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Cutting and Gouging

Job knowledge 8:
Thermal Gouging
Thermal gouging is an essential part of welding fabrication. Used for rapid removal of
unwanted metal, the material is locally heated and molten metal ejected - usually by
blowing it away. Normal oxyfuel gas or arc processes can be used to produce rapid
melting and metal removal. However, to produce a groove of specific dimensions,
particularly regarding depth and width, the welder must exercise careful control of
the gouging operation. If this does not happen, an erratic and badly-serrated groove
will result.
Thermal processes, operations and metals which may be gouged or otherwise
Process operations Thermal
Primary Secondary
gas flame
Low carbon steels, carbon manganese steels (structural),
pressure vessel steels (carbon not over 0.35%), low alloy
steels (less than 5%Cr) cast iron (if preheated to 400-
450 deg.C)
Manual metal arc Gouging
Low carbon steels carbon manganese steels (structural),
pressure vessel steels, low alloy steels, stainless steels,
cast iron, nickel-based alloys
Air carbon arc Gouging
Low carbon steels carbon manganese steels (structural),
pressure vessel steels, low and high alloy steels, cast
iron, nickel-based alloys, copper and copper alloys,
copper/nickel alloys, aluminium
Plasma arc Gouging
Aluminium, stainless steels
Note: All processes are capable of cutting/severing operations. Preheat may or may not be required
on some metals prior to gouging
It should be emphasised that because gouging relies on molten metal being forcibly
ejected, often over quite large distances, the welder must take appropriate
precautions to protect himself, other workers and his equipment. Sensible
precautions include protective clothing for the welder, shielding inside a specially-
enclosed booth or screens, adequate fume extraction, and removal of all combustible
material from the immediate area.
Industrial applications
Thermal gouging was developed primarily for removal of metal from the reverse side
of welded joints, removal of tack welds, temporary welds, and weld imperfections.
Figure 1 illustrates the value of typical back-gouging applications carried out on arc
welded joints., while Fig. 2 shows imperfection removal in preparation for weld repair.

Fig.1 Typical back-gouging applications carried out on arc welded joints

Fig. 2 Imperfection removal in preparation for weld repair
The gouging process has proved to be so successful that it is used for a wide
spectrum of applications in engineering industries:
repair and maintenance of structures - bridges, earth-moving equipment,
mining machinery, railway rolling stock, ships, offshore rigs, piping and
storage tanks
removal of cracks and imperfections - blow holes and sand traps in both
ferrous and non-ferrous forgings and castings
preparation of plate edges for welding
removal of surplus metal - riser pads and fins on castings, excess weld bead
profiles, temporary backing strips, rivet washing and shaping operations,
demolition of welded and unwelded structures - site work
Thermal gouging is also suitable for efficient removal of temporary welded
attachments such as brackets, strongbacks, lifting lugs and redundant tack welds,
during various stages of fabrication and construction work.
Gouging processes
Gouging operations can be carried out using the following thermal processes:
oxyfuel gas flame
manual metal arc
air carbon arc
plasma arc

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This Job Knowledge article was originally published in Connect, May 1995. It has
been updated so the web page no longer reflects exactly the printed version.
Copyright 2004 TWI Ltd