Use a Model Train Transformer to Cut Foam

Use a Model Train Transformer to Cut Foam


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.

6 thoughts on “Use a Model Train Transformer to Cut Foam

  1. chad says:

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

  2. chuck says:

    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?

  3. Tom says:

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

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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

View more articles by John Baichtal


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).