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  1. #1
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    Smile DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    I have always wanted a clean looking gun case since the soft shell case I carried my AR15 and handguns in worked, but it didn't offer much protection. With having to fly with my firearms in a couple of weeks, I learned that I would need a hard sided case and what not a better time to attempt to do this. I did a lot of reading on AR15.COM and a member on the site, mfingar, has a great write up on how to do it, seen here: http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.htm...=292695&page=1. He paved the road for what is to follow. After doing a lot of reading and research I finally decided on a case. I had first wanted the Pelican 1700, but due to getting married recently it was way out of my price range. I found the Plano All Weather 108190 case which was big enough to house two rifles and for $130 shipped I could not pass that up.

    After the case arrived, I turned to my friend who is handy with just about everything. We looked over the plans to build this hotwire cutter. I gathered all of the supplies and we got to work. Five hours later we had completed what was sure to be a much overdone version of what we needed. Most of the time went into construction and soldering the wires. You do not need to do that, but we took the extra steps to do it right so we wouldn’t have to go back and do it again later. Construction of the cutter itself will vary for each person, but the electrical will be about the same. I took mfingar's diagram and applied it and everything was on par. From there, I re-illustrated it with what I learned and the colors and part numbers to better help people when they do it.

    I will emphasize this, have patience. If you rush it, you will mess it up. I took photos along the way to show everyone how I did it. So let's get started! The pictures below are of the hotwire cutter itself, the design I chose was a 24x24" piece of particle board, which is a good size for what I needed. The brass rod you can have any way, I just wanted a high enough one to clear 5 inches of foam with a good amount of tension.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    On the underside is where you are going to be running your electrical, so be sure to plan ahead on where you want the power cord to come out at. In my case I had it coming out the back. Also, when we created the frame for it we added a set screw so the rod itself would not spin when the foam made contact with the wire. It is not needed, just something we added along the way.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    We decided to put the dimmer on the left side, which further down you will see that it controls the amount of heat applied to the wire. Some people put the knob on top of the cutting surface, but I did not want to snag the foam on it while cutting or have it turn up/down accidentally. Wherever you choose to put it, it will work.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Now we get down to the part that makes it all possible. How and where you arrange all of this will be entirely up to you. As mentioned on all photos, you can click and completely enlarge them and for this one it is usually a good idea to see where things go. In the center you will see a block of wood (we used concrete board) and some washers. That is there so that when you pass the wire through the hole the washers clamp down, thus giving tension to the wire. A previous diagram was available with limited information so I decided since I am an illustrator and illustrate stuff of this nature all the time, why not make a new one?

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    This shows the new diagram I illustrated to show how I have it set up. I included the part numbers on the items used to create it as well. Those include:

    Lutron 600w Dimmer $5.46
    25.2V CT 2.0A Transformer $12.99
    Standard cord from hardware store $2.99
    Brass Rod from Lowes $9.99
    Ni-Chrome Replacement Wire 4' $4.78
    Miscellaneous connectors, shink tube, washers and wires $X.XX
    Plus wood

    Needless to say you can make this for a little under $50 depending on how crazy you want to get.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    **WIRE**

    Now I have been researching and reading many posts and blogs on DIY's and wire is always the main thing. I have read what you can and cannot use. I heard you could use guitar string and obviously that is more readily available then Ni-Chrome Wire is. So I went to my local music store and picked some up. Did it work? No. The heat was too much for it, even on the lowest setting it would go, it would snap. So I found some replacement wire for a hand held hotwire cutter and picked that up to try. Worked perfect and is like a guitar string, however like most know, Ni-Chrome just heats up and does not snap. If you are not sure what Ni-Chrome wire is, go look into a toaster. Do you see the wires in there glowing red? Those are Ni-Chrome wires. The link above links you to a 4ft piece at a whopping $4. I picked up 5 of them just to have since they will eventually break and it is nice to have extra.

