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Unread 10-26-2006, 03:17 PM   #1
Jantra
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Pink Foam Insulation - A Guide

Note: Anything underlined is a link to an image or website!

Pink Housing Foam (Insulation)

Where to Find It

I found mine at Home Depot, tucked into the back of the store in the Windows/Insulation area. It came in three thicknesses – ½ inch, 1 inch, and 2 inch. All three sheets were about 10 feet long. It cost like $12.50 without tax.

List of Places that Sell the Foam:
Home Depot
Menards (Info Credit: PrincessYuni)
Lowes (Info Credit: halafax)

Canada
Home Hardware (Info Credit: djaxle)
Rona (Info Credit: Jessia)

So what I did was I took my sheet to the lumber section, found someone, and politely asked them to cut it in half. They have a giant lumber cutting machine that will do it in the blink of an eye and leave a clean cut. Do NOT let them cut it any other way. Any other way will leave mars and pinched foam. You can also have the pink foam shipped to you through 1800-GET-PINK which is their company.

What Else to Buy

1) Glue -- If you are sealing the foam first, you can use any type of glue appropriate for how it was sealed. Elmer's Glue isn't exactly going to cut it with some resins! If you plan to be gluing foam to other foam without any other protection, I would recommend Liquid Nails: Foamboard Variety. Be aware, use a thin layer of this stuff and smooth it down. This glue is strong and will rip the foam apart before the glue comes apart once dry. It takes a great deal of time to dry, though. You will need a caulking gun for using Liquid Nails.

2) Gesso -- Gesso is a very thick, white paint used to seal canvases. You can get a very large jug of it for less than $15. Using gesso on your foam helps to seal the foam so that future applications of resin, paint, etc, will not soak into the foam and require you to use a great deal more than necessary. It is also the first protection to help the foam avoid getting damaged, but this is a weak protection. This can also be used to help begin to smooth down your foam in places it is rough.

3) Foam Brushes -- Buy several sizes of foam brushes. Large, medium, and small cost me less then a dollar per brush. Perfect for painting and gessoing, can be washed. Also useful for resin as they are cheap and can be thrown out.

4) Sand Paper -- This is god for foam. You will need a course, medium, and fine. These are determined by numbers. 50 = very course 120 = medium 200 = very fine. I would get all three of these. They last a long time.

5) Face Mask – For when you are sanding or cutting, the dust hurts your lungs. You will need to wear a face mask. Got 5 for $3.00 at Home Depot, in the painting department.

6) Ruler -- A long, straight ruler, usually in metal. You’ll need this a lot. You can draw right onto foam. I’d recommend getting two – a long 3 foot one and a shorter 1 foot one.

7) Spackling -- Specifically, I like DryDex Spackling. It starts off pink and turns white as it dries. Spackling is used to fix dents, pinches, or mars in your foam. Can be easily sanded and painted over. I use my fingers to fix any problems I have.

8) Shower Cap -- Useful to wear over your hair to avoid tons of foam dust from landing in your hair.

9) Gloves -- Latex gloves for working with spackling and resin, and good strong material/leather gloves for working with sand paper and cutting tools with the foam.

Ways to Cut the Foam

This is the part that taker some serious trial and error. I can only relate what I have done, and possibly will edit this part as more information comes.

1) Utility Knife – The most basic way to cut your foam. It will pinch the foam as it cuts most of the time if you are going for deeper cuts.

2) Electric Carving Knife – Useful for cutting away small pieces or though the thin 1/2 inch foam, but not so good for larger pieces or the 2 inch foam.

3) Large Saws – I’m putting several things under here. These are things you might have in your basement/parent’s basement, might want to buy. All of these devices are meant to cut wood and can excellently cut foam too.

a) Bandsaw – this is what I used. A large device with a flat surface and a saw that moves rapidly. This comes in many sizes and price tags. This is PERFECT for cutting foam and wood. Curves are super hard to do, but can be done roughly and sanded to perfection.

b) Table Saw – Excellent for straight cuts. Also you can buy a ‘guide’ that does exact angle cuts. Ask about that wherever you buy this.

c) Scrollsaw – This is a scrollsaw. This can do delicate, very fine curves and angles. This takes some time to get good at, but is a miracle worker. The blades are very fragile though and take some work to learn not to break. I use this specially for places the other saws won't go.

4) Hot Wire Cutter – Got mine at Michael’s. This is a cheapy thing that does larger, straight cuts. A little hard on angles. I got mine for like… $12.00 with 2 D batteries. NOTE: You must work in a well ventilated area for this! The fumes are DANGEROUS.

5) Hot Knife – I have not used this yet, but I want to. I have been told these are the best when it comes to cutting foam, and can do curves and straight lines. NOTE: You must work in a well ventilated area for this! The fumes are DANGEROUS.

Cutting and Carving

1) Draw everything out on the foam. Just use a pencil or sharpie and lightly draw everything you want to do onto the surface of the foam before you cut anything. You must press lightly or you’ll rip into the foam. The pencil won’t show up much – it’ll leave lines behind in the surface.

