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Foam Cutting Tools

Discussion in 'Halo Costumes and Armor' started by PerniciousDuke, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    Hey all!

    After my pepakura project is done I am thinking I'll probably venture into foam crafting. To me one of the most important part of foam work is the cleaness and straightness of your cuts. What tools would you recommend with that in mind?

    I saw these and thought they were a great idea. Something large that you can really apply some pressure to plus exact radius and bevel cuts.
    Foamwerks Cutting Tools
    mblackwell1002 and SI3RRA 117 like this.
  2. SI3RRA 117

    SI3RRA 117

    Foam board or EVA? Those products say they’re designed for foam board. Doesn’t look like you get enough blade for thicker EVA. But thinner stuff looks like it’ll work for a few cuts anyway. Looks tough to sharpen blades tho too.
    I’m still a novice but have built one suit in foam. And all I can say is sharp blade, patience and practice are the only tools you really need. I look forward to seeing your foam crafting
    PerniciousDuke likes this.
  3. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    Yeah, I guess all of their craft examples are foam board. Thanks SI3RRA 117
  4. mblackwell1002


    Yasss!! About time you dipped your feet into the lake of foamsmithing! :D

    So...the #1 important thing in foam crafting is pretty much cleanliness of cuts. Buy some nice sharp blades, sharpen them often. I use craft knives with extending blades, they do a nice job cutting, and when they get dull, I just snap them. You can also use scalpels, they're suuupeer sharp and cut through foam like butter.

    Getting straight cuts isn't too hard, I'm sure you'll find. A metal ruler used as a guide will make straight lines pretty easy. Bevels however...those take a little bit of practice.
    PerniciousDuke likes this.
  5. ZP180


    Started dabbling in foamsmithing for speed builds last year. Skip those Foamwerks tools and go for a bunch of craft knives and a sharpener. Keeping your blade sharp makes so much of a difference. As for bevels, I always switch out or sharpen right before doing a bevel, and to help keep my line straight, I've had some pretty good success setting my angle with the blade and putting the metal ruler at the edge so that the blade stays on that line.
  6. Dirtdives


    Hey PerniciousDuke....Everyone's advice is sound. Get yourself a standard metal ruler. I have found that a heavier handle works best w/ long straight cuts. You have more control when using a heavier/thicker handle. Something like this:
    A Stanley box cutter courtesy of Home Depot. Get your self a basic kitchen knife sharpener as well, found in any small hardware store (oddly enough Home Depot doesn't carry these), or any large grocery chain like Shoprite, Stop & Shop, Publix, Trader Joe's........Some of these may not be in your area, but you get the idea. I would not recommend a block sharpener. It will sharpen a regular kitchen knife fine.....when cutting meat or some other food stuff, but for accurate cuts that we do, you need a V shaped sharpener. Something like this:

    wonderchef-knife-sharpener-medium_24515de53dc1538df50818fbf4e75fc7.jpg Believe it or not, I have this exact one.......just much older. Now a days they can look like this:

    4633.jpg The only problem w/ this type is......your full blade like on the Stanley box cutter, won't get sharpened because of the outer framework prevents the backend blade from reaching the stones themselves.

    For the bevel cuts, I recommend a thinner blade. Something like this:


    This will allow you to get in to those tighter spaces where you don't have the right angle to cut the foam when it's deeper in to the piece......I know...I know....Clear as mud....When cutting a bevel on a piece where the blade has access across the whole side w/o interference is easy.... it when you are cutting partway into a piece where at the back end of the cut is the rest of the foam is where it become interesting.

    You'll get the hang of cutting this stuff w/ time and exp.....I have faith in you.
  7. TurboCharizard

    TurboCharizard RMO 405th Regiment Officer

    If you want exact bevels and have access to a shop with a scroll saw or bandsaw you can also take that route. The trick there is to keep an even pressure on the foam around the cutting blade to prevent tearing or pulling. Using a push block/stick for a table saw works well.
  8. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    Thanks everyone that all sounds like great advice!

