Hot Cutting

In article <1992Jul15.141441.14757@rchland.ibm.com> ericj@rchland.vnet.ibm.com writes:
>As I was looking through the Into the Wind catalog I noticed that the hot-
>cutting tool that they offer for cutting rip-stop looks a lot like a soldering
>gun that I have out in my garage.  My wife and I are dabbling in kite 

>making and are considering picking up something to use for hot-cutting.

Whether you actually buy a hot cutter or you use a soldering iron, don't
just consider--*do*.  Generally speaking, I find hot cutting easier than
using scissors, and the bonus of having edges that (mostly) won't fray is
a big one.

>Can anyone offer any advice as to the best place to get a good hot-cutter, or 
>better yet, can I use my soldering gun and spend the savings on ripstop and 
>graphite spars?

For the most part, yes, you _can_ use a soldering iron.  You definitely want
to get a dedicated tip for cutting, as it tends to mess up the tips.  If all
you have available are the round pointy tips, it's helpful to pound it flat
with a hammer and file it a bit on the cutting edge.

Currently (excuse the electrical pun...;-), I use an old Weller soldering gun.
The Weller is particularly useful, because the company actually sells a cutting
tip for it.  I don't think it's particularly intended for rip-stop, but it
works quite nicely.

I also keep an older soldering pencil around, with the standard round tip.  I
use this to poke holes before inserting grommets; it's far easier than
trying to use th horrible little cutting tool that came with my grommet set.

There aren't really any fumes to speak of when you cut 3/4 oz ripstop.  If
you cut heavy dacron, seatbelt webbing, or anything else like that, beware--
the stuff is rather noxious when it melts.  Also, you'll want to clean off
your cutting edge every now and then; melted nylon and dacron tend to build
up on them, which (a) creates nasty fumes when the iron heats and (b) causes
the edge to not cut as well.


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