Homemade Hot Knife for Cutting Fabric and Plastic

I am getting ready to start building some sail covers for our new mainsail on our Macgregor 26-S sailboat. I am using Sunbrella fabric, which is a synthetic cloth. Cutting it with scissors causes the edge to ravel. However, it can be cut with a hot cutting knife. I did not want to spend $150-$200 for a special knife just to cut this fabric, however, I also wanted something that would cut at a reasonable rate.

I ended up making a cutting tip from a piece of 12 gauge copper wire (house wire), bent it to the proper shape, slightly flattened the edge and then mounted it on my old Weller pistol type soldering gun. This thing works great, is reasonably fast and also does well with cutting curves. When I actually put it to work, I will be cutting the fabric on a piece of glass. This should reduce the heat transfer between the knife and the work surface. I hope this little hack helps you out!