How to Cut Pelican Case Foam

Written by regina edwards
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Pelican and other hard-sided cases provide durable and watertight protection for equipment such as cameras, computers, audiovisual gear, guns and instruments. These cases contain foam for protection, which is valuable for travelling and transporting delicate equipment. According to Cases by Pelican, most Pelican cases have "Pick 'N' Pluck" foam, which is pre-scored, open-cell polyurethane foam that is arranged in layers for users to customise configurations. Basic supplies for cutting Pelican foam can be purchased at craft or home-improvement stores.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Toothpicks
  • Serrated knife
  • Ruler
  • Spray adhesive for polyester foam (optional)

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  1. 1

    Arrange your equipment and accessories on top of the centre foam, making sure to leave at least 1 inch around the edges and between ½ to 2 inches between components.

  2. 2

    Place toothpicks at each corner of each piece to form a square or rectangular compartment to easily insert the item.

  3. 3

    Place your ruler around each piece to ensure the toothpicks accurately mark the compartments. Reposition the toothpicks if necessary.

  4. 4

    Remove the items from the foam and position the ruler for the first side to be cut.

  5. 5

    Gently cut the foam along the ruler's edge. Position the ruler to the second edge (connecting the toothpicks) and repeat the cutting process until all compartments are cut.

  6. 6

    Gently pull the foam plugs out for each compartment. Each foam plug should be easily lifted in one piece.

  7. 7

    Place your items in the corresponding compartments to see whether a top cushion is needed to hold it in place.

  8. 8

    Measure the clearance from the item to the surface of the foam if a top cushion is needed.

  9. 9

    Measure the corresponding thickness of the foam plug and cut a layer of foam. Fit the foam plug cushion on top of your item in the compartment to check that it's level with the main foam compartment.

Tips and warnings

  • Pelican recommends that lightweight items have a half-inch separation, delicate items have at least a 1-inch separation and medium-weight items between 10 and 20lb. have a separation between 1.5 to 2 inches to ensure adequate cushioning.
  • If the item fits loosely in the compartment, cut part of the foam plug to size and affix to the side of the compartment using spray adhesive for polyester foam (Pelican suggests 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive).
  • Make sure the case is deep enough to hold your equipment and allows enough room on the bottom (the lid is cushioned so do not remove the foam on the lid).
  • Wear a mask and safety glasses to prevent inhaling fumes or spray when using the spray adhesive.

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