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"Built Dam Strong!"

12 September 2014

Cue the smooth jazz music: it's getting hot in here!

Lately I've been focusing on improving my torch cutting. One of the biggest time sinks in the fabrication we do at work is cleaning up stuff with grinders. Not only does it take time, it is hard work swinging this this around sometimes all day at work:

I love that thing, even if it is a heavy beast. It runs fairly smooth for its size and handles well, but swinging all day is tiring.

So, the smoother you cut, the less grinding you have to do. That's good enough reason to work on getting your torch and yourself dialed in to the task at hand.

Let's look at some examples:

Which do you think will take the least amount of time to grind smooth?

The first picture shows the worst cut I made out if the current batch I'm working on. The second shows the smoothest. The third shows a really decent average. All of them aren't terrible and better than most of the other guys in the shop will manage. When you have this many cuts to grind:

It certainly makes a difference in time. Besides, the cutting is way easier than the grinding, so why not spend a bit more time doing that?

That is how things end up, and getting to that point is less effort if you slow down and cut smoothly. I've had to totally readjust my approach to cutting to get to this point. I really used to jack the oxygen pressure up and blast a long a mile a second, and while that approach is great for really rough work, it sucked for any post processing needed. I started to pay attention to all the old timers. I watched how they work. I used their torch settings. I moved slower but more deliberately. I still have a ways to go, but i think I'm on the correct path. Yay!

From what I'm told, the Marines have a saying: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. There is really no better way to put it than that! It takes some thought about the whole process to see where to make gains, but once you start to look at the whole thing, it makes more sense.

Take your time in the prep work. It nearly always pays off by the end of the job!