How to properly cut with a manual plasma cutter

How to properly cut tiles with a manual tile cutter

In order to start using a hand tool, you do not need to take any courses or receive any special training. First of all, you need to place the tool on a perfectly flat surface and, very importantly, a hard surface. Then it is necessary to check the sharpness of the cutter and how firmly all the main elements of the operated tool were fixed..

Tech Tips: Plasma Cutting Basics

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So, the tile needs to be cut according to the following instructions. At the same time, it is very important to follow the order in order to get the job done efficiently and quickly. How to use the tile cutter, you can also learn in more detail from the video on this topic posted on our website.

  • On the front side of the tile, you need to draw a cut line. To do this, use a sharp pencil or marker, do not forget about the ruler.
  • After that, you need to bring the tile to the surface of the manual tile cutter, which is called the working.
  • Align the instrument clearly perpendicularly. To do this, you need to rest hard enough on the far side of the tile cutter, and then carefully adjust the position of the tile used, taking into account the marks that you made on its surface in advance. At the same time, one should not forget that it is necessary to focus on the central line, which is located at the base of the tool..
  • Use the handle to guide the cutter to the tile. It must be installed at the very edge of the product on the side that is closer to you..
  • After that, you need to press down hard enough on the handle so that the cutter can touch the tile. Thus, the tile must be pressed down with the metal part and the rollers of the tile cutter..
  • Then, with just one movement, which should be quite sharp and clear, you need to draw a small furrow from you to the outer edge of the tile that you are cutting.
  • In the end, in order to break the tile being processed, you need to press the handle a little and the tile will break directly along the mowing line that you cut.

Thus, with the help of a manual tile cutter, you can get two pieces of tiles of the size you need, which will have perfectly even and incredibly neat edges at the break..

Devices and principle of operation of a manual tile cutter

The most important feature of this tool is that it has an incredibly sharp incisor. As a rule, a diamond cutter is used, which has the same principle of operation as a simple cutter. For correct and complete operation, it is necessary to install the processed tile directly on the base of the device. To ensure that the tile does not wobble and can be easily and evenly cut, there is a clamping part at the bottom of the manual tile cutter, which allows you to firmly fix the tile.


On this clamping part of the tool, a cutter and several rollers are located, which allow the tile cutter to move along the surface of the material. There is also a small handle on the carriage. It is she who is responsible for the different force of the onslaught on the tile and directly on the displacement of the cutter during operation..

Due to the fact that during the use of the tool there are no difficulties, it is very often used both in construction and in repair work that is carried out at home. A manual tile cutter has the advantage when compared to an electric tool, because it has a small size, in a short time the tool allows you to make an exceptionally straight cut on the tile.

If you consider that you need to cut very durable materials or too much tile, then in such a situation, a hand tool may not be enough. Of course, a huge role in this situation is played by human skills and directly by the manufacturer of this or that instrument..

How to use a manual tile cutter

In order to perfectly cut ceramic tiles, in most cases a hand tool is used as a tile cutter. Mostly, in order to use it, you do not need to have professional skills, respectively, the tool can be quite successfully used at home.

The manual tile cutter has a lot of positive points, which include simple use, as a result, a very clear cut is obtained. The handle additionally also performs the function of a lever allowing to reduce the applied forces to a minimum.

At the same time, it was not about Bosch without some negative aspects. For example, a manual tile cutter cannot be used very close to the edge of the tile (the allowable distance for work must be at least five millimeters).

Before starting work, you must carefully learn how to use the manual tile cutter. If you have any difficulties in this matter, then on our website you can find a video where all the details and nuances are indicated..

What is a tile cutter and why is it needed

Many people have no idea what a tile cutter is or why such a tool is needed at all. If we consider this issue in more detail, then this is the most common apparatus that allows you to quickly and accurately cut ceramic tiles. Today, both manual and electric tools are actively used in construction. It is worth noting that it is easy to cope with the operation only if a manual tile cutter is used, but some difficulties may arise with the electric option..

