Step 1: The HotWire Cutter
- A short (about 6" long x 1.5" x 1.5") piece of wood
- A long (about 18" long x 1.5" x 1.5")piece of wood
- A plywood base (about 1' x 2')
- Thin craft wire (24-gauge or smaller, I think)
- Electrical wire
- Rubber feet
- 2 small eyelet screws
- Power supply (mine is 12VDC, 1.2A)
Step 2: Build the Frame
Step 3: Adding the Small Components
Step 4: Electrical Wiring
The temporary way is, well, temporary. First, get a small length of thickish multi-strand wire. Strip about 3/8" off one side and 1/4" off the other. Bend the longer end up (zig-zag) and shove it into the power connector of your power supply. Attach one alligator clip to the wire from the inside, and another to the outside connection. One alligator clip will go on one eyelet, and another on the other. The next step is to try out you cutter.
Step 5: Testing
Have a small piece of foam ready to test. When you first use the hotwire, it is likely that it will smoke a bit. This is normal, as the heat is just burning off whatever is on the wire. However, if it smokes a lot, turn it off and check things out.
-My cutter doesn't cut; Hook up a multimeter to both the leads. If there's no voltage going through the wires, check your electrical connections. If there is voltage, your power supply may be too weak. Get one with more amperage.
-The wire gets red-hot when I turn it on; This happened to me. Your power supply is likely supplying too much amperage to the wire. If you leave it like it is, it will not cut as precisely as a lower-powered unit would.
If everything works, congratulations! You are now ready to make stuff. Next up: lettering your tombstone-in-progress!
Step 6: Lettering Your 'stone
- Foam tombstone in progress
- A computer with a word-processing capabilities (very hard to find)
- A printer with paper
- A marker for stenciling
- Craft knife
- A hot glue gun (no glue necessary)
To start off, you'll need to create an epitaph (the lettering), preferably on the computer, and scale it to fit your styrofoam tombstone. Then, use the printout as a stencil and draw the lettering onto the foam. I've already used the hotwire cutter to cut the shape of this one.
Next, plug in your hot glue gun and let it warm up. Then press the metal tip of the gun into the spaces where you want the letters to be, following their paths. The deeper you press, the deeper and wider the letters will be. Additionally, different hot glue guns have different angled tips, and will therefore give different results. When lettering, go slowly and evenly. After you have finished lettering, go ahead and pick off the stringy bits of melted foam left by the glue gun. Now all you have to do is paint your tombstone!
Step 7: Painting
Detailing time! There are thousands of ways to bring a little more life into these tombstones. Here, I speckled black and white paint using an old toothbrush (you know, when you pull back on the bristles with your thumb)...
On Baron's tombstone, I put small blobs of black paint at the top, below the letters, etc., and wiped it down with a paper towel. Straight, downward strokes are key.
Horray! You've finished your tombstone! To show it off, you can hot glue a PVC pipe section to the back and stab a stake into the ground (or something similar). Happy haunting!