How to Tell If a Plasma Cutter Is Right for your DIY Project


Advancements in technology have given way to a slew of hobbies and home improvement activities that would have been pretty difficult to take on in the past, such as metalworking. Whether you’re thinking about creating your own art in the garage or need to do some metal-related projects around the house, you might be thinking about purchasing a plasma cutter. But the question remains: is a plasma cutter the answer? Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to help you find the answers.

What Type of Metal Are You Cutting?

The first question you should ask yourself has to do with the types of metals you’re going to be cutting, as you may not need a plasma cutter at all. These machines are meant to allow for quick and clean cuts through a wide variety of metals, most commonly different grades of steel. If you’re planning something like putting up a chain link fence in your backyard, then a plasma cutter might be a bit of overkill.

However, if you need to cut up and break down a lot of old, rusted metal than it might just do the trick. You’ll need to examine the type of metals you plan to cut to really determine if a plasma cutter – which is a relatively heavy-duty machine – is the best choice.

How Much Cutting Do You Need to Do?

You should also think about the frequency with which you plan to use the plasma cutter, as it will definitely help you decide if it’s going to be the best purchase. If you know that you’re going to be making a lot of cuts over time, such as through a small home business or for a major building project, then there’s definitely a strong need for the machine.

Even if you don’t plan on doing a massive amount of cutting, the unique features of a plasma cutter might be what comes in handy. For example, plasma cutters can cut thick metal, with some capable of cutting through steel up to ¾ inch thick. Similarly, you may want a plasma cutter because it allows you to create curved and angled cuts. In these situations, the specialization is far more important than the overall output.


Do You Have the Right Work Environment?

When looking at a plasma cutter not in use, it’s easy to forget that these are serious pieces of industrial equipment that do require some special considerations. You should make sure that you actually have enough space to operate the plasma cutter safely, ensuring that the sparks or slag won’t damage any surrounding materials or pose any kind of fire hazard. This is especially important if you plan on using the device on a regular basis.

Are There Other Needs Beyond Metal Cutting?

There are some models of plasma cutters out there that do more than just cut metal, with the most common feature being the ability to convert into a TIG welder. If you know that you are going to need to weld the metal after you cut it, and don’t already have a tool to complete that process, then it may be worthwhile to look for a combination welder model to help you save time, effort, and money. If you don’t need this feature, then there’s certainly no reason to get such a model over others. Try thinking about how you plan on using your plasma cutter to see if you can think of any other features or aspects that you might need.

Answering the Plasma Cutter Call

Once you’ve examined how you plan to use the plasma cutter and the environment in which you’re going to use it, make sure to compare the full features of different models before jumping into a purchase. Also make note that some models will include, along with the actual unit, additional items such as consumables or grounding clamps, which you will absolutely need before you get started.