Overclock.net › Forums › Case Mods & Cases › Builds & Case Mods › Case Mods › How To Toolessly Cut Plastic (with a piece of string!)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How To Toolessly Cut Plastic (with a piece of string!)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
How To Toolessly Cut Plastic

I picked up this little trick during my RC modding days and it has served me well in a pinch numerous times on small projects. I have a great selection of tools, the only problem is they are 200 miles away at my other house. Not many college kids keep their large tool chest handy in their apartment. So, I thought I would share this little trick to those that are separated from their tool collection or don't have any tools at all.

It is also great for hard to reach places that a Dremel bit can't get to. If a piece of string can touch it, then it can be cut.

Intended use:

This technique will cut through most plastics, but acrylic is the hardest to do it with. It will cut through most dyed plastics with ease and great precision.

Concept:

A piece of string is rubbed back and forth along a piece of plastic. The heat from the friction slowly creates a fine cut through the plastic.

Items needed:

  • Spool of thread
  • Some way to hold the piece being worked on (a buddy, tape, or small clamps work fine)
  • A bit of sandpaper to finish it

Method:

The method is simple. Secure the piece of plastic. Decide where you need to cut. Place the string on the cut line, pull down or up to create pressure on the string , and pull the string from side to side. The main thing to keep in mind while doing this is to keep constant pressure and modulate the speed of your strokes depending on how the string is cutting. Start by moving the string fast to build up heat, then immediately slow down as it starts to cut and feather the strokes to create an even burn. If you cut too fast then the heat will snap the thread. It takes practice, but eventually you can get through a whole piece with only one length of string.

Images:


String half way through a 800D cover:

448

The cut piece:

448

As you can see, it takes a bit of practice. I need to lightly sand this piece to make it perfectly flat. With enough practice, you can make a perfectly clean cut with ease (I'm out of practice haha.) It is a great technique to know if you find yourself in a pinch.
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 9
String should be cotton, or can you use something rougher like twine from gardening?
Lori Lemaris 023
(21 items)
 
Felicity Harmon
(23 items)
 
Moneypenny
(12 items)
 
  hide details  
Reply
Lori Lemaris 023
(21 items)
 
Felicity Harmon
(23 items)
 
Moneypenny
(12 items)
 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
It should be thin, like cotton sewing string. I use polyester thread, but cotton may work fine as well. Twine is usually larger. The key is to use fine thread to focus the heat in a small area and to give a smaller cut diameter.
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 9
Wow, I never though of this. If there's a will there's a way! thumb.gif Good suggestion/info!
post #5 of 9
cool....
z97 RIG
(15 items)
 
Apophis
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
4790k MSI z97 Gaming 7 Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 G Skill Ares 16gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Crucial MX100 256gb Seagate Barracuda 2tb Corsair H70 Windows 7 Pro 64bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
AOC 24 inch 144hz  Razer Blackwidow chroma EVGA 850 G Silient Corsair Air 540 
MouseMouse PadAudio
Razer Deathadder Chroma Generic On-board Audio 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Core i7 920 D0@ 4.2 1.25625 vcore EVGA Classified 760 EVGA GTX 470 SC+ EVGA GTX 470 SC+ 
RAMHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Corsair Dominator GT 1866 3x2 gbs 1TB Samsung Spinpoint Lite-On DVD drive EK Supreme LTX Water Block 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
EK EVGA Classified Full Motherboard Block EK GTX 470 Acetal/Copper Water Block EK GTX 470 Acetal/Copper Water Block Winows 7 PRO 64 bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Samsung ToC 24" Razer Black Widow Seasonic Platinum 1000 watt CoolerMaster HAF 932 
Mouse
Logitech G5 
  hide details  
Reply
z97 RIG
(15 items)
 
Apophis
(18 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
4790k MSI z97 Gaming 7 Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 970 G Skill Ares 16gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Crucial MX100 256gb Seagate Barracuda 2tb Corsair H70 Windows 7 Pro 64bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
AOC 24 inch 144hz  Razer Blackwidow chroma EVGA 850 G Silient Corsair Air 540 
MouseMouse PadAudio
Razer Deathadder Chroma Generic On-board Audio 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Core i7 920 D0@ 4.2 1.25625 vcore EVGA Classified 760 EVGA GTX 470 SC+ EVGA GTX 470 SC+ 
RAMHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Corsair Dominator GT 1866 3x2 gbs 1TB Samsung Spinpoint Lite-On DVD drive EK Supreme LTX Water Block 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
EK EVGA Classified Full Motherboard Block EK GTX 470 Acetal/Copper Water Block EK GTX 470 Acetal/Copper Water Block Winows 7 PRO 64 bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Samsung ToC 24" Razer Black Widow Seasonic Platinum 1000 watt CoolerMaster HAF 932 
Mouse
Logitech G5 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 9
if you tie 2 loops you can put the string on a hacksaw handle, the kind that tension the hacksaw blades, that should make it least painful to do large/lots of cuts
Main Rig
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
I5 6600k Asus Z170I Pro Gaming EVGA 1080TI FTW3 Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz C16 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 850evo Western Digital Red Hyper 212+ W7 64 bit 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G610 Orion EVGA Supernova G3 850 Fractal Design Core 500 roccat nyth 
  hide details  
Reply
Main Rig
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
I5 6600k Asus Z170I Pro Gaming EVGA 1080TI FTW3 Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200MHz C16 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 850evo Western Digital Red Hyper 212+ W7 64 bit 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G610 Orion EVGA Supernova G3 850 Fractal Design Core 500 roccat nyth 
  hide details  
Reply
post #7 of 9

you could use steel strings from a guitar.the e string(1st one) is very thin.

also you could tie weights on both ends of the guitar string and heat the string with a lighter or any other source.it will cut through butter(i think)

 

i have never tried it but looking at OPs idea,this thing came to mind.

you may need to make a groove so that the string doesnt slide.

