Cut Open-Cell Foam: Two Quick and Easy Methods for Great Results

Like many things you’ve never tried before, cutting foam can feel daunting. Foam die-cutting services can produce tens of thousands of identical pieces, while waterjet technology uses a stream of water.005 inches in diameter to make precise products. However, not every project requires computer-programmed control. Many foam applications only require a few short, straight cuts. For these jobs, cutting your own foam at home is not only the more economical option, it’s also the easiest.

The last thing anybody wants to do, however, is make a mistake out of inexperience and ruin a new foam insert or mattress topper. Fortunately, this fear is unfounded, as cutting foam is the easiest thing since pre-sliced bread.

Approaching foam cutting like you would bread cutting is a great idea, as the similar textures make the method of cutting each virtually identical. And if you associate the job with something familiar like bread, suddenly the project becomes much less intimidating. In fact, just having the right tools for the job is more important than any previous foam cutting experience! These next few paragraphs will outline the tools and technique you need to cut foam perfectly.

To get started, a flat, stable surface that will not be damaged by a knife is top priority, for safety as much as for cutting. It’s important that the entire slab of foam fits on the cutting surface, since balancing and supporting foam hanging off the table while cutting can give you sloppy lines and is visit:- dangerous. Working on flattened cardboard on the basement or garage floor is a smarter option than a sturdy, but too-small workbench.

While utilizing a proper work surface is important for safety, the right cutting tools will give you the cleanest lines and edges for your project. There are two types of knives that work well for cutting open-cell cushion foam at home – both need to be as sharp as possible, but neither should feature straight blades.

The first option is a standard serrated carving blade or bread knife. As mentioned earlier, cutting foam is like cutting bread, so it makes sense that the same kind of knife works well for both materials. When cutting with a serrated blade, make gentle, back-and-forth cutting motions through the body of the foam. Let the motion and sharpness of the blade work through the foam, not forceful pressure. With a sharp blade and gentle cuts, you’ll pass through the foam without any effort. Begin cuts at the edge of a foam sheet whenever possible, and cut at a 45 degree angle. With a little time and care, you’ll wind up with a flush edge you didn’t think you were capable of!

The second cutting method is one many people find surprising, but works exceptionally well. Electric carving knives, the same ones that get brought out every year at Thanksgiving, give exceptional control, and are very similar in principle to the industrial saws manufacturers use to professionally cut shapes and designs. An electric knife’s sharpness and automatic sawing will work its way through the foam at its own pace, giving you a cleaner cut than if you forced it through hastily. The only drawback to using an electric knife is availability – everyone has at least one serrated blade in the house, while an electric knife may require a special trip to the store.

In addition to the cutting surface, tools, and technique, there are two final things you should know to be able to cut foam like a pro. The first has already been alluded to, but its important to mention again: you should never compress foam when cutting. Some people think with foam’s compressibility, they can flatten it and carve right through with a single slice. The problem with this idea is that it’s impossible to get balanced pressure on foam by hand, leaving a wavy or jagged edge when it’s released from pressure. Cutting properly only takes minutes longer and you will be much happier with the end result when you see your straight edges.


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