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Discussion Starter #1
1. Equipment needed-- 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 and were not 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.
  • Cutting Frame-- 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. It is very crude...but works very well.


  • 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 wire. To use the transformer, cut the end off of the wire and split the two wires. One wire will be attached to the top of your cutting frame and one to the bottom of the cutting frame.






  • Wire-- There are a few options here. When I first started I used Woodland Scenics 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... 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 100' roll will probably last the rest of my life. It is Kanthal 30ga wire with 8.36 Ohms/ft resistance. It costs about $15 (right now it is $4.50 shipped!!!). It can be found here... Other options I have tried that haven’t worked are guitar string (breaks about three times cutting one case), copper wire (too soft...melts quickly), or other standard wire. It needs to be resistance wire.
  • Xacto 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 the wire cutter. There are sometimes places where the wire cutter can’t get to that an exacto knife can. Rule of thumb here is that if the exacto knife cannot reach all the way through the foam you are trying to cut then use the wire. If it is a small corner or something the knife will work.


  • 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


  • Glue-- After all the foam is cut it is helpful to glue the foam together. I prefer to glue the top foam in the case and the middle and bottom foam together. If I want to carry a different rifle in the case I can switch out the middle and bottom foam as a set with another set of middle/bottom foam. 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... If you are gluing multiple rifle 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 properly. 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.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
2. Foam-- There are several types of foam that will work well for gun cases.
  • 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 for foam in gun cases...but again 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” and will need to be bought in the appropriate thickness for your case.
  • 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 it will not absorb water like the open cell foam. The down side to this foam is that the cost is significantly higher...but depending on how nice your rifle is it might be worth it. Once you try this foam you will not want to use the open cell ever again. I use 2.2lb Charcoal Polyethylene which can be found here... 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" foam (storm case).
  • Pick and Pluck Foam-- don't do it...just don't
  • 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 might not look as nice.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
3. Layout and Marking-- Several things here...
  • 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 most protected therefore you really want it to “float” in the case and the rifle to be held by the foam.


  • 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 some later time. The bipod can also float and not change the protection for the rifle.

  • 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 items inside 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 backside and mark it with sharpie (just be sure not to mark your equipment). Or you can mark 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 snug in 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 going 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. (PICTURE) 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 (PICTURE). I am afraid of leaking oil and solvent inside the case, so I store them in a short piece of 1 ½" 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. (PICTURE). Also...not everything has to be laid flat in the case. I stand 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 that they will fit standing up instead of laying down.
 
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
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. (PICTURE) 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 (PICTURE). Some items work better with finger holes cut all the way through (PICTURE) while other items work better with a beveled edge to grab the item (PICTURE). The beveled edge is easiest cut with an exacto knife.













 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
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 (PICTURE). 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.
  • 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!!!


Here is the case I am working on right now. It is not glued together yet because I am not completely done cutting. It is closed cell foam in multiple layers. 1" in the lid-- 2" for the gun-- 1" below the gun-- 1.5" for accessories underneath the gun (cleaning rod/kit, torque wrenches, ect). and 1/8" base under the tools. It is the first time I have tried more than 3 layers of foam in one case...but so far it is working well.



This is a H&K USP tactical / Osprey in a dewalt sawzall case. This is before I cleaned the chalk lines off.



This is a Glock 19/23 in a dewalt drill case



This is a seekins SBR in a dewalt drill/sawzall combo case



This is a cz455 in a pelican 3300. This is an early case I did before I knew some of the things I know now. It is open cell foam



This case was cut with a knife and it looks like it. I need to re-cut foam for this case. It is ugly. Notice the 10 round mags standing up in the case instead of laying down. they take up much less room! Notice that I also didn't leave enough room underneath the gun to leave a 10 round mag in the gun while it is in the case.




Should you have any questions or comments don't hesitate to ask.
 
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This is VERY informative and a great help as I will be doing a case soon! Thanks
 

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Outstanding ddd 007...I stuck it
 
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