View Full Version : have lot of 1/4 inch steel to cut up what is lowest cost method

burntside bob
02-05-2010, 02:46 PM
I have a lot ( a lot) of 1/4 inch old scrap steel to cut up for scrap.
What is the lowest cost method of accomplishing this task?
How long will a tank of fuel and oxygen last with a cutting torch, and what size tanks are you using in your reply?
Thank you for your replies.

oxy moron
02-05-2010, 03:12 PM
oxy torch would be the cheapest way.
if you have a lot to cut, then get a lot of gas. there's a limit on how much acetylene can be used per hour. something like 10 percent of the tank per hour, past that, you might draw out the acetone (or something like that, hopefully someone who knows more will chime in.)

i dont have OA tanks anymore, i use plasma.

02-05-2010, 03:17 PM
I think plasma cutting costs less per cut than OA, at least after you have purchased the equipment. Cheapest way to cut it would be with a shear, but I will assume you don't have a shear that can do what you need.

02-05-2010, 03:53 PM
I'd just rent a plasma and call it a day.

02-05-2010, 03:58 PM
Scrappies (scrap yards and demo companies) use oxygen & propane for their work. You will use about 4 units of oxygen for each unit of propane. FYI a 20lb propane tank (like you use on your grill) will use about 4 - 250 cu. ft oxygen tanks (typical industrial size 250-300 cu.ft). How long it will take depends on how well you conserve you gas, how you arrange your time to minimize non-productive use of the gas burning whenyou are not cutting and how ofter you squeeze the oxygen lever when you are n ot cutting.

02-05-2010, 04:00 PM
If you had access to any machine, the cheapest way to cut .25 inch steel would be plasma.

But since it sounds like you have to buy the machine, other forms might be cheaper depending on how much you have to cut. A $200 torch set with rented bottles would work, but after the 3rd or 4th time you have them filled you would again be better off with the plasma.

oxy moron
02-05-2010, 04:58 PM
you can't just cut with a plasma, you also need an air compressor or compressed air canister. of course, i'm assuming he doesnt have an air compressor. If he already has a compressor, then plasma would be the way to go. he also didnt state if he needs to make more cuts in the future.
as far as cut and cost relation, if accuracy comes into play, then a shear would be the most cost and time effective.

02-05-2010, 05:03 PM
If you have a days worth of cutting to do, rent a liquid oxy and a 100 pound propane tank. Probally cost you $175 for both of them full.

02-05-2010, 05:12 PM
He also did not mention if it was shape cutting (patterns) or straight line cutting (could use a shear).

With the plasma you will also need electricity, is he out is the field somewhere or in a shop.

Could use a little more info on what you are doing.

02-05-2010, 05:35 PM
There's just so many unknowns, it's really hard to give a good answer. As said most scrap operations use Oxy/ fuel to cut up scrap if not running a large claw shear. The shear would be the fastest, but I'll assume rental of a trackhoe and shear is probably not practical unless "lots" is measured in truck loads.

I'd use Oxy/fuel, either acet or propane myself, over my plasma. The issues of getting enough power to run my plasma, plus the air, (either in tanks or the compressor with good filters) just wouldn't make sense unless it was sitting in my shop. I've used O/A on several demo jobs to cut up beams and columns and with 50' of hose and a cart I can work around most small sites. Today with my new oxy propane set, I'd probably use the propane as opposed to Acet.

The other option I have used is a gas powered demo saw and abrasive blades. This is particularly good with small steel like rebar/ wire. If I had lots to do, I'd look into investing in a diamond blade designed to cut steel with these as opposed to a standard abrasive blade.

02-05-2010, 08:25 PM
Do you want smooth cuts? Get a dry cut type circular metal cutting saw. Our Milwaukee (abt $375) is the best thing that we've found for making clean fast cuts in sheet stock up to about 3/4" thick. If you want the expensive ($55) blades to last, avoid binding the blade in the cut by using a straight edge guide. When you bind the blade it breaks the carbide teeth very quickly. If you don't damage the teeth you can cut 3 full 4 X 8 sheets of 1/4"HRS into 12" squares on one blade in about 3 hours.


02-05-2010, 08:38 PM
Lowest cost method = Hacksaw.

02-05-2010, 08:50 PM
As everyone has previously stated, it depends on what is being cut up. Is it going to be salvaged for future use, junk metal cut in smaller pieces for easier transport, or precision cuts for shaped material? For most purposes, it stands to reason that an O/A or O/P (propane) setup would be the most cost efficient route, but it really depends on what the final outcome of the scrap is to be used for....

