CNC Plasma Cutter

Ask questions and discuss the CNC Plasma Cutter project here.

Can your manual control board blueprint that you built for your mill to cnc conversion be used to operate a Nema 34 stepper motor and be used to operate a plasma table.

I am considering building my own cnc control system. Another reason why I may prefer to build my own cnc control system is once my budget permits I would like to build the same mill to cnc conversion using your build guides. I feel using Mach4 for both the Plasma table and CNC mill will make it easier. Being that I have no CAD or tech experience what would you recommend being you used both interfaces.

“recommend being you used both interfaces.”

Did I say somewhere that I used Mach?

My apologies Frank, but my response is going to be disappointing. I do not have experience with Mach3/4, so I don’t want to say anything foolish.

I do know that the Mesa board that I used for my CNC mill is not compatible with Mach. I don’t have any experience with these boards, but I had heard that the SmoothStepper motion controllers work well with Mach and have Torch Height Control (THC), which is a great feature for plasma cutting.

To answer your first question, yes the Mesa board and LinuxCNC can be used for a Plasma table.

Would you be able to provide me with a list of parts required to build a Plug N Play control board for a plasma cutter. I will be using Nema 23 stepper motors and a Hypertherm 45XP for my plasma. I will also using Mesa board as well as LinuxCNC. Any information will be highly appreciated. THANK YOU


I apologize for my delayed response. Work has been busy. You can follow my Milling Machine Build to select parts. Obviously, you wouldn’t need that large of stepper motors, drivers, or power supply, but they are a good place to start.

With the Mesa ecosystem you can use the THCAD to sense the height of the torch.

If you want, you can provide a list of components that you want to source, and I can quickly check for compatibility issues. Its difficult for me to design you a “Plug-N-Play” system when I don’t know your budget or where you are located (i.e. which vendors you have access to). Also, I wouldn’t call LinuxCNC Plug-N-Play. More like Plug-N-Bang-Your-Head.

Within the next year, I will convert my plasma cutter over to LinuxCNC, so you could wait until then to do your build.

Edit: Spelling

Nice job on the plasma cutter tutorial. I have built a couple openbuilds or equivalent projects in the last couple years. I do enjoy the openness of the system and the sharing of info in the community. The openbuilds blackbox solution really is a great solution I was glad to see you used it.
I have thought of trying to do a cnc plasma system but the torch height adjustment was always something I was troubled by, so it was a project that kept getting pushed back. Very nice solution.

I subscribed and look for more of your content in the future.
Before signing off I did want to respond to your blog post on the people flocking towards “machinist” youtubers… yes that is mostly true, though there are exceptions and they do very well. good content, presented well, and fulfilling a purpose and people will come.

Good luck

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I currently do not have a mill and considering a PM-833TV and possibly upgrading it to CNC for non production work and trying to find the right machine to convert. I have experience building my own 3d printers and large plasma CNC machines so comfortable working with this upgrade.

Would you recommend the PM-833TV if so why based on the other PM machines? Based on final results after conversion does it compare functionally to a CNC mill like a Tormack 1100 or 770? Thanks in advance if you can advise.

Hey Stoma666,

This is a difficult decision: Tormach or DIY. If you have time on your hands, patience, and a background in CNC (or willingness to learn) then I always recommend going the DIY route. Generally, it is a mistake to go the DIY route to only save money. If you break a couple of components or build a machine that can’t hold the tolerances that you need then it would have been better to just buy the Tormach.

There are cost savings to be had though… the PM-833TV has larger travel and an automatic oiler than the 770 and still cost less than the base 770 after the conversion.

I have been very happy with my PM-833TV conversion. I learned a lot during the build. LinuxCNC was a complete headache to setup, but has worked flawlessly. I don’t have an enclosure or an ATC (yet) and this will require significant time investment to bring these features to my mill. With the Tormach you can just select these features at checkout.

