best hot wire, wire

Currently using inconel .o4 safty wire. At max heat I get a pretty slow cut – takes me about 12 minutes to wire out a nine fotter. Are there better wire choices – those that will give a faster cut?


For a given voltage, nichrome generates heat very well. Inconel won’t break too easily. My guess is your resistance is not high enough. I’ve had a lot of luck with mild Stainless Steel in the .o25 diameter…

…or, you could hit it with more current.

Hey Shine,

I’m on the fence on which is the best wire too…I was going to use inconel because acp says its supposed to last longer and glides smoother over the rocker templates because of the copper coating but I guess your not liking it too much huh? Hmm…it seems like alot of people like nichrome wire or guitar string wire. I really hope alot of people chime in on this thread.


what source of stainless steel? Would ss fishing leader be ok?



Yes this works very well, I use 0.3 mm stainless steel that’s used for fishing, it lasts and is quite strong, much better than guitar strings in my experience.

22 to 25 gauge nicrome 80 … hard drawn if you can find it. Nicrome 60 is OK. None of others come close.


At max heat I get a pretty slow cut

Hi Shine,

what do you mean at max heat? is this the maximum heat that the wire will tolerate before breaking or the maximum heat produced by your power supply? Are you using a variac? Just wondering. maybe if you could find a stronger power supply, if your wire can handle it, might make the cut go faster…just a thought.


PS. can we move this to general discussion?

Got a Variac and can get it up to about 25-30 volts – but that is the current heavy wire (.4). “Max” heat is the point where the masonite templates start smoking. I am going to try the stainless steel. I am also going to cover the template edges with head resistent foil so I can get a little more heat on the product.

Other suggestions welcomed.

Funny – wired 4 boards the other day – the bigger the board, the better they seem to come out. But, not fun standing over a chunk of foam for 12 minutes listining to NPR on the radio while wireing out a 10 footer. That’s a bout 36 seconds a foot.


nichrome wire and a car battery charger. works like a dream.

I can cut the bottom rocker on an 8 foot blank in under a minute.

good luck

what setting do you use on the battery charger?


"I am also going to cover the template edges with head resistent foil so I can get a little more heat on the product. "

Unless you’re REALLY looking to electrocute yourself, I wouldn’t recommend doing this…

good question, but I’m not really sure. I think I use the “quick charge” setting but I couldn’t say for sure without having it in front of me.

Hey HSH,

Yeah, I saw Airframe cut a blank in about the same time as you but that was for a shortboard and he used a variac…he was cutting it like it was butter…and you say you use nichrome wire too? hmm…


DanB recommended this variac to me, works great! Can’t beat it, and its only $44 + shipping.

I have used nichrome and .02 & .03 stainless fishing leader wire with this, the stainless wire worked best for me.

Here’s a link for the variac:

Hey… now wait just a darn minute. What’s that say on the top - right by the knob. Is that a “Made in China” label? LOL. Just kidding. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve been using stainless wire. Haven’t tried anything else to compare. With a short wire for cutting outlines and rail bands, my 12 volt battery charger (which works great for a longer wire) heated it up too much and broke the wire immediately. I might have to break down and buy one of those variacs.

Another question please?

I have three battery chargers. Only one works to heat the hot wire. The others have some kind of “smart circuitry” that apparently senses a short and won’t allow current output. Anybody else have that problem with certain battery chargers? The one that works is an old cheap one with no fancy gimmicks.

another alternative to the “Variac” is an outdoor lighting controller, like “Malibu Lighting” system. The little yard light dimmer box has variable control and they are fairly tough.