02-05-2010, 08:51 PM
:DI am a demolition contractor and i regularly cut up large lots of scrap metal. By far the cheap.est way i have found to cut up mass quantites of metal is to use liquid oxygen and propane, a liquid oxygen tank is equal to 18-20 bottles of oxygen and last one i bought 3 weeks ago cost $85. you can cut forever on a barbque size tank of propane because remember it is also liquid. a 100 lbs bottle should last long enough to use up a tank of liquid oxygen. so for under $150 you should be able to run a torch all week long and still have gas left over. you have to use the oxygen before a month or so or it will start to vapor off. it is a cryogenic liquid and as it starts ot obtain heat it will vapor off. there is no way to stop it.

One other option may be a petrogen torch. this torch uses unleaded gas. do a search and you should find information on it.

also if you got help that dose not use tinted glasses when they cut get rid of them. other than the obvious safty issue they are gass wasters. you cannot efficently cut unless you can see what your cutting there by wasting gas. it all ads up in the long run.

anyhow if you find any other way to do this cheaper please let me know.:D

02-05-2010, 08:54 PM
I should add a full bottle of liquid oxgen weighs 1200 lbs

Bob Warner
02-05-2010, 09:05 PM
Where are you? For some steel I would help cut it up if you were close.

Maybe others would also.

02-05-2010, 09:56 PM
I dont want to stir up any trouble and cause any problems but going after that tin shed with a cut up saw sure seems like a waste of resourses. last one i took apart knocked apart in about 5 min with a sledge hammer. it you tap it next to the screws the pop right out as the tin is so thin. far cheaper but you may still want to wear the hearing protection lol:waving:

02-05-2010, 10:16 PM
Hotglue, I cut the shed up with the saw because, I had it and the blade already (O/A does a lousy job of cutting concrete:D), I needed the shed in small enough pieces to easily dispose of, (went out with the standard trash, because the chunks were small enough for them to decide to take) and the shed was in such poor shape that the sledge would probably have punched thru rather than busting out the screws.

I doubt it took me more than 15 minute to reduce it to manageable pieces for the laborer to haul out front. The game plan was to load it in the pickup on Monday morning to haul it off because the truck was loaded with the floor materials for the replacement shed. Since trash day was Monday anyways, we left it at the curb and it was gone when we got there at 7am. I could care less if one of the scrap guys swung by and grabed it, or if the trash guys took it. Saved me the labor loading it and the time to run to the scrap yard.

02-05-2010, 10:42 PM
Well like i say i didnt want to ruffle any feathers as i didnt know the exact peramiters of your job. sounds like you had a need to reduce it to a size smaller than you could by simply taking it apart and i understand that.

With the pirice of scrap im sure it was probably one of the scrap guys that took it. Again with the price of scrap a listing on craigslist you propably found someone willing to come dismantle and haul it off without you having to do a thing. The down side of this is the obvious liability issue and i do understand that as a contractor.

Anyhow glad to see you used PPE. I cant tell you how many guys think their to good to wear it and then wonder why they cant hear or see anything lol.

02-05-2010, 10:45 PM
Well I see alot of folks have asked burntside bob some questions that he might want to provide some answers to! Then folks will be able to provide some answers.

burntside bob if you post your location you might be able to find a member in your area that can do the cuts for you.

If you that want to post your location, show your personal avatar, or have a signature on each post telling fellow members where you are located; an avatar of you or your shop, and a signature telling fellow members what types of equipment you have, you can do it all by following these steps:

1. Locate and click on USER CP


3. In the EDIT YOUR DETAILS, you can enter Optional Information and Additional Information such as your Location (an other info)

4. While in USER CP you can explore some of the other functions

- Avatar: you can have picture of you, your shop, your wife, children, dog, etc (keep it clean- no nudes)

- Signature: you can list all your equipment, a link to your shop, or maybe some witty saying

02-06-2010, 12:54 AM
Use your teeth. Just gnaw on it.

02-06-2010, 09:46 AM
A 60 to 80 Amp Hypertherm plasma will cut 1/4" steel faster, easier and at about 1/4 the cost of an Oxy-Fuel setup.......and if the scrap is rusty or painted....the plasma (as long as it is a shielded pilot arc style torch) will not care! Of course you will need power and air....

Jim Colt

02-06-2010, 08:41 PM
Lowest cost method?

I say have a really nice friend do it! He's nice so he won't say no. And he's so nice he won't charge you!

oxy moron
02-07-2010, 03:53 PM
Lowest cost method = Hacksaw.

we have a winner:laugh::laugh:

i think our OP, BurntsideBob might be a one post wonder.

burntside bob
02-07-2010, 07:08 PM
I have a lot ( a lot) of 1/4 inch old scrap steel to cut up for scrap.
What is the lowest cost method of accomplishing this task?
How long will a tank of fuel and oxygen last with a cutting torch, and what size tanks are you using in your reply?
Thank you for your replies.

