5/17/2007, Important note! Please be sure to read the comments that other users have left below. There's a LOT of good info there. Check out the links that folks have posted and study what they've said here and you will be able to build a cutter thats suited to your budget and the materials you have access to. There are a lot of alternatives listed or linked below for the frame, the transformer, the wire, the enclosure, and the heat control. Don't underestimate the power of comments! :)
Step 1: Parts
1. 12 foot, 16 guage extension cord, about $2 at Home Depot
2. 2 wooden yard sticks from the Home Depot paint department, $.97 each
3. 4 #10-24 x 1.25" machine screws with nuts, $1 at Home Depot
4. 10 #10 washers, $1 at Home Depot
5. About 12 feet of strong, low-stretch string. I used 200 lb dacron kite line.
6. A single-pole dimmer switch. About $10 at Home Depot.
7. A 25 volt, 2 amp transformer, $10.49 from Radio Shack.
8. An electric guitar string, about .10 - .16 size. I think around $1? You can get these individually at a music store or you can use either of the 2 smallest strings from a packaged set. You should keep a spare handy because they can burn out or break from too much tension.
9. A length of two conductor electrical wire with a regular plug on the end. I salvaged mine, but you could use another extention cord if you like.
10. A piece of wooden dowel or stiff plastic rod about one foot long (not shown). I used a bamboo skewer.
11. Optional: 4 regular-thickness CD cases. These are for the box that holds the transformer and dimmer switch, but you would be much better off with something like a "project box" from Radio Shack.