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"Hot Wire or Knife Foam Cutter" Topic

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703 hits since 4 Mar 2017
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Wargamer Dave04 Mar 2017 12:33 p.m. PST

I've heard Proxxon is a good brand. Does anyone have any other suggestions? I'll be cutting out a lot of hexes soon!

Thanks much!

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2017 2:57 p.m. PST

I have the proxxon table wire cutter and it is excellent. I also have a woodland scenics u shape cutter and it is quality as well. Did you back the hex jig kickstarter as well?

Wargamer Dave04 Mar 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

Yes! just got the jigs and want to test them out.

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP04 Mar 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

Lucky. I am still waiting

Toaster04 Mar 2017 3:20 p.m. PST

You could always connect a length of nichrome wire to an old cellphone charger and fit to a holder of your own construction. Don't forget to add a spring to maintain tension.


The timber was all scrap and old chargers are free so it's only the wire you have to pay for.

Mako1104 Mar 2017 9:11 p.m. PST

That's a brilliant idea!

Will it work with old laptop computer chargers too?

If so, how do you attach the wire to the charger – solder it in place, or wrap it around the little plug tip?

Toaster04 Mar 2017 10:14 p.m. PST

Any DC power supply should do nicely.
For attachement just cut the plug off and separate the two wires to reach either end of your cutter. Strip back some wire, make a loop in it and place that loop and a loop of nichrome wire between a pair of washers and screw to the mounting, repeat at the other end. Makes for easy replacement when the nichrome snaps.


Mako1105 Mar 2017 3:37 a.m. PST

Sounds great!

Thanks for the tips.

I need one of these, and the hobby budget is very limited, so this might just do the trick, until I can afford a commercial one. Heck, I guess with a little ingenuity, it might not be needed at all.

I'd like the ability to make angled cuts, as well as vertical ones, for slopes, etc., but I imagine I can do that by just making some additional attachment points for the wire on the arm of the unit, and/or modifying it so that it can be moved and then fixed into place with wingnuts. May have to give that a try.

Any good sources for buying the nichrome wire at a discount, or in quantity?

Hmmm, one other question too.

The AC/DC charger I have has one of those single-tipped, plugs, that basically looks like a hollow tube on the end, that you plug into a laptop PC, etc. (a metal pin on the laptop goes into the center of the tube, and the rest of the plug fits into the PC body/housing). There's metal on the outside of the hollow tube end, and presumably the same on the inside as well doesn't have a double cord that I can separate like the one you have in the photo. It just has a single, thicker cord.

If I cut off the end of the hollow tube/plug, will there be two sets of wires inside that I can then attach to either end of the Nichrome wire?

I imagine so, given how electrical circuits work, but I'm not an electrician, or computer tech/repair guy.

I don't want to trash the powerpack to experiment, if it isn't going to work.

abc wargamers Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2017 5:47 a.m. PST

Looks great, would be interested in the answers to Mako11's questions. Where does the 'tension spring' go?

Mako1105 Mar 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

I can answer that one.

It's located at the end of the arm, projecting over the table, for easy access. You can see it, if you zoom in on the photo.

Wargamer Dave05 Mar 2017 6:23 a.m. PST

Very clever well done! I think I will forgo electrocution and buy one from Amazon. LOL.

Mako1105 Mar 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

Oh, come on.

Do you want to live forever?

What could possibly go wrong?

Besides, it's only the 12 volt side of the powerpacks we're monkeying with, so a jolt from that might get your attention, but I doubt it'll stop your heart.


ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2017 12:00 p.m. PST

I wouldn't worry about a bit of jolting. I have the cheap C-battery-run foam cutter. I wired a resale shop transformer (4.5 volts I think) to it in order to not have to buy batteries. Worked pretty well. I've since mosty stopped using foam in terrain (more urban terrain from plastic toys now.) but It's there when I need it.

Resale shops are great for cheap transformers. I've got power supplies for a variety of guitar pedals and such for about 1-2 bucks each which is alot better than the $10 USD-15 the music store will charge you. I particularly like the grey ones that were made for panasonic phones and answering machines they seem to be made well enough to run for a very long time without getting hot.

Your table is brilliant!

Personal logo Waco Joe Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

Anyone else here cut their teeth on using a train transformer and some wire? Must have been around 10 or 12. Good times.

Toaster05 Mar 2017 12:29 p.m. PST

@abc, Wind the nichrome wire round one end of the spring and put the other end on to the screw with the wire from the power pack, sorry I was trying to answer the question in a hurry because the wife was serving dinner.

@Mako, I actually got the nichrome wire free as my son had a whole reel of it for his model rocketry hobby so I don't know a source but try any electronics hobby shop. Your other option for angled cuts is to make a spacer that holds the piece your cutting at an angle to the wire. Yes there will be two wires inside the cable if they are separately insulated then your fine but if it's coaxial then your stuffed, ask your friends if they have any chargers from extinct phones lying around (they all will) and grab the one with a obvious two wire ribbon as it's easy to separate.


Mako1105 Mar 2017 4:06 p.m. PST

Thanks for the tips, Robert.

I really appreciate it.



Mako1106 Mar 2017 6:24 a.m. PST

What I have, given the single cable, looks like it may be coax.

I did see a recommendation on Youtube to check thrift stores, to see if they have various powerpacks/chargers, so may have to do that. One guy got the needed power source for $1.00 USD, and you can see, it has the double wire coming out of it.

They also mentioned using an old model railroad transformer too, in order to control the heat of the wire, which seems like a good idea. Works well, if you don't want to fool with dimmer switches, etc., apparently.

Wargamer Dave06 Mar 2017 10:47 a.m. PST

So does anybody have any recommendations for off-the-shelf products?

Mako1106 Mar 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

The Proxxon is supposed to be pretty good.

Also saw on Youtube, that you can get the nichrome wire from dead hairdryers, as well as from the heating element of a clothes dryer. You then just need to straighten it out.

Wargamer Dave12 Mar 2017 9:33 a.m. PST

Proxxon sells wire on its own as well:


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