How to Build Anything with Foam Board!

by FliteTest | September 24, 2018 | (7) Posted in How To

Here are five tips and techniques showing you how to construct objects from foam board - like this huge RC tank!

It's no surprise that we love foam board here at Flite Test: the stuff simply brilliant. You can make almost anything with the right skills - it doesn't have to be an airplane. So, here are ten top tips to help you learn new building techniques like a pro.


Supplies

 Make sure you have the best materials and gear at your disposal!

Box of 25 Water Resistant Foam Board sheets

Box of 50 Water Resistant Foam Board sheets

AdTech 200 Pro Hot Glue Gun

Special Foam Board Glue Sticks



How to Build a Giant R/C Tank

Over the last couple of weeks, Jeremy has been putting together a giant foam board tank powered by an RC car and some electronics. Before reading more about our top build tips, check out the build here.


1: Build with folds 

Folds are great - you can use them as hinges, create edges and turn your model into a three-dimensional object. 


2: Curving is king

Although it may look quite impossible, curving foam board is super easy. All you have to do is remove the paper on one side and then help the material to arc over by rolling it against a table. 


3: The table is your friend

As mentioned in the previous tip, you can use the table to help you curve foam. You can also use it to help make folds, reference against with a square or press on when gluing a piece down. Just make sure it's completely flat and free from glue blobs (these can dent your foam).


4: Replace blades

Foam blunts razor blades very quickly. For this reason, to prevent yourself from ripping the foam, replace your blade as soon as it starts to feel dull. Usually, you will be able to see the foam 'catching' as you cut. Trust us on this one - you'll have a much more satisfying build experience!


5: Use a quality glue gun

It is absolutely critical that you use a tool that is capable of delivering glue that stays hot enough for building. When making an object like a wing, you often need to lay long strips of glue down at a time. If this cools to quickly, you won't be able to fold the wing in time. We use the AdTech Pro200. It's a beast. You can pick one up here along with our own special blend of glue sticks that are optimized for foam board. 


6: Smear with scraps

Spreading your glue with a spare chunk of foam is a great way to add strength. This is done by breaking surface tension and dissipating heat. Simply grab some scraps and remove excess glue that spills out of the seams. Sometimes, less is more. 


7: Make small details

Utilise the three-dimensional nature of foam board to build up small details. These can be raised by laminating several pieces together. 


8: Sand

If you have time, and really want to give your model that perfect finish, try sanding the edges of the foam. This will give your model a more curvy quality by removing sharp corners. A perfect place for this is on the fuselage where the boxy nature of the foam board can be subdued.    


9: Glue your edges

One of the areas most likely to see some wear and tear on your projects is on the edges. On the areas where foam is exposed, the paper can sometimes lift up and become delaminated. To stop this happening, and to increase the life of your model, simply smear some hot glue along the edge. This will create a strong seal. 


10: Go wild!

Build anything you can imagine. Take on huge build projects of your own. You can pick up a box offifty sheets of our Flite Test Foam Board for $90. With that, you could build something as large as our RC Tank or A-10 Warthog.


Hopefully these bite-sized tips give you a few more tricks up your sleeve when it next comes to creating a scratch build or assembling a Flite Test kit. Now, get out there and make something awesome! Don't forget to share it with the community on the FT Forums


If you'd like to see more build tip type articles on the site, let us know by commenting down below!


Article by James Whomsley

Editor of FliteTest.com

Contact: james@flitetest.com

YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/projectairaviation

COMMENTS

Chick on September 27, 2018
I used to build wings from "fanfold" insulation with the airfoil formed by placing the foam on a form and heating it in the oven to "set" it's shape. The plans and instructions for this came from foamfly.com. Here is one of their designs. https://www.manualslib.com/manual/945303/Foamfly-The-Frog.html

Will this idea work with the paper back foam you use?
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The Hangar on October 29, 2018
Great tips! You sure don't get far without a good glue gun and some sharp razor blades;)
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Anthony Evans on January 4, 2019
I'm relatively new to building with foam board, having only used the dollar store type. Sounds like the hobby store foam board is easier to build with though (especially for curved surfaces) as the way I've been getting mine to curve is to make a series of opposing 45° cuts on the underside (being careful not to go through) taking out vee shaped strips...is this the way that you guys do it, or is there a better way? Thanks...love your site.
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How to Build Anything with Foam Board!