Friday, October 25, 2013

Beware Small Insulation Sheets at Home Depot

So I can use this chain saw to cut bases for 6mm figs? Cool!
A few weeks ago during another one of our trips through the many local thrift shops dotting our end of Central Florida, the kid (who is now 22 years old) and I stopped by the local Home Depot for a look around. You know how that goes, looking for whatever odds and ends tool and hobby supply impulse buys I might see. Many many times, I've looked at the large 4'x8' sheets of 1" polystyrene insulation foam stacked on the shelves and wished they could fit in the back of my Ford Taurus. They would be prefect for terrain boards and other scenery projects. After ten seconds of looking at the sheets, however, I always come to the conclusion that I'd have better luck shoving Jabba the Hutt into the back seat of my car than a giant sheet of pink foam.

Yo, buddy! Gimme a lift to Endor?
Then suddenly Jeremy noticed a box of factory-cut 2'x2' foam sheets designed for craft projects. Something new! Plus, these small sheets could easily fit into my car, along with a few hitchhiking Ewoks with room to spare. Owens Corning makes these small sheets for arts and crafts projects as part of their Foamular XPS insulation foam line. (Sadly, I couldn't find any info on their website about these sheets, unless I just didn't look hard enough.)

Yes! At Last, Modular Terrain Boards!
I immediately began thinking how we could use these sheets to make 2'x2' terrain boards, without the horrible mess of cutting large sheets of insulation foam. Plus, Home Depot sells pre-cut 2'x2' thin plywood boards on which I could glue the foam using some polyurethane glue. I also figured that since the foam pieces had been factory-cut, they should be fairly even all around. Still, I wanted to make sure, so I decided to make use of some of Home Depot's tools.

I grabbed an angle off the shelf, a level, and some precut 2'x2' plywood. I then put the foam board to the test. It failed! In the photos, you can see how inaccurate the cuts were. Some of the foam boards were better than others, but none were good enough for making modular terrain boards. They will never fit together properly. On the other hand, the plywood was cut perfectly.

I though I made bad cuts! Sheesh!

Do I really need to say anything here?

Alas, No Modular Terrain Boards
In the end, I bought one of the 2'x2' foam boards to cut up for scenery bits, such as hills and rock outcroppings. I thought I took a photo of the foam's price tag, but I didn't have it on my phone. Since this was a few weeks ago, I can't recall the exact price of the foam boards either. Drats. It was maybe $5 for the piece? I wanted to mention these foam boards in case anyone else sees them and thinks they could be used easily for modular terrain boards. If that is your goal, don't waste your money and time! You'd do better drinking a bottle of vodka and then cutting large sheets of foam yourself--I'm sure your cuts would be straighter than those from the Owens Corning machine!

I Shall Cut It Into Teeny Tiny Pieces and Glue Them Together Real Good
If you're like me and cannot fit a sheet of insulation foam into the car, don't know anyone with a truck/van to haul a sheet, don't want to rent a van for $20 to haul a sheet of foam, or don't have access to a construction site that has leftover scraps of insulation foam they want to throw away, then these small Owens Corning foam boards are just the ticket for small scenery projects.

These are not the nuts you're looking for!


  1. Ewok just before being stuffed into chipmunks mouth!

    I got a couple of these little devils a month ago. But mine are more square. Thanks for the heads-up though. I'll be sure and check them b4 any more purchases.

    1. Good to know you got some that are more square, Jay. There might be hope for these yet!

  2. Thats a bit naughty. Should of highlighted it to the staff.

  3. Yeah, it was a bit naughty. Not sure complaining would have done much good. My wife probably would have complained, but then she is an A+ extrovert while I am the complete opposite. Getting me to go to a service counter would be a major achievement.

  4. i was thinking of the same approach as i don't trust my cutting of large insulation panels. good to know i'd have to hunt for square cuts. but i've encountered that in wood panels too. i'll check out the canvas panels next.