Even if we consider that both types of instruments have the same name, they are not alike at all. The only exception, of course, is the final result of the tool. In order to be able to use a manual tile cutter, you need to make grooves with it (the unit has very sharp incisors), and then break the tile. In turn, the electric type of tile cutter works with the help of a battery or from an electrical network, and in its appearance and in the principle of operation, it can slightly resemble a circular saw. The tiles are cut using a very sharp diamond blade that has an incredibly high rotation speed..

Safety rules when working with a tile cutter

In order to use a manual tile cutter it was as safe as possible and at the same time the result of the work was of high quality, you need to follow some safety rules, namely:

  • Before starting work, it is imperative to inspect the tool used so that you can identify all breakages and irregularities in the guides in time, then find and eliminate visible damage to the tile cutter.
  • You need to walk a couple of times on the tile with no load, and at the same time all movements must be smooth, without any jolts.
  • Do not forget to additionally check the tubular guides – they must be perfectly clean, free of dust and dirt. Remove pieces of tiles, traces of mortar from them and, as a result, to improve performance – lubricate with a small amount of machine oil.
  • In addition, you also need to pay attention to the cutting disc itself. Its condition should be ideal, in no case bent, and rotation around the axis of the attachment should take place without any difficulties. It should be noted that during the operation of the manual tile cutter, there should also be no extraneous sounds..
  • In order not to get any injuries, it is best to work with special glasses and gloves..
  • Some experts also recommend testing the water supply on the disc, which makes the job easier..
  • It is necessary to start work only after the disc picks up those revolutions that can be called maximum..
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Manual tile cutter – many people have been asking how to use it correctly lately, but in fact there is nothing complicated in this process. Every inexperienced beginner will be able to cope with the work. If, nevertheless, you cannot cut off the piece of tile you need, then on our website you will find a video with the most detailed instructions that will allow you to find out all the details and nuances of this type of work. Do not forget about the safety rules, because your health and, of course, safety largely depends on this..

Plasma physics

Plasma metal cutting technology gives the main female role to our beloved electric arc. It is formed between the electrode and the nozzle. Sometimes, instead of an electrode, there is metal that needs to be cut. Let’s figure out what plasma cutting is.

The beginning of the process is to turn on the power source and apply high frequency current to the plasma cutter. The power source turns on automatically after pressing the ignition switch in the device.

First, a so-called intermediate arc is formed – it is temporary and connects the electrode to the tip of the torch nozzle. This pilot arc heats up to a temperature level of about 8000 ° C.

This is an important point in the overall process of plasma cutting – you need to remember that a real arc between the electrode and the metal does not form immediately, but through its intermediate version.

The next step in the process is the intake of air from the compressor, which is usually attached to the metal cutting apparatus. The compressor delivers compressed air. This air enters the plasma torch chamber, in which a temporary electric arc is located and already heated.

The small diameter of the nozzle makes it possible to accelerate the flow of this incandescent plasma to tremendous speeds at which the jet flies out of the apparatus. The flow rate can reach three meters per second.

The air temperature is prohibitive, up to 30,000 ° С. Under these conditions, the electrical conductivity of air – plasma is practically equal to the conductivity of the cut metal.

A true final arc appears instantly as soon as the plasma stream reaches and touches the metal surface. The time arc, in turn, is automatically switched off. The metal starts to melt exactly at the cut.

Liquid metal droplets are immediately blown away by a jet of compressed air. This is the principle of plasma cutting. As you can see, everything is simple, logical and understandable..

Disadvantages of plasma cutter

No metal processing method is complete without its drawbacks, and plasma cutting is no exception..

The disadvantages of plasma cutting are as follows:

  • The high cost of the entire range of plasma cutting machines, including even the simplest manual options.
  • Plasma cutting metal thickness limits: thickness limit of only 100 millimeters.
  • This is a noisy way of working because compressed air or gas is supplied at a tremendous speed..
  • The equipment is complex, expensive and requires competent and constant maintenance.

