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  #1  
Old 05-31-2012, 9:47 PM
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Default Weapons Case Hotwire Foam Cutting - 21 Pix (Diagram Added 6/20/12)

Mods, Admins, I really wasn't sure where to post this and figured this was an appropriate section. If it is not, sorry, please move it to where it belongs. Thanks!


So I got this idea from ARFCOM and decided to do it myself. There is an extensive thread on that site, but I figured I'll post my version here as there are many members who don't visit ARFCOM as much as Calguns. I used a Pelican case, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy with high-density foam.

If you decide to do this, take your time for best results. I spread this project over few days as time allowed and it literally took hours each time.

Here is my primitive hot wire foam cutter:

25V transformer from Radio Shack - $14
Light Dimmer Switch, Home Depot - $5
Brass rod 1/4"x3', some metal supply joint - $8
Nichromium wire, ebay - >$2
Lumber - free lefrovers from friends
Total Cost - >$29

After cutting, I learned that the I need to shorten the length of the wire by at least half. It is due to the fact that it tends to "drag" and if it's shorter, there is less of a chance for a f**k up with a shorter and tenser wire.




Now trace around your weapon, or whatever it is you're putting in your case.





Once you're done, clean up your lines with a straightedge.



When finished, it should look somewhat like this.

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Last edited by Elwood_Blues; 06-20-2012 at 10:51 PM..
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2012, 9:48 PM
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At this point it’s a good idea to make yourself a drink, you’ll need it, trust me on this one.




It’s also helpful to measure what you traced in few spots to compare with original to make sure you’re on target. I feel that if it’s a 1/16” or so short, it’s actually good to keep things tight.





Once you got everything on paper (I used poster board) it’s time to cut it all out. I used an exacto knife and straightedge, but sharp scissors will work just fine.


In my case, I had a pretty simple set up in mind, so there aren’t that many options for me. However, now it is time to let your imagination wonder. If you have one rifle with multiple uppers, lowers, accessories, etc., lay it all out. If you have a bunch of accessories, it is helpful to take a picture of each set up you come up with and once you explored all possibilities, just scan through your pix and pick what works best for you.







Once you’re happy with your set up, lay the first piece you’ll cut and hold it in place. I had pushpins, so that’s what I used, but thumbtacks will work just as good.



Cut a pilot hole, sharp knife is helpful at this point as razor is not big enough to cut all the way through this piece of foam, but that’s all I had at the moment and didn’t feel like getting a knife.


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  #3  
Old 05-31-2012, 9:48 PM
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Feed the wire through the pilot hole, attach it back on the rod and turn your contraption on.




It is good to have some scrap foam so you can adjust the heat on the wire. You don’t want it glowing red as that will burn right into your paper template. Just play around at this point with a spare piece of foam.

Once you have the heat dialed in, start cutting. I found that is helpful to have support on both ends of the cutter to keep the foam from bending down once it leaves the cutting surface. Nice and slow around the template.




When you complete the cut around the template back to the pilot hole, you probably won’t be able to cut any further without checking first how well you did and fit your piece into the cutout.

Once you’re pleased with your work, you might want to put the “plug” back into the hole before you start the next cutout to try to keep the entire foam more stiff.





The last step is to cut some of the plugs to appropriate thickness to compensate for the item’s width. In my case I only cut the bolt plug and one for the Glock. I just used a piece of wood as guide to make my cut straight.






Insert the plug back into the hole and you’re pretty much done. Note the difference in depth of the hole where there is a plug.

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Last edited by Elwood_Blues; 05-31-2012 at 10:02 PM..
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  #4  
Old 05-31-2012, 9:49 PM
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Now put all your items in the case and enjoy!




I kept the templates for future projects. I'm also keeping the plugs to use if I'm not putting some of the items into the case to keep things tight.



EDIT: The Diagram

As you can see, I'm not a graphic designer, nor an electrical engineer. This is a guide only, not directions. I WILL NOT be responsible for any injury, damage, death, or whatever else you can think of.


