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Old 11-12-2012, 01:29 PM
Mattbob Mattbob is offline
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Default Guitar Maker Plasma Question

Hey Guys,

The parts in question are here:

I'm a guitar maker and I make steel and brass bodied resonator guitars. I currently have them laser cut, and $130/set for it. The laser is also unable to cut brass. I would very much like to save money, and be able to say I cut these by hand. So I've been researching out how to do that.

The material is 22 gauge mild steel and .032 half hard brass. In my LIMITED (important here) knowledge I believe plasma cutting with a template (made from my CAD drawings with an offset for the plasma cutting head) would be the best way to go.

What I'm having trouble getting specifics on is what machine would be best for this fine cutting. What gas, what tips, what amps etc.

I'd like it to be TIG (or MIG although I've only found one unit like that) combo for future work un related to the guitars.

Any suggestions or alternatives?

Thank you much.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:08 PM
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Default Combination TIG and Plasma Cutter

I believe that Plasma Cutting can do the job you require and with a bit of experimentation, you can develop a set of guides to allow you a precision cut of the parts you need. You should probably look at the better plasma cutters in the 40 amp range. That should be more than enough power to do the job.
I would select the fine cutting nozzle and electrode set and make some cuts on some scrap metal to determine the power setting and speed of travel that will work best for you. When you get it right, plasma can do a terrific job for you.

I believe that if you go for a combination unit you will probably not have the best plasma cutter and not the best TIG machine either. However if you wish to look at them I have a Longevity 40 watt plasma cutter that works great for my hobbiest needs. I don't know how it would stand up to production work.

Longevity does make a number of combination units but as I have not yet ventured into TIG, I can't comment on the quality.

try them here

I'm sure the more knowledgeable members will be along shortly to give you the benefit of their experience.

Good luck,


Last edited by DrBob; 11-12-2012 at 03:35 PM. Reason: wrong address
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:30 PM
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H80N H80N is offline
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There are probably plenty of shops near you with a CNC Plasma table that should be able to handle the job easily... Plasmacam or Torchmate being just a couple of brands... A competent operator should be able to import your DXF or plot files and produce excellent parts....

Here is a link to the Plasmacam demo to give you a better idea...


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Old 11-12-2012, 02:40 PM
Mattbob Mattbob is offline
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Location: Bay City, MI
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Thanks for the info guys.

That's a good point on the combo machine. Might take some research to find a qualified machine.

I'm locate din Bay City, MI if anyone has connections to CNC plasma places. I tried a plac ein Freeland and his setup was unable to cut the thin stock- it was really messy.

I've been e-mail a lot of waterjet and laser places with similarly high quotes.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:59 PM
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How thin is your stock?
22ga is easy to cut at 200+ inches per min.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:55 PM
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Default How About Some Pictures?

Mattbob, We love pictures here at SFT. Even though I don't play, I love to look at really beautiful guitars. Why not post some of your finished work and possibly some of the laser cut stuff by itself.

Type of metal and thickness as well, please. The more we know the better we can help (by "we" I mean those other guys who KNOW what they're talking about )

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Old 11-12-2012, 04:17 PM
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If the business is good, and you are looking at getting equipment for this, I would suggest getting your own plasma table before going forward with cutting a template and free handing it. Plus you could then cut other parts for other people which means $$$ back on that investment.

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Old 11-12-2012, 04:20 PM
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For Plasma, Tig or MIG, you get what cha' pay for.

It would be great if you could afford a unit with all the bells and whistles, but with that comes price.

Cutting brass or mild steel with Plasma by hand using a scribed pattern and expecting close tolerances will be a bear of a task to accompolish. Working with a pre-shaped pattern and hand cutting is hard enough as well. Having a pattern torch/Plasma (TorchMate etc) would take most/all of that problem out of the equation. Time savings, material savings to the max.

Having a TorchMate CNC table of say 4' X 4' using a Plasma torch would be the ultimate time and finish trim saver to say the least.

As far as machines, we here for the most part have our machines spec'd out for more than just one type project, therefor most answers to your questions will be in the vein.

I've made(in the past) and will make several metal resonator's this coming New Year, but as I do not worry about touting 'hand made by my hands' specifically, I outsource most of the Torching to a friend. I spread the wealth without going the added expense. My wood hollow and solid body guitars as well as Resonators are not cheap and am using what proceeds from this work to add to the toy(equipment) inventory for future work.

In my eyes, the TorchMate equipment would fit any and all of my needs for sure, whether it's guitar or the in shop hobby/farm needs.

Good luck on your future purchases.
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:21 PM
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Matt, that is a fine looking piece there. Please look here at the FAQs we enjoy pictures so much we like to attach them to the forum so we can admire them from now on.

Please continue letting us see your product.

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Old 11-12-2012, 05:57 PM
Mattbob Mattbob is offline
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Sorry about that. That's a good idea, I hadn't seen that before. Here is the new post, I'll see about deleting the previous.

I had seen those Torchmates. That would be sweet. I'm just starting up, and it would be tough to swing. They are AWESOME though.

A fellow guitarmaker! Great! It's good to get a specific perspective. I could see making the template idea work... but wanted some more knowledgeable opinions on if that was a viable idea.

That being said, if anyone knows someone who has a plasma CNC and would like work. PM me. I'll look to see in the other sections of the forum to see if there is an appropriate thread. They are proving more difficult to find in Michigan than laser or waterjet places.
The part I see causing some difficulty are the 'F' holes in the upper bout. Does anyone have experience cutting this kind of detail by plasma with a template?

My thinking is if I could get a decent (not awesome, not junk) plasma cutter for $400, it would probably be 10-15 guitars before I would decide I was able to get a Torchmate. At $120/set with laser I'd be paying around $1800 to have them cut. Sure, I could adjust my prices to make up the difference, but I'm just starting and don't have the 'authority' yet.
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