foam sheets

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
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foam sheets

Postby alex3410 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 4:46 pm

Hi all,

I have been watching layout videos on You Tube and most seem to make use of foam sheets ontop of the baseboard to help form hills and lakes etc

i am looking into the idea but not sure on what foam I need it this any good? : link

if so what do i need to use to cut it and are there any health issues to worry about when cutting it?

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Re: foam sheets

Postby Bufferstop » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:53 pm

If you use polystyrene sheet it can be cut with a saw blade or hot wire. Depending on the blade used it can release a lot of little poly balls which stick everywhere, including the inside of the vacuum cleaner. Cutting them with a hot wire cutter the edges are sealed. Squires, Proops etc sell the cutters, but for big jobs its easy to make your own providing you can find the wire. I just happened to have a reel of 10thou tungsten wire in my workbox, a leftover from a previous occupation, which will see my days out. The places that supply school labs should have it. 1 volt per inch seems a good starting value, you just stretch the wire across the mouth of an enlarged wooden replica of a fretsaw, and power it from something like an old H&M controller. There's a slightly different foam available from builders merchants which looks more like the inside of a crunchie bar, yellow with small holes in it. It's less messy to cut but releases a fine dust which means a mask must be worn whilst cutting it.
I built up my scenery by cutting contour boards from poly foam arranged in a grid pattern, with interwoven strips of thin card on top then about five layers of cut up brown paper sacks liberally code in dilute PVA.
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Re: foam sheets

Postby Pete » Tue Aug 06, 2013 8:59 pm


I've used the polystyrene sheets in your link above, they are great. A good tip is to stick them together with tile cement. I block them up into the thickness required and cut them to shape with a saw and a bread knife, the coarse teeth cut through it great. You'll end up with a snow storm of polystyrene balls as mentioned above, you'll be picking them out of your hair for months, but it's worth it. Once I have the basic shape I cover it with Tetrion or Polyfiller, plaster even, anything really that will smooth it over. You can use a hot wire cutter to form smoother contours, but I still recommend covering it with something as the polystyrene is rubbish at taking paint etc as it isn't very absorbative (is that a word!! you know what I mean).

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Re: foam sheets

Postby Pevensey Flyer » Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:29 am

Take a look at my layout 'Boship Abbey' ( link below).

This will give you a step by step guide on how to build a layout using polystyrene to form hills etc.

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