How To Plasma Cut Metal Art From Start To Finish With A Projector

Plasma cutter art is a really fun way to make some very unique and impressive art pieces for your home. The best part is it’s not hard AT ALL! There are art pieces around my house that many visitors think are made by an expensive artist, but in reality it was me tinkering around the shop for a few hours and that was it. The trick is using the right tools to both trace and cut out images correctly. The better you trace your desired image on a sheet of steel the easier it is cut out perfectly. This can be accomplished using a digital projector and a little prep work. Today we’ll walk you through step by step on how to make the perfect plasma cutter art piece.

Step 1: Get A Sheet Of Steel (16 Gauge Recommended)

Getting a sheet of steel is as simple as finding a steel shop near you and buying a sheet. We find that 16 guage mild steel is the perfect thickness for wall art as it is lightweight, but also strong enough to have some rigidity. Anything thicker than 16 gauge will be difficult to hang on a wall and require additional reinforcement. If you are planning on creating a piece that will not hang on a wall and stand up on it’s own weight you can go even thicker like 14-12 gauge to add extra strength.

Steel plates are generally sold in a 4 foot x 8 foot sheet. Make sure you have a vehicle that can haul this down the road. If not, an easy solution is to rent a uHaul trailer for about $35 to bring it home. In our town a 4×8 sheet of 16 gauge steel was about $115.

Step 2: Choose An Image To Use As A Stencil

Finding an image to use as a stencil is the fun part. Go online and use google images to find a black and white silhouette image that you want to cut out.

Example: If you want to make an art piece with a deer on it you should use the following searches on google images

  • deer cut out
  • deer silhouette
  • deer metal art

Typically these three searches will give you a variety of different black and white images fit for using as a stencil. Here is an example we found by searching “deer cut out.”

Step 3: Project Your Image Onto Your Metal Sheet

To do this step, take your metal into a dark area like a garage and lean it up against the wall. Be sure that your sheet of metal is standing up as straight as possible (without falling over). Make sure you have at least 8 feet of distance in front of your metal sheet in order to position your digital projector correctly.

Use your digital projector connected to your laptop and project your image onto your the sheet of metal. This is as simple as opening the image on your computer and the projector will project your laptop screen onto the metal. You can simply move the projector closer or father away to adjust the size of the image. Be sure to adjust the focus on the projector to insure the image is sharp and easy to trace.

Vankyo Leisure Mini Digital Projector

This digital projector is very inexpensive and will work great for projecting your image onto your sheet metal. It will connect to your laptop using either an HMDI cord or a VGA cord. Be sure to purchase the correct adapter for your specific laptop.

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Step 4: Trace The Image And Identify Cut Out Zones

Once you have the image the correct size it’s time to start tracing it out. We use sharpies for this and find that we go though 2-3 of them as they seem to get used up pretty quickly. Be sure to trace out all of the lines and attach any zones that are free floating to other solid peices. Most images won’t have free floating areas, but it’s always good to double check.

Once you outline the image, the next step in to identify the cut out areas and mark them. With use a bunch small “X” markings to mark the areas that need to be cut out. This will help reduce any confusion once the projector is off and you can no longer see the image. We HIGHLY recommend you do this step.

Step 5: Cut Out Your Image With A Plasma Cutter

Once you have your image clearly drawn out and the cut zones marked, it’s time to take it to the shop and start cutting it out. If you’re using 16 gauge steel then run your plasma cutter somewhere 20 amps if possible. This will give you the most precise control and make your cuts nice and sharp for more detail. Be sure to be mindful of what is underneath your metal while you’re cutting. We typically use a set of saw horses to hold up the metal sheet while we cut. Be careful to only cut out the sections marked with “X” marks.

If you don’t have a plasma cutter and are looking to buy one more metal art you can check out our article on choosing the best plasma cutter for metal art. We typically recommend a machine around 30 amps as anything bigger is not needed as the metal we are working with is very thin. You can also typically get away with purchasing a cheaper plasma cutters made in China as these projects don’t require a high end machine.

The new LOTOS LTP5000D is crowned our number one choice for the best cheap plasma cutter.

LOTOS LTP5000D Pilot-Arc Plasma Cutter

If you’re looking for an inexpensive plasma cutter for metal art the LOTOS LTP5000D is a great choice. These machines are very inexpensive and have plenty of power to work with steel up to 1/4″ no problem. This machine comes with pilot-arc which is very handy for working with small detailed cuts.

You can watch our review for the LOTOS LTP5000D here.

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