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Discussion about Foam Core

How to cut foam core neatly:

To cut foam core neatly there are only 2 pieces of equipment necessary; a metal ruler and an extremely sharp blade. I prefer a cutter (the type that requires that you break off a section of the blade when you want to sharpen the tool). The reason I prefer these is that, with an X-Acto knife you have to purchase a new blade every time one gets dull. When cutting foam core I strongly recommend that you change your blade no less often than once every 8 cuts. That's a lot of blades to buy! If you're using a cutter you just break off the end and proceed with your next cut. My personal favorite is called Auto-Lock because it is a more substantial weight and construction than most and it is comfortable in my hand. I bought it from a regular office supply store.


Be sure to work on a mat or other surface that will not be damaged from this process. Draw a line in pencil on the foam core to act as a guide for cutting. Lay your metal ruler along this line and hold it steadily with your off hand (your left hand if you're right handed). With your dominant hand make a cut just deep enough to cut the paper on the top of the foam core. It is important to cut into your ruler rather than trying to keep the blade lined up with the ruler. Next, make a second cut deep enough to cut through the foam only. Finally make a third cut to cut through the bottom piece of paper. You should now have a very straight, very neat edge.

foamcor1.jpg (13260 bytes)
Cutting into the ruler
(slight exaggeration for demonstration purposes)

foamcore.jpg (12877 bytes)
A neatly cut piece of foam core and my favorite cutter


If your edge is very jagged and has holes your blade was not sharp enough and caught on the foam core rather than slicing cleanly through it. Change your blade.

If your edge is not straight you did not cut into the ruler. What I mean by "cutting into the ruler" is that the leading edge of your blade should slightly point toward the ruler as you're cutting. See photo above

Further discussion:

I have seen a heated X-Acto knife demonstrated but I have never used one. I saw absolutely no benefit to the heated knife. The foam core was just as jagged as if someone with a dull blade had done it with a cold knife. There could be many reasons for this which have nothing to do with the knife so this is an uneducated opinion.