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Subject: One handed foam core cutting advice/tool suggestions rss

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Andrew Lloyd
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So recently I attempted my first foam core insert and it turned out pretty poorly. Not only did it take me forever, but the cuts were not even or at perfect 90 degree angles. I know that half the reason for this was that it was my first attempt. But the other half of the issue was not having the proper usable tools. Having one hand, it is extremely difficult to hold a straight edge and cut along it while keeping the blade 90 degrees to the board. Anyone who has seen my videos knows that my right arm ends just below the elbow so I can use that to apply pressure to as straight edge.

Tools I have
- Utility Knife with new blades
- Self healing cutting mat
- White hobby glue

After thinking on it, Here are a few items I think I need:

1. Extra wide metal straight edge since applying pressure with my arm on a standard ruler causes arm overhang in the cutting path. Something like the Foamwerks Channel Rail or a large metal ruler seem reasonable.

2. While a utility knife works, a 90 degree cutting tool like the FoamWerks Straight/Bevel cutter would help me focus on folding the straight edge in place and not have to worry about keeping the blade at a perfect 90 degree angle.

Any other thoughts or suggestions? I wish there was an affordable hobbyist quality foam board cutter like my paper trimmer.
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josh willhite
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Clamps, I've seen some lighter ones that are similar to giant clothes pins more than screw down (which might damage the foam). An old drafting T-square might help too. Try running the blade multiple times very carefully.
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John Di Ponio
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jawmonkey wrote:
Try running the blade multiple times very carefully.


This part is very important! It takes 3 cuts. One to break the first outer layer, one to go through the core and then one last time to cut the backside. Make sure the knife is sharp! Use a utility knife and have plenty of blades on hand.
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Chris Schumann
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You might also consider a matt cutter. They range from expensive ($100) to extremely expensive ($800 or more), but will cut very smoothly with a perfect angle.
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Donnie Clark
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I am not making any assumptions here, so I have to ask. Do you have a friend that can help you?
 
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Andrew Lloyd
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Whizkid wrote:
You might also consider a matt cutter. They range from expensive ($100) to extremely expensive ($800 or more), but will cut very smoothly with a perfect angle.


Yea I thought about this as well.
 
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Andrew Lloyd
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jawmonkey wrote:
Clamps, I've seen some lighter ones that are similar to giant clothes pins more than screw down (which might damage the foam). An old drafting T-square might help too. Try running the blade multiple times very carefully.


T-square is a great idea. I also used a speed square a little bit but the edge isn't really long enough.
 
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Andrew Lloyd
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riastradh wrote:
I am not making any assumptions here, so I have to ask. Do you have a friend that can help you?


I'd prefer to just do it myself.
 
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Andrew Lloyd
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Something like this, running along a nice wide straight edge could work well. Just wish it used standard utility blade replacements!


http://amzn.com/B004P2ZTQE?tag=article-boardgamegeek-20


EDIT: That hook along the side of the tool is made to run along their channel rail. This might be the affordable solution I'm looking for.

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Jay Jones
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clawlan wrote:
Something like this, running along a nice wide straight edge could work well. Just wish it used standard utility blade replacements!


http://amzn.com/B004P2ZTQE?tag=article-boardgamegeek-20


EDIT: That hook along the side of the tool is made to run along their channel rail. This might be the affordable solution I'm looking for.



I use a matte cutter (similar to this: http://www.amazon.com/Logan-Compact-Classic-Mat-Cutter/dp/B0...) for about half of my foamboard parts, and the cutter part of it is very similar to that device. It works really well, and the blade seems to last forever (since it's using more of the cutting surface and the point never has to pierce anything, I think). I've replaced the blade once on the cutter in the same time I've gone through a couple dozen snap-off utility blades.

As an aside, if you can afford the matte cutter, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Not only does it cut straight and 90 degrees, you can also set the width and cut a bunch of parts that are of identical width(like the sides and inner rails of the insert). Cuts the time it takes to make an insert in half. At least.
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maf man
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jawmonkey wrote:
Clamps, I've seen some lighter ones that are similar to giant clothes pins more than screw down (which might damage the foam). An old drafting T-square might help too. Try running the blade multiple times very carefully.


go clamp crazy I got a nice big set of plastic clamps from home depot from tiny ones that barely can hold my finger to big ones that can open as wide as a foot. No human can hold down a straight edge and what their cutting well enough to use their other side to cut at the same time.

Along the same thinking as multiple cuts you could try a doted line method; rather than doing your first cut you make it dashes by stabbing the right spots rather than swiping. I have only tried this once and though it helped the corners my sides still didn't come out the best so consider it and try it if you think it makes sense to your work.

If you have a craft store near by you could ask them for what they have for exaco knifes and related stuff. A utility knife is quite unstable for quality work such as this.
 
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Meaker VI
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Cutting 90* vertical takes practice, but should be fairly easy with the utility knife and clamped ruler and no other special tools. The biggest challenge you have is that you can't properly hold the ruler in place - most of my effort goes into doing just that. Clamping it down to the table, and the work to the table, and the cutting mat to the table, should make getting straight cuts *much* easier. I'd do it if I wanted to take the time to get things perfect.

Whatever ruler you're using, it needs to have a steel edge. Utility knives will shred anything else.
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