I had wanted to get into building my own miniature terrain for years. Sure, there are options for buying terrain on the market but either they are expensive or they are… well not really what I wanted. Little did I know this path was leading my down a hole, where I at the end needed to fin the best hot wire cutter on the market.
I bought some pink foam second hand and a cheap hot wire cutter from a local hobby store. I thought I was ready to go, but hot dang I was wrong. The cheap “hot wire” cutter could barely cut 1 cm into the foam before it was stone cold.
Sure, a cheap hot wire cutter can do for your average cheap white polystyrene, but the hard foam (the ones you need for detailed terrain), well you need a great hot wire cutter.
I did some research into the tool I needed I found out that there is only one option on the market.
This is my take, and frankly the consensus, best Hot Wire cutter for miniature terrain.
The Proxxon Micromot Hot Wire Cutter is the best one if you want to cut foam for miniature terrain
The Proxxon hot wire cutter is just a thing of beauty. I realized a cheap cutter was not going to cut it (…), but I found the price tag of the Proxxon to be somewhat frightening. But after having asked around, read some online guides on making miniature terrain I knew I needed to get the wallet out.
Once I got it in my hands I knew I had made the right decision. This thing melted the foam I could not get the cheap cutter to even dig just a little bit into. This thing just works.
What makes the Proxxon thermocut the best hot wire cutter
It cuts through hard foam like butter
Coming from the abysmal experience of a cheap hot wire cutter, the difference was night and day. You can make the most crazy of cuts because the foam will just go through the wire like nothing.
If you want to make gloriously detailed terrain, precision and speed is king. This is what you get with as good a hot wire cutter as this.
The Proxxon are a well known brand and they build things to last. This is not going to break the second time you pull it out from the shelf and it tells.
Precision tools and the possibility of extra tools
What I had not realized about the cheap cutters is that you are not going to be able to do precision work. With the way the Proxxon sits on the table with the grid and various extra rulers, you can make things price.
This means you can duplicate work from guides no problem, which really helps out when starting out.
Also, once you get fancy the Proxxon has quite a few extra nifty tools you can get.
The one used in most guides and tutorials
I do not know about you, but I hate when I do not have the same tools as the content creator when I follow along on a guide or tutorial. I do not know what it is, but if everything goes wrong I cannot help but blame my tools.
When you work with the same tools and paints as you can see in a video, you feel more confident that you can reproduce whatever it is that you see with your eyes.
What is less amazing about the Proxxon hot wire cutter
Prizing is a bit steep
I get it, I felt when I pulled my card out to get this bad beauty. But the price is something you need to be aware of. Are you serious about getting into creating terrain from foam? Maybe you should make some non-foam terrain if you are on the fence.
If you dig deep to get (pricy) foam and an expensive cutter, you need to know you are going to get your money worth.
This thing is much bigger than I expected. This is a good thing when it comes to using it, but you also need to store it someplace.
I have decided that the big chunks of foam + the Proxxon cutter now stays in my room in our summer-home. It is simply too big (and a bit ugly) to have in the apartment (where most of my stuff hobby is hidden in small drawers).
What sort of terrain can I make with a hot wire cutter?
For terrain tutorials, you cannot go wrong with Black Magic Craft on youtube.
Other options for good hot wire cutters
After my less than amazing experience with other cutters, I cannot recommend going with something cheap.
That said, there are some okay’ish options out there.
You can save some bucks by going with a hot knife. It is easier to pack away, but you can get the same “knife through butter” feeling as the Proxxon. But, it will be less precise than the Proxxon.
The flimsy hot wire cutters you can see above were the ones I originally had. I cannot recommend those kinds of tools at all for terrain making.
Rule of thumb: if it looks flimsy, do not get it for cutting in thick foam. They are fine for cheap/thin foam, but that is it.