cutting foam in hard cases (pelican/halliburton)--how? best?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by hlwimmer, Jan 13, 2001.

  1. i've a new set of foam for my halliburton case (protects my hasselblad nicely). when i cut the previous foam, i did not
    have pleasing results--with either the supplied knife or a sharp utility knife--and a heated blade made the foam gooey.

    some folks recommend an electric carving knife, other swear by the supplied knife. has anyone had good results
    from a particular method? has anyone had foam custom cut/shaped by a PRO (for a reasonable cost)?

    thanks for any insight--it is a daunting task. //hunter
  2. When I cut for my Pelican case, I used a very long and very narrow bread knife. Worked very well. The secret is to use a knife that is serrated, not a smooth edge kind. Since you are sawing to cut the foam, serrated would be best. Smooth edge knives are for slicing. In this situation, you want to saw.<P>When you do cut, mark the edges of your equipment with toothpicks or other pointy objects. Place the knife at the first one and begin sawing toward the next one. When you reach it, pull out the first pointy object. Then move the knife and saw from the second one to the third one. Check your equipment occasionally against the cut you are making. I love my Pelican. I don't know what I'd be doing without it. I've got my meager Bronica system (body, lens, hood, back in one cutout) and 2 other backs and a Polaroid back stuffed in there. Plus my L-508, 1 35mm SLR and 3 lenses, 1 flash and 1 flash battery. Still room left, too. I still need 2 more Broinca lenses. I bought the biggest Pelican with growth in mind. And it's huge. <P>Good luck, and let us know how you did.
  3. An electric carving knife works very well.
  4. I have try many ways (1) long sharp utility knife (2) electric carving knife (3) hacksaw blade (4) band saw

    The band saw works the best. It is like cutting air :)
  5. Haven't tried this myself, but I have heard a suggestion that the foam be placed in a freezer to stiffen before cutting.
  6. I have 2 cents worth of info: The inexpensive serrated electric carving knives work extremely well, however the last pelican case that i bought is very large with built-in wheels and handle that is retractable for using like a dolly; the foam is layered in maybe 6 layers, more or less and is pre-laser cut to allow the user to 'pick' out the voids needed for their needs. It works really great and they sell replacement pads that are laser-precut. You could order these and use them in your pelican with great results. End of 2 cents worth.
  7. thanks miles: we have a pelican case for work with the diced/pluck foam (muppett fingers). it is easy to form, but with use, the other fingers enventually pull loose. i hope to find a way to "intricately" carve/cut solid foam (like the haliburton foam). i've a few scraps to practice on before i cut into the new $50 foam kit--i'll let you all know how it goes--so far, my bets are on the electric carving knife (for cutting simple square shapes) the end it would be great to find a venor who can really cut some intricate shapes (the profile of the d-40 flash, for instance, or a circle for a short lens) for a few bucks...//hunter
  8. Most foam suppliers (they do exist !) have cutting tools that can easily perform the task you require, simply ink out your layout and take to them. I used a local supplier to cut and shape sound deadening panels for a car to the tune of $65 NZ for six panels (thats about $30US ... obviously not equatable but it should still be CHEAP !)

    And rather than forking out $50 for a "specialist kit" you could save a few bucks by purchasing High Density foam directly from them !!!
  9. Some of the cutting problems can be associated with a knife blade that's not long enough to saw, or one that may not be sharp. I've had the best luck with my "big game" hunting knives or a fish fillet knife. Long slicing blades on kitchen cutlery work well too. Practice on unfrosted angelfood cakes! If you can gracefully slice those, the foam will not be a problem!
  10. I'm not sure if this will help but I have fitted out a couple of hard aluminum cases for Mamiya and Hass
    I bought the foam from a furniture maker
    Now here is the thing they advised me to buy three or four layers of about 1,1/2 inch thick this means that you can build up the shape of the items layer by layer.
    to cut it out of a solid block is almost impossible.
    hope it helps
  11. Hunter,
    When I worked in an apholstery shop many years ago we would cut the 4inch thick foam for car seats, furniture, and other uses with string. The best was "roast cord", the cotton cord that I also used a butcher in years to come, to tie up roast's in your local butcher shop. In tight corners we would put one end of the cord over the end of a wooden dowel with a notch in it and poked it through the foam. Then either two larg dowels, two split metal keyrings, or something firm to tie the cord off to and pull it taught. Hold the foam between your knees and keep the twine as taught as possible and you can cut just like a band saw through the foam.
  12. Bosch sells an industrial foam cutter. How does it work? Just like an electric carving knife( the type that uses two blades reciprocating side by side in opposite directions). When my Grandmother died they gave me back a knife I had given her as a kid as a Christmas present. It sits in my tool cabinet and works like a charm. I have never used it to carve a turkey. Think about it; As a blade moves against the soft foam, the foam moves WITH the blade. If it does cut it will be cutting stretched foam and may be jagged. The pull of the opposing reciprocating blades act to conteract each other so the foam is cut rather than being stretched with the movement of the blade. I suppose that is why the proffessional Bosch cutter works the same way. Nevertheless, I'm sure some of the methods posted here, done carefully, will also work.
  13. Any number of custom case companies will custom-cut foam for you. Actually, if they are any good, they'll make the pockets using a computer-numerically controlled router. The problem is that it normally takes some hours of technician time to get the CAD (computer-aided design) files set up properly, which makes it uneconomical unless you for some reason have many cases to outfit in the same fashion. (Also, you'd probably have to part with your gear while they were fitting it.) There is, however, a way to get a computer-routed case insert for a reasonable price--check out, where you can download some CAD freeware, design up pockets for your gear and then order the custom foam insert online. This is the only way I know to get a truly professional job done for a single case without spending and arm and a leg and waiting weeks.
  14. Under no circumstances should hot wire cutting of foam be used. Polyurethane foams in particular give off extremely toxic gases (similar to what is used in gas chambers) when ablated or burned above 350 degrees F with any type of instrument.

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