How to shape upholstery foam

Written by patricia voldberg
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How to shape upholstery foam
Convert old, worn projects into comfortable seating with foam shaping techniques. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Cutting and shaping upholstery foam is a project anyone can do. Do basic projects yourself using upholstery skills to convert old, worn chairs, car seats or sofa cushions into comfortable seating by learning easy foam-shaping and cutting techniques. Even without sewing experience, you can complete foam-shaping projects in a day or two. Flexible polyurethane foam is versatile and you can cut and shape it to fit most projects.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Felt tipped marker
  • Upholstery foam
  • Electric knife
  • Utility knife (optional)
  • Tape measure or yardstick
  • Spray silicone

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  1. 1

    Place a flattened cardboard box on the work area. This will keep the knife blade from scratching any furniture or floors.

  2. 2

    Lay a sheet of polyurethane foam, that is medium in firmness, on the cardboard. The foam should be no thicker than 4 inches. More than that and the electric knife will not be long enough go through it.

  3. 3

    Create a template out of cardboard. Lay used foam from the old furniture piece on the card board for your pattern. Trace around the foam ¼-inch larger than the old foam.

  4. 4

    Place the cardboard template on the new sheet of foam. Use a felt tipped pen and place a dot every 12 to 18 inches on the new foam. Connect the dots and form a continuous line.

  5. 5

    Cut the foam using a serrated electric kitchen knife with a sharp edge. An electric knife works well with many types of foam. Hold the knife vertically for ease of cutting. Cut along the felt lines or curves.

  6. 6

    Clean up the cutting edge. If the foam is rough, or the edges fray, use scissors or a utility knife to trim. You can shape round untidy edges with an air sander using 24-grit sandpaper.

Tips and warnings

  • Spray silicone lightly on the foam if the blade becomes slow or sticks. Spraying the blades may be an alternative solution.

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