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I bought some ½” thick Gatorfoam board for a complicated project that will need many long narrow strips cut. This is the foam core that has a hard plastic shell, not paper.

 

When I bought it and asked how to cut it, it was suggested I use a sharp, new utility knife. An hour later, I have managed 2 cuts and my hands are so sore I can’t do any more tonight. And they sure weren’t the clean cuts I had been planning on. I’ve cut lots of regular foamcore before: but this stuff is tough!

I was going to try a hand miter saw tomorrow but realize the back spine of that won't let me cut very far into it. Most of my cuts will be 19" long. With regular hand saws made for wood, I think the teeth would be too big. 

 

Google suggests a table saw, bandsaw, or router. I don’t have any of those. 


Any other suggestions? Thanks.

 

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Take a piece of what you are cutting to Home Depot or Lowes and show it to someone who works there. 

They should be able to find you the correct cutting tool.

Thanks. I'm not impressed with the knowledge of those folks. I can't tell you how often they have told me a product I wanted did not exist. Or that one would not do what I wanted and of course it did. 

Hello Linnea,

Yea!  This stuff will sure argue with you!!  Many years ago I built some GatorFoam boxes (like jewelry box-sized) and think I cut it with a hand-held jigsaw and an extremely fine-toothed blade -- probably one for cutting metals.  I do know that my saw was not an expensive one -- probably the least expensive on the market at the time -- it is, after all, the blade more so than the motor.  With this method, you'll need to leave a hair's breadth extra so you can refine your edge with a sanding block.  Good Luck.

--Chris Fedderson

P.s. If you go to Lowes or Home Depot, go to the Pro Desk or Contractor's Desk or whatever they call it... You'll get far better advise than you will from Holiday Temporary Help... no disrespect to them.

Thanks. I'm still testing things. I found my hand miter saw - with fine teeth - cuts it with ease. But of course I can go only 5 inches or so before hitting its spine. 

So at least I know what kind of teeth per inch will cut it. Once Black Friday is over I will venture out. A jig saw sounds like it would work. I'd probably get a very wavy line but I can sand it.

What kind / grit of sandpaper did you find useful? Everything I have now is 320 and finer. 

I probably used 100 or 150 only since those would be the 'general use' ones I would have had lying around.  Of course, 320 would be better from the standpoint of a very clean, smooth edge. Only question would be would it take a billion years to finish the edge...?

You could always start with 100/150 and do a finish on it with 320... or finer. Just be sure you always use a sanding block. Years ago, when I was making these boxes, I made a block out of a 3x5ish piece of G-Foam and it is still a daily tool in our studio.  This shyt is tough!!

Good Luck,

--Chris

Thanks. I found some rougher grit - cheap stuff I stopped using because it shed granules all over - under a pile of stuff. It does not seem to matter for this. I found using a wood file was actually helpful to take the biggest bumps off first. 

A good small handheld cordless saw is this one from Makita. Has many uses and not expensive so depending on how much DIY you do it would be a good buy. It will give you a cleaner cut than a jig saw. I have cut 3/4 in thick wood wood with no problem.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Makita-12-Volt-MAX-CXT-Lithium-Ion-3-3-...

As far as cutting goes clamp/hold it down and use a straight edge to run saw against clamp it too. The cleaner the cuts the less sanding and cleaning up edges you'll have to do.

Also many home centers like Home Depot have tool rentals so check that too.

I solved the problem.  I suddenly remembered the acrylic sculptures I used to make. I would score the acrylic then snap it. The acrylic scoring tool cuts a very fine trough in plastic, pulling out a skinny ribbon of plastic. I found one of my tools (astonishing to even find it), and it worked. Once I had a trough cut with a few passes, the utility knife needed much less pressure to cut through. I theorize that when using the utility knife alone, it would bind in the edges of the plastic. Cutting within the trough eliminated that problem.

 

I needed to get this DONE and clear these giant boards off the workbench. So at least the cutting part is over.

 

So if anyone needs to cut this stuff by hand, look for an acrylic scoring tool.

That is too bad the people at Home Depot or Lowes have not been helpful. I was surprised to hear that. My husband and I practically live at those stores with all of the art and home projects we have done through the years with several older homes to major redo. Plus building a pottery studio more than once. They have been so helpful, I have brought items into the store that they have even cut down for me for free- such as kiln shelves. I guess we have been fortunate.

I'm glad that you solved your cutting problem.

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