Custom Workstation Makes Plasma Cutting a Breeze

A plasma cutter is probably top of every metalworker’s short list of dream tools. From freehand curves to long straight cuts, nothing beats a plasma cutter for getting the creative juices flowing. Unfortunately, there’s also the jet of superheated metal blasting through the workpiece to deal with, which is the reason behind this shop-built plasma cutting workstation.

[Regalzack] looks like he had a couple of design goals in mind for his table. A solid work surface isn’t a great idea for plasma cutting, so he designed the top as a grid of replaceable steel slats. Underneath is a hopper to collect the slag, both for neatness and for fire safety. The table top and hopper live on a custom-built wheeled steel frame, and the lower shelf provides plenty of room for his Lincoln 375 plasma rig. With hooks for cables and a sturdy ground clamp tab, the whole thing is a nicely self-contained workstation. The video below shows the build and some of the fabrication techniques [Regalzack] used; we were especially taken by the clever way he cut the slots for the table slats.

Plasma is versatile stuff – you can use it to make music, cook a burger, or decorate wood. And it’s not too shabby for notching metal tubing either.

[via r/DIY]

24 thoughts on “Custom Workstation Makes Plasma Cutting a Breeze

    1. Think I’d rather have a water pan underneath it though, because it’s not so much the slag mess that bothers me but rather the burnt metal smell that is my biggest peeve.

      1. I guess it depends on the metal; I just took my first welding class recently and I actually like the smell of molten steel. Touching hot steel that’s just been cut with an oxy-acetylene torch, not so much. (c:

      2. i quite like the smell of burnt metal, i also dont like to keep water (and in this case probably steam) close to freshly cut steel to prevent rusting, sand and fans as stated by others might be a better option for you and won’t evaporate away/rust metal

    2. I haven’t used a plasma cutter, yet, but hoping to get one someday. So, please pardon my ignorance, why is it a massive pain to work with? I’ve used oxy-acetylene torches (i.e., hand-held and on a track machine), I’d imagine plasma cutters are comparatively a bit cleaner and more straightforward? No gas to worry about other than compressed air, more consistent heat because you don’t have to deal with gas mixtures, etc. I genuinely want to know.

      Thanks.

      1. Nothing to know there, plasma cutters are indeed much cleaner than oxy-acetylene torches, but it takes enough sentences to write an article, independently of their relevance. It´s often misleading to read the article _depends of the author_, better directly jump to the original link, instead of trying to figure out some baloney.

      2. I have a plasma cutter and access to a CNC cutter at the local hackerspace.

        To date, I have never been able to cut a straight line with my own cutter – it requires a fair bit of practice and experience to get the right amount of smoothness: the head catches and releases from the surface, your hand shakes and doesn’t make a straight line, you burn the edges of the work, and so on and so on.

        (And all of this is with a guide clamped to the workpiece to guide the plasma head. The head sticks and releases from the edge of the guide as well, leaving an uneven, jagged edge.)

        That being said, the CNC cutter is remarkably consistent and clean.

        I’m sure that it only takes a bit of practice and experimentation to get it “right”, but so far I’ve not had enough of that…

      3. Well the superheated stream of plasma and molten metal shooting out the back and flexing of the material during the cut is a big pain that this solves
        aside from that overcutting (removing more material with the thickness of the cut than wanted), melting of the material on the sides of the cut causing balls of molten metal along the edge, material warping around the cut, over tempering the material, exc
        its something that proper machinists who plasma cut all the time hardly think about as they know the exact settings and speed to use when cutting specific materials and thicknesses but a hobbyist (like my self) or a machinist that rarely plasma cuts can find them a pain and might opt for different cutting instruments for non-complex cuts, or plenty of practice cuts on spare material

      4. Each have their place. Plasma is great for cutting thin plate. Cuts pipe really nice as well. Plasma does is not as good for field work as you need an adquite power source. Which is expensivery. OA works very well from cutting plate, and is great in the field as no power is required, can also change heads for brazing, or welding if push comes to shove. OA takes more time to become skilled at. OA is more versitile, but requires more time to learn, plasma is quick and so simple a child can do it. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

  1. I think I would mold a bit of silicone around the power cable holders to avoid a “running with the bulls” incident. Maybe I am too much of a puss to have such nice things around. I don’t know.

    1. Your table looks very nice, actually. I like the simple, replaceable slats, and the collection bucket will make cleanup a bit easier.

      (My hackerspace is in the middle of refurbishing a used CNC cutter bed, so we’re dealing with all sorts of design issues.)

  2. I like how he used the table he’s making to make other parts for itself. (c:

    BTW, I’ve probably just missed it, but what were the pieces of wood that he cut in the beginning for? Judging from the cuts I’d guess they’re for some sort of jig, but I don’t think I saw them being used.

    Good stuff.

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