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How to Cut 304 Stainless Steel

C.L. Rease

Stainless steel grades differ from carbon steel in heat transfer, corrosion resistance and workability. Each factor determines the tools and methods required when cutting the metal. Grade 304 stainless steel readily melts the teeth from saws using toothed blades. Cutting the metal with heat reduces wasted tool blades and quickens the cut, reducing labor. Plasma cutters produce a high-intensity cutting flame by charging pressurized air with high-frequency electricity.

Stainless steel resists corrosion.
  1. Place a fire extinguisher near a non-flammable work surface.

  2. Lay a piece of grade 304 stainless steel flat on the work surface. Raise the piece of metal off the table one to two inches by placing one metal block under each corner of the piece. Elevating the piece allows plasma sparks to exit from the metal without blowing back toward you.

  3. Mark the metal's surface with two marks to represent the cut.

  4. Connect the grounding clamp from a plasma cutter to the piece of grade 304 stainless steel.

  5. Turn on the plasma cutter. Allow the plasma cutter's internal air compressor to shut down before continuing.

  6. Align a straightedge with the cut marks located on the metal's surface.

  7. Depress the trigger of the plasma cutter. Pull the arc -- produced by the plasma cutter -- along the straightedge. Slow down your pulling speed if sparks shoot back toward you.

  8. Allow the cut to cool for 30 minutes before handling the metal.