Are you looking to get into fabricating props and costumes with EVA foam? Here’s a list of the minimum set up that you need to get started making your own amazing costumes and props out of EVA foam. It’s a great place to start and build upon as you expand your foam crafting skills.
EVA foam, also called craft foam or anti-fatigue mats, is an affordable and easy to use material. You can make all manner of things out of foam, the only limit is your imagination. There are 3 thicknesses commonly available, 1/2 inch floor mats,1/4 inch, and 1/8 inch. Thicknesses will vary some what based on the manufacturer. You can order them online, or get them in hardware stores and/or craft stores.
Once you’ve got the foam, you’ll need the pattern or blue prints of whatever it is you’re going to make. To draw that on your foam you’ll need some pens, I just buy bulk packs of them. Sharpie markers work too, but they leave thick lines, you can be way more exact with a ball point pen. Rulers and stencils are also wonderful tools to have. I like to use metal rulers because I can also use them as a guide for cutting without risking cutting into the ruler.
Once you’ve got your pattern traced out on the foam, you’ll need a way to cut it. I like to use an x-acto blade, slide blades work well too. Most importantly is always having a sharp blade, and the foam will actually dull blades fairly fast. You can either buy blades in bulk or you can do what I do and also highly recommend, buy a sharpener and save a lot of money in the long run.
Next you may need to sand, carve or bevel your foam. Once of the most used tool in my shop is my Dremel, aka a rotary tool. I also recommend having the flex shaft attachment, it will make a world of difference for granting you more dexterity and letting you get finer levels of detail.
also equally as important are the bits that you’ll use with your Dremel. The most important is the sanding drum, a very common bit for most rotary tools. These sanding drums commonly come in two sizes seen here, and also in several grits. In addition I recommend the long grinding pieces, which are actually chain saw sharpening bits. Then there are other various shapes and sizes that you can try out and see what works best for you. For more detail on my favorite bits check out my old blog post here.
Another great tool that every foam fabricator needs is a heat gun. It looks pretty much like a hair dryer but gets super hot. This tool is used to heat up the foam and shape it, add curves to it or even conform it to a shape. I go more over that in my basic foam tutorial, as well as tricks to use it for in this old blog post here.
Lastly, you’ll need to glue your foam pieces together! For this I recommend either hot glue or contact cement. In particular I use barge contact cement, be careful with it though as it is potent. Wear a respirator and use it in a well ventilated area. The other option is hot glue if you’re in a pinch, although I would highly recommend the barge over all other adhesives for foam. hot glue guns are also great for adding the straps to armor which you can learn more about here.
Once you have your tools and are ready to start learning foam fabrication techniques, grab one of these great ebooks filled with all of the tips and tricks that you’ll need to know to make incredible props and costumes from EVA foam.