I was excited to find the 16 gauge nichrome in my mailbox yesterday and quickly put it to use. It seems to do the trick! After my first test cut I thought my multi-meter was starting to smoke, but it turned out to be a wire draped across the multi-meter. I was overloading the wire going from the power supply to the nichrome. I should have thought of that! I quickly replaced it with some 14 gauge copper, but even that got warmer than I would like. I'll have to get some lower gauge connecting wire soon.
Even though the new nichrome worked well at high power and showed no signs of failure, cutting through ice wasn't exactly speedy. It should go a little faster once I reduce the connecting wire voltage drop with fatter wire. I'll also soon have air cooling for the power supply which should allow for close to 2000 Watts.