Introduction: Body Armor From Craft Foam

Picture of Body Armor From Craft Foam

This is some armor I made from craft foam from Hobby Lobby(79 cents a sheet). After a little planning and a lot of effort, this is the result.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Here's what you'll need:

Craft foam(once again, Hobby Lobby- 79 cents)
Glue gun
A good plan, and probably use a drawing.

The picture is the foam, which is 2mm thick, I believe.

Step 2: The Idea

Picture of The Idea

Get a drawing, preferably. If your memory is that good, well, you're lucky.

If you have a turned(3/4) view, you will want to draw the front and back as well.

Unnecessary note: I later scrapped the "gas mask" look for the "made in one night" look.

Step 3: Draw the Design and Cut It Out

Picture of Draw the Design and Cut It Out

As the title says, in this step you should draw the design on the foam and then cut it out. I you don't want to have to glue each individual piece(which I didn't, but whatever), then just push hard when you are drawing on the foam. I ended up cutting out the pieces and then covering them with another sheet, which I then drew the design on again.

Step 4: Glue

Picture of Glue

Glue the foam pieces down on another big piece for the backing. I messed up on the back a little and made it lopsided, but it wasn't a big problem.

Step 5: Glue Another Piece Down and Add Velcro

Picture of Glue Another Piece Down and Add Velcro

Add another layer of foam to the top(if you want to, but be warned: It gets pretty stiff). Although if it gets stiff, you can probably make it less so by using the armor a lot. Add Velcro to secure the sides.

Step 6: Complete the Costume.

Picture of Complete the Costume.

Use anything else you want on the armor to make it suitable for the occasion to which you are going. I made a face mask and glued it to a hood, but use whatever looks good to you.


BubbaNosferatu (author)2012-10-26

Would this be a good way to make some fake muscles to put under a spandex suit? Say gluing the pieces to long johns and putting the skin suit over it?

Jerobajas (author)2008-08-16

If anyone's serious about modifying the above project into lightweight body armour for airsoft / bb skirmishes, I'd recommend using heavyweight canvas as the bread in a foam sandwich. While leather is indeed effective, you'd be hard pressed to find a cheaper, more protective, consistent in ballistic retardation, or easier to work with material than good old hempen or cotton duck canvas. Whatever your finished project yields in protective value, any gear of this nature MUST be tested and proved by withstanding at least twice the penetration force the item was designed to defeat in practical application. Lastly, if your definition of a "bb gun" is a .177 pump air rifle, spitting conical-tipped pellets at 750 f.p.s., forget canvas and foam. Start thinking ceramics and carbon fiber, or reserve a bed at your local emergency room prior to going into action.

ilpug (author)Jerobajas2012-03-27

Sandwiched plates of ABS plastic or lexan with heavy leather in between stops pellets pretty well.

drcrash (author)2007-11-14


You can also vacuum form craft foam pretty easily, to get compound curves and fairly fine detail.

Check out these threads over on if you're interested:

You can also paint it with flexible paints, and metallize the highlights with Rub 'n Buff to make pretty good grungy-metal-looking armor. (A lot of Lord of the Rings fans make craft foam armor... there's a web site for it, but I don't have the link.)

3mm craft foam is really nice, about 3x less floppy than 2mm, but a bit more expensive.

You can get 2mm black or white or red Foamies (TM) in 3 x 5 foot rolls at some craft stores (like JoAnn's) or online. (I wish I could find 3mm and other colors in large sizes.) There's also 6mm "Super Thick Foamies" but it only seems to come in 9 x 12 inch size.

For 12 x 18 inch sheets, Hobby Lobby does have good prices. The 12-sheet multi-color pack is only $4, or about 33 cents a sheet. (If you're just looking for a lot of one or two colors, that's not much help, but if you make a variety of things, it's cool.)

TheGeekFather (author)drcrash2010-10-28

I just set the oven to warm let it warm up and set the foam in for a few minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY if you plan on using this method. Stay by the stove and check it every few minutes. It should take less than 10 minutes if you have the foam already taped to a form. Or You can preheat the form if it's out of wood to speed things up rather quickly.

But this is only for forming the foam into things like bracers. You cant get decent detail unless you use the vacuum former

rweaver59 (author)drcrash2008-08-24

You can find it in gray at search on <eva foam>. Or google <eva foam sheet>.

Starwarsfanatic (author)2010-01-12

Would you be able to paint it???

Get the Krylon paint for bonding with plastic.

Or You can coat it with Plasti Dip for a leather look. And even Plasti dip can be painted with the same krylon paint.

Also If you plan on making stuff out of the 2 mm stuff you may want to add some fabric on the inside to give it strength. Use a spray adhesive.

nkRtist (author)Starwarsfanatic2010-09-26

I think so.

TheGeekFather (author)2010-10-28

Go to wall mart or similar store and get the rolled foam mats. they are thicker and for the amount you get they can be cheaper. AND if you need the large pieces then it works pretty good. I'm not a fan of the glue gun anymore. Instead I use Elmers Rubber cement. (don't use contact cement it has a lot more fumes)

Also Dollar stores can sell some as well. It's usually a pack of 10 sheets for a buck the paper sized sheets or I have also found 34 4x6 sheets for a dollar. Still the 10 pack is better as it can be cut up into 40 of the smaller sheets.

