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Subject: So You Want To Foam Core? rss

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Jason McKelvey
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I recently started foam coring only a few months ago, and it's crazy what you learn after failing. It's been a while since I've started a hobby, so I needed something to keep my hands busy again.

In the link below, you'll find my video discussing all the tools I use for foam coring, and also some tips or techniques I learned along the way.

Leave your comments for me, I would love to learn some more!

http://www.atomicgeekdom.com/games/2016/10/5/so-you-want-to-...
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I just made an insert for Star Wars: Rebellion. It didn't come out perfect, but it works. I'll have to get a knife like the one you show. I need a good cutting surface. Also, a mini t-square would be incredibly useful for making straight lines.
 
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Liam (Away/AFK)
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Moved from General Gaming to Do It Yourself.

Looks good - nice to see how you've progressed. Always nice to be encouraged to buy some better tools
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Jake Staines
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stormseeker75 wrote:
I need a good cutting surface. Also, a mini t-square would be incredibly useful for making straight lines.


T-squares are great for really large measurements, like breaking down plywood or MDF sheets with a circular saw, but to be honest, for stuff like foamcore game box inserts they're almost over the top. You can do just as well 99% of the time with a cutting mat that has a square grid on it:

- If you're using a giant sheet, measure from the edges to rough-cut the shape out with a few millimetres spare in each dimension.
- Line the edge of the foamcore up with the gridlines running in one direction.
- Line the ruler up with the gridlines running in the other direction, and cut the edge square.
- Continue in the same fashion to get the opposite edges parallel and square.


And hey, you already need to buy a cutting mat, so solve both problems in one!


EDIT: Also consider two other points:

- Most cheap drafting t-squares aren't actually square anyway. They're good for drawing parallel lines on a drawing board, but not necessarily for drawing lines square to the reference edge. Most people who use them for drafting rest a plastic triangle square against the t-square to get perpendicular lines.

- Try and avoid tools made entirely out of aluminium if you're going to use them a lot. I can't tell from the video, but that would be my guess for the material. Aluminium is a pretty soft metal, you can easily gouge it with a craft knife if you're not careful... and even if you are, you'll wear away the cutting edge over time and start producing cuts that aren't even straight, let alone square. You can get rulers with a big Al body but a steel cutting edge - those are great.






Anyway: Jason: nice video! It was a good idea to cover all the things that went wrong in your early boxes, as well - a lot of people keep their mistakes hidden away, but then nobody else can learn from them!

(1GG for the video; 4GG for "it's a nice box, it's where I keep my skulls". ;-)
 
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James Arias
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Very helpful video! I'm about to start making some dungeon tiles.
 
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Andrew Savage
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Glad to see someone using a Stanley knife. I have never understood why people use those rubbish wee break off blade things. Fatmax blades will cut a lot of foam core before being too dull. Haven't done endurance testing on the carbide ones yet.
 
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John Bradshaw
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Superb video, full of information. The examples of the early errors should be especially useful to anyone wanting to try this. The "sweeps" are a great idea.

I've never tried foam coring - though I've envied some of the examples I've seen(!) - I MAY give it a try after watching this. Thanks for sharing.
 
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Dan Day
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Great video! I've built 4 of 5 boxes now and this is the first time I've seen sweeps. Going to update my box for 51st state using those. Thanks!
 
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Kirk Nelson
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I've built several inserts for my games thus far and, like Jason, I get better as I go having learned better methods as I progress.

One thing I have never managed to master (or even successfully do) is the dreaded half-circle curve most people use at the bottom of their card holders to facilitate getting the cards out. Mine just suck so I have had to go with the less pleasing square bottoms. Any tips on those are appreciated.

I'm glad to see Jason using Elmer's glue. It is surprising that the simpler things often work the best. I use the Elmer's X-treme glue stick and it is amazing. It adheres well and sets fast enough that the pieces are steady enough to stand on their own but no so fast as to not be able to adjust slightly if you need to ease the piece into a difficult area. Love that stuff.

 
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Jake Staines
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quidom wrote:

One thing I have never managed to master (or even successfully do) is the dreaded half-circle curve most people use at the bottom of their card holders to facilitate getting the cards out. Mine just suck so I have had to go with the less pleasing square bottoms. Any tips on those are appreciated.