First PC :)
(13 items)
 
Dragon tattoo
(20 items)
 
wish
(1 item)
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
HP Vectra 486/25N@25MHz EISA stone age! 4MB EDORAM 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
480MB  none Slits in cabinet,no fans. Windows 95 
MonitorKeyboardMouseAudio
Samsung 12" B/W Samsung Samsung HDD speaker  
Other
D-link Ethernet 56k modem 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5 760@3.8ghz@1.28V P55-UD3L Sapphire AMD 7770 1gb DDR5 Corsair XMS3 2x4gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
1tb Seagate Baracuda  Segate 1.5Tb external Samsung DVD RW(cheap stuff) Hyper 212+ push/pull 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit dell 22'' st2220m full HD Razer Arctosa 600W zebronics PRO 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Cooler master Elite310-modded with holes,mesh,etc. Lenovo 6812 1600dpi Razer Goliathus Bose 2.0  
AudioOtherOtherOther
Bose triport Headphones cooler master silent pro s12 120mm fans 2X cooler master blade master Cooler Master 90CFM 120mm red LED fan 
  hide details  
Reply
First PC :)
(13 items)
 
Dragon tattoo
(20 items)
 
wish
(1 item)
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
HP Vectra 486/25N@25MHz EISA stone age! 4MB EDORAM 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
480MB  none Slits in cabinet,no fans. Windows 95 
MonitorKeyboardMouseAudio
Samsung 12" B/W Samsung Samsung HDD speaker  
Other
D-link Ethernet 56k modem 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5 760@3.8ghz@1.28V P55-UD3L Sapphire AMD 7770 1gb DDR5 Corsair XMS3 2x4gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
1tb Seagate Baracuda  Segate 1.5Tb external Samsung DVD RW(cheap stuff) Hyper 212+ push/pull 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit dell 22'' st2220m full HD Razer Arctosa 600W zebronics PRO 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Cooler master Elite310-modded with holes,mesh,etc. Lenovo 6812 1600dpi Razer Goliathus Bose 2.0  
AudioOtherOtherOther
Bose triport Headphones cooler master silent pro s12 120mm fans 2X cooler master blade master Cooler Master 90CFM 120mm red LED fan 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 9
drool.gif oops sorry I was too focused on the gorgeous blue water cooled rig in the background lol
Game Rig
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-2700k @ 5Ghz  ASUS P8Z68-v Gen 3 GTX 1070 X 16GB Corsair Vengeance  
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
3x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB Crucial M4 128GB Asus DVD drive H100 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 professional Samsung 27" LCD 1080p Ducky Shine (MX brown) AX850 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Corsair 600T SE White Logitech mx518 Steelseries QCK+ ASUS Xonar DX 
Audio
BeyerDynamics DT770 Pro 80 ohm 
  hide details  
Reply
Game Rig
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-2700k @ 5Ghz  ASUS P8Z68-v Gen 3 GTX 1070 X 16GB Corsair Vengeance  
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
3x Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB Crucial M4 128GB Asus DVD drive H100 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 professional Samsung 27" LCD 1080p Ducky Shine (MX brown) AX850 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Corsair 600T SE White Logitech mx518 Steelseries QCK+ ASUS Xonar DX 
Audio
BeyerDynamics DT770 Pro 80 ohm 
  hide details  
Reply
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by breadcrums View Post

you could use steel strings from a guitar.the e string(1st one) is very thin.
also you could tie weights on both ends of the guitar string and heat the string with a lighter or any other source.it will cut through butter(i think)

i have never tried it but looking at OPs idea,this thing came to mind.
you may need to make a groove so that the string doesnt slide.

That would probably work great, but the point was to use stuff laying around. I guess if you have some old guitar string laying around that would be fine. I've tried copper wire before, but it didn't work. The friction of the fibers in the string create heat faster. I know some guitar string has the braids, so that may work great. I've never tried it though.
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
 
Current PC - 550D
(27 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570k Asrock Z77E Gigabyte 7970 G Skill RipJaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingCooling
Seagate Green Intel 320 SSD XSPC Raystorm Koolance 7970 Waterblock 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC 1650RPM Fan Alphacool XT45 Laing DDC Bitspower 80mm Reservoir 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
3/8" Copper Tubing Push-to-fit Connectors Bitspower Fittings Tygon Black Tubing 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8 Pro Viewsonic VP2770 LED Catleap Coolermaster Storm 
PowerCaseMouseOther
Seasonic 660XP2 Case Labs S3 Logitech G500 MDPC-X Sleeving 
OtherOther
Lamptron FC5 Bitspower Temperature Probes 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Intel 4820k Asus Rampage Gene IV MSI GTX 970 Gaming MSI GTX 970 Gaming 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
Mushkin Radioactive Intel 320 Seagate Green Laing DDC Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
XSPC Acrylic DDC Top 2x Alphacool XT45 240mm XSPC Fans Bitspower Silver Comp Fittings 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Tygon Black Tubing Bitspower Reservoir XSPC Raystorm EK FC-Titan Waterblock 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 64 bit Viewsonic VP2770-LED Yamakasi Catleap  Coolermaster Storm Mechanical 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic 660W Platinum Corsair 550D Logitech G400 None 
AudioAudioAudio
Pioneer Premier Receiver Paradigm Atoms Polk Subwoofer 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Case Mods
Overclock.net › Forums › Case Mods & Cases › Builds & Case Mods › Case Mods › How To Toolessly Cut Plastic (with a piece of string!)