Add to this problem that it is hard to keep cut edges straight a tool is needed. So a few years back I decided to invest in a hot wire polystyrene cutter. At first I attempted a few 'home-build' projects that all failed and finally I just forked over the cash for a 'real' machine. This is the one.
It basically features an electrified hot wire that cuts through the polystyrene. The metal bar on the right is used to guide your project and keep the edge straight, the angle wheel on it helps to cut and an angle and for extra complexity you can move the wire to make another angle with the table. So far so good. Unfortunately this relatively expensive piece of equipment turned out to be next to useless to me. If you push the 2.5 of 5 cm (1 or 2 inch) polystyrene blocks along the guide they tend to tilt over the lower metal bar, ruining the edge. Add to that the way the guide is fixed to the angle wheel. This forms an almost natural hinge. Quite often after careful positioning of the bar the end result is a tilted, crooked mess. I still used to the hot wire cutter, but usually to save on blades and if the resulting block was reasonably out of sight like the blue block in the top-left corner on this recent project.
The edge was so bad I did not even seal this in before spray coating figuring that rattlecans eating large pieces of this block would only improve the look of it.
|I think I've gotten away with my polystyrene abuse...|
That changed this weekend. I was giving AoS demonstrations at the local gaming convention Impact (<- warning annoying autoplaying music on website!). During a break I walked past the stands and met the guy behind Shifting Lands who offered a demonstration of their tools to aid in cutting polystyrene with a hot-wire cutter. This rather quickly turned into a 'shut up and take my money situation and I ended up buying a number of their tools. All of these come as laser cut wood kits you have to glue together before use. As I did not have a lot of time to create my own scenery with them here is a quick rundown of the tools I'll be using on a couple of the upcoming tiles for my modular space ship interior.
First up is the Guider Pro. You use this make straight cuts.It is large enough to alway properly guide polystyrene past this fixed position. The guy that sold me this managed to cut (I think) 0.5 cm polystyrene sheets from a bigger block. Turns out cutting is a skill that I will need to get more practice in, but I have managed 1cm sheets on my first tries.
|Cutting at an angle with easy.|
|And the best bit seems so simple, a circle cutter for polystyrene.|
|My fist cylinder, I need a bit more practice to make this perfect.|
|But even at zero skill I can hollow it out.|
|I think I've made a good start to my landing pad.|