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Balsa-Foam®

Available in 5pcf, 10pcf, and 20 pcf

Working with Balsa-­Foam®

Balsa-Foam® is rigid phenolic foam specifically developed for three-dimensional design, sculpting,and model making. It has excellent chemical resistance and can be glued together with adhesives from carpenter’s glue to gel-type cyanoacrylate (superglues). Balsa-Foam® can be painted with any kind of water-based or solvent-based paint or coating. An initial coating of spray paint will help to seal the foam. Solvent-based paints tend to leave surface texture intact, while acrylic paints tend to fill the texture. It is available in standard and custom-cut sizes.

Since Balsa-Foam® has no rebound, it will hold a very detailed impression. This means you can create detailed shapes by simply pressing any
object into the surface. A ruler can be used to make push cuts as a way to cutout more intricate interior shapes. Carving knives and chisels virtually glide through the Balsa-Foam® 5 pcf and also cut relatively easy through the denser, harder Balsa-Foam® (10 pcf & 20 pcf)

Balsa-Foam® is available in three different densities: Balsa‐Foam® 5pcf, Balsa-­Foam® 10pcf and Balsa-­Foam® 20pcf. Aside from density, all 3 versions of Balsa-Foam® are essentially the same. The same techniques can be used each except with Balsa-Foam® 20pcf which offers much more resistance to cutting or shaping tools. Techniques such as punch cutting or impressing the foam may not be practical with Balsa-­Foam® 20pcf, but is ideally suited for CNC cutting and prototyping.

Hot Wire cutting also does not work with Balsa‐Foam® because Balsa-­Foam® is very resistant to heat. It is resistant to heat up to 300 F. Additionally, there is also no need for a hot wire because, unlike polystyrene foam for which the hot wire method was developed, Balsa‐Foam® can be cut easily with a knife or saw.

All metals components in direct contact with Balsa-Foam® should be cleaned and lubricated with light oil after each use.

Balsa-Foam® 5PCF


This is the softest balsa available as well as the easiest to work with. Hard objects can be impressed into the foam surface to leave sharp detailed impressions. Balsa-Foam® 5 pcf also has the ability to hold fine detail when carving as-well. Balsa-Foam® 5 pcf is ideal for school art projects, as it enhances student safety because it offers little resistance to carving tools, greatly reducing the risk of slipping. Younger students can even sculpt Balsa-Foam® 5 pcf with emery boards and wooden picks. All metal components in direct contact with Balsa-Foam® should be cleaned and lubricated with light oil after each use.

Balsa-Foam® 10PCF


Balsa-Foam® 10pcf is the next step up in density and is more durable than Balsa-Foam® 5 pcf. Because of this, Balsa-Foam® 10pcf has the ability to hold finely carved details. Balsa-Foam® 10pcf still has the ability to be tooled with emery boards and wooden picks, but also with professional craft and carving tools. Balsa-Foam® 10pcf is also suitable for vacuum form mold applications. Carving knives and chisels make cutting relatively easy, allowing moderate resistance. All metal components in direct contact with Balsa-Foam® should be cleaned and lubricated with light oil after each use.

Balsa-Foam® 20PCF


Balsa-Foam® 20pcf is the hardest and most durable form of Balsa-Foam®. Balsa-Foam® 20pcf is