How to make your own custom foam inserts

If you’re looking to store and protect your valuable items (whether it’s camera equipment or your trusty tools), there’s no better way to do so than with custom foam inserts. Whilst a professionally designed and cut insert is nearly always best, it isn’t always necessary. You can always create one yourself.

That said, it can be easy to get wrong. ‘Pick n’ pluck’ foam is a far from perfect concept, and with a poor cutting technique your new foam inserts may not be as effective.

We’re going to help you avoid this. Here’s how to make your own custom cut foam inserts, DIY style.

Step 1: Identify your size requirements

You’re going to need a case, but which size? Firstly, you need to lay out all your equipment in an order you imagine they’ll be set out in, and allow for around half an inch between each piece of equipment and the foam’s edge. Take note of the minimum area that will hold everything safely (but, again: allow for some give because if your equipment is squeezed in then it’ll be a hassle trying to prise it out).

Then, you’ll want to measure the tallest piece of equipment and add on around an inch (an inch ½ at most) for a bit of leeway. From this, you are able to gauge the minimum internal height of the case you need.

Step 2: It’s time to choose a case

Choose a case that adheres to your exterior/interior dimensions. In other words, choose one that fits. Whatever your specifications are, we have a vast range of cases available, from rugged camera cases and watch cases to sturdy tool cases. All made by respected brands like Peli and Hofbauer, too.

Step 3: Foam at the ready…

Have your sheet of foam prepared. You will need three pieces: two thin pieces to go inside the lid and base, and then a thicker wedge to go between them. This is where things get a little tricky.

Because you need to understand the thickness of the top and bottom pieces, what you do is take the internal height of the case and subtract the height of your largest piece of equipment. Then, you divide by two and add half an inch so the equipment fits snug when the case is closed.

Step 4: What should you use to cut?

If you have one, an electric carving knife is best. However, as they’re not the most common household items to get a hold of you can use a hacksaw (smaller the better). A wood saw will be too unwieldy and you’ll probably make a mess, and a kitchen knife is too hard to control (which could result in injury). So, go for a hacksaw.

Step 5: Cutting out the holes

Using protective gloves, secure the foam whichever way you can (a workbench clamp works best). Of course, leave the section out that you want to cut. Grab the equipment/items you want to put into the case, and draw around them. Cut a quarter of an inch inside the line so that the equipment is snug but can be taken out easily.

All that is left to do is take the cut-out insert out and your foam is cut and ready to use. We recommend that you purchase an extra sheet that you can practice on. We dare you to get it right the first time…

Why not try our custom cutting services?

Like we’ve said, it’s an imperfect method that works for a lot of people, but not all. If you prefer a precise cutting method with swift die-cutting techniques and even laser engraving, take a look at our custom foam service. It could be the perfect solution.

In the meantime, keep an eye on our blog section. We regularly update it with fresh content, and there are so many custom foam resources available. For more information, call us on 0800 8400 166 or get in touch here.

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