I do a lot of work with styrofoam, and like to think of new ways to handle the foam easily and efficiently. To that end, I wanted to make a sculpting tool to add details to various styrofoam projects. Since I had several hotwire machines, the next step was to make a cutter that could be hand held, used like a pencil or paint brush, not get too hot to hold, and be able to shape the material as wanted. Hence the tool presented here.
Step 1: Materials Needed
To make my cutter, I assembled wire of various types, some electrical wire of course, and a piece of nichrome wire to use as the cutter itself. I needed a dowel to be the "pencil" or wand itself, and to this I used small screws to make "posts" where the supply wires could be attached. Miscellaneous hand tools are needed such as wire cutter, screw driver, needle nose pliers, etc. Also, some alligator clips are used to connect wires for testing and use.
Step 2: Make Instrument
Wire cutter, the nichrome piece, is attached to the end of the dowel with two short screws. The dowel is one half inch, so screws need to be less than this. So the nichrome is attached, and two supply wires are also hooked to the screws, then the screws are tightened, and essentially, the cutter is complete.
Step 3: Find a Power Supply
For this small of a cutter, I found that just about any power supply from other applications can be used. I find them at garage sales, thrift shops, or have some left over from other uses. Please see pictures, and note power parameters...usually, I want to use something in the 6 to 12 volt range, with outputs of around 1000 to 1500ma. One is even less, and is just a little slower due to less heat generated.