Choosing a plasma cutter by power

We begin our discussion with the properties and technical characteristics of the parts that you plan to process and cut. This is what the power of the cutting device is calculated for, because in it both the nozzle in its diameter and the type of gas used will differ..

Plasma cutting applications are extremely wide, so only your specific needs need to be discussed.

But if your metal is thicker, look for a suitable model in the power range from 90 to 170A.

With shielding gas

In this method, instead of air, shielding gases are used, which are converted into a plasma flow after transformation in the plasmatron. The quality of the cuts in this case is significantly increased due to the excellent protection of the process against environmental influences.

Plasma cutting gas is nothing out of the ordinary: it can be hydrogen or argon – the “gas classic”.

Working principle

Now let’s study directly the principle of operation of the device.

When the operator presses the ignition button, the battery supplies current to the plasma torch. This leads to the formation of a primary arc of a huge temperature, which ranges from 6 to 8 thousand degrees..

The formation of an arc between the tip of the electrode and the nozzle is due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to achieve this result directly between the workpiece and the electrode. Moreover, if the work is carried out with a material characterized by insulating properties, this is simply impossible..

When the primary arc is formed, an air mixture is supplied to it. This air is in contact with it, its temperature rises, and its volume increases, and the increase can even be a hundredfold. In addition to this, air loses its dielectric properties, ionizes.

Due to the fact that the nozzle has a narrowing towards its end, the air flow accelerates to 2-3 meters per second and breaks out, having a temperature of almost 30 thousand degrees. Due to the high degree of ionization and tremendous temperature, air is called plasma, the electrical conductivity of which is equal to this parameter for the metal being processed..

At the moment of contact with the processed surface, the primary arc fades out, and further work is carried out already due to the newly formed cutting arc. It is she who melts or burns the material. The cut is smooth, as a powerful air flow blows off all appearing particles from the surface.

This description of how the system works is the simplest and most common..

With water instead of air

An excellent method with many advantages, one of which is the absence of the need for an expensive and bulky cooling system.

There are other criteria for classifying plasma cutting. For example, there are separation and surface cutting types. The first one is used more often.

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Plasma cutters are available on the market in a wide variety of options so that they can be classified by brand, manufacturer and many other technical and commercial parameters..

There is, for example, manual plasma cutting – the most democratic way both in terms of price and ease of execution. There are machine automatic technologies, devices for which are much more expensive and more complicated..

How to work with a plasma cutter?

Cutting metals with plasma flow is too serious a business to be undertaken without prior study and thorough preparation. This will help you make cutting more efficient from all points of view, and, most importantly, minimize the risks associated with industrial hazards..

First of all, you need to know the principle of plasma cutting – to see the whole picture of physical phenomena.

The plasma torch should be held very close to the surface and edge of the metal, unlike laser cutting. When the toggle switch with the “start” turns on, the temporary electric arc will light up first, and only then – the real one, which will be the main cutting element. The arc torch must be guided smoothly and slowly through the material..

The cutting speed should be strictly controlled. This can be done by observing the sparks on the back of the sheet to be cut. If these sparks are absent, then this means that the cutting of the metal was incomplete..

This can happen for several reasons: due to too high speed of the burner or the passage of the apparatus, or too insufficient power of the supplied current, or non-observance of the right angle of 90 ° between the torch and the metal surface.

The fact is that full penetration of the metal occurs only when the plasma cutter is tilted to the metal surface at a right angle and not a degree more or less.

Before work, it is harmless to study the diagram of your device: it is in it that you can read the most reliable information on the permissible thickness of the metal, which can be cut or made a hole in it. The device of a plasma cutter may vary, it all depends on the functions of its purpose..

How to prepare the device for work?

You will find a detailed algorithm for connecting the plasma cutter to the mains and compressed air source in the instructions, so we will not focus on this step. It is better to outline the most important aspects that directly affect the quality of work..

Aspect 1: Install the unit in such a way that air is available to the body for cooling. This will allow you to work for a long time and avoid equipment shutdowns due to overheating. At the same time, drops of molten metal and any liquids should not fall on it..