:waving: Hello I'm back, you know some people are busy, and don't have time to set at a computer all day waiting to reply to a posting.
Who ever replied thank you for the info some of it was/is usefull.
I am going to cut up an old {50 years} water tank 10,000 gallons.
Asked the questions to get an idea of how long it would take me to cut it up.
Just going to sell the steel to a scrap yard get what I can for it and bedone with it.
I do have one question, what size cutting tip should I use and what production should I expect to get with it? I mean how many inches should I be able to cut with the cutting head on the torch in say one hours time.
Thank you for your replies.
It's Sunday, how many of you attended Church Mass today?
You know you are a Spirit attached to an earth and water body that one day will die and your spirit {it can be called your consciousness} then will be released from the body and you will enter the Spirit world, you know this right?
Jesus Loves You!!!!:waving:

02-07-2010, 07:12 PM
Hey Burnside,

There was useful information and there was some good humored answers for fun.

Regarding church, I am an ordained minister and I talk to the big guy everyday. However, remember that darkening the doorstep of a church does not a Christian make.

Have fun with your scrap cutting!:cool2:

02-08-2010, 01:34 AM
Lowest cost method = Hacksaw.

2nd lowest cost method, an angle grinder with cutoff wheels. I had to cut a 2'x4' piece of 1/4" sheet in half to make welding tables for my garage. Took 2 1/2 wheels to cut 2' of the steel, but it worked pretty well. Nice straight cut.

02-08-2010, 10:25 AM
Cost of cutting is comprised of equipment cost or rental, utilities such as gases and electricity, consumables such as nozzles or cutting discs........then you have to factor the speed of the process.

Plasma would be the most expensive from a purchase point of view.....but from a true cost per foot of cut would likely be the lowest cost, most productive process for a job such as dismantling a large steel tank.

Using an angle grinder to do a job of this size....I don't think so!


02-08-2010, 07:47 PM
Now that i know more about what your doing I have got to say your missing the boat on scrapping this tank out. What i would do is cut it to where you can roll it open and lay it out. now its not going to be perfectly flat but so what it still has many uses. I then would advertise it as usable 1/4" plate steel and get far more for it than you would ever get just scrapping it out.

I know many one here are going to laugh and think im a fool and say yea who in the hell would buy it???? what in the world would it be good for.?????? well let me tell ya.

Back in the 80's they came out with the LUST program. now thats not a cheating on your wife thing it stands for leaky underground storage tank. I pulled out many underground storage tanks and had a pile of them in the yard. i had then all stacked up like a pyramid and the fire chief and 5 fire trucks decended on my yard on day and wanted to sniff the tanks to see if there was anything in them but thats another story. anyhow we would cut the ends off of them and then split them down the middle. once layed open we ran the track loader over it and flattened it as well as we could. much of it was sold as usable sheet steel. much of it i used to make so equipment for myself.

The dump box on this truck was made from a 10000 gal underground tank

here is an end dump built out of another old tank. notice there is another one right behind it to the left also.
http://photos-a.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs171.snc3/19840_1232538214217_1252000309_30636181_5597274_n. jpg

and last here is the 45 foot house boat we built out of it. it is a flat bottom barge type thing and only draws about 6 inches of water. it is more fun than any boat we ever bought. in this pic it was still under construction but it didnt stop us from using it as we were building it.
http://hphotos-snc3.fbcdn.net/hs171.snc3/19840_1232538254218_1252000309_30636182_8287181_n. jpg

so see you may be missing the boat LITERALLY lol:laugh:

02-09-2010, 02:00 AM
HotGlue - I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop too. :laugh:

Some nice builds you posted. Good work.

A tank is like a whole micro-economy:
You cut two wood hauling sleighs out of it; those are traded for firewood.
One stone boat is sold for cash.
The ladder or stairs and railing are used on a fire escape install.
The large pipes and fittings get traded to the local well driller.
One large piece gets turned into a dump truck floor patch job.
Another cut gets put down as poor-boy concrete....
Just like in Chicago - everything gets used except the squeal. :laugh:

Burntside Bob - Tell us more. How from civilization? How high in the air?
What kind of material handling equipment is available? Rust?

Yup, I know I'm headed for the wall, it seems to be getting closer all the time. :laugh:.

Good Luck

02-09-2010, 09:56 PM
Jle im surprised as a boilermaker you didn't mention the venerable Air carbon arc that would be my weapon of choice no bs of consumables for the plasma or bottles for the torches.The carbon doesn't care about rust or dirt and its pretty fast.

02-10-2010, 10:59 AM
Jle im surprised as a boilermaker you didn't mention the venerable Air carbon arc that would be my weapon of choice no bs of consumables for the plasma or bottles for the torches.The carbon doesn't care about rust or dirt and its pretty fast.

I guess i fail to see how this could be cheaper. your gona need a pretty sizable portable machine. and your gona need a pretty sizable portable aircompressor. now yo have two piston powered engines chopping away wearing themselves out and burning gas. you have to figure in the wear and tear also. how is this going to be cheaper then liquid ox and propane with no moving parts?