Alien Terminator (author)2010-10-17

Started making my own, but I'm taking your concept a little farther. Instead of having two large sheets of the foam that go on the outside, I'm attaching the foam directly to a sleeveless, strechy shirt. In the end, it'll probably end up being a vest that fits close to the body. I'll post an image when it's completed. Nice job with yours, it looks great!

seabananers (author)2010-07-05

it looks like the cobra armor from the new-ish movie

Viral Death521 (author)2008-07-24

I think it looks awesome, predator mask aside. At the very least, it's the ultimate stalker/Halloween madman costume lol. Question. Do you know what else you could add to turn it into decent Airsoft Armor? Besides leather, because, like shadowgravity said, it can get a little pricey. I mean, if you have the money, go ahead. About ten dollars for a leather kit that you could slap onto there, but I want some decent airsoft armor. What could I add onto this to make it be able to survive in the battleground? Thanks! Oh, and, some spaulders would be nice. -521-

If you feel that you really need armor for airsoft or just think it would be cool to wear it into a skirmish (you'd be right, wearing armor is just cool), you have to decide what you want from your armor. Do you want it to work and to protect you or would you rather sacrifice mobility to be a badass bipedal tank. If you go for mobility, foam isn't a bad idea. It's light weight, and flexible but there is a chance that prolonged exposure to withering airsoft gunfire could literally shred your armor. If you go with light sheet metal, it's heavy, hot and awesome to look at. Heavy or light, form or function? It's your choice.

nkRtist (author)Viral Death5212008-07-27

Football (soccer) shinguards could help. Actually, hockey guards are even better, and cheap if you can find them at a thrift shop like Goodwill or Salvation Army. And craft foam would protect against airsoft fairly well if you layered it up. For instance, here I put three layers of craft foam together and would have no problem getting shot with an airsoft gun. The only problem is that flexibility is bad. You could adhere thin aluminum flashing to the front or back of one layer of foam, I suppose. That might work. Anyways, those are my ideas. Feel free to improve upon them.

djgangrel69 (author)2009-05-14

I applaud you for your creativity with low budget materials (i love to go the cheap route first also :) If I may make a suggestion, why not buy a cheap plastic garbage can from your local wal-mart or target and cut out a main base for the front and back piece and then glue the foam onto it. It would give it a more sturdier look, plus you could use some scraps and make it look a little layered. Just a thought, i just think the black parts on top would stand out a little more with a red under layer or something.....great job though :) two thumbs up!

volquete (author)2008-11-21

body armor was cool, but my advise is to make a cardboard mask. look at some instructables to find out how to make a cool good looking one.

Jerobajas (author)2008-08-16

Sorry, I overlooked one thing - do not ever use metal as a material for homemade ballistic protective gear. The risk of spalling, fragmentation, richochet, laceration, etc. is far too great to justify its application for the novice.

pebbles1 (author)2008-07-06

some girls think guys dressed like predator are hot i think you need to find more in painting......

nkRtist (author)pebbles12008-07-19

Think you're pretty funny, don't you?

pebbles1 (author)nkRtist2008-07-19

actually i do its good to have a sense of humor..

nkRtist (author)pebbles12008-07-24

Oh, undoubtedly.

andyhuntdesigns (author)2008-05-26

Suggestion: I think this would look much better it you glued the cut out pieces to a darker backing layer so their shape would actually stand out.

slimguy379 (author)2008-05-26

you look oddly familiar to "the predator" in this picture (looks as though you have dread locks!

that one guy... (author)2008-03-07

omg i laughed so hard when i saw the mask. but the body is awsome.

i agree, the mask is whack and disproportionaltely odd tot he skill you put into the body. have you thought of cutting other foam to have raised plates?

stormwolf012000 (author)2008-01-31

Looks pretty good, but a closer fit could work wonders. I'd cut out the backing pieces first and tape them onto yourself, and take away from areas to make it fit the lines of the body more. Securing the sides with more velcro would also be a lot of help in getting this same design look cooler and less costumey.

diamonoidx (author)2007-12-08

ihave a question what material would be good if u were to make armor for aa bb gun fight that would like actually protect you if this doesnt?

halomaster007 (author)diamonoidx2008-01-09

possibly thick cardboard

shadowgravity (author)diamonoidx2007-12-29

leather, except it can get expensive

WurdBendur (author)2007-12-11

Some simple spaulders would improve the look a lot and would be easy to make out of foam.

Mr Tenacious (author)2007-11-04

Have you tried and tested how effective it is, like shot yourself with a bb gun etc?

drcrash (author)Mr Tenacious2007-11-14

Craft foam is not very tough or strong. It's something like 90 percent air. You wouldn't want to use it to protect you from a decent bb gun. It's easy to work with and comfy for costume stuff, though.

ItsTheHobbs (author)2007-11-03

1st comment!! oohhhhhhhhhhhh!! aaaaa!!! scary!!!!

GreenDay (author)ItsTheHobbs2007-11-03

Do you feel that it is required to post "1st comment" everywhere? It's not really a special thing...

firemanfu (author)GreenDay2007-11-03

I agree


drcrash (author)a grain of alt.2007-11-14

Fourthed---and flagged.

jtobako (author)GreenDay2007-11-03

It's code for 'I'm an idiot, watch me dance' ; ) On the armor (to stay on topic): a quick dry brush or use of two close colors will make the relief work look better (dark charcoal on black, for instance). And taper the waist a bit-you look to much like one of the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

nerfer192 (author)2007-11-05

what guns are those?

nkRtist (author)nerfer1922007-11-05

One's a "double agent" gun(whatever that means) from Halloween Express, and the other's a broken Beretta 92 airsoft gun.

Spectrace (author)2007-11-03

im asuming that is an airsoft gun.. if not then you shouldnt be pointing it at a camera haha.. nice instructable... cheap but efficient

Mr Tenacious (author)2007-11-03

pretty cool,

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