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Last edited by Elwood_Blues; 06-20-2012 at 10:48 PM..
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  #5  
Old 05-31-2012, 10:10 PM
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Nice results.
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  #6  
Old 05-31-2012, 10:14 PM
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Very nice job! Looks super clean!
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  #7  
Old 05-31-2012, 10:31 PM
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cool write up, I will be needing this thread soon !!
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  #8  
Old 06-02-2012, 11:20 AM
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Nice how-to! Good job OP.
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2012, 11:28 AM
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Very cool man!

Some day when I get me a high speed pelican case I'll have to do this.

Justin
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  #10  
Old 06-02-2012, 11:48 AM
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Very, very nice! Great job!
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  #11  
Old 06-02-2012, 12:03 PM
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nice job!
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  #12  
Old 06-02-2012, 12:07 PM
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Good work.
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Old 06-02-2012, 8:56 PM
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Absolutely beautiful. I wish you lived on my block...
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Old 06-02-2012, 9:08 PM
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nice, where did you get that foam at?
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2012, 9:44 PM
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Looks awesome!
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  #16  
Old 06-03-2012, 12:31 AM
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Thanks for all the complements everyone, I really appreciate it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noonanda View Post
nice, where did you get that foam at?
Came with the case. I also have a spare center piece that I got on the trade so I can cut a different set up.
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  #17  
Old 06-03-2012, 5:24 AM
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Since you've already invested in building the equipment and have some experience now, consider doing a few freebies for Calgunners to get some feedback, then maybe charge for the service for a moderate/reasonable fee.

Myself, I would not want to do this as a project, as I'd simply outsource the cutting of the foam over DIY.

Websites are cheap to develop and maintain. Stick with locals that aren't shipping anything to you.

I'd guess within 6 months you could have about 10 cases a week easy if you "spread the word" right.
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Old 06-03-2012, 6:05 AM
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Very nice. You definitely put some good effort into that.
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2012, 8:51 AM
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Nicely done. This has been on my To-Do list for some time.
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Old 06-03-2012, 9:01 AM
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Exceptional job! Well done. (Much much better than my attempt. )
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Old 06-03-2012, 9:11 AM
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Great job! I'm doing this some day
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Old 06-18-2012, 4:10 PM
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Well I guess I will let you build mine....when can I expect it on my doorstep?
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Old 06-18-2012, 4:30 PM
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Just kidding... kind of It's awesome and now I know what I'm going to be doing for my summer vacation
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Old 06-18-2012, 5:46 PM
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Should I get in line?
Could use a little foam cutting to fit my Streamlight TLR-4
How many beers do you charge?
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Old 06-18-2012, 6:09 PM
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very helpful, will be using this soon thanks!
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Old 06-19-2012, 8:18 AM
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Tagging.
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Old 06-19-2012, 8:31 AM
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Great write up! I liked the pic with the Vodka!
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Old 06-19-2012, 2:49 PM
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I would like to know where can I purchase some foam as well...
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Old 06-19-2012, 2:58 PM
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Ya im tagging this one, it would actually be a good sticky somewhere, like the how to section
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Old 06-19-2012, 3:05 PM
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Thats pretty cool man, thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-19-2012, 4:14 PM
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very cool great job. I tend to be a bit messier with stuff like this. Mine would look like I took a hacksaw to it.
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Old 06-19-2012, 6:46 PM
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Quote:
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I would like to know where can I purchase some foam as well...
foam supplies LA

http://millerfoam.com/

http://packaging.advancedfoam.com/polyurethane/

http://www.foammart.com/

or call people on this list

http://www.yellowpages.com/los-angel...yurethane-foam
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Old 06-19-2012, 7:01 PM
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Great work!
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Old 06-19-2012, 7:53 PM
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Excellent write-up! And I love the mix of old and new in the case!
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Old 06-19-2012, 7:56 PM
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Nice work.
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Old 06-19-2012, 9:35 PM
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Thanks for the help cant wait to try it.
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Old 06-21-2012, 2:15 PM
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Just a quick note here. I called Miller foam, the first contact on the list that "weekend plinker" listed (Thanks for that) and I talked to a guy named John.

