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Old Mar 18, 2006, 07:16 AM
georgefromvt is offline
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Best way to cut and shape styrofoam?


What is the best way to cut and shape Styrofoam? Recently I built pontoons for my GWS Pico Cub with recycled Styrofoam and did it by roughly cutting the Styrofoam with a knife, then covering the cores with a sheet of wax paper. I then used a warm iron to give the cores a pontoon shape. Afterwards, I removed the wax paper and covered them with ultra coat. Plane flies well and the balance came out perfectly. Once the ice is off the lake, I'll try a ROW. Any suggestions to cutting and shaping Styrofoam?
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Old Mar 18, 2006, 07:32 AM
hoppy is offline
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I'm afraid I'm not following what you did. You were ironing the styrofoam while it had wax paper on it? Was it melting? How were you shaping it? How hot was the iron? Didn't the wax melt?
Old Mar 18, 2006, 09:30 AM
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The wax paper kept the styrofoam from sticking to the iron. By having a layer of wax paper between the iron and the styrofoam, I could melt melt the styrofoam enough to give it a smooth surface and shape. After I finished with the iron, I peeled off the wax paper and covered the pontoons with ultracoat. It worked pretty well.
Old Mar 18, 2006, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgefromvt
By having a layer of wax paper between the iron and the styrofoam, I could melt melt the styrofoam enough to give it a smooth surface and shape.
Never heard of that before, but if it works...

I have not done much with foam yet but hot wire is the usual thing for making wings.
There is a thread somewhere here about making a styrofoam plane with knife, balsa plane and sand paper.
Old Mar 18, 2006, 09:50 AM
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hot wire


the classic way to cut polystyrene is using a hot wire.
what you do is build a "bow" withe a metal wire wich is heated by a electrical curent.

must say i like the idea of smoothing the surface of foam with wax paper / iron , never thought of that

edit; it apears more then one where replying at the same time
Last edited by cmulder; Mar 18, 2006 at 09:51 AM. Reason: uodate
Old Mar 18, 2006, 08:06 PM
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One of the better threads on hot wire foam cutters. Lots of info here: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=287621


Brad
Old Mar 18, 2006, 09:12 PM
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Sounds like you found a winner in forming styro. Keep practicing and you'll only get better at it..Pilot
Old Mar 20, 2006, 01:37 PM
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An electric fillet knife can be used to cut most types of foam. It works better than a regular knife, but not as well as a hot wire.
Old Mar 20, 2006, 01:44 PM
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I've not heard of an electric fillet knife. Is it heated or is it like an electric carving knife that is kind of like an electric hedge trimmer (ooohhh, there's and idea - well maybe to be reasonable, how about a sabre saw with a knife blade)

Walt
Old Mar 20, 2006, 01:58 PM
Skonkworkstexas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgefromvt
The wax paper kept the styrofoam from sticking to the iron. By having a layer of wax paper between the iron and the styrofoam, I could melt melt the styrofoam enough to give it a smooth surface and shape. After I finished with the iron, I peeled off the wax paper and covered the pontoons with ultracoat. It worked pretty well.
Let me get this right-when you pulled the wax paper off the styro was smooth like Blucor? I know whenever I have overheated styro, the balls just get bigger and uglier.
Old Mar 20, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Another way to make them would be to build a hollow structure out of Blucor fan fold foam. You could cut out a few formers for the shape and then either wrap the foam around them or glue flat pieces to them. Low temp hot melt glue is my adhesive of choice. By making your pontoons hollow instead of solid foam, you would save a significant amount of weight.

I just built a fuselage last night using this technique and it worked out great. As long as you keep the skinned side of the foam on the outside of the bends, it will fold 180 degrees back on itself without tearing.

Tom
Old Mar 20, 2006, 02:26 PM
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Band sawa or jig saw custs foam nicely. Simple sanding after is all that is needed. There's a great thread about cutting pontoons somewhere...
Old Mar 20, 2006, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjbite
I've not heard of an electric fillet knife. Is it heated or is it like an electric carving knife that is kind of like an electric hedge trimmer (ooohhh, there's and idea - well maybe to be reasonable, how about a sabre saw with a knife blade)

Walt
I'm sorry Walt, I mean an electric carving knife. We just used to use them exclusively for cleaning fish, and making fillets out of them. The sliding blades cut foam much more cleanly than an ordinary blade.
Old Mar 20, 2006, 08:04 PM
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My cub flew great!


I was able to get a couple of ROGs in yesterday before the wind came up. It flew great and doing touch and goes on the snow was flawless. Balance seems fine and I am anxious for spring to come so I can get some ROWs in once the ice is off the lake. Here in Northern Vermont, spring doesn't come till May!

Using a warm iron to shape styrofoam worked well for me. Thanks for all the advice.
Last edited by georgefromvt; Mar 21, 2006 at 06:42 AM.
Old Dec 14, 2007, 08:20 AM
cesareDH is offline
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Cutting Strofoam


[QUOTE=georgefromvt]

http://www.thecraftplace.com/store/m...Product_ID=327


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