I would use the Waterdeep-style 'tip point' for cards (and I have done in a few foamcore builds, I should put some photos up sometime), but in general the curved sides are pretty easy.

If you have a rectangular well and you want a curved side on one side for getting stuff out, then add together the length of the floor and the wall perpendicular to the place you want the curve. Then cut a bit of cardstock (200gsm or so) which is the same width as the other measurement of the well, but a cm or so shorter than the total of the measurements you took.

For example: if you have a well that's 5cm by 8cm in size and 4cm deep, and you want a curve on the short end, then your measurement is 8cm (the long measurement across the well) plus 4cm (the depth of the well), for a total of 12cm. So you might cut a bit of card 11cm (shorter than your measured 12) by 5cm (the width of the well).

Then put glue on the wall of the well you want the curve to run into and the floor of the well, put the bit of cardstock into the well and butt it up against the far wall, and then use a clip or something to keep the end of the cardstock flush with the top of the well wall. Something like this:



The important parts:
- Use relatively thin cardstock for this, nothing like game counters and nowhere near as thick as foamcore itself. The glue most of the way along the flat bottom and the flat side of the well keeps it in place perfectly well.
- You only have to hold it in place at the top end if you cut your cardstock to be long enough to fill the whole bottom of the well - the far wall will keep the other end in place
- Don't make the cardstock that much shorter than the total length+depth that you measure. You don't need a very big curve to get the effect, and the bigger the curve the more risk that it'll deform when you push against it.
- Allow the card to naturally curve as you push it in just from the end; don't try and push it down in the middle or 'into' the corner, as you may crease it.




If you worry about rigidity, or want bigger curves, you can cut 45-degree wedges of foamcore and glue them in behind the curve before gluing the card in, to support it. You could use geometry to work out the precise size of wedge for your length of card, or you could just do it by eye - it'll be near enough 99% of the time.







Speaking of glue recommendations, I recently tried "Aleene's Tacky Glue", which is apparently America's favourite craft glue. I went in expecting to be disappointed (and also half expecting it to smell of cheeseburgers or something) but it actually genuinely is pretty good for foamcore builds. It doesn't run everywhere so easily and seems to set up quicker than regular PVA.
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Kirk Nelson
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Thanks, Jake. I don't think we are talking about the same thing though. My vague description was actually of the cut-out that people use to access the cards from one end.
 
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Jake Staines
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quidom wrote:
Thanks, Jake. I don't think we are talking about the same thing though. My vague description was actually of the cut-out that people use to access the cards from one end.


In that case, you want one of these:

http://www.cultpens.com/i/q/OL44252/olfa-cmp-1-dx-deluxe-com...

and use the little plastic seat for the point rather than stab it into the foamcore, or it'll move while you cut!
(Actually, for this kind of thing I have a wooden disc that I've drilled a small hole in dead centre and placed a bit of now-only-tacky double-sided tape to the other side. It provides a very stable and reliable platform for a compass cutter while also giving a large enough circle to more-easily place it exactly where I want.)

You could also get away with cutting half-way through the foamcore with a tool like this and then finishing off with a knife of your choice; once you have the initial cut it's easier to follow it with another blade.
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Kirk Nelson
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That's the ticket!

I appreciate the help, Jake.
 
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Delith Malistar
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Bichatse wrote:
quidom wrote:
Thanks, Jake. I don't think we are talking about the same thing though. My vague description was actually of the cut-out that people use to access the cards from one end.


In that case, you want one of these:

http://www.cultpens.com/i/q/OL44252/olfa-cmp-1-dx-deluxe-com...


I've found great luck in just using a quarter or a nickel (USD coins) and lightly tracing around it halfway with my knife to get a good half cut started.
 
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Jake Staines
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VinegarBob wrote:

Incidentally, I also use the Stanley FatMax - it's a fantastic tool for making inserts.


"FatMax" is just a sub-brand from Stanley - which particular tool are you referring to?

(I own a FatMax tape measure and a FatMax hardpoint saw, but I don't think either of them would be especially useful for foamcore boxes!)
 
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