How to Cut Foam

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How to Cut Foam

As the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” The same logic applies with foam. Foam comes in different varieties, sometimes carrying different properties. Of course, no single cutting device works best for all foam applications. You have to take into consideration the thickness, hardness and where the foam will be used.

Upholstery Foam

When using foam for stuffing pillows and mattresses, cutting foamthe cuts made should be precise, otherwise the bed items will look odd. For precision cutting, highlight the dimensions of the section to be cut with a marker. Remember, foam’s measurement should sometimes be larger than the space it will occupy, so it makes the upholstery pert. Use an electric knife, which works well with many foam types and applications, to slice through foam’s brittle layers with ease. You can purchase one at any home appliance store. Good alternatives for the electric knife are a razor knife and a sharp box cutter. You can also use a sabre saw to produce a smooth and elegant cutting finish.

Craft Foam

Craft foam is soft and thin, perfect for artworks and similar applications. Given its properties, a pair of scissors is the tool for the job. It can cut sheets of craft foam in a pretty short time. Even the dull ones used by kids sometimes work well with this type of foam. Don’t forget to mark the dimensions of the product on the sheet, before cutting, to reinforce precision.

Foam Board

The foam board is much tougher than regular foam. However, just like any type of foam, it is composed of coarse brittle material, making it a tricky item to cut. The scalpel-like X-acto knife comes as an efficient cutter, since it provides a balance of powerful cutting and control. When cutting through the foam board, you must use as little pressure as possible, which can be frustrating at first. Once you get the hang of it, making multiple low pressure cuts will be a cinch.

Thick Foam

Numerous applications require the cutting of thick layers of foam. Using an electric knife is nearly futile, since it will take you ages to finish a thick foam block. For the thickest layers of foam, you need a heavy duty tool that offers precision cutting – a bandsaw. Outline the section to be cut as a guide. Use the band saw with careful strokes, so the foam stays intact while being cut.

Right Type, Right Tool, Right Stroke

Cutting foam is challenging, given foam’s properties. Good thing there are cutting materials available for each foam type and application. With the right cutting tool and cutting stroke, slicing foam will never be a problem.



  1. jeff said,

    on July 30th, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Regarding foam board, if making long cuts that must have smooth edges (for example, mounting posters where the edge will show): the xacto knife will probably not yield good results no matter how careful you are. It may be worth investing in a decent-quality matboard or foam board cutter. These have guide rails which the knife slides along, allowing for a perfectly straight line. Their other key feature is a cutter where the tip of the blade is lower than the bottom of the foam core during cutting, meaning that one pass will do it – a perfect clean cut every time.

  2. Nicole said,

    on January 5th, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you for the useful information.