High density urethane is a dense foam that cuts and behaves similarly to wood when it is carved. The foam is easier to cut than wood, and does not leave jagged edges or splits that can occur when carving wood. Many carvers prefer working with high density urethane as their primary medium. Special tools and carving techniques can be employed when working with urethane foam.
You can cut high density urethane with several different tools. A regular table saw or circular saw can make large cuts. A coping saw can make curves and other shaping cuts in the foam. You can even use a hot wire cutter to cut through the foam. Before cutting the foam, make a general outline of the shape onto the foam so you have an idea of where to place the cutting blades.
Use rasps or craft drills to shape the urethane. This part of the carving process is when you should add all of the necessary shaping and outlining of the item that you want to make. Rasps are ideal for removing pointed segments of the foam and craft drills are excellent for carving holes and depressions into the urethane. After you have the desired shape, use a soft bristle brush to remove any dust particles from the urethane.
Wood carving tools work just as well for urethane. Because the foam is a little less dense, the tools have more impact on the urethane. So, it is important to work slowly until you have the feel for the urethane so that you do not carve away too much. Hand carving tools, such as chisels and rubber mallets and rifters for cutting under a carved protrusion, can help make the actual carving process much easier. Use a variety of chisel sizes and shapes to create a professional look.
Detail work makes a difference on the appearance of the carved foam. Dental tools are very useful for carving out small areas of foam. Use wood stamps to make a texture pattern on the wood. Tiny drill bits and chisels will also add details to a urethane carving. Use small power tools to transform a piece of urethane into a carving that looks similar to wood. A magnifying glass can also help when making detail work.
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