He suggested "Extra Firm High Density Polyurathane (sp) Foam". It comes in dark charcoa, is chemical resistant, comes in many different thicknesses up to 2" thick. Sheets are 24" by 72" 2" thick are $36.00, 1" thick sheets are $18.00.

They are in South El Monte.

I am in the process of building a foam cutter, just in the begining stages of tracking things down. I'll keep you all posted on how things go. Heading out right now to get the Nichromium wire.

A big thanks to Elwood Blues for posting his projects, information, and wiring diagram.
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Old 06-21-2012, 2:29 PM
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Outstanding.. very nice
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Old 06-22-2012, 2:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finyllw View Post
Just a quick note here. I called Miller foam, the first contact on the list that "weekend plinker" listed (Thanks for that) and I talked to a guy named John.

He suggested "Extra Firm High Density Polyurathane (sp) Foam". It comes in dark charcoa, is chemical resistant, comes in many different thicknesses up to 2" thick. Sheets are 24" by 72" 2" thick are $36.00, 1" thick sheets are $18.00.

They are in South El Monte.

I am in the process of building a foam cutter, just in the begining stages of tracking things down. I'll keep you all posted on how things go. Heading out right now to get the Nichromium wire.

A big thanks to Elwood Blues for posting his projects, information, and wiring diagram.
I bought a transformer from a local electronics shop, 120ac to 24v dc. Hooked it up and didn't get any heat from the wire, and the ac side went open circuit after 5 minutes. I researched EB's op, he didn't mention ac/dc thing. Went online to Radio Shack, found thier transformer, and picked one up. It's a 120ac to 25vac. I didn't think this would work. I got back to the shop and much to MY suprise (EB already knew this) is worked just fine. I actually cut some foam. I couldn't find any 24 ga Nichromium wire locally, I did find 20ga. It's a little thicker but it has worked ok on my test. Finding the brass rod is a challenge, looks like Orchard Supply might have some. I'll let you know asap. Next up is to build a frame. So far i have $40 into this, but I am excited about the possibilities. I'm also thinkin about loaning/renting this thing out in case anybody wants to do thier own foam cutting. I'll keep you all posted.

Radio Shack part number for the transformer is 273-1512B
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:41 PM
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Again, thanks for all the positive comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SarStyle View Post
Well I guess I will let you build mine....when can I expect it on my doorstep?
Whenever you drop a case at my doorstep with whatever you want cut out
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cactus_Tim View Post
Should I get in line?
You already are
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quinc View Post
Great write up! I liked the pic with the Vodka!
Thanks, gotta have it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by finyllw View Post
I bought a transformer from a local electronics shop, 120ac to 24v dc. Hooked it up and didn't get any heat from the wire, and the ac side went open circuit after 5 minutes. I researched EB's op, he didn't mention ac/dc thing. Went online to Radio Shack, found thier transformer, and picked one up. It's a 120ac to 25vac. I didn't think this would work. I got back to the shop and much to MY suprise (EB already knew this) is worked just fine. I actually cut some foam. I couldn't find any 24 ga Nichromium wire locally, I did find 20ga. It's a little thicker but it has worked ok on my test. Finding the brass rod is a challenge, looks like Orchard Supply might have some. I'll let you know asap. Next up is to build a frame. So far i have $40 into this, but I am excited about the possibilities. I'm also thinkin about loaning/renting this thing out in case anybody wants to do thier own foam cutting. I'll keep you all posted.

Radio Shack part number for the transformer is 273-1512B
Yeah, sorry, as I mentioned in post 3 when I posted the diagram, I'm not an electrical engineer, I just forgot. Getting a brass rod was not easy, I found it in a industrial metal supply store.
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