting ear on some cast part or stuff like that.
Bottom line is that this chinese cheapo does what I need it to do and is well worth the money to me. If my brother and I get our crap together and build our 4' x 4' plasma table I will be investing in a Hypatherm or equivalent unit, but for hand cutting this thing rocks.
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