    PREP WORK

    I took a week to do all the prep so I was not rushed. In my case I needed to cut out an AR15, Beretta 92 with optic, Ruger LCP, 1/2" Riser and all magazines. Go to the craft store and buy as many sheets of poster board that you will need to cover each piece you are cutting as well as a lot of fine tip markers or pencils. Leave a good chunk of your day free, because you aren't going anywhere for a while. Place the objects you want to trace on the poster board and start tracing. TAKE YOUR TIME! Once you have it all traced out, use a ruler or a straight edge to get the lines perfect so there are not too many rounded objects. Once you have it ready to go, then you are ready to cut them out. Get a nice sharp pair of scissors and go at it. Remember, your craftsmanship will show since what you are cutting out now, is what your hotwire will be tracing later. Repeat steps that apply to everything you need to cut with foam.

    After you are done, you will have a lot of paper firearms, be sure to label them front and back. Go grab your case and a camera if you have one. Now is the time when you need to play around and figure out how you want to orientate the objects in the case. Why get a camera? Once you have a set up you like, take a photo and try another. That way you can always look back at the photo in case you forget. I did that many times until I decided on the one I liked. Also another thing to think about, are you left handed? I am and in the photo below you can see I have my AR15 pointed to the right so I can pick it safely with my left hand. Originally, it was facing the other way.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Once you have everything laid out the way you want them, take the foam out of the case and get ready to cut. Make sure you can support both ends of the foam so it does not sag creating an uneven cut. As you can see, I improvised.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Now, disconnect the Ni-Chrome wire from the brass rod. Create a pilot hole in the foam and feed the wire through it. I used a guitar string and crimped the end and looped the Ni-Chrome wire around it and pulled it though. For me, that worked the best.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Once the Ni-Chrome wire has successfully passed through the foam, attach the wire back to the rod and make sure it is taught and sitting aligned to the cutout. Also I recommend starting with smallest and working your way up, in this case a 30 round PMAG.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Take a deep breath and start cutting. Make sure the temperature of the wire is hot, but not hot enough to start glowing. Go slow and it is likely the wire will fall behind when you are feeding it through, if you see that, slow down. You are more likely to break the wire from stress, than it getting too hot and snapping. Just something to keep an eye on.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Now in most cases there are two layers. I realized pretty quickly after test fitting everything that all the PMAGS and the scope sit higher than the foam, which I did not like. I took the PMAG and Scope cardboard cutouts and placed them in the new PMAG and Scope slots so they would be sticking into the second layer of foam.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    Once in the second layer of foam, I took that out and cut them as well. That way it is allowing them to sit lower than the others, making a flush finish.

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE


    After you cut the pieces out, do not throw away the foam. You can then cut those pieces in half to adjust for the height each weapon will sit in the case. My AR15 sits flush, however my LCP needed to sit a little higher because of the low profile of the gun itself.

    So after 6 hours of cutting and taking my time, how does it all look put together?

    ALL PHOTOS ARE HIGH-RES CLICK TO ENLARGE








    Also after I posted this blog I decided to glue the 2 foam pieces together as well as to the bottom of the case so when you pull the weapons up the foam does not come with. I picked up 3M General Adhesive Trim in medium stickiness.



    All said and done.

    Last edited by STI; May 17th, 2011 at 08:02 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    Could a moderator possibly make this a sticky?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    awesome write up matt!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    Frig'n nice! Thanks for the info!
    RIP: SFN, 1861, twoeggsup, Lambo, jamesjo, JayBell, 32 Magnum, Pro2A, mrwildroot, dregan, Frenchy, Fragger, ungawa, Mtn Jack, Grapeshot.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    There looks like there is enough room for at least two more in there
    Look to the One Who is wearing what should have been your scars...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    It's funny, my wife said "Um, you left room at the end...why?" Incase I buy 2 more handguns silly Thanks for the compliments. It took a lot of planning and time, but the end result was worth it. Taking photos in between I am sure drew it out as well, but something like this I want to share so other people can do it as well.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    Excellent job and write-up. I like the step by step with the photos , this is something I might have to try myself.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Cybersurf
    “They that plow iniquity and sow wickedness shall reap the same.” Job 4:8 ... III% OK

  8. #8
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    Very nice. Might use this to help make my own hard side case.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    That is simply awesome. Kudos to you for being a badass. When you whip that case out there shall be many an OOOOH and an AHHHHH.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: DIY Hotwire Cutter for Gun cases with Photos!

    Well I mean if you think about it, why pay XXX amount to have a waterjet cut out the foam when you can pay $50 IF that to do it yourself, which to me is more gratifying then paying someone to do it.

    If you are in my "area" anyone is welcome to use it.

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