Hot Wire Cutter

While building my model SpeedTwin ST2 I needed to neatly cut some foam. Since I had a bunch of 6mm laser safe ply available and needed to cut some other bits the next day I decided to design my own hot wire cutter and cut the parts out at the same time.

Hot wire in CAD

The cutter is designed to be built around some 1/2inch spruce engine bearer stock that I had lying around. Any roughly 1/2inch square section wood will work so long as it is stiff enough.


Most of the parts are designed to be built from 6mm ply, with a few 3mm bits. 6mm, 3mm and 2mm bolts are used to attach the fittings to the wood. Some nichrome wire is used as the heating element, with some stiff wire on the other side to tension the cutting wire. I added some springs to help maintain the tension as the wire stretches. These would work better on the other side to that shown in the photos to increase the amount of wire available for cutting.

Hotwire results

I've found lots of articles online about DIY hot wire cutters that suggest using a transformer connected directly to mains, with no current limiting or anything. DO NOT DO THIS. Those people are idiots (and they're most likely in a country with a lower mains voltage). I've been running my hot wire from a lab power supply in current limited mode and it works nicely and gives excellent control over the temperature of the wire.

I've uploaded the DraftSight files to my GitHub account for anyone who is interested in them, but please bear in mind the finished product could be dangerous and I take no responsibility for what you do with it.