Air Carbon Gouging

One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.

Choosing the right tool for the job is a great skill. It makes problem solving so much easier. You save money and become a hero; the possibilities are endless. Not all the right tools are associated with rechargeable batteries (e.g. Dad’s famous sayings).

Choosing the correct tool is dependent on time, place and availability. Bad selection of tools doesn’t have any restrictions and keeps our repair people busy: using the back of the cutting torch for a hammer.

Being in the welding business, means one of the jobs you’ll be doing is removing old welds, gouging out cracks, removing hard surfacing material, creating u-grooves for weld joint, cleaning and repairing castings and rough machining. And a decision will be made for what tool does this the best.

There are several good options for doing the above tasks. The Oxyfuel torch (OFC), the grinder (mechanical tools), the plasma torch or Carbon Arc Cutting with Air (CAC-A). This email is looking at why you might want to choose CAC-A over the other methods – and a couple of tips to make sure you have success with CAC-A.

Advantages over other Methods

  1. 1. It is quicker than mechanical method. 5 times faster than chipping.
  2. 2. The carbons rods are cheaper than Plasma gouging tips and nozzles
  3. 3. Low cost. If you have an existing constant current (CC) welding machine and air compressor than all you need to add is the gouging torch.
  4. 4. The learning curve is short. Your welder or welding operator can easily do the gouging or cutting. Depth of cut is easily controlled. In short time, you can become adept at gouging out bolts or nuts, etc.
  5. 5. OFC gouging works only on steel; CAC-A will work on any material that conducts electricity: stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron, etc.
  6. 6. The distortion is not as bad as OFC.
  7. 7. After the gouging, the surface is clean and smooth. You can usually begin welding or brazing.


Insuring Success with CAC-A 

Air Hose

When you are gouging, you’re not going to be able to avoid free carbons, from the gouging rod, clinging to the molten metal. But you can dispel the molten metal. The gouging torch is designed to shoot a violent blast of air to expel the molten metal. Because the airflow plays such a big part in the success of gouging, you need to make sure you have sufficient air.



Insufficient air can come from 2 areas. One, the air compressor isn’t delivering minimum airflow to the torch. Two, the inside diameter of the air hose is too small. For light duty the ID should be 1/4”; general purpose should be ID 3/8”; and auto gouging torches minimum ½”.

Welding Machine

The machine needs to be CC (constant current) Machine should have minimum 60V Open Arc Circuit. Don’t crank the machine to 100% effort. Gouging can be hard on your welding machine. Think of it as a car hauling a trailer uphill.

If you want to discuss more about gouging (finding a better solution, what size of carbon rods or safety issues with CAC-A) feel free to give us a call.




Ron-Son’s Torch

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