Plasma Cutter?


Precision Fit
Sep 11, 2010
Northeastern Colorado
First Name
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1954
I've got the go ahead from the wife to get a plasma cutter, but I don't want to spend the money it takes to buy a name brand i.e. miller, lincoln or Hypertherm. I just don't think I will use it enough to spend that kind of money. So I've been looking at some of the cheaper brands i.e. MiTech, Parker, Giant, Longevity and the one from Harbor Feight. Out of these I'm leaning towards the Longevity because off the reveiws I've seen and the 5 year parts and labor warrenty. The other's don't stand behind their units that well.

My question to you guy's is, does anyone own/used any of these units or other brands that I should look at? I'm looking for your input on whether they are worth buying and if you encountered any problems, how was the customer service with the brand you own/used? I would like to get one for under $700.

Thanks in advance for any info Terry
What do you have for power and compressor? The longevity unit will only cut half of the rated thickness on a 120 volt circuit by their site. I have never used any of the units you are looking at, I have used Hyper-therm, and I own an Esab and they are both a quality machine. On the lower priced machines they list the sever rating as a cut capacity, this is a little misleading as it will get through it, but will not make the cut as clean or fast. If you think you will ever do anything with the plasma cutter get one that is bigger than sheet metal capacity. Within a few weeks of getting mine I was making an aluminum mount for a project and it was close to the capacity of the cutter with 3/8" aluminum.

Also get some good cutting goggles or glasses that set very close to your face. The air pressure can blow hot slag back on you very well and you will want to protect your eyes.

Some of the scraps from the aluminum project were 3/8 angle that I used to make the platform to set the plasma cutter on top of one of my welders.


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I will be running it with 240 and have a 60 gal 3 hp 10 cfm @ 135 psi compressor. I don't need to cut anything real heavy, mostly sheet metal and some small brackets. I would say the thickist I would need to cut would be 1/2". That's why I don't want to spend $1500 on a cutter. The few times that I would need to cut thicker stuff I would run it to the local fab shop. I just hate having to run down there everytime I need something small cut or trying to do it with a grinder or whatever I have at the shop. Since I don't have a torch.

I have had the Parker for several years, I use it quite a bit and it works great. I have cut 1/2" on it a couple times, but primarily in the 1/8-1/4" range. I have never used a name brand unit so I don't have anything to compare it to, but it has always done what I have asked it to without complaint. The lines are a little stiff and the head will pivot on you on occasion, and it doesn't have a pilot arc which I can image would be nice. I would love to have a nicer one but like you i just couldn't justify the $1500+ for one as often as I use it.
It looks like you have the power and air to run it, I would go as big as the budget allows. A machine that can cut 1/2" steel will cut about 1/4" aluminum. A name brand 40-45 amp machine will cut 5/8 and sever 3/4. Not sure if the other brands rate their power the same way. Mine is a 42 amp machine, having 42 amps output and 52 amps input at 240 volts . Also get some spare consumables, if you mass one up the cut goes to crap.
You don't need a Plasma cutter. I've cut a mile of metal with an 4" offset grinder and cut off wheels. Set up for around 35 bucks from HF. Easy and cheap. Back it up with a sawzall and 14" chop saw and you might be out $250. Now you got $500 to spend on your wife or ......
I would buy a torch ,you can cut ,heat ,braze ,weld,thaw,cook,light smokes,get a shot of oxygen,etc. with one. I would get a torch first.

For me, a plasma cutter is also used for projects on my house. I made decorative security doors for several patios at a fraction of the cost if bought retail. I was going to have security doors anyway, and the cost of material and the plasma cutter was less than any quotes I got. Normally, a new large project requires a new tool.
Plasma cutter tip; if you are cutting a hole or detailed pattern in the middle of a sheet, drill a small hole at or near to the cut, and start your cut in the hole. This greatly reduces or eliminates the blowback and side splatter that can leave a divot in the top of the piece you are working on.
You can never have too many cars, bikes or tools.