Best way to cut styrofoam?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by HO Newbie, May 1, 2007.

  1. HO Newbie

    HO Newbie New Member

    Hi there, I am new to the Gauge Forums, as a matter of fact I have never posted in a forum before this. I have been reading your posts for several weeks to get my nerve up and enjoying everyones suggestions and expertise in various subjects! There are so many talented people here!
    I was hoping that someone could tell me the easiest way to make straight clean cuts in styrofoam. I want to cut the foam and then carve it to look like cement block for the foundation of a building. So far I have been unsuccessful in making a clean cut?
    Thanks for your help!

  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi HO!
    I don't know if there is a way to get a really good clean cut in styrofoam.
    First you need the extruded styrofoam, not the beaded stuff used in packing.
    I find that a Knife tends to wander a bit, either across the sheet or it isn't vertical. I think saws create a rough edge and a lot of sawdust.
    What has worked for me is the hot wire tool with some guides. I use stripwood - half-inch or inch wide, 1/8" thick, and tack a piece on each side or the foam with little pins. Take some time because the pieces have to be exactly opposite. You need to have the foam cut to within a couple of inches of where you want the final edge. Then run the hot wire down the foam, resting it against the stripwood. Just watch that there aren't any splinters or snags on the edge, and make sure you have enough power cord to get to the end of your cut. Any snags are going to show in your final edge.

    (This is my 4000th post!)
  3. HO Newbie

    HO Newbie New Member

    WOW 4000! Congratulations!!!
    I appreciate your advise and will give it a try
  4. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    While at work today, i needed to cut some styrofoam sheeting ( the blue stuff used for insulation ). I scored it with an ordinary razor knife, then snapped it into shape.. Very easy to do.. Hope that helped...
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Try the razor blade method first before you invest in a hot wire tool. Other blades and the snap may work for you or you may find the edge not quite what you want.
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I've had good results using a panelling blade in my Skil saw, and of course, a straightedge. (This was for a reno project, nothing to do with trains.) :)

  7. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I use my well sharpened Swiss army knife.
  8. diesel

    diesel Member

    YUP! A well sharpened Swiss/pocket Knife will do that pink/blue foam clean. If your not worried about a clean edge, a large serated (toothed) kitchen knife is fastest, and if you have a ginsu or ginsu knockoff (no kidding) that will cut a little cleaner and faster still, but not as clean as the swiss army knife.
  9. w8jy

    w8jy Member

    I know that knives and hot wires are the most popular ways to cut the pink/blue foam, but I find myself straying off the cut line using those methods.

    I use a 1/4" blade in my bandsaw and have no problems staying on the cut line. Unless you feed the foam VERY slowly past the blade there is no problem with melting or burning. I also use the bandsaw for resawing (making the foam thinner) the foam with no problems.

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