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cutting foam in hard cases (pelican/halliburton)--how? best?

hunter wimmer , Jan 13, 2001; 01:04 p.m.

i've a new set of foam for my halliburton case (protects my hasselblad nicely). when i cut the previous foam, i did not have pleasing results--with either the supplied knife or a sharp utility knife--and a heated blade made the foam gooey.

some folks recommend an electric carving knife, other swear by the supplied knife. has anyone had good results from a particular method? has anyone had foam custom cut/shaped by a PRO (for a reasonable cost)?

thanks for any insight--it is a daunting task. //hunter


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Colin Miller , Jan 13, 2001; 01:35 p.m.

When I cut for my Pelican case, I used a very long and very narrow bread knife. Worked very well. The secret is to use a knife that is serrated, not a smooth edge kind. Since you are sawing to cut the foam, serrated would be best. Smooth edge knives are for slicing. In this situation, you want to saw.

When you do cut, mark the edges of your equipment with toothpicks or other pointy objects. Place the knife at the first one and begin sawing toward the next one. When you reach it, pull out the first pointy object. Then move the knife and saw from the second one to the third one. Check your equipment occasionally against the cut you are making. I love my Pelican. I don't know what I'd be doing without it. I've got my meager Bronica system (body, lens, hood, back in one cutout) and 2 other backs and a Polaroid back stuffed in there. Plus my L-508, 1 35mm SLR and 3 lenses, 1 flash and 1 flash battery. Still room left, too. I still need 2 more Broinca lenses. I bought the biggest Pelican with growth in mind. And it's huge.

Good luck, and let us know how you did.

Michael Briggs , Jan 13, 2001; 03:47 p.m.

An electric carving knife works very well.

Rendy Cheng , Jan 13, 2001; 04:11 p.m.

I have try many ways (1) long sharp utility knife (2) electric carving knife (3) hacksaw blade (4) band saw

The band saw works the best. It is like cutting air :)

Steve Singleton , Jan 13, 2001; 05:29 p.m.

Haven't tried this myself, but I have heard a suggestion that the foam be placed in a freezer to stiffen before cutting.

MILES FEIGENBAUM - DALLAS TEXAS , Jan 13, 2001; 07:49 p.m.

I have 2 cents worth of info: The inexpensive serrated electric carving knives work extremely well, however the last pelican case that i bought is very large with built-in wheels and handle that is retractable for using like a dolly; the foam is layered in maybe 6 layers, more or less and is pre-laser cut to allow the user to 'pick' out the voids needed for their needs. It works really great and they sell replacement pads that are laser-precut. You could order these and use them in your pelican with great results. End of 2 cents worth.

hunter wimmer , Jan 14, 2001; 02:37 p.m.

thanks miles: we have a pelican case for work with the diced/pluck foam (muppett fingers). it is easy to form, but with use, the other fingers enventually pull loose. i hope to find a way to "intricately" carve/cut solid foam (like the haliburton foam). i've a few scraps to practice on before i cut into the new $50 foam kit--i'll let you all know how it goes--so far, my bets are on the electric carving knife (for cutting simple square shapes)...in the end it would be great to find a venor who can really cut some intricate shapes (the profile of the d-40 flash, for instance, or a circle for a short lens) for a few bucks...//hunter

Tony Armstrong , Jan 15, 2001; 06:06 a.m.

Most foam suppliers (they do exist !) have cutting tools that can easily perform the task you require, simply ink out your layout and take to them. I used a local supplier to cut and shape sound deadening panels for a car to the tune of $65 NZ for six panels (thats about $30US ... obviously not equatable but it should still be CHEAP !)

And rather than forking out $50 for a "specialist kit" you could save a few bucks by purchasing High Density foam directly from them !!!

Jeff Drew , Jan 15, 2001; 09:51 a.m.

Some of the cutting problems can be associated with a knife blade that's not long enough to saw, or one that may not be sharp. I've had the best luck with my "big game" hunting knives or a fish fillet knife. Long slicing blades on kitchen cutlery work well too. Practice on unfrosted angelfood cakes! If you can gracefully slice those, the foam will not be a problem!

Alan Chandler-Smith , Jan 16, 2001; 03:35 p.m.

I'm not sure if this will help but I have fitted out a couple of hard aluminum cases for Mamiya and Hass I bought the foam from a furniture maker Now here is the thing they advised me to buy three or four layers of about 1,1/2 inch thick this means that you can build up the shape of the items layer by layer. to cut it out of a solid block is almost impossible. hope it helps Alan

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