    I do like the idea of heavier frame of box cutters Dirtdives , but you make a good point that the utility knives that mblackwell1002 mentioned have their use for tight areas and when the frame of the box cutter gets in the way.

    I have a box cutter from Milwaukee that I love boxcutter.jpeg Mainly because you push one button in and the knife falls out. So easy to switch out blades. At that rate I could use the countertop sharpeners and just sharpen the whole replacement knives after taking them out of the handle.

    I do love the repeatability of table saws TurboCharizard I might go that route if I find I have to do many of the same bevel cuts.

    Foam crafting is a ways out for me, but with Christmas coming up I am trying to see if I can find anything to ask my family members for... Maybe just packs of EVA :lol: Or a heat gun...
    mblackwell1002 and Dirtdives like this.
  9. Dirtdives


    I would advise against using a table saw......there is just too much power in that unit and it would just pull the foam out of you grasp and just chew it up......I know, I had this happen to me. And trying to keep even pressure on the foam will put your fingers and even your push stick too close to the spinning blade of death. And a push stick will only help if the piece being cut has some weight of its own to keep it from getting pulled by the spin of the blade. I've had that happen as well and shot my push stick across the workshop and put a hole in the wall. Just don't use a table saw. Now a scroll saw or a small bench top bandsaw might help you.
  10. TurboCharizard

    TurboCharizard RMO 405th Regiment Officer

    That's why I said scroll or band saw using a tables saw push block. Keep the foam in place with lower torque in a perpendicular to the foam direction to lessen chance of ripping.
  11. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    Oh I thought you meant like the table saw guide rail which guarantees much straighter cuts. I agree that for any novice or intermediate with woodshop equipment should stick with a scroll saw or bandsaw. I however grew up in a wood shop (quite literally for 6 months while our house was being built). I use the table saw for cutting out cardboard templates which is not easy or safe to do either. But, with a guide rail and the proper precautions it is quite accurate. As for it pulling the foam that is a combination of the sharpness of the tool and the correct one. Many people don't realize that there dozen and dozens of saw types for 10" table saws for different applications. I work for a sharpening service and it is my job to explain the differences and application of wide variety of saw blades.

    Don't worry though guys. I will stick to the box cutter for now. :)
    Dirtdives and mblackwell1002 like this.
  12. TurboCharizard

    TurboCharizard RMO 405th Regiment Officer

    Many people also don't set the blade at the right height either.


    No, just no.
  13. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    That's good advice.

    With a table saw you actually want the blade to be roughly 3x taller than the material you are cutting. This will help hold the material down... Less push sticks through walls like Dirtdives experienced. ;p
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  14. PerniciousDuke

    PerniciousDuke RXO 405th Regiment Officer

    So what are some more expensive foam working tools you all would recommend? Keep in mind that I live in an apartment.. I'm not trying to fill up a shop here. I think for Christmas I'll be asking for a heat gun and a small belt sander.
    Dirtdives likes this.
  15. SI3RRA 117

    SI3RRA 117

    Dremel or rotary tool if you don't already have one.
  16. FlyinPhil

    FlyinPhil Marketplace Supervisor Division Staff

    Haven't personally used them for foam, but I know a number of people who swear by band saws and bench mount belt sanders.
  17. Viper 466

    Viper 466

    Agree with Phil, a bench mount belt sander does wonders. Just be careful, it melts foam like a hot knife through butter. I've personally used one to put edges on a few knives, and bevels on a gun prop. I also have a big old roll full of tools I use for foam smithing.

    Also in regards to keeping it small, a dremel or similar rotary tool as stated above. If you can swing it as well, Barge leather contact adhesive works amazing on foam.
  18. Jme


    I am a big fan of my hot knife. You still have to keep the blades nice and sharp but when they are that bit of heat gets you through the foam lickity-split!
    Dirtdives likes this.

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