Intro: Foam Board Tools and a Quick Foam Board Box
I recently bought a board game called Elder Scrolls, which, if you like that kind of thing, is awesome by the way. The issue was is has lots (I mean hundreds) of pieces, counters, tiles, cards etc. and the box doesn't have compartments or provide a neat way of storing all the pieces.
After a quick search I found that a few folk had made some inserts with foam board, aka foam core. I thought they looked quite good, so I ordered some and gave it a go.
Foam board, as I have discovered, is a great prototyping and craft material, if you want to make a small box for a circuit board, or some craft bits and bobs, foam board is ideal. If you want to prototype a model chasis before spending time with plywood, foam board would be great for that too. Want to make a 3D picture frame, foam board.
I made few boxes and card holders, but it was taking me a reasonable amount of time 30-60 mins for each piece, mostly down to the repetitive measuring and cutting, folding and trimming (and of course the mistakes)
Another search for 'foam board tools' resulted in a few items which are pretty expensive, too much for this small project. So I thought and I thought and came up with an idea for a couple of tools which would make working with foam board much quicker and less error prone.
I also came up with criteria for whether these tools could be deemed a success, to make an accurate single foam board box with a partition in less than 5 minutes.
This instructable details how to make the two tools and how to make a 5cm x 5cm x 2.5cm box.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools
To make the tools to make the box, you will need:
- Some Foam Board, An A4 piece will be large enough (*See note below for exact sizes)
- A Utility Knife
- A Cutting Surface
- 3 x Utility Knife Blades
- A Steel Rule or Square
- A Sheet of Paper
- Some Tape, I used electrical tape, but pretty much any tape will do.
- Glue, I use a glue gun for speed, but PVA, tacky glue, contact adhesive or any other craft glue should work
*If you have off cuts of foam board available and don't want to cut into a whole new sheet, you will need:
For the Tools:
2 pieces 8cm x 4cm
For the Box:
1 piece 10cm x 10cm
1 piece 4.8cm x 2.4cm
Step 2: Cut Foam Board for Handles
Cut 2 x pieces of foam board to 8cm x 4cm,
These will be the handles for the tools.
Step 3: (Tool 1) Align the Blades
Get a piece of tape cut and ready, as you'll need to use one hand to hold everything in place.
Take two utility blades and place one on either side of the foam board you cut in the previous stage.
Use another piece of foam board as a gauge, to set the depth of the blades.
The blades should protrude about 9/10ths of the foam board thickness from the handle.
Err on the side of less protrusion, this tool is to be used to score the foam board, not cut it.
Step 4: (Tool 1) Fix the Blades With Tape
Tape the blades in place, making sure you cover the part of the blades which don't protrude (i.e. to protect your fingers when holding the handle)
This step is a little fiddly, you can use a small piece of tape to hold each blade in place then tape around both, add enough tape to hold the blades securely in place.
This Tool is Complete.
Step 5: (Tool 1) Test
Use your new tool and a metal ruler to score two parallel lines down a scrap piece of Foam board,
Flip the board over and check the blades have not cut thought the paper on the underside.
Now you should be able to fold back the foam board along one of the cuts you have just made (see pic).
If you can do these things your tool is a success.
TIP: if the two lines are a lot wider than the thickness of the foam board, give the two blades a squeeze together.
Step 6: (Tool 2) Add Paper Spacer
Take your piece of paper/post it note and fold it twice over (into 4) This will act as a spacer so when you use the tool it will be higher than the width of the foamboard (See step 9 Testing Tool 2)
Place the second foam board handle on top of the paper and trim it to size.
Step 7: (Tool 2) Align Blade
Get a piece of tape ready, as you will need to use one hand to hold the tool together.
Flip the foam board and paper over and place the last utility blade on top.
Using another piece of foam board as a guide set the depth the blade protrudes from the handle to be just bigger than the foam board width.
Step 8: (Tool 2) Tape the Blade in Place
Tape the blade in place, ensuring you cover the part of the blade which doesn't protrude from your handle (to protect your fingers when using the tool)
Use enough tape to secure the blade well.
Note that the tape will also add thickness to the tool.
Step 9: (Tool 2) Test
Lay a piece of foam board on a flat surface,
Lay the tool on the same surface, the tool's blade should be able to pass over the foam board without touching it
Take the folded foamboard from the previous tool's test and lay it on a flat surface with the remaining scored line facing upwards and the other side folded under.
Lay the tool on the same surface and draw it along the folded foam board. It should cut the folded foam board just above the paper and remove a 'channel' of foam.
If one of the the cut isn't quite deep enough to meet the other the channel removal can be helped with a fingernail.
If you have successfully cut a channel, your tools are finished!
TIP: When using the tool place your index finger on top of the blade, this will keep the blade from riding up when cutting.
Step 10: (BOX) Cut Foam Board
To make a 5cm x 5cm x 2.5cm high box with a single partition:
cut a 10cm x 10 cm piece for the box, (2.5cm side + 5cm base + 2.5cm side)
cut a 4.8cm x 2.4cm piece for the partition (this is a 10cm x 5cm piece with 1mm removed from each side which joins the box)
Step 11: (Box) Measure and Mark
Take the 10cm x 10cm piece of foam board and mark lines 2.5cm from each corner.
Mark a further line 4.75mm from one edge, this is centre line minus half the thickness of the foamboard i.e. 5cm - 0.25cm (remember which side of centre this line is)
Step 12: (Box) Cut Along Marks Using Tool 1
To make the box sides fold correctly you need to cut one pair of parallel lines on the inside of the marked line, and the other two on the outside of the marked line.
The diagram highlights this with little arrows to show which side of the lines to cut. Cut these lines with tool 1
This will leave you with two short sides, which will fold up onto the base, and two long sides which will fold alongside the base. Remember or mark which sides are the shorter sides.
Cut the centre line for the insert with tool1 so that the two scored lines will be either side of the centre of the base.
Step 13: (Box) Remove the Foam Board Channels
Remove the Channels from the foam board using the same technique as in the test for the second tool.
For each double score in the foam board fold the foam board back on itself and then run tool 2 down it's length cutting out the channel.
Step 14: (Box) Remove Corners
Remove the four corner squares of the foam board
The cut should leave the bottom flap of paper intact on the shorter of the box's sides (which we marked in step 11).
Although not 100% necessary this flap of paper can be stuck to the edge of the adjacent side of the box making a much neater finish.
Step 15: (Box) Glue and Fold Add the Insert
Take the longer sides of the box, run a bead of glue down the channel and fold the side up so it sits alongside the base.
Take the shorter sides of the box, run a bead of glue down the channel and up each of the flaps. Fold the side so it sits on top of the base, The flaps should cover the edge of the longer side nicely.
The first video shows how the long side and the short side will be folded, the second (quite long) video is the box being glued.
Run a bead of glue in the channel for the insert and simply push the insert in place.
The box is now complete.
TIP: if using a glue gun, use less glue on the flaps. Try not to leave any glue when you cross the channel for the insert as this will leave a blob of glue which you'll need to re-melt with the gun tip.
Step 16: And Finally...
Turns out making the two tools and a single box took less time than it took me to make one of the card holders for my boardgame.
I can now make a box in about 2 minutes, if I don't stop to take photos...