Hot Cutting

In article <1992Jul21.171346.16543@amc.com>, marty@amc.com (Marty Akerman) writes:
|>Surface:  Two 2' X 3' pieces of formica bonded with contact cement to the sides
|>      of a thin piece (16 guage?) of sheet steel.  Fabric can be stretched
|>out and held in place with magnets.  This really works well.  The formica does
|>get slight grooves in it from the heat of the iron, but I have yet to see one
|>get so bad that it's unusable.

I experimented with Formica early on and with a really hot tip, the
Formica melted/burned leaving deep grooves and fumes. I really like
the idea of a sheet of steel and magnets though...

|>  Glass is nice, but it's not cheap unless
|>you can find scrap somewhere.  Glass also has a nasty habit of breaking when
|>dropped.  I know sooner or later I'd drop mine.

It is fragile, it is easily scratched, and if it isn't fragile, it is
really heavy. I bought a glass table top for strength and when it
comes time to move, I'll have some insured professionals box and move
the glass.

|>Cutter:  an old radio shack soldering iron with conical tip.  I even made a
|>      little thing with a lamp dimmer that allows me to turn the heat down
|>a bit.  Nylon melts at a lower point than solder, and turning down the heat
|>a little allows you to slow down and be more careful in following the template.

I'm just the opposite. I want the tip *hot* so that I can cut quickly.
I guess I'm just impatient.

|>Cutting wheel:  I'm surprised nobody mentioned this already.  This is a 3/4"
|>      diameter teflon wheel with a hole the size of the cutting tip in the

I don't remember exactly, but I think Teflon has a melting point of
around 600 degrees F. I like to cut around 800 degrees. In any case,
the teflon wheels that I tried became soft with the soldering iron
that I was using.

Also, wheels require a bit of care while cutting and don't work well
with tips that aren't conical.

Look under "plastics" in the yellow pages. Most folks listed there
should be able to supply teflon for you.

|>      1)  Don't burn yourself!  I'm really surprised how easy it is to get
|>distracted while intently setting up the fabric/magnets/template/straight-edge,
|>and then reach over without looking and put my hand on the wrong end of the
|>iron.  I really need an iron that sits in one of those little protective cage
|>things.  Mine doesn't have one, and it likes to pivot itself around so that
|>the hot end is always easiest to grab.

Buy a soldering iron stand. You can get them for a few dollars.
Marty Sasaki                            sasaki@tle.enet.dec.com

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