Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cutting Foam Hills - Part I

So I got daring and purchased a bunch of foam board so that I can start building hill terrain.  Here's what I've  been discovering and maybe this might help others.


  1. I can purchase white Styrofoam boards in 24-inch by 48-inch sections for about $5.00 USD each at Home Depot.  I decided to purchase both 1-inch and 2-inch thickness boards.
  2. Apparently it is a lot harder to cut boards this thick compared to the 0.5-inch pink expanded polystyrene that I had been using. 
  3. Therefore I intend to use a hot-knife.  I chose a piece of scrap white-foam from my last gig.
  4. My first attempt was to rig up my 25-watt Weller soldering iron with a 8-awg copper wire.  This doesn't not get hot enough as you can see in the pics below.
  5. My second attempt is that I purchased a 140-watt Weller soldering gun.  I replaced the filament with 12-awg copper wire.  The filaments are fixed into position with screws.  This worked out well.
  6. Next time I'll start actually do something more interesting.

This is some thick board!
I had thought this was a bright idea.  Nope.
Not enough heat generated.
The result of poor planning is sloppy work.
Notice the melted plastic everywhere on the
copper bit that I used.  Not good.
Attempt #2.  More Pow-wa!  140 watts of danger!
The old filament is at the top.  I created the
one at the bottom by shaping 12-awg solid
copper wire.  It's about 3-inches long.
And the result is satisfactory!  That piece is about
1.25-inch in thickness.  I'm happy.