Aspect 2: Take care of the supply of quality air from the pneumatic system or compressor. Install a moisture / oil separator to prevent oil and water particles from entering the torch. Otherwise, the wear of consumables will increase, and the plasma torch itself may also become unusable. Make sure the air pressure is correct for the plasma cutter. With insufficient pressure, the arc will be unstable (sagging and slag will appear at the cutting site), and if excessive pressure, important working elements may become unusable.

Aspect 3: Carefully prepare the workpiece before cutting it. If there is paint or rust on the surface, you need to clean it off so that no toxic fumes are emitted when the metal is heated. In addition, it is not recommended to cut tanks and containers in which there were flammable substances without preliminary cleaning..

Remember that proper preparatory work is a guarantee of efficient use of plasma cutting. Now let’s move on to the consideration of the metal cutting process itself..

How to choose the right amperage?

To get a smooth and neat cut, without scale, sagging and slag, you need to correctly set the current strength on the device, which is necessary for cutting a specific workpiece. To do this, you need to know what current strength falls on the melting of 1 mm of material. For different types of metal, there will be a value:

  • When working with cast iron and steel – 4 A.
  • When working with non-ferrous metals and their alloys – 6 A.

For example, for processing a steel sheet with a thickness of 20 mm on the device, you need to set the current strength of at least 80 A, and for working with an aluminum sheet of the same thickness – 120 A. But this is not all that needs to be taken into account when working. In order for the metal to have time to melt at the cut site, but at the same time not to deform under the thermal effect of the plasma, it is important to select the optimal cutting speed. It can be from 0.2 to 2 m / min, depending on the set current strength, the thickness of the workpiece and the type of metal. Of course, at first it will be difficult for a beginner to measure the speed and choose the most suitable one, this will come with experience. And for the first time, remember a simple rule: guide the burner so that the sparks are visible from the back side of the workpiece being cut. If they are not visible, the metal is not cut through and through, the speed is high. But guiding the torch too slowly, especially at high amperage, can cause dross, arc extinction and poor cut quality..

What you need to know about safety?

First, let’s list the factors that pose a danger when working with a plasma cutting machine: electric current, high temperature, ultraviolet radiation, red-hot metal. To protect yourself, you need to work in special equipment. Eyes should be protected by glasses or a welder’s shield (glasses of 4 or 5 class of darkening), hands – with gloves, legs – with pants made of dense fabric and closed shoes. It should be noted that when working with the torch, a gas is formed with admixtures of ozone, hydrogen and metal particles. The most dangerous are manganese oxides, silicon and chromium compounds, titanium oxide, which pose a threat not only to the lungs, but also to other internal organs. In order not to inhale these harmful vapors, you need to provide good ventilation in the room, and put on a protective mask on your face..

With regard to electrical safety, several mandatory requirements must be observed:

  • Plasma cutting must be connected to the mains with a fuse or circuit breaker.
  • The parameters of the current in the mains must correspond to the characteristics of the device.
  • Be sure to ensure that the electrical outlets, the working stand of the machine and nearby metal objects are properly grounded..
  • Check electrical and power cables for damage. Do not use them if the insulation is damaged..
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Responsible approach and adherence to safety measures will help you avoid injuries, as well as reduce the risk of getting occupational diseases..

Cutting metal with a plasma cutter

  • 1. What you need to know about safety?
  • 2. How to prepare the device for operation?
  • 3. How to choose the right amperage?
  • 4. How to light a plasma arc?
  • 5. How to maintain the distance between torch and metal?

Plasma cutting has become widespread in various industries, because it can be used to cut almost any conductive metal: from aluminum and stainless steel to carbon steel and titanium. This method is used both in large enterprises and in small private workshops. Having mastered the basic techniques of plasma cutting, you can easily perform straight and curved cuts, make openings and holes in metal workpieces, align sheet edges and perform more complex work. Working with a plasma cutter for the first time, I want the result to meet expectations. But, unfortunately, not all novice carvers can do it. As an example, we will give the most common case from practice. The user works with a recently purchased plasma cutter. But for some reason problems arise: either the arc is unstable, then the flame goes out, then the device turns off altogether. A suspicion arises – low-quality current in the central power grid. While time is spent on troubleshooting, the work is worthwhile. But in fact, the reason may be different. How many times has it happened when users blamed the central wiring for everything, but in fact it turned out that the air pressure or current strength was incorrectly set. To prevent this from happening, when working with a plasma cutter, you need to take into account many nuances.

It is not so difficult to master the basics of plasma cutting technology, the main thing is to understand everything in detail. We will tell you about everything in order. And you need to start with the issue of the safety of the work. After all, your health depends on compliance with the rules..

How to light a plasma arc?

Before starting cutting, you need to purge the torch with gas. To do this, press and release the ignition button on the torch, the plasma torch will enter the purge mode. Wait at least 30 seconds before striking the arc to allow condensation and debris to clear from the torch. After that, you can press the ignition button – a duty or, as it is called, a pilot arc will appear. Typically, the pilot arc burns for no more than 2 seconds. Therefore, during this time, the working arc should ignite. For different models of plasma cutters, this happens in different ways, depending on the type of ignition. Distinguish:

  • Contact – to obtain a working arc, a short circuit is required, which occurs as follows: after the pilot arc has ignited, when the button is pressed, the air supply is blocked – the contact closes. When the air valve is automatically opened, the contact is opened and the air flow expels a spark from the nozzle. A plasma arc arises between a negative electrode and a positive metal. Remember that contact ignition does not mean that you need to lean the nozzle against the metal..
  • Non-contact – this type of ignition is used in devices whose current strength exceeds 50 A (it is also called an oscillator or high-frequency ignition). Pilot arc has a high current frequency and high voltage, it occurs between the electrode and the nozzle. When the nozzle approaches the surface of the workpiece being cut, a working arc is formed.

After ignition of the working arc, the pilot one goes out. If you failed to get the working arc the first time, then you need to release the button on the torch and press it again – this will be a new cycle. The arc may not ignite due to insufficient air pressure in the pneumatic system, improper assembly of the plasma torch, or malfunctions in the operation of electrical elements. Switch off the machine, check the correct connection and the inlet pressure. Try firing up again.

It is also worth remembering that the working arc can be extinguished during the cutting process. This can happen due to electrode wear, but most often problems arise when the distance between the torch and the workpiece is not maintained. Naturally, this affects the speed of work and the quality of the cut..

How to maintain a distance between torch and metal?

There are plasma cutting machines that are designed to cut metal with an emphasis on the nozzle, that is, close to the workpiece – you do not need to observe the distance. But most equipment models are not designed for this – the nozzle will wear out quickly, the cutter will shut down. For them, the optimal distance between the workpiece and the nozzle is 1.6-3 mm. If you exceed it, then the arc will fade, you will have to set it on fire again – a neat cut will not work. It is especially important to maintain the same distance when performing painstaking work, such as shape cutting. To maintain the gap, many users install a special distance guide on the torch and rest it on the workpiece instead of the nozzle..

Remember to hold the torch so that the nozzle is perpendicular to the workpiece. The deflection angle should not exceed 10-50 degrees, otherwise the cut will be sloppy. If you are cutting a metal workpiece whose thickness does not exceed 25% of the manufacturer’s maximum thickness, do not hold the torch perpendicular to the surface, but at a slight angle. This will prevent severe deformation of thin metal. When doing this, make sure that molten metal does not fall on the torch nozzle..

Remember that the nozzle and electrode are the tooling that is subject to the most wear during the job. Replace these elements in a timely manner, according to the requirements of the instructions. Then, during plasma cutting, a stable arc will be provided, there will be no sagging and slag on the processed surface – the cut will be neat and even.

We hope that our article was useful to you, and you will successfully apply this information in practice. For more information on how to use plasma cutting, you will learn from the instructions for a specific model of the device. Observing all the rules, you will quickly “fill your hand” and will cope with both simple work, for example, cutting a profile or metal sheets, and with more complex ones – cutting holes and various shapes.