Written by arcmaster

Oxy Fuel Cutting | Mastering Gas Cutting Torches

In recent years, gas cutting torches, better known as oxy fuel cutting, has taken a backseat to plasma cutting. However, oxy fuel cutting still carries great significance in the shop setting. 

Oxy fuel is good for a range of jobs because many torches can be outfitted for various tasks including welding, bending, brazing, heating and cutting. Oxy fuel is self-contained because it doesn’t require an electrical outlet or air compressor. Likewise, versatility of oxy fuel torches and its numerous abilities makes it an invaluable investment.

Oxy Fuel Cutting Techniques

Oxy fuel is a combination of oxygen and any fuel gas (typically propane, propylene, natural gas, acetylene, etc.) Oxy-acetylene is arguably the most popular in the oxy fuel cutting scene.  However, propane is more stable and easier to handle, making it a popular choice for hobbyists and small-scale cutting projects. In general, the choice of gas depends on the specific application and desired outcome.

Properties of Cutting Fuels:

  • Propane - Produces a lower flame temperature than acetylene but has about the same cutting speed.
  • Propylene - Requires an injector torch, and tends to have a heat source that is concentrated on the outside of the heat cone. 
  • Natural gas - Produces the lowest flame temperature, so it has the slowest cutting time.
  • Acetylene - Produces the highest flame temperature, resulting in faster speeds than the other gasses.

There are different types of oxy fuel cutting torches as well, based on the gasses being used:

  • The first of the two torch types is equal balance torch, which functions similarly to its name; it delivers the mixture of gasses all at an equal pressure. The equal balance torch is versatile and can use various fuel gasses, such as acetylene, propane, or natural gas. 
  • The second type of cutting torch is a fuel-injected torch, or a low-pressure torch, used for gasses delivered at low pressures. The fuel-injected torch uses acetylene as its fuel gas and is ideal for welding and brazing applications. It is essential to choose the right type of torch for your cutting application to ensure accurate and efficient cutting.

The Setup

We are focusing mainly on Oxy-acetylene cutting, as it is used the most often. There are a few things to keep in mind when working on your oxy fuel cutting skills. 

To master the technique, becoming familiar with the flames your torch puts off and what they are supposed to look like will give you a leg up in clean cuts. The are three different types of flames:

  1. Carburizing - This means there is TOO MUCH FUEL. Cutting with a carburizing flame creates carbon deposits along the cuts.
  2. Neutral - All the cones within the flame are equal and in the ideal state for cutting.
  3. Oxidizing -  This means there is TOO MUCH OXYGEN. When cutting with an oxidizing flame, your cut will leave porous zones on the metal. 

When you are setting up your torch and you have it lit, the first step is to make sure that your blue gas cones within your flame are all equal with and without the oxygen lever pressed. This will help ensure you’re ready to cut. 

You can also take a look at your torch flame and observe the length. A cutting torch with a nice clean cutting tip will have a nice long, even flame. A weak or short flame coming from the torch could be an indication that you need to clean your torch tip with a file and tip cleaner set. 

To get the best cuts, preheat your metal! By preheating your metal you are raising the temperature of the plate just before the cut to aid in the heat transfer and avoid cracking the metal plate. These two tips combined with steady travel speed and some practice will give you clean cuts in no time.  

Maintaining Your Torch 

It’s important to keep your torch well maintained, not only for your safety but also to ensure it's always functioning at optimal efficiency.  As mentioned before, this is vital for achieving clean cuts and getting the results you want.  

The biggest things you want to avoid when oxy fuel cutting are burnback and flashbacks. Having torches with built-in safety features like the Victor Torch Kits is one way to help. If you don’t have these capabilities here are a couple things to keep in mind when maintaining your torch:

  • Clean your torch tip - Debris and residue can get inside your torch tip. This causes issues with the flame from your torch and how well it cuts. 
  • Check for leaks and replace worn parts - Apply a soapy water mixture to gas connections and watch for any bubbles that form. If bubbles do form this could be a sign of a gas leak. Replacing worn parts such as o-rings inside fittings with gas leaks or replacing hoses with tears or cracking helps eliminate gas leaks.
  • Proper storage - Be sure to store your torch, hose, and gas canisters in a dry, cool place. This will help prevent damage to all three mechanisms.

In the end you’ll see that carefully caring for your equipment will save you time and money in the long run. Whether it be your plasma cutter that we talked about in our last blog, maintaining your welding unit as discussed in the first blog, or your oxy fuel torch in this blog. Proper maintenance of your equipment expands the lifespan of your machinery and is one of the most valuable investments you can make. 

The Importance of Oxy Fuel Cutting

While oxy fuel cutting may have taken a backseat to plasma cutting in recent years, it remains a crucial tool in the workshop. The versatility of oxy fuel torches, which can handle welding, bending, brazing, heating, and cutting tasks, coupled with their self-contained nature, makes them a valuable investment. Understanding the different gas properties and selecting the right torch type are essential for efficient cutting. Mastering the technique involves recognizing the right flame characteristics and ensuring proper preheating. Maintaining your torch is key to achieving clean cuts and prolonging its lifespan. By taking care of your equipment, you're not only saving time and money but also making a valuable long-term investment in your workshop's success.
At Arc Solutions, we're here to support your welding and cutting needs. Whether you need high-quality oxy fuel cutting equipment, expert advice, or maintenance tips, our team is ready to assist you. Visit our website today to explore our product offerings and discover how we can help you succeed in your workshop.

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