Need to make clean holes through Rigid Foam - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Need to make clean holes through Rigid Foam

I need to make holes big enough for electrical plugs in my new Christmas Display. The last time I made a rectangle out of sheet metal and heated it up on the stove to push through, but this foam I have this year stinks really bad and the fumes maybe poisonous.

I have about 20 holes to make and that may be too much time of breathing these stinky fumes. I may have to use a hole saw and thatís messy. Plus it pretty much tears the foam instead of actually cutting it which leaves dust falling out every time a cord bumps against it.

Melting it cuts it pretty smooth and seals it, if only it werenít for the fumes.

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post #2 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:08 PM
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I need to make holes big enough for electrical plugs in my new Christmas Display. The last time I made a rectangle out of sheet metal and heated it up on the stove to push through, but this foam I have this year stinks really bad and the fumes maybe poisonous.

I have about 20 holes to make and that may be too much time of breathing these stinky fumes. I may have to use a hole saw and thatís messy. Plus it pretty much tears the foam instead of actually cutting it which leaves dust falling out every time a cord bumps against it.

Melting it cuts it pretty smooth and seals it, if only it werenít for the fumes.
I believe most foam releases carbon monoxide, CO2 and oxides of nitrogen, but some foams like EPS release CO2 and water vapor. Much less harmful then some other foams. Ill spare you the chemistry lesson but this question depends a lot on the type of foam being used. Id try a hot wire cutter. Its VERY easy to make and you can follow patterns very easy. Thats assuming you have the right type of foam. Is this foam like the stuff you see on a cheap foam cooler or something else?
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post #3 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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it is this stuff from Home Depot. I bought it because it was cheap and I liked the texture after pealing off the foil.


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post #4 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:27 PM
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why not just heat it with a torch and cut it outside? hold your breath for 10sec :p wind will carry it away.
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post #5 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:32 PM
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I believe that foam is EPS but havent looked it up yet. As for the hold your breath suggestion, well I hope that's satire and not meant to be taken literally but its hard to tell over the computer. ;D A good respirator and strong fan should keep it away. Thats if its EPS foam. You only have 1 set of lungs so its good to protect them.
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post #6 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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why not just heat it with a torch and cut it outside? hold your breath for 10sec :p wind will carry it away.
Oh , its too big at this stage of the game. I have it on wheels so I can move it around to paint and set up the tree, but I can't get it outside. If I knew where everything went prior to bringing it inside, I would have just used a hot knife.


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post #7 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:41 PM
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Oh , its too big at this stage of the game. I have it on wheels so I can move it around to paint and set up the tree, but I can't get it outside. If I knew where everything went prior to bringing it inside, I would have just used a hot knife.

Oh... I know see what were dealing with. You can either use a knife and do lots of cuts or burn it. If you go the heat route, id get it close to a outside door or window with a fan blowing the fumes out and keep the inside door close to help stop it from spreading. Drilling a hole is an option but is really messy and not very clean. The hole tends to blow out depending on the density of the foam.


PS: Thats looks really cool already

Last edited by SouthernWoodworking; 11-30-2014 at 02:44 PM.
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post #8 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:47 PM
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a really sharp knife will slice through foam cleanly. hard to make round holes, but if they could be square, it can work.
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post #9 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 02:55 PM
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a really sharp knife will slice through foam cleanly. hard to make round holes, but if they could be square, it can work.
Yep! I used to have a X-ato knife that was really thin and 1in long. allowed you to cut foam circles very easy. Diameter of maybe 1.25 in was the smallest you could do. I think I got them at walmart with a kit.
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post #10 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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I have an old fillet knife that I used to use for fishing and I as soon as I find it, I think I’m going to use it. I guess I’ll open the doors and use a fan to blow fresh air through while I cut with the red hot knife. It just started to sprinkle a little outside and I have to wait until the paint dries before locating the holes. It’s taking forever for this paint to dry and I hope I can get this done before night or before it really starts raining.

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post #11 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Ok wow this turned out too easy.

I came across a hacksaw blade holder while I was looking for my fillet knife and decided to give it a try. I sharpened up the hacksaw blade on the grinder and even heated it up to see if it would split or anything from the heat.

So just for fun decided to try poking it through without heating it because it was pretty sharp and it went right through like butter. Well I guess I can do it this way without opening up the doors.

I really thought it would be much worst after seeing the way the stuff cut with a handsaw last week.


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post #12 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 05:07 PM
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Could always chuck a piece of thin walled copper pipe in a drill. Ends should be sharp enough to go through foam without much issue

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post #13 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Could always chuck a piece of thin walled copper pipe in a drill. Ends should be sharp enough to go through foam without much issue
Umm, that sounds like a pretty good idea.
I'll have to see if I can come up with something. I know when I used hole saws in the past. the teeth would tear it apart usually making a much larger hole.

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post #14 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 06:57 PM
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Just a thought... Have you tried using the hole saw in reverse? You MAY have less tearing.
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post #15 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 07:05 PM
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that may work, sounds like you found a system, but yeah, teeth dont get along with foam, but sharp blades do. I do a fair amount of work with foam rc airplanes. Pull out a fresh xacto blade and it cuts like nothing.

With that said, you may find the edge dulls fairly quickly, or atleast the *perfect* edge that slices foam.

If your blade was a brand new, it would go even smoother.
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post #16 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 07:43 PM
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Don't use a torch or saw - they cause messes. Use this I have cut numerous holes in EPS with it. Make a simple template and you will turn out nice clean holes every time. Don't rush it though - the wire will bend and the end lags the part closer to the handle.
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post #17 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 08:08 PM
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Umm, that sounds like a pretty good idea.
I'll have to see if I can come up with something. I know when I used hole saws in the past. the teeth would tear it apart usually making a much larger hole.
Hole saws tear anything apart. I've seen the pipe thing I mentioned used to put holes in rolls of duct tape, seemed to work alright. Figure it'll work pretty well on foam because you've got a continous sharpish rim doing the cutting

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post #18 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
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Just a thought... Have you tried using the hole saw in reverse? You MAY have less tearing.
Why no I haven't. Sounds interesting and I'll have to give it a try with a scrap piece of foam.

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post #19 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 10:38 PM
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post #20 of 20 Old 11-30-2014, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Oh wow! now I've never seen anything like that before. Thanks Quickstep.

I guess I have to call for a price, but I have a couple of dull hole saws with broken teeth that I sometimes use on stucco and maybe I could sharpen one of those.

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