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Tool name

I need to make one of those tools that your plug in, and a wire,
held by two alligator clips, gets red hot.

I’m looking for a tutorial on how to make this device, but without a
name, my search is difficult.

Can y’all help?
Paf Dvorak

If you have an manual regulated transformer you could create this
yourself by using an thin wire and slowly increase the voltage till
it starts to glow, make sure you have some spare fuses in case (!)


Hi Paf,

You are looking for an Electric Hot Wire Knife. I did a search on
that term and found videos and instructions.

The omission I find frequently, is that the longer you need the wire,
the higher the amperage it will require. I have a friend who sculpts
fake rocks, huge ones, like you see at theme parks. He is always
looking for old model train transformers for the power source. For
jewelry sized work you might be able to convert a cell phone charger.

I would love to see what you are making.

Jean Marie DeSpiegler


What is it used for?

Richard Hart

What is the purpose of this tool? Any dimensions?

Hi Paf,

What does this tool do? Or what do you need to do?

As I understand your question, you’re looking for the name of the
mystery tool that has some sort of resistance heating wire held by a
pair of alligator clips? Looks like it plugs into the mains? I’ve
never seen any sort of hot knife, or hot wire cutter with alligator
clips. Normally they’re screw-down connectors of one sort or

Are the alligator clips important to what you’re trying to do?

Generically, tools like what I believe you to be asking about are
called hot knives, or hot wire cutters. Sometimes hot foam cutters.

At least it’s a place to start. Give me more data, and I’ll give you
a better answer.


Not exactly sure what you’re looking for but it sounds like a hot
wire foam cutting tool. used by model airplane enthusiasts allot.
Made a largeone for big blocks of foam years ago but the small ones
are probably almost as cheap to buy as make. Gary

What is it used for? 

Excellent question & my bad for not explaining in the first place!

For testing suspected plastic/stabilized stones/amber/ivory/Bakelite
The wire gets red hot. I suspect the wire is made from a piece of
old heating element or that metal used by Vapers.

Paf Dvorak

Any dimensions? 

Like a large Magic Marker.

Paf Dvorak

You are looking for an Electric Hot Wire Knife. I would love to see
what you are making. 

I’m not real educated in electronics/electrical and so don’t want to
electrocute myself/burn down my shop, but I’m almost 99% sure this
is not what I’m looking for.

I use this device (I had one about 20 years ago and it vanished
mysteriously in all my mountains of crap in my shop) to test the
backs of suspected stabilized turquoise & to test ivory vs plastic
or Bakelite.

Paf Dvorak

Is it the Max Wax Speedy Wax Pen?

Otto Frei part number 121.260 in case the link gets stripped.


This tool sounds like a pyrography pen, used to draw charred lines
on wood.

Hi Paf,

Yeah, you’re looking for a hot knife. The wire is NiChrome.

But why not just use a waxworking hot tool? Even the little battery
powered ones will get hot enough to test amber & etc.


For testing suspected plastic/stabilized

I use a cauterizing pen. The fine wire gets red hot in a few
seconds. It is the size of a larger marker and runs on batteries. No
cord, the whole thing fits in your had. Cools down right away.

You can find them on line, do a search for “cauterizing pen”.

Stuller sells these pens as wax pens (Item #:21-2602:100000:T) They
are only $33.00 USD.

I have had mine for over 10 years. When needed it is quick and easy.


Maybe the hand held wax pen? MaxWax, two sizes, for melting, carving
waxes? Battery powered, about the size of a magic marker.

Rio 700-394


We just take a pin, put it in the cross lock tweezers and heat it in
a flame. Low tech.

Hi Paf, The tool you are looking for is called a Max Wax. it runs on
batteries and is available from most jewelry supply houses.

Cliff Durlacher


I think that you are looking for a “Max Wax Speedy Wax Pen”

Otto Frei and others sell them.

Regards from Niagara,
Dan Taylor


Could it be similar to a hot wax pen? Some have little spatulas, but
older versions would have small wire loops of various sizes and
configurations. I have an older one I have used with an old
radioshack rheostat to control the temperature. Seems it would work
for what you described, and similar in size to a Magic Marker.

Melissa Veres, engraver

It sounds like you are describing the Max Wax Pen sold by Rio Grande
for wax carving? Donna in VA