Hot wire foam cutters

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by mike franks, Dec 11, 2001.

  1. mike franks

    mike franks New Member

    Can anyone tell me how to make a hot wire foam cutter? I'm too cheap to give thirty dollars for one and not use it much. I tried a soldering iron with removable tip, bending a frame and using thin electrical i found laying the shop, but the wire would not get hot enough.
  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Hey Mike -
    I haven't come up with a real need for one, home-made or store-bought, myself, but I know there's directions out there in cyberspace somewhere - have you tried using google or something to search? I remember seeing one, it involved nichrome wire and some kind of transformer, as I recall.
    Bill K
  3. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    Mike, What kind of soldering gun do you have? Mine is 100/140w and 1.2 amps. I took the point out, made a shape out of 12 ga. wire, and it went like ahot knife thru butter. The biggest trouble is that you have to get those nuts off, and onto the wire before you bend it. Make sure thet are tight and it will walk right thru it.

  4. mike franks

    mike franks New Member

    foam cutter

    The soldering iron I have is a standard soldering iron no trigger, single point. Kinda like a wood burning iron. shamus explained a way to do it. I just gotta find the wire. I beleive if I had a soldering gun that was trigger operated that would work. How bout a propane torch and a steak knife? :D
  5. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    Mike, I don't think that kind will work. If it a fair sized one, it might, but a small one, I doubt. The trigger kind has the two end seperated. What you might try, is, get a ga. wire, solid, not stranded. I think the single point is held in with a screw. Take the point out, and use a wire small enough for the two ends to fit in, tighten the screw, leaving a loop about the size of a penny, or nickle. That may, or may not work. I have the trigger kind. One thing, The point you took out is heavy, or solid. This wire is much smaller, it may or may not get real hot. Experiment, but be very carefull.

  6. YakkoWarner

    YakkoWarner Member

    I'm not sure about wire foam cutters, but most soldering irons work on the principle that electrical resistance creates heat. Be very careful about modifying any electrical devices. Also, if you add a smaller heated component (wire vs. point), it will heat much faster and become hotter.

    Your best bet is to get a plan from someone you trust or go in with a couple of friends and share the darn thing.
  7. billk

    billk Active Member

    Using the soldering iron idea shouldn't introduce any electrical problems. As I understand it, the iron gets hot because of its internal heating element, and the wire just replaces what would be the tip of the iron, so the heat is transferred to it.
    By the way, I have a copy of an article from somewhere on how to make your own hot wire foam cutter. Anybody wants it, send your Email address to me at Caveat: I haven't tried this!

    Here's the rather imposing list of ingredients from the article:
    1) 25ft. Grounded extension cord.
    2) Square double electrical switch boxes (handy box type).
    1) box cover with a switch and receptacle hole.
    1) Standard wall receptacle.
    1) Grounded plug.
    1) Wall dimmer switch (push on/off, turn for brightness).
    1) Furnace transformer 24volt (20VA. or better power) Call the furnace/ air conditioner guys they will have good used units from furnaces they replaced.
    1) Nichrome wire, available at you Hobbystore.
    1) 1/16 and 3/32 model airplane wheel collars (hobby store).
    1) 10ft length of lamp cord.
    1) Incandescant nightlight with manual switch.
    1) 12x12 board to mount your project on.
    1) Basic shop supplies (Cutter, knife, tape etc.)
  8. guppyman

    guppyman Member

    I bought a battery operated wire foam cutter for about $4 at a crafts store. Runs on 2 D cells. Look in the floral department. It cut styrofoam like it was butter.
  9. Soonerfan

    Soonerfan New Member

    I saw one of those battery operated foam cutters today for about $6. Ran current through a wire and looked almost like a flashlight body. How long does it last on battery power? And will it cut through 1/2" foam insulation (blue styrofoam) I wonder? For $6, it might be worth trying.
  10. guppyman

    guppyman Member

    I'm not sure how long it will last.... I haven't killed the batteries yet. They say... even when they appear to die... take em out for a day or so and pop em back in and they should last a while longer.

    Not sure about the insulation either. I cut the Woodland Scenics profile boards with it. No problem there... even when I ran into the hardened hot glue joints.

    As I'm not sure of anything for you.... I'm not sure why I responded. :D
  11. mike franks

    mike franks New Member

    I bought one the other day at home depot. It works pretty good, sometimes it acted the batteries were dead, but I would move the on/off button and off we go. I was carving that 2'' pink foam it done good

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