Step by step guide to build a small handy foam cutter

First let me list the tools and materials needed:

  • Power Supply: for this handy cutter you would need a small power supply capable of outputting around 10V . In my case I’ve used a power supply recovered from an old PC. I will be adding a link/ new post that shows how to properly connect the wires for that.
  • PVC Pipes: for bigger cutters you will have to choose bigger/thicker border pipes to reduce the flex. Make sure you have 2 x 90 degree HUB
  • Electrical Wires.
  • 2 x Alligator clips.
  • Nichrome Wire.

Introduction:

In this post, i will describe a quick and easy way to build the foam cutter without going into advanced details and specs. Will be posting soon other more advanced and bigger cutters using other techniques and platforms.

Some of the basic items needed

Step 1: Cut the Parts and drill holes.

First by deciding how big you want your cutter to be and cut 2 side pipes with the same length; and a middle part that determines how wide you want the cutter to be. Keep in mind that you want to achieve a bow-like structure similar to the one in the left picture.

Second, you have to drill a hole in 1 of the 90 degree HUB, enough to fit both wires you are using (pic. 90 degree HUB).

Also drill a hole in each of the side parts at around 1.5 inch below the top to fit just 1 of your electric wires as seen in the picture “Side Parts”.

Step 2: Wiring

Pass the wires as shown in the picture, this will allow you to remove any external wiring. Having the wires on one of the 90 degree HUB will help you handle the bow without worrying about unstrapped wires.

Step 3: Soldering Alligator clips and plug

In this step you need to solder the 2 alligator clips as shown in the below picture, try to keep it as close a possible to the shaft drilled in the side pipe. 

On the other end of the device, solder the connector of your choice for easier plugging to the power supply. In my case I’ve chosen the deans plug because i simply have a lot of it that i don’t actually use on my batteries.

If you are interested in some more details about soldering the deans connector, write a comment down below.

Alligator clips
Deans connector

Step 4: Install the Nichrome Wire

NiChrome wire is composed of Nickel & Chromium with a resistance ratio calculated based on the length and diameter of the wire. The one i used is 32 AWG. Without going into boring details, the thinner the wire is, the less voltage it needs to heat up. However thin wires could snap if the voltage is high.

As seen in the picture, drill a hole in 1 of the side parts right where the tip of the alligator clip ends. (Shown in picture below). on the other side you can either make a similar hole or cut a straight line from the top to slide the wire and whatever you used as stopper, in my case i used 2 small pieces or BBQ skewers.

Side 1
Side 2

Next thing to do is to fix the wire from one side and, then slip the wire on the other side.  Making sure the bow is more than tight,the reason is that the wire will loosen when heated.

And loose wire will not give you a clean cut or a straight line cut, so make sure to tighten the wire as much as possible.

Step 5: Connect and start cutting

The final step is to connect the alligators clips to the wire as the picture shows and the plug to the power supply. 

*** Be careful the wire will heat up very fast between the alligators clips and turn red.

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