Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam is a highly versatile and widely-used polymer.
It is commonly utilized in floor padding but has a diverse array of potential uses, including sports equipment, crafts, and designs.
EVA foam comes in a variety of thicknesses and colors and is easy to work with, making it a popular material for the construction of cosplay and Halloween costumes.
How do you cut EVA foam with a scroll saw? The scroll saw is an ideal tool for easily cutting all of your intricate EVA foam designs, with the following steps necessary to ensure proper cutting technique:
- Secure a safe work area.
- Transfer design to the EVA foam.
- Use the scroll saw to make the cuts around the design.
Larger saws may need to be used when cutting bigger sections of EVA foam that require less intricate cuts, but any cuts involving precision angles and tight turns will be handled with the scroll saw.
Cutting EVA Foam with a Scroll Saw
The scroll saw is probably the handiest tool around for cutting EVA foam. We’re going to cover the steps necessary for proper technique.
1. Secure a Safe Work Area
The first step in successfully cutting EVA foam with a scroll saw is to secure a safe work area.
The worker will want to:
- Wear goggles
- Wear clothing that isn’t baggy
- Skip the gloves
Gloves are not recommended when using power saws, as the additional fabric could get caught in the blade and offers little protection against losing a finger.
The scroll saw should be mounted on a sturdy, flat surface. Surfaces made out of metal, concrete, or stone are preferable to wooden or plastic tables.
Hinged tables should be avoided when operating a scroll saw. If there are no adequate surfaces in your work area, it is acceptable to operate the scroll saw on a flat section of ground.
Keep the scroll saw unplugged while all preparations are made to start the project.
This will prevent a switch from accidentally getting powered on, increasing the risk of bodily injury and damage to the scroll saw and other shop materials.
Now onto the next preparations:
Scroll Saw Blade
Scroll saw blades are among the finest that a craftsperson will use. The blades come in varying sizes, depending on the type of work being performed.
They are numbered 0, 1, 2, etc., gradually increasing in size with each number blade.
The number of teeth per blade will also change at different sizes, an important consideration for experienced scrollers.
The table angle of the scroll saw can be changed, depending on the type of cut being performed.
A zero angle will create a straight cut, with sloped cuts being made as to the angle increases.
If the worker wants a slanted piece of EVA foam, he or she will want to bevel the saw table accordingly before making the cut.
Adjust the Holding Foot
The worker also needs to check and make sure that the holding foot of the saw is properly adjusted.
It is adjustable to the angle of the table and should line up flush with the foam to be cut.
As the thickness of EVA foam is not always completely consistent, samples not properly secured by the holding foot may slip, causing major setbacks in the project.
Once all of these safety precautions have been taken, and the desired settings have been chosen, the worker can then connect the scroll saw to power and run a quick trial.
If changes need to be made, disconnect the scroll saw from power and adjust until satisfied that the project is ready to be started.
2. Transfer a Design to the EVA Foam
Designs cut with a scroll saw can be as simple as shapes, such as circles and triangles, or more complex, like the outline of an animal.
There are a couple of different options on how to transfer the design to the EVA foam.
Trace or draw the design onto the EVA foam
For simple patterns, it is best to trace or draw the outline of the design directly onto the piece of EVA foam
Tape the design to the EVA foam
This works best for complex patterns that would be difficult and time consuming to trace.
Print a high-definition copy of the design and apply it to the EVA foam with clear packaging tape.
Be sure that the design is thoroughly covered to prevent slipping during the cutting process.
Whether tracing or taping the pattern to the EVA foam, the scroller will want to remember to leave space, preferably at least one inch, around the border of each design.
This may seem wasteful, but this “scrap” space will give the worker the necessary maneuverability when making intricate turns and sawing super acute angles.
During this process, it is important to remember to have the EVA foam partitioned down to manageable chunks.
Some scrollers refer to these as the “pre-cuts.” If the project calls for 100 6” X6” squares to be cut, the scroller needs to make sure that the sections to be cut can safely fit on the scroll saw table.
**Looking for a good pattern for your next project? Check out our free scroll saw patterns!**
3. Use the Scroll Saw to Make Cuts Around the Design
Whether following an outline drawn on to the EVA foam or that of a pattern taped on top, the scroller will need to gently guide the foam along the outline as the blade makes the cut.
There are a few important factors to remember.
Run the saw at the slowest speed setting
This will ensure that the cut edges of the EVA foam are as smooth as possible.
The smoothness of the edges is affected more by blade speed than blade size or teeth per inch.
Secure the opposite edges of the section to be cut
This is extra important when making cuts on thinner pieces of EVA foam, as the saw, especially if the blade is dull, may sometimes have a tendency to fold the foam over on itself as opposed to cutting through it.
Use two hands when cutting
Most scroll saws have a foot-operated on/off switch that allows the worker to use both hands during the cutting process.
Using both hands ensures another layer of security and stability against the artifact slipping off the blade’s intended path.
Cut into the angle
For angled cuts, it is important for the scroller to remember to feed the foam into the blade along the angle of the table.
Cutting away from the angle will slightly skew the slope of the cut piece, which will be noticeable if trying to fit cut pieces together.
Do not force the foam
A scroll saw is a reciprocating saw, meaning that it only cuts on the downstroke.
This may make the cutting process take longer than expected. However, trying to force the EVA foam through the blade will distort the angle of the cut.
The scroller should always make sure that his or her fingers never enter the boundaries of the holding foot during the cutting process.
Related Content: Can you cut MDF with a scroll saw? Find out more things that your scroll saw can do!
Choosing a Scroll Saw
Scroll saws are used to make a number of cuts on a wide variety of materials.
While it may not be the trickiest material to work with, if you know you will be doing the majority of your work with EVA foam, it could influence the type of scroll saw you purchase.
It is not recommended to get the cheapest scroll saw possible when working with EVA foam.
Some scrollers may be on a budget and have to go with the less expensive models, but anyone looking to work with EVA foam should try to avoid scroll saws that are less than $100.
It is also preferable to get a scroll saw with a cast iron table.