Styrofoam carving can lead to many beautiful creations, from small decorative crafts to large, lightweight backgrounds for a theater production. Before you start carving Styrofoam you should understand the proper tools to use.
To get a block of Styrofoam into the rough shape you need, you want to take off large pieces without breaking it or creating a rough, flaky cut. For this, you should use a fine-toothed saw, a band saw or a slightly serrated knife.
Detailed Carving: Hot Wire
The beauty in Styrofoam work and art is in the detail, and various tools are used for detailed Styrofoam carving. Hot wires and steel can be used to etch and carve detail into the foam. Hot Wire Foam Factory sells a variety of specific Styrofoam carving tools, including a hot sculpting tool, a hot engraver, a hot knife and a shapable hot wire for cuts up to 6 inches deep. Hot carving wires and tools can also be found in most craft and hardware stores.
Detailed Carving: Wood Burner
Although a wood burner is made for wood, if you already have one you can use it to carve foam too. Turn the temperature on the wood burner to its lowest setting. The wood burner is great for detail etching and shaving of the foam.
Detailed Carving: Wonder Cutter
The Wonder Cutter is a great tool for shaping and detailing Styrofoam. The super-thin wire knife makes cutting and shaping Styrofoam like running a hot knife through butter. You can say goodbye to foam flakes everywhere because this melts the foam as it cuts.
More Expensive Styrofoam Carving Tools
Another great Styrofoam carving tool is the hot scroll saw; it works and looks like a band saw, but it uses a hot wire to cut the Styrofoam as you shape it to your liking. This is a larger, more stationary piece of equipment that can cost up to $100.