How to Carve Foam Props

Written by taylor shiells
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How to Carve Foam Props
Be careful when using electrical circular saws with foam because their high speed will release noxious fumes. (spinning-saw image by sumos from Fotolia.com)

Foam is inexpensive, lightweight and rigid, and it can make excellent theatrical props. Unfortunately, foam will break apart if you do not handle it correctly, and anyone who wants to build props with foam must learn how to cut it properly. You can use basic carpentry tools and simple techniques to cut handsome props out of foam that will be easy to move, easy to strike and look as good as any wood or metal scenery.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Pink or blue rigid insulation foam
  • Foam glue
  • Brush suitable for glue
  • Small electric chainsaw
  • Japanese hand saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Black felt marker
  • Vice grip (For smaller pieces)
  • Safety glasses
  • Painter's mask

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Glue pieces of foam together until you have a large enough block of foam with which to work. Follow the instructions on your foam glue. Rigid foam comes in various sizes, but it is often cheapest to buy small pieces and glue them together until your have constructed the desired size.

  2. 2

    Use your black marker to mark the design and cuts you want to make.

  3. 3

    Secure the foam using a vice grip if you are working with a small piece.

  4. 4

    Cut the foam along the lines using your small chainsaw or Japanese hand saw. Work slowly from top to bottom. Use the Japanese hand saw for flat cuts and your chainsaw for rougher scenery such as rocks or trees.

  5. 5

    Sand the cut edges and corners until the foam is smooth and ready to finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Foam dust is extremely harmful. Always wear eye protection and a mask when working with foam. Work in a well-ventilated area and vacuum after you are done.
  • You can also use hot wire foam cutters and table saws to cut foam, but the heat of these tools will release dangerous fumes. Exercise extreme caution when using these methods and wear filtered masks in a very well-ventilated area.

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