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Trying to line tools I will need to carve foam for mountains a scenery in general. Anyone have any reviews or insights on the hot wire foam cutters I see online? Thanks in advance on any suggestions or tips!

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I use a keyhole saw or pen knife to cut the foam. Then I use a wood rasp and/or 60 grit sandpaper to shape and smooth the contour. I use a table saw when I want a nice straight line (to make coal loads), but you need to be VERY careful with the table saw. The sandpaper, rasp and saws make a mess, but that’s why I have a shop vac. I once tried a rope cutting tip in my soldering gun, but that left the surface too crusty.

Martin t posted this thread where he used a wire and battery charger. Seemed to work well. About 6 minutes in is where he uses the home made foam cutter.

https://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=178836
 

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I don't read the reviews, but from personal experience [I made one or two], I would recommend a heat adjustment or current control [to adjust it to where you feel comfortable], and a bench or table mount with a fence that's adjustable ... for most useage NOT a handheld as it's hard to hold it steady when handheld ..
 

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Trying to line tools I will need to carve foam for mountains a scenery in general. Anyone have any reviews or insights on the hot wire foam cutters I see online? Thanks in advance on any suggestions or tips!

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I am not a big fan of hot wire cutters since they give off toxic fumes.

I've always done just fine with the hand powered onces: saws, serrated knives, rasps, and sanding blocks. That would be my recommendation. They're cheaper and more versatile as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am not a big fan of hot wire cutters since they give off toxic fumes.



I've always done just fine with the hand powered onces: saws, serrated knives, rasps, and sanding blocks. That would be my recommendation. They're cheaper and more versatile as well.
Good points...money probably can be used for other purposes...thanks!

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the fumes -probably- are toxic, and -probably- so is the dust ...
i would rather have a bit of fumes , rather than dust several times, and again when it goes through the vacumn cleaner, that is if you get it all ..
saws, serrated knives, rasps aren't exactly free either .

in the end, to each their own ..
 

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the fumes -probably- are toxic, and -probably- so is the dust ...
i would rather have a bit of fumes , rather than dust several times, and again when it goes through the vacumn cleaner, that is if you get it all ..
saws, serrated knives, rasps aren't exactly free either .

in the end, to each their own ..
Word. Solder fumes are toxic, too. Do we all have fume hoods? Likely not.

Just don't huff the fumes, unless you're into that.
 

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Word. Solder fumes are toxic, too. Do we all have fume hoods? Likely not.



Just don't huff the fumes, unless you're into that.
All good points...trade offs any way you look at it.

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Word. Solder fumes are toxic, too. Do we all have fume hoods? Likely not.

Just don't huff the fumes, unless you're into that.
I'm pretty sure that the fumes from smoke fluid are not great to breathe either. And yet, we continue to use the stuff - many drops at a time, in multiple locomotives at the same time, in a space that doesn't have great ventilation.
 

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I bought spur of the moment I just can't wait to try it a d-cell powered foam cutter from one of the big hobby stores. Well it wasn't even wired up right. So I took the nicron I think it's called wire and strung it between two chop sticks, attaching the ends to alligator clips that went one of my DC transformers... And low and behold I could cut foam. So it was all a bit of hack just to see sort of thing. It does create some wisps of smoke. I moved some pieces outside but this isn't going to always be an option. So then I bought a woodland scenics hot wire cutter. I have not used it but put it together and heated up the element to verify it functions. I would say that it seems a small step from the chop sticks even. It seems like one needs not just a cutter with a depth of a few inches and straight lines ... even if it can be angled but much larger cut options, shaped cutterd, gougers and so on. And possibly a respirator.
I've wondered whether mechanical tools as previously described are not on the whole better less the mess.
I think about surf board makers which I think start with a foam core. Somehow I have an image of a guy standing over a foam core sanding away in a bunny suit with a respirator or filter on his face... Or maybe that's my imagination.
 
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