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I need to cut some of that red/blue foam from Home Depot/Lowes. A nice hot knife, like the 6 inch ones are $200. I guess if that is what it cost then so be it, but is there a cheaper one that is good? I heard the Harbor Freight ones suck bad.
 

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I made a hot wire cutter from pvc some nichrome wire and a 12v wall wart for under ten bucks. There are a lot of tutorials on you tube. Works amazing on insulation foam
 

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Happen to remember what gauge you bought? Is there any advantage going small diameter over large?
 

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Happen to remember what gauge you bought? Is there any advantage going small diameter over large?
larger diameter nichrome is more durable, but requires a larger current supply ... everything is a compromise & everything will be determined by the application ... experimentation is key ... and also, be patient with how fast you push the wire through the foam so that it stands a better chance of not breaking

i know that i didn't specifically answer your question, so sorry about that, but there is no "one size fits all"

amk
 

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Discussion Starter #7
larger diameter nichrome is more durable, but requires a larger current supply ... everything is a compromise & everything will be determined by the application ... experimentation is key ... and also, be patient with how fast you push the wire through the foam so that it stands a better chance of not breaking

i know that i didn't specifically answer your question, so sorry about that, but there is no "one size fits all"

amk

No, I totally get what you are saying. One thing I do have are plenty of supplies, I rarely throw them away.
 

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I don't remember the guage sorry. I got it at a local electronics shop. I do know a 12v 2a power supply was plenty
 

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I got a cheap hot wire set from Amazon (aka - evil empire). It came with a couple sticks (diameter of a pencil lead) and a harp-thing that held wire. It worked pretty well - on foam. It won't cut PVC (it will, but the PVC heals itself before you can get all the way thru, very annoying). I think it was $30 - $60, not a lot. It had an LED on the handle to tell you when it was on.
 

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I need to cut some of that red/blue foam from Home Depot/Lowes. A nice hot knife, like the 6 inch ones are $200. I guess if that is what it cost then so be it, but is there a cheaper one that is good? I heard the Harbor Freight ones suck bad.
I don't use a hot knife at all. I've seen people suggest jigsaws and they're all right, but to be able to carve foam (like you can with a hot knife) I use an electric turkey carver. They're less than $20 on Amazon and some of them even advertise cutting craft foam as one of their recommended uses ;-)
 

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Is there any advantage going small diameter over large?
With a smaller diameter wire, there is less foam that has to be melted. Also, you need more amperage capability with heavy gauges, and those tend to be harder to get from a junk pile, and are more expensive to buy. So, I prefer a smaller wire.

It is important to get a power supply that can provide the amperage you need. It is OK to have more amperage than you need, but not less. The Link from Oak Lane Cemetery is a fantastic resource to figure that out.

If you happend to have a soldering gun (used for heavy-duty soldering) it is posible to simply replace the soldering tip with a length of coat-hanger wire. Where you connect to the soldering gun, you will need to remove the clear coating or vinyl that is on the wire, to make good electrical contact. This makes a hot wire that you can form into various shapes. The main weakness is that the wire is farily thick, so it cuts slowly. I've recently realized that the pop-open car window shades have a flat wire in them. This type of wire may make a thinner version. I haven't tried that yet.

-Joe
 

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I have a Harbor Freight hot knife, and I use it a lot. Unfortunately I have not used it for foam so this may not be much help for your particular circumstance. I do know they were out of stock for a while because there was an issue with them. I would recommend picking one up and trying it out, it shows they were made for cutting foam. If not, return it. For $20 I don't think you can go wrong.
 

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I need to cut some of that red/blue foam from Home Depot/Lowes. A nice hot knife, like the 6 inch ones are $200. I guess if that is what it cost then so be it, but is there a cheaper one that is good? I heard the Harbor Freight ones suck bad.
We use the soft material jig saw blade from Bosch. We bought the 4" fisrt, but I think my husband went back and bought a longer one.
 

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I use an antique train transformer and stainless steel picture hanger wire (I just buy the stranded stuff at Home Depot and unwrap a length). Haven't had any issues and works like a charm.
 
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