Kydex is a great way to make holsters and other cool projects. The buyer’s guide below will educate you on what to look for when purchasing a toaster oven to use for heating Kydex. We also have our top picks below to point you in the right direction.
Scroll down past the buyer’s guide to see our best toaster ovens for heating Kydex.
The actual capacity of the oven is the first thing you should consider. You’re going to want a toaster oven that’s big enough to fit the largest piece of Kydex you plan on heating. You’re also going to want to find pans that actually fit the irregular size that most toaster ovens come in.
You’ll probably have to measure and cut a pan to fit in a small capacity (4 slice) toaster oven. Most of the larger (6 slice+) toaster ovens will fit a 12×12 pan easily, at least if they advertise that you can cook a 12-inch pizza.
You may want to err in the way of a larger toaster oven than you need. The reason is that the edges of a toaster oven tend to be hotter or cooler than the middle of the oven, leaving your Kydex unevenly heated.
A toaster oven that can accommodate a 12-inch pizza will also be able to fit a 12×12 ceramic tile that can be used like a pizza stone to help control the temperature in the oven and heat your Kydex more evenly.
Broiler Tray / Drip Pan
It’s nice to have a broiler tray or drip pan to help deflect the heat coming from the bottom burner when heating your Kydex. You COULD make your own, but this is usually more effort than it’s worth. Like I mentioned above, a 12-inch ceramic tile will do the trick if you don’t have a drip pan. You can even use the tile WITH the drip pan for even more control and heat deflection.
Some toaster ovens have just a single slot, some have two slots and some even have three slots. There are a couple advantages to having more slots. The first being the fact that you can heat more trays of Kydex at once for larger projects. The second being the flexibility to put your Kydex in the middle of a three slot oven to keep it away from the heating elements and heat it more evenly.
Having a nice flat top is great for heating up your foam. Some toaster ovens get really hot on the top while others are better insulated and don’t heat up nearly as much. When working with Kydex, a hotter top is actually better for heating foam. Some toasters have a rounded top that doesn’t work as well for heating flat sheets of foam, I would avoid these if possible.
The thermostat is the heart of your toaster oven and controls when the heating elements turn on and off. You want a toaster that doesn’t have a lot of heat fluctuations, spikes, and dips.
You will definitely want a toaster oven that has a heating mode that only engages the bottom heating element(s). A toaster oven that ALWAYS uses the top heating element in every mode will be much more difficult to control. They also use more watts, so you might end up tripping your breaker in the garage when your wife kicks you out for making her kitchen smell like burning plastic.
You COULD modify a toaster oven that always engages the top heating element(s), however, most modifications will void the warranty and be more trouble than they’re worth. Modifications could include disabling the top element(s) or shielding them with a ceramic tile.
In general, analog controls are the way to go, however, they’re usually less accurate. The accuracy of the dial on an analog toaster oven isn’t as important as the range of temperatures the oven will go to when setting to a certain temperature. As long as you YOU know how hot your oven will get at a particular setting you’ll be OK. You can figure that out with a temperature probe or laser heat gun.
The digital controls tend to be more problematic, harder to control, and more prone to failure. It’s important to read the reviews and try to determine if a particular model has any of these issues before buying, especially if you’re going to buy online.
You will definitely want an oven with a convection setting. If an oven has a rotisserie it will USUALLY be a convection oven. A convection oven will heat your Kydex more evenly.
Learning Your Oven
Of course, there’s always a certain amount of learning and adjustment you will have to make with almost any toaster oven you use to heat Kydex. Like I said above, a temp probe or heat gun will do the trick most of the time. You can also use a couple scrap pieces for trial and error to get your process down pat.
I wouldn’t go anywhere outside the $50-75 range to buy a toaster oven to heat your Kydex. There are plenty of models available and the most expensive ovens aren’t necessarily any better. Of course, this is just my opinion and your results may vary.
Annoying Design Flaws
Before you pull the trigger, hash through the reviews and see if the toaster oven you are interested in has any annoying design flaws. One such flaw I can think of is an oven that had a crumb tray that would pop out every time you opened the door. If you’re buying a brand new oven you should avoid these annoying flaws at all costs.
Best Small/Medium Capacity Toaster Oven for Kydex
The Black & Decker TO1332SBD has “EVENTOAST” technology that is said to cook toast 30% more evenly than the competition. This little oven is great for small projects. It’s inexpensive, heats up quickly, and heats Kydex evenly every time. The only downside is that it’s small, it only has one tray, and you might need to manually measure the temperature to learn where to set the analog dial to get the right temp.
Best Large Capacity Toaster Oven for Kydex
The Oster TSSTTVXLDG is the exception to the rule when it comes to digital toaster ovens. The controls are easy to operate and the thermostat is always dead on. It has a large capacity and all the features you would hope to expect from a Kydex oven. The only downside is that it’s going to cost a little more than the Black & Decker, although the price is quite reasonable for an oven of this size with these features.