Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The death of an old friend

      I will readily admit it; I have slagged off a load of blue foam in the last couple of weeks with my trusty second-hand foam cutter, pushing myself and it to the limit. So when it began to get very hot whilst running(uncomfortable to touch actually) and the tip wasn't heating properly I felt that I was partly to blame. Even though I had only paid a dollar for it at a garage sale it had become like a part of my modelling family, I was worried. I decided to let it have a few days off.

      Today I tried to fire it up, nothing.......cold as your ex-girlfriend's heart. I have never been unable to burn myself with this gadget before, now, it was like ice. Sadness, bordering upon sorrow, filled me as I looked at the piles of blue board that lined the workshop walls as I sat there with an icy foam cutter.

the poor beast...... was so overheated that it had started to melt the handle.......

....inside all appeared on order.........

           So here I am, looking for a hot-wire cutter that can justify the cost. Garage-sale season doesn't start for another two months, and what are the odds of finding a beauty like this one. Notice that it is assembled using thirteen real screws and has solid bronze blocks to hold the resistor wire, and silver solder on the switch leads. That sort of quality you just don't see any more.

        If anybody knows a good source for a similar bit of kit please post in the comments section, I will be mighty obliged if you can point me toward a replacement.


  1. Anton, This looks to be rather basic and should therefore be repairable! The hardest bit would be finding another switch if that has crapped out. Check all the screws are tight. The heat is probably caused by high resistance that could come from a loose connection.

  2. It is the switch, I put a tester on it and no juice is going through.

  3. Solution:
    Step 1: Buy a soldering iron
    Step 2: Modify the tip for foam cutting
    Step 3: ??????
    Step 4: Profit

  4. Somebody beat you to the Step 4 bit when they invented the "hot knife"

    Dan, I have a "hot knife" essentially a soldering iron with the end of an X-Acto bult on, the advantage of a foam cutter is that it is hot over the entire length, the heat source in the hot knife is in the handle and the tip is cooler.

    I need a tiny 1.1V switch to replace the one that is in there.

    Would it be electrically unsafe to just wire it across the switch and make the unit "ON" all the time. I can always unplug it when I am not using it.

    1. I am aware of the hot knife, my point was you can make a wire cutter from a soldering iron if you were so inclined. A google search just turned up near a dozen instructions on how to do exactly that (basically it boils down to putting a piece of shaped coat hanger in the end and calling it a day).

      On your second point,I don't see why would be any less safe than most glue guns which are "always on" when plugged in.

  5. That is exactly what I would do. It had to be the switch, all the rest looks good in the photos!

  6. Yes! As long as the connections are tight and the cover is back on properly.

    1. Wellllll Then, I am off to the laboratory to see if I can )like Frankenstein) bring this thing back to life.....BWAHAHAHAHA!! (my very best mad-scientist laugh)