How to use an oxy-acetylene cutting torch

Written by k.k. lowell
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How to use an oxy-acetylene cutting torch
Operate your torch safely. (Soudure Oxy-acetylene image by Coralie Palmeri from

An oxyacetylene torch is a handy tool to have in a garage. Torches can heat stuck bolts, bend metal, cut metal pieces to size and weld them together. In addition to all this, oxyacetylene torches are easy to learn to use. With a little practice, a do-it-yourself type can become nearly an expert with a cutting torch and find himself using it often for a variety of tasks.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Oxy-acetylene torch set
  • Torch goggles
  • Spark lighter

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  1. 1

    Turn the valve on top of the oxygen tank all the way open.

  2. 2

    Turn the valve on the acetylene tank 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn to open.

  3. 3

    Verify that the oxygen valve on the cutting torch is closed.

  4. 4

    Light the torch by making a spark with the spark lighter at the end of the cutting tip while opening the acetylene valve slightly.

  5. 5

    Open the acetylene valve on the torch to increase the flame. Now introduce oxygen into the flame by opening the oxygen valve on the torch.

  6. 6

    Adjust the two valves (cutting torch oxygen and acetylene) until you obtain a short, bright blue flame at the torch tip with no yellow.

  7. 7

    Adjust the acetylene regulator to approximately 10 psi. Turn the screw in to increase the pressure and out to decrease it.

  8. 8

    Adjust the oxygen regulator in the same manner to a pressure between 40 and 60 psi.

  9. 9

    Adjust the acetylene and oxygen valves as necessary to maintain the correct flame.

  1. 1

    Ensure that the piece to be cut is positioned so that no part of the support is under the cut line.

  2. 2

    Hold the torch close to the work; the bright-blue portion of the flame should touch the edge of the area to be cut.

  3. 3

    Heat the work until the edge starts to glow. Small sparks may start to come off the metal.

  4. 4

    Press down on the cutting lever and open it fully. Move the torch along the line you want to cut. The speed of your movement will depend on the thickness of the metal and the size tip on the torch. The proper speed will result in a continual stream of sparks as the metal is cut. You should go as fast as you can to control the torch and get continual cutting.

  5. 5

    Close the acetylene valve first, then the cutting tip oxygen.

  6. 6

    Close the tank valves.

  7. 7

    Open the acetylene valve on the torch to purge the gas from the hose, then press the cutting lever to purge the oxygen hose. Close the oxygen valve on the torch handle.

Tips and warnings

  • Cut scrap pieces of steel until you are confident and steady.
  • Always wear goggles or a face mask designed for this use when cutting with an oxyacetylene cutting torch.
  • Don't wear frayed clothing when cutting. Clothing burns quickly and ignites easily.

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