Plasma Cutting Circle Guide

Need to cut circles on metal plates with a plasma cutter? Then you’ve probably heard of circle cutting guides too. So, what is this circle cutting guide? And how to use it?

By using a plasma cutter, you can pierce, gauge or bevel metal plates. Whether conductive or poorly conductive, you can cut both of them with this. You can even cut holes or trace different shapes out of that metal sheet.

But there are some other tools which you can attach with the plasma torch. By doing so, you will get a better output and comfort while working. For example, an extended tip eases cutting of the metal on the corner.

At the same time, it alsoprovides operators a better view. Roller guides help to cut through straight lines. Gouging tips are used for removing imperfect weld.

Here, in this article, we’re going to describe circle cutting guides. And how to cut a perfect circle using it.

Fundamentals

Starting from 3", nowadays most of the circle guides allow cutting circles up to 20" (51cm.) diameter. Larger guides can cut greater circles, from 7 cm to 80cm.

You can set it up with the plasma torch very easily and quickly. A good circle cutting guide comes with-

  • 2 metal wheels
  • A rotating torch cap holder
  • 11"  (28cm.) to 15"  (38cm.) arm
  • Magnetic base
  • Center pin and holder

Features vary with the expense, company, and models as well. Some circle cutters feature 4 suction cups. They allow you to use it also on non-metallic materials. Magnetic base is also for stable cuts on non-metallic surfaces.

Some come with adjustable axles with the wheels. The two metal wheels help you to make smooth cuts on the metal.

Why use a circle guide?

While operating, your hand movement will reflect the shape and smoothness of the cut. Therefore, if your hand doesn’t remain steady while working, you’ll certainly need a circle guide.

It’ll maintain the position of the torch. Therefore, the standoff height will remain consistent. Thus it prevents collisions between the tip of the torch and the work piece. This makes cutting a perfect circle easier.

It also eases beveling by adjusting the wheel height independently. By doing so, the bevel angle is set correctly.

Adjustable plasma circle cutter guide

You can adjust diameter from 1" to 12.5" on the standard one. For the larger guides, you can adjust up to 20.5-inch dia. Both of them can be adjusted in ½" increments.

You’ll find four lasers etched marks on the circle cutting plate. Their diameters are 0.5", 0.75", 1.00’’ and 1.25". Each of them is 1.00" apart.

Note that the dia. of the large holes is 0.25". So if the torch tip is larger than this, you have to drill out the holes.

Cutting the circle using a plasma cutter guide

Step 1: Draw the shape

The first step is to point the center of the circle you wish to make on the metal. Then, use a circle template or simple compass to outline the perimeter. Use a metal marker to draw the shape on the plate.

Remember the diameter of the circle should be within the capacity of your circle guide. You can use a center punch to strike the location. But it’s optional.

Step 2: Clamp the work piece

It’s required both for your comfort and safety during working with it. Do not ever hold the work piece in hands while cutting, drilling or piercing the plate. Clamp it down with the table or the surface you are working on if it’s possible.

Set the clamp such that the metal piece can’t spin. If the spinning metal sheet hits you, it may lead to serious injury.

But before clamping, mask the back of the metal plate with tape. By doing so, you can control tear out. But if you clamp the sheet on a sacrificial wooden surface, there’s no need to mask it. And if the surface of the metal is already finished, then mask the back and front of it.

Step 3: Adjust the circle guide with the torch

Assemble the parts of the guide and set it with the torch. I recommend you to follow the manual.

The two wheels should be set to the head of the plasma cutter. It incorporates a bearing such that it allows the head to rotate in the guide. The extension bars are screwed into the center of the hole-holder and into the head guide.  A small indent in work secures the holder.

Step 4: Cut the circle

Now, cut through the metal. Move the torch along with the circle guide along the perimeter.

Final Verdict

Not only circles but you can also draw straight lines over the metal using a circle guide. It’s simple but yet makes cutting faster and smoother. Once you get used to it, cutting circles will be easy and fun. As you’ve gone through this article, I hope, now you have a clear idea of using a circle guide accurately.

Joshua J. Salisbury
 

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