How to Cut Your Own Custom Foam Inserts 

Production Case's in-house CAD/CAM expertise and CNC (computer numerical control) foam cutting equipment allow us to cut incredibly intricate and complex pockets to protect our clients’ sensitive case equipment. We are often challenged to produce custom foam cases that will ultimately protect many thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment.

But the average person like you and me may not be able to afford to absorb the one-time engineering costs to produce a CNC cut foam piece for one or two cases. That doesn’t mean we are left without options: with a reasonable amount of manual dexterity and some time, you can create your own case inserts yourself. 

The Process 

1. Choose A Custom Foam Insert

Pick ‘n pluck foam is by far the easiest and most often used method to produce pockets in personal equipment cases. Most Pelican, Pelican Storm and SKB injection molded cases come with pick and pluck (or cubed foam). These pre-scored pluck foam pieces come in different layer thicknesses. Depending on the size of the case there may be anywhere from one to six or seven foam layers in a case. There is typically one solid piece on the bottom of these cases which should never be cut through. Some of these cases will come with soft layered foam inside instead of pluck foam, so check the description for each case model.

2. Determine the best layout for your equipment. 

Determine the best layout for you equipment. Depending on the fragility of the individual pieces try and leave a minimum of 1” between each piece. For the more fragile pieces 1 ½” -2” is advisable. For cables and other non-sensitive equipment an accessory compartment will save interior space. 

3. Trace around each piece using a light coloured marker such as a Sharpie or equivalent 

Again, remember to leave an appropriate amount of foam between each piece. Place the more fragile pieces away from the sides of the case if possible. Cables and cords can go nearest the inside walls. 

4. Remove your equipment from the foam and start to pluck the cubes out within the traced area. 

Toothpicks or any such tool may be used. Each piece will probably require different depths, so be careful to only pluck out to the desired depth. You can place the plucked out pieces back under the equipment to adjust for the desired height. 

For Steady Hands Only 

For the more adventurous, using a sharp cutting tool such as an Olfa knife can also be used (in our shop we call this the “hand CNC”). This will allow more curves and will catch more of the equipment surface. Because the foam is soft you will need to make sure to always insert a brand new blade before cutting. Dull blades will simply tear the foam. If you take your time, you should be able to end up with a good fit for your equipment. 

The Hard Foam Option 

Another option is to purchase your case with a hard layered foam set. Where this option is available, you will find it in the “Select Interior Case Options” menu for your chosen case. In addition to allowing for easier contoured cutting, this foam is better suited to heavier items and will not break down as fast as a softer foam. You might consider this foam for things like your weapons cases. If you have a band saw in your workshop you can use it to cut this harder foam, or dig out that old electric turkey knife you received as a wedding gift in the 70’s because it cuts this foam beautifully.

DIY Gets It Done 

With a little ingenuity and a bit of patience you can achieve some wonderful results and guarantee your equipment will have a safe home for many years to come. If you have any questions about our CAD/CNC custom foam insert design services for your cases, feel free to get in touch with us.

Want to have us create the custom foam insert for you?

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