Have you ever wanted to sculpt something out of ice? Well here is an easy way to do it that doesn't require a chainsaw. In this project, I am going to show you how to make a "hot wire ice cutter."

The design for this project is very similar to other types of hot wire cutters. Electricity is sent through a piece of Nichrome wire. This heats the wire above the melting temperature of the material that you are working with. The wire can then be used to "cut" the material by melting it along a narrow line.

Because ice sculptures are often larger and more difficult to handle, I designed my cutter to be handheld rather than stationary on a table. I based my design largely on the "Hot Wire Foam Cutter" by Instructables user FlyWoodKB. I made a few modifications to make it safer and easier to use with ice.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Here is a video walkthrough of the project.

curious <br>is it possible to lay concrete then lay some nichrome on top of it then more concrete. my idea is to turn nichrome on just a little to keep it at a temp above freezing therefore eliminating snow or ice from accumulating.
It is possible. They sell commercial models that do just that. But you would need a lot of power to keep a sidewalk dry.
<p>This is cutting technology! Loved the project!</p>
<p>This may work fine on &quot;white ice&quot; as shown, but be careful on clear ice, the white colored ice is simply just below 32 degrees F 0 degrees C, but clear ice is much colder, and you may find the ice refreezing as the wire works its way through the block you are cutting, In fact a common science experiment for science fairs is to take two heavy weights and suspend them on opposite ends of a thin piece of steel wire over a block of clear ice, and let them cut through the ice, as the block freezes back into one solid piece behind the wire. the question at hand is will the nichrome wire get hot enough with your selected power source, to move through the solid block of clear ice fast enough to finish before the temperature of the ice causes it to freeze back together again?</p>
<p>I made a similar cutter for styrofoam and foam rubber. I used 120v and an electric iron in series as a rheostat to regulate amperage. I know, it's dangerous, but it works great as long as you don't touch the wire. Most things I use are dangerous.</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>I did the same thing to cut polystyrene</p><p>I used a 12V AC transformer with dimmer</p><p>Works great</p>
<p>Thank you for including the math needed to match up the wire and wire length with the power supply.</p>
<p>These are also ideal for cutting plastic rope like nylon, kevlar, paracord, etc. No need to melt the ends afterward to stop fraying.</p>
i was just about to put this together with steel wire. Then i read that steel is 56 times more conductive.
<p>When I was a child I made a similar cutter in a minor scale for cutting styrofoam</p>
<p>Good pictures and a well written instruction! </p>
<p>oh very good Applications idea it mack very easy</p>
<p>Thanks for the clear pictures! Looks great!</p>
<p>I was actually wondering yesterday how does one connect nichrome or kanthal wire to power - given that it can heat up a lot, can't it melt the connection points if, say, copper wire is used?</p>
You have to be using a lot of power to melt copper wiring. Copper has a very low resistance and therefore doesn't heat up very much by comparison. But you should always use thick wire and large connectors when working with any high current circuit.
<p>It's not about the current, but rather the nichrome heating up at the connection with power supplying wire/connector/you name it, or is that negligible and heat dissipates through wire which supplies power if a longer wire is used?</p>
<p>In order to melt copper, you have to get it much hotter than anything that you could get out of a regular DC power supply. You would need a welder to get that much heat.</p>
<p>Good to know. I'm looking more towards a DIY kiln or something along the lines.</p>
<p>Wow this is awesome that you made your own ice cutter out of materials you can find around the house</p>
<p>Do you think this would cut foam core? (The kind that come in 8 ft sheets for insulation)</p>
<p>Yes. It can cut foam just like a regular &quot;Hot Wire Foam Cutter&quot;</p>
<p>You might be able to use it to cut foam rubber, Styrofoam, and other materials. Just be careful, the wire gets HOT, and the power supply might too if the load isn't high enough for it.</p>
<p>Very interesting idea! </p>

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
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