I chose the PM-833TV over the other PM mills because of the one-pump oiler, the 3200 RPM belt driven spindle (no gearbox filled with oil to worry about), and the hand scraped ways. I don’t have any experience with the Tormach machines, but I believe that I am getting comparable quality after meticulously tramming the mill. The Tormach machines do come standard with a 10k spindle (I think), which is almost a must have for aluminum and plastics.

My response was kind of a word salad. Let me know if you want me to expand on anything.

You mention torch height control in your video - have you done anything with that yet? We are working on THC for grblHAL (32 bit portable grbl) and I would like to get your input and maybe learn from your experience. We are looking at supporting both bang-bang and analog. Should be really inexpensive, being open source and all…

Hey man welcome to the forum!

For THC which will be added to my machine in the near future, I will be using LinuxCNC with a mesa board. But I am definitely interested in your grblHAL idea.

I will be honest. I am not as much of a programmer as I am a config file editor. So rehashing grbl to include THC is out of my capabilities.

But please keep me updated.

Thanks for the reply. For grblHAL, no coding is necessary. One of the great things about grblHAL is that it is Grbl with a lot of the Linux CNC capabilities and no dredging into library install hell. I have a breakout board for a 600 MHz Teensy 4.1 that supports up to 5 axes, 160 kHz step rate and hopefully soon it will have a THC plug in. Selling it on tindie. I am hoping the bang-bang approach works because that will allow very simple isolation. Analog isolation is trickier. Anyway, shopping for a plasma unit - looking closely at the herocut55i.

Could you share a link to your product’s tindie?

sure. [](grblHAL Unkit for Teensy 4.1)

[edit - not sure why that’s messed up but the link works.]

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I really appreciate your reply. Let me look at some options regarding my plasma table build. Depending what direction I plan to go I may wait until you plan to build your plasma table. Can you share some of your ideas regarding programing, rail system and equipment you plan to use.
I am a big fan of your projects. I truly appreciate your videos and tutorials.

Love the Lead 1010 Plasma. I actually purchased a Lead1010 to build into a router months ago. But ended up not having time to build it before we built our new house. Finally have some time and we are moved into the new house with a new workshop. I always wanted a CNC plasma and was planning it for a later project but now that you released this I think I would much prefer to have a CNC plasma over the CNC router at this point. Watched both of your videos. I did not seem to catch it and maybe you went over it but how do you control the torch on with the CUT50L? On the previous torch you showed how you used a wire tap. Did you have to do something similar with the CUT50L?

Hey man!

I did not seem to catch it and maybe you went over it but how do you control the torch on with the CUT50L? On the previous torch you showed how you used a wire tap. Did you have to do something similar with the CUT50L?

This is a great question and I did not cover this in the video, so thank you for giving me a chance to clear this up. On the panel of the CUT50L is an aviation connector that you would typically wire the button from the hand torch to. For CNC, you would wire the Blackbox relay to this connection. See picture below:

Best of luck with your Plasma build. Not trying to start a debate here, but plasma cutting >> routing


Thanks for the tip. In your video you mention consumables are cheap for Cut50L. When I search for IPT-40 I find a million choices on Amazon. Are you purchasing them from Amazon? Do you have a brand/seller you have found to be reputable and of decent quality?

Couple other things as I am working through the build. I see the files for the spring holder for the floating head but I do not see the link to buy the spring or any description of what spring length/rate you used. Also does the same hand torch holder work for the CUT50L as the cut50? I have both 3d printing and a converted G0704 Mill I can machine a mount from.

I honestly just bought the first search result from Amazon when I typed in IPT-40. I wouldn’t say they were great quality. I still run through them every hour or so, so perhaps you will have better luck from your retailer. These were the ones I purchased:

Note that there are standoff tips and drag tips sold for this torch. You will want the standoff tips.

No the hand torch holder from the cut50 does NOT work for the CUT50L. I need to update the website with some new info after my latest build. Do you want to email me at and I can quickly send the file to you?

Thanks again. Maybe I missed it but what size spring for the floating head? I can find something that fits in the pocket but curious on the spring length and rate you have used.