A fly-by look at one tool in the hobby-space – what it’s for and why it’s good.
This time: the Proxxon Thermocut Hot Wire Cutter
Got foam that needs cutting? Want to make a large amount of terrain, very quickly? You might consider a hot wire cutter!
The elephant in the room, is this an expensive tool? Yes, it’s not cheap, about as expensive as a larger Games Workshop kit, but I will tell you now, if you have anything beyond a passing interest in terrain building: you want this in your life*. With no exaggeration, you will save hours on every single project you do, not to mention fewer mistakes and much fewer hobby knife-blades. I don’t know how many knife-blades you’d need to save to argue it’s a financial saving, but if you have attached any monetary value to your time, you will make that back in an afternoon.
*Okay, if you don’t work in foam, you don’t want this.
Its ability to cut regular thicknesses of foam, including very thin sections, makes building projects so much easier and allows you to work off a flat surface, either for staying level or as a basis to carve items off.
If I had a complaint about the Proxxon it’s that the guide it comes with isn’t worth even thinking about, I put mine to one side and barring a few occasional angled cuts, it never even sees the machine. I don’t want to be down on the in the box guide, it’s got a secure locking screw and angle set but I just find it too lightweight to be good for anything I do. I made my own guide from scrap wood and it’s what I use for nearly everything I cut.
The proxxon is also good for freehand shapes though I haven’t personally gotten much practice with that but I do occasionally use it to shape bases of cliffsides.
Can you make your own and/or buy cheaper? Yes, but I think for any saving you make you’re losing a lot of ease of use and every cheaper cutter I’ve tried has been barely usable.
Proxxon Thermocut – Chef kiss.
Disclaimer: I’ve never hurt myself with mine but this is a tool, make sure you are comfortable and competent to use this kind of thing. Don’t just copy people on the internet.