How To for Cutting Foam in a Pelican Case



  • 1. EQUIPMENT NEEDED

    There are several ways in which to cut the foam in a pelican case and I have tried most of them. Pelican recommends the use of an electric carving knife...and that method works, but leaves crude cuts that are far from professional. I have also cut cases using just a razor (drywall) knife but again these results are even more crude. Neither of these methods were satisfactory for me. I would love to have the money to buy a CNC machine made to cut foam...but that is way out of my price range for no more cases than I cut.

    a. Cutting Frame

    The option I have found that I really like and works great is a homemade hot wire cutter. I just made a simple wooden frame and attached a cheap ($5) cutting board to allow the foam to slide smoothly.

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    **
    b. Transformer**

    Next you will need a transformer. I have a variable transformer, but the only reason is because that is what I had laying around. I use it at 9v and 1a. Any transformer from any electronics that is close to that range will work fine. 12v 1a is too much and will melt the wier. To use the transformer, but the end off of the wire and split it into two wires. One wire will be attached to the top of your cutting frame and the other wire to the bottom of the cutting frame.

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    c. Wire

    There are a few options here. When I first started I used woodland scenic's replacement wire and it works well and will cut several cases. It comes in a 4' section and costs about $5.50 and is long enough to make several cutting wires for your frame. It can be found here

    http://www.amazon.com/Woodland-Scenics-Wire-Replacement-WOOST1436/dp/B0006NARKY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455564453&sr=8-1&keywords=woodland+scenics+wire

    I cut cases for a lot of friends and several cases for myself...so after buying the 4' sections several times I finally broke down and bought a 100' roll. The 50' roll will probably last the rest of my life. It is Kanthal 30ga wire with 8.36 Ohms/ft resistance. It is sometimes even cheaper than that woodland wire. It can be found here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Atomist-PA-KA1-30GA50-Kanthal-Resistance/dp/B00VY1NSNU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1455564547&sr=8-2&keywords=kanthal+30ga

    Other options I have tried that haven't worked are guitar string (breaks about 3 times per one case). copper wire (too soft...melts too quickly), or other standard wire (can't handle the heat). It needs to be resistance wire!

    d. Exacto Knife

    This one is not absolutely necessary, but there are often small cuts that need to be made that are easier with an exacto knife than with a wire cutter. There are sometimes places a wire cutter can't get in to than an exacto knife can. Rule of thumb here is that if you are trying to cut then use the wire. If it is a small corner or something similar then the knife will work.

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    e. Needle

    A needle is very handy in threading the wire through the foam. I made one out of a piece of coat hanger. It is simple, but effective.

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    f. Glue

    After all the foam is cut, it is helpful to glue the middle and bottom foam together. I prefer to also glue the top foam into the case so that it won't fall out either. If you are going to want to carry a different rifle in the case then don't glue the middle/bottom foam into the case, just glue them together. I have used a few different adhesives and these are the best options I have found. If you are cutting a pistol case or only one rifle case then the 3M Super 77 works well. It can be found here:

    http://www.amazon.com/3M-21210-Super-Spray-Adhesive/dp/B00HSCNM4O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1455565043&sr=8-2&keywords=3m+super+77

    If you are gluing multiple cases then you are going to go through a lot of adhesive and will want something else. More often than not I use standard contact cement. It works well with the foam and I have never had it turn loose when applied correctly. The down side to contact cement is the smell. You don't want to do this in the house and it will take a couple of weeks before the smell is mostly out of your case...but I can live with the smell for as well as it works.



  • 2. FOAM

    There are several types of foam that will work well for gun cases

    a. Open Cell Foam

    The foam that comes with the pelican/storm cases is firm, open cell foam. It will absorb moisture and is not nearly as firm as I like from foam in my gun cases...but it does work. Replacement foam can be bought directly from pelican or can be bought from Foam Factory at a fraction of the price. It can be found here under "charcoal firm foam"

    http://www.thefoamfactory.com/packagingfoam/charcoalfoam.html#FirmCharcoal

    b. Closed Cell Foam

    Closed cell foam is much firmer and easier to work with and will produce a much more professional finish. It will also provide extra protection for your guns and will not absorb water like the open cell foam. The down side is that this foam is significantly more expensive...but depending on your rifle might be worth it. Once you try this foam you will not want to use open cell foam ever again. I use 2.2lb Charcoal Polyethylene which can be found here:

    http://www.thefoamfactory.com/closedcellfoam/polyethylene.html

    One major down side to cutting rifle cases with this foam is that it won't fold to ship...so you can only order it in 1/4 sheet configurations in the 2" thick foam (Storm cases).

    C. Pick and Pluck Foam

    don't do it...just don't

    D. Foam will arrive rolled up and shrink wrapped. You will be very angry when you first see it and will want to call and chew out the manager of the shipping department. Just relax. Unwrap the foam and let it lay out for a couple of days and it will look as good as new. DO NOT leave it wrapped up like it is shipped for any length of time or it likely will not look as nice.



    1. LAYOUT AND MARKING

    First off...take your time and mark everything before you begin cutting. Make sure that every item will fit where you want it. Allow extra space around your scope in case you ever change the scope. Also...you want the scope to be the most protected therefore you really want ti to "float" in the case and the rifle to be held by the foam.

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    Allow space below the rifle so that it will fit in the case with a mag (if that is what you want). I also allow extra space around the bipod in case I decide to go with a different bipod at a later time. the bipod can also float and not change the protection for the rifle.

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    Leave space for protection around the outside and between items. I like to leave at least 1" around the outside of the case and also between any heavier items in the case. With closed cell foam you can go a little less because the foam is much firmer.

