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Makezine_COTM_Transformers-BadgeSure, you can buy a foam cutter, but wouldn’t it be much more satisfying to build your own? MAKE author Bob Knetzger–who wrote this great Desktop Foundry project, shows how to built a foam-cutting rig with a length of nichrome wire (similar to the elements you gave in your toaster) and a model train transformer.

It turns out a transformer is ideal for controlling the hot wire. Not only does it deliver the amps you need (divide the volts by the nichrome wire’s resistance to get amperage; OHAI Ohm’s Law!) but they typically have a speed controller (potentiometer) allowing you to adjust the temperature of your cutting rig based on the materials you’re working with.

John Baichtal

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


  • http://chadnichols.net chad

    Are you kidding!? This is amazing! I can’t wait to see what I can do with some ideas I have!

  • chuck

    I haven’t messed with trains much- how does the transformer work? Does it just increase and decrease voltage or is there more to it?

  • http://modeltrainhub.com Tom

    That’s a crazy way to use a model train transformer. I never thought of doing that.