Plasma Cutter Jig Notches Tubing Quickly and Cleanly

It may be [MakeItExtreme]’s most ambitious build to date. There are a lot of moving parts to this plasma cutter tubing notcher, but it ought to make a fine addition to the shop and open up a lot of fabrication possibilities.

We have to admit to a certain initial bafflement when watching the video below for the first time. We can usually see where [MakeItExtreme]’s builds are going right from the first pieces of stock that get cut, but the large tube with the pressed-in bearing had us scratching our heads. The plan soon became clear — a motorized horizontal rotary table with a hollow quill for the plasma torch leads. There’s a jig for holding the torch itself that can move in and out relative to the table. Cams made of tube sections can be bolted to a fixed platen; a cam follower rides on the cams and moves the torch in and out as the table rotates. This makes the cuts needed to properly fit tubes together — known as fish mouth cuts or saddle cuts. The cams can be removed for straight cuts, and the custom pipe vise can be adjusted to make miter cuts.

All in all a sturdy and versatile build that ought to enable tons of new projects, especially when teamed up with [MakeIt Extreme]’s recent roll bender.

14 thoughts on “Plasma Cutter Jig Notches Tubing Quickly and Cleanly

  1. Having just painstakingly cut notches out of some tubing the slow / low tech way (draw the curve on with a marksall and then cut away everything inside the marketed area with an angle grinder) and despite my steadiest hand the fit was less than perfect, I can definitely see the appeal of a jig for doing this sort of thing.

  2. miter cuts look like they are a bit problematic, the plasma cutter only moves in a circle, and if the pipe is at an angle, the pipe is not a circle. At shallow angles with a straight cut they can get away with it, but try to do a fishmouth on a pipe at 45 degrees and you will find that you need to move the plasma cutter radially, not just rotationally.

    1. Couldn’t you use your mitered cuts to generate jigs that are accurate on-axis (particularly with thin wall material to lessen the distortion)? That was my first thought too, but I think it may be a self-correcting problem with a little bit of forethought.

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