    There are two methods of marking that I have used and they both work well. You can turn the foam over to the back side and mark it with sharpie (just be sure not to mark your equipment)....Or you can mark the foam with white chalk on the front (or back) of the foam. The chalk can easily be wiped away with a damp rag after the case is cut.

    Most people cut the foam too sung in gun cases. There is no reason for it to be a very tight fit. The gun can't go anywhere anyway and a tight fit will just make it more difficult when taking the gun in and out of the case. I usually trace around the gun and then leave the line when I cut the foam.

    Remember to think outside the box when laying out the foam. You have three layers of foam which can be used...not everything has to fit in the middle layer of foam. I cut the bottom layer of foam for a rear shooting bag and keep it under my rifle.

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    The shooting bag is soft and will not damage the rifle. I also keep torque wrenches, oil, and solvent under the "tackle box" case that I have.

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    I am afraid of leaking oil and solvent inside the case, so I store them in a short piece of 1.5" PVC with a test plug in the end. That way if they leak they will be contained in the PVC and I won't have solvent all over the case. Be sure to paint the pvc so it looks tactical!

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    Also...not everything has to be laid flat in the case. I sometimes stand the bolt and mags up so they take up less space in the top layer. They really don't need a full 2" of foam below them so I just cut both layers so they will fit standing up instead of laying down.



  • 4. Cutting the Foam

    After everything is laid out and you are happy with the configuration you can begin cutting. It is easier to start with the small items and then work up to the larger ones because the foam will lose some of its structure after you cut out the large items...especially if you are using open cell foam. Use the needle to thread the wire through the foam. You want to start at the corner of the object you are going to cut out and be careful to stay on the line. Do not start out in the middle of the cutout as it will not allow to use the cutout later (I will explain more later...just trust me for now). You can cut faster on straight cuts, but go slow around curves and pause at every corner to allow the wire to catch up...otherwise you will end up with
    cuts that are not straight up and down in the foam. After you go all the way around the item you are cutting out, turn off the heat and move the foam up and down slightly on the wire so that the foam does not stick to the wire.

    After you have cut out every item put the foam in the case and test fit everything. Some items will not be a full 2" thick and will be hard to get to.

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    That is where you will need the cutout pieces. Determine the necessary thickness and cut the cutout piece to the proper thickness to hold the item at the surface of the foam

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    Some Items work better with finger holes cut all the way through

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    Other items work better with a beveled edge to grab the item. The beveled edge is easiest cut with an exacto knife.

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  • 5. Gluing the Foam

    Start with the foam in the top of the case. I prefer to glue it in so that it will not fall out. Use a small, cheap paint brush with the contact cement and brush it on liberally. The foam will soak it up some but don’t skimp on glue.

    Next glue in all of the small pieces that change the height of the holes in the case. Carefully put contact cement on the sides of these and insert them from the bottom of the piece of foam to keep the glue off of the top side of the foam

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    Next glue the middle layer to the bottom layer. Be sure that everything is lined up properly. I then put a few magazines in the case so that it closes very tightly and leave everything over night. Then you are good to go!!!

    If you have any questions or something is not clear contact me and I will do my best to help



  • Excellent guide! Thanks for sharing.

    I used to do the custom foam thing... these days I get a Tac Ops drag bag, and throw it inside a hard case that fits.

    The custom foam thing sure does look pretty though. :)



  • Tac Ops 260
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    Seekins SBR in a dewalt case

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    174AE459-37F3-41CD-8FB4-61C995F38D84-3180-0000029F81A8907A_zpseb714525.jpg

    H&K USP Tactical/Osprey in a Dewalt sawzall case

    AFA98D9C-DE0D-4A5C-9700-3219013AF5A9-3180-0000029F96509031_zps8842297c.jpg

    91347469-3C10-4AB2-B0EE-E334D86E451B-3180-0000029F91AAC5A4_zpsc49132a6.jpg

    Glock 19/23 in a dewalt drill case

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    One of my first cases-- it is rough. LOL

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    Another case that I "learned on" again...pretty rough

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  • @orkan said:

    Excellent guide! Thanks for sharing.

    I used to do the custom foam thing... these days I get a Tac Ops drag bag, and throw it inside a hard case that fits.

    The custom foam thing sure does look pretty though. :)

    I am actually using a Tac Ops bag in a storm 3300 for my DT. I think it is plenty of protection and it works well too. I might cut foam for it at some point in the future, but not right now.



  • Very cool pictures.

    I'd be more worried about someone stealing a dewalt case than one that is marked FIREARM though. lol

    Some meth head will grab it, and run home to open it up. Then they'll get freaked out and throw it in the river. haha! :laughing:



  • @orkan said:

    Very cool pictures.

    I'd be more worried about someone stealing a dewalt case than one that is marked FIREARM though. lol

    I have thought about that...but don't let them out of my sight.

    I should have used Royobi cases. People would pay you to take those things.



  • @dddoo7 said:

    @orkan said:

    Very cool pictures.

    I'd be more worried about someone stealing a dewalt case than one that is marked FIREARM though. lol

    I have thought about that...but don't let them out of my sight.

    I should have used Royobi cases. People would pay you to take those things.

    HAHAH! Well this foam cutting guide is still way cool. If someone wants to do it, they'll only need to look here!



  • @orkan said:

    Very cool pictures.

    I'd be more worried about someone stealing a dewalt case than one that is marked FIREARM though. lol

    Some meth head will grab it, and run home to open it up. Then they'll get freaked out and throw it in the river. haha! :laughing:

    That's what I just said to a coworker.


  • Banned

    I just trace mine tightly to the rifle and then cut it out with a long razor knife. I don;t care so much how it looks but that it is snug and protects when flying. That is also why i don;t put all sorts of stuff in the case. Just the basics.

    [img]zCZrObu.jpg


 

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