2) When doing the initial cuts from the larger piece of foam, whittle it down. If you’re using a ¼ of the sheet, do yourself a favor and cut the other 3/4s off before you keep going.

3) Cutting and sanding the foam makes a LOT of mess. The light particles spread very far. I found a vacuum with a hose SO much help in this. It’ll suck the mess right up. Wear clothing that you can take off as soon as you are done, because you WILL track this stuff everywhere. Do not work with foam barefoot.

4) Wear a face mask at all times. Very important. While sanding, the dust will kick up and you will breathe it in. NOT good for your lungs and can leave them very sore. I also have started using a shower cap to keep all the dust from getting in my hair.

5) Use the course sand paper to take off harsh, larger chunks of foam, the medium to get it into shape, and the fine to smooth it down. You’ll have to learn how to use the three coursenesses to your advantage.

6) If you are not slow and careful when using an electric carving knife, a utility knife, or sand paper, the foam will 'pinch' and 'mar' - the edges will nick and no longer be nice and smooth. You can sand most of the pinches and mars out, but not all! These can also be filled in with spackling.

7) A dremel with a carbide tip is your best friend when it comes to carving into foam, in my opinion. It is my invaluable tool for doing careful carving. Work slow and with a steady hand as it chews right through foam.

8) I have also used basic old chisels to good effect with foam, working just like you would with wood except with a lighter hand.

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Last edited by Jantra : 09-26-2011 at 10:49 AM. Reason: Updated!
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Unread 10-26-2006, 05:04 PM   #2
Seraphy
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This'll really help when I get some insulation foam! Thanks for making the tut! ^^
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Unread 10-26-2006, 05:13 PM   #3
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Awesome, just in time for my weekend project...P90s here we come.
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Unread 10-26-2006, 07:07 PM   #4
Jantra
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Glad I can help! ^_^
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Unread 10-26-2006, 08:29 PM   #5
PrincessYuni
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Here in Illinois there is another Hardware store chain called "Menards", they carry it too. (and great tutorial!)
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Unread 10-26-2006, 08:37 PM   #6
Jantra
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Thanks, Princess! I'll add it - do they sell it for the same price??
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Unread 10-26-2006, 08:46 PM   #7
PrincessYuni
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I believe it is close to, if not, the same price.

Also, I've allready added this tutorial to The Tutorial List! ^_^
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Unread 10-26-2006, 08:47 PM   #8
SilencedChylde
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Finally, someone did a huge guide to pink.

I love this stuff... I've been piddling around with it for a couple of years, both at work and for cosplay.

And.... (Jantra) got everything right down to the littlest bit. Must be a pro. n.n
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Unread 10-26-2006, 08:51 PM   #9
Jantra
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Actually, silencedchylde, this is my first time ever working with the insulation!

This guide was born because this is all stuff I -WISH I KNEW- when I started! Specially the cutting section and the idea of the face masks.

I'm not even done the prop I started working on (Demyx's Sitar from KH2)... ^^;;
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Unread 10-26-2006, 09:12 PM   #10
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I wish Michael’s in Canada sold Hot Wire Cutters >_< I paid $35
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Unread 10-26-2006, 09:20 PM   #11
Jantra
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Geez, Ani_BEE. I would have shipped it to you for cheaper then that. o.O
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Unread 10-26-2006, 09:41 PM   #12
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NICE run down on using foam. I bow to your researching skil1z! I will have to look into using this in the future.
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Unread 10-26-2006, 09:47 PM   #13
Jantra
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^_^;; Thank you! Just the research of experience and a lot of fustration I hope to spare others!
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Unread 10-27-2006, 12:47 AM   #14
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I did a similar tut a while back(now, lost in obscurity) and covered some points you didn't.

Latex paint works better than Guesso if you plan to spray paint a finish on it. If it's a large flat surface, use a roller.(they make those 3 inch mini ones for cheap too)

Ratehr than Liquid nails, I like to use Gorilla glue or wood glue. Both are a bit lighter weight. Go light with the gorilla glue if it'll be on a viewable surface, go heavy on it to reinforce structures if it's not going to be a visible surface.

and finally with the wire cutter, you can make templates for bevels out of posterboard. Just makes sure the board is secured pretty well with some double sided scotch tape and it makes an excelent cutting guide as the wire will usually not get hot enought to damage the cardboard unless left in one place for a LONG time. This works really well with swords and whatnot.
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Unread 10-27-2006, 01:21 AM   #15
Jantra
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I tried Wood Glue and Gorilla Glue. I specially liked Liquid Nails, and find it to be a very light type of glue myself. I found Gorilla glue next to impossible to sand to a nice fine finish if you mess it up.

Latex = more expensive then gesso, by a lot, though. Latex can also be a serious pain to work with. Gesso is pretty much easy to use and clean up.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the wire cutter... could you explain more carefully?
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