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Old 06-03-2016, 16:28   #1
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Hot knife

Getting ready to do some cushion work and looking for some suggestions on a hot knife. Commercial or home brew is fine.
Thanks in advance for everyone's' help.
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Old 06-03-2016, 16:52   #2
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Re: Hot knife

I built one when I was about 14 yrs old. I used a very thin piece of nichrome wire, a doorbell transformer, a 10' extension cord, a 30" piece of 1/2" x 1/8" bar stock, a few screws and a few pieces of wood.

I cut the socket end off the extension cord and wired it up to the primary side of the transformer with a light switch. I built a platform out of some plywood and 2x4s and screwed the transformer to the underside and the switch to the side. I ran one wire from the secondary to a short screw on the underside of the platform near the center and drilled a very small hole in the center. I attached the nichrome wire to the same screw and brought it up through the hole.

At the rear of the platform, I attached the 1/2"x1/8" bar stock to the underside of the platform with a couple of screws, one of which had a wire attached to it going to the other side of the secondary. I drilled a small hole in the other end of the bar stock and bent it over so it was about 10" or 12" above the top surface of the platform and the end was directly over the hole in the center. I attached the short piece of nichrome wire to the bar stock so it was straight up, and tight.

I fired it up and adjusted the heat by lengthening or shortening the length of the nichrome wire by simply wrapping it around the end of the bar stock. It worked great for cutting foam, styrofoam, etc until the fire marshall came by and confiscated it from my art class because it did not have a UL certification.

Most foam shops use a Bosch cutter with twin blades, like a long, two bladed jigsaw. If you have an electric carving knife, you might be able to get similar results from it.

The last time I ordered foam, they cut all of the intricate pieces for me, at no extra charge.
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Old 06-03-2016, 16:59   #3
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Re: Hot knife

http://www.searsoutlet.com/®-Portaso...27&mode=seeAll

These butane tools are quite useful, not only for hot knife, but soldering and doing heat shrink as well. I got almost 10 years out of my first one before in wore out. No electricity needed.

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Old 06-03-2016, 18:31   #4
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Re: Hot knife

Love this one with the R-blade.
http://www.sailrite.com/Engel-Hotknife
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Old 06-03-2016, 18:56   #5
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Re: Hot knife

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Love this one with the R-blade.
http://www.sailrite.com/Engel-Hotknife

$6 for a thumb screw?

Screw is the right word.
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Old 06-03-2016, 19:40   #6
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Re: Hot knife

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$6 for a thumb screw?

Screw is the right word.

No, this is the gold standard and every canvas maker uses this hot knife.
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Old 07-03-2016, 00:19   #7
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Re: Hot knife

I have the Engel and love it.


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Old 07-03-2016, 03:00   #8
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Re: Hot knife

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Love this one with the R-blade.
Engel Hotknife 110 Volt
Looking at the Sailrite videos where this gets used a LOT, I think this is well worth the money, and is on my shopping list.
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Old 07-03-2016, 03:12   #9
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Re: Hot knife

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No, this is the gold standard and every canvas maker uses this hot knife.

Comment was aimed not at the knife but the cost of replacement screw. $6 seemed ridiculous.

A search for prices of thumb screws finds me, once more, FOS.

$18.80

https://www.zoro.com/value-brand-thu...single_sku_b=T
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:43   #10
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Re: Hot knife

I think I might be confused. The OP mentioned cushions, not sails. The devices I mentioned were for cutting foam or other thick materials, not fabric or canvas, but I suppose it would still work fine for that.
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:45   #11
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Re: Hot knife

Built a many a model airplane as a kid, what become popular at one time was foam cored wings.
We made very acceptable hot wire cutters with nichrome wire and model train transformers, you want something adjustable so the temp of the wire can be adjusted, so find something like a train transformer so current can be adjusted.


Now that I think for a sec, buy a power supply that can both be used as battery charger in case you ever decide to do the cycle / equalize thing and use it to power your hot knife too.
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:14   #12
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Re: Hot knife

For cutting Sunbrella and similar fabrics, I rummaged around and found the old high power Weller soldering gun I bought a few years earlier (similar to this... Weller 8200 Universal Soldering Gun | eBay) ordered a curved cutting element from Sailrite (this one...R Blade for Engel Hotknife) to replace the heating element...which was a simple matter of loosening the two screws on the gun and removing the soldering (pointed) element and installing the Engel (curved knife) element and re-tightening the screws.

Works great.

For cutting foam, I use an electric knife.
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:22   #13
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Re: Hot knife

I bought one from Home Depot or Lowe's, can't remember... for like $40 and it actually has worked great for trimming lines, etc.
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:48   #14
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Re: Hot knife

Cutting foam => electric carving knife.


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Old 07-03-2016, 06:52   #15
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Re: Hot knife

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Originally Posted by Outlaw7 View Post
Getting ready to do some cushion work and looking for some suggestions on a hot knife. Commercial or home brew is fine.
Thanks in advance for everyone's' help.
I have an Engel hot knife with an R blade that I got from Sailrite. They are not cheap but they work fantastic and I have had mine for close to 20 years. I not only use it to cut Sunbrella when I do canvas/upholstery work, but we also use it for cutting line. Highly recommend spending the money if you think you will have long term use for it.

Engel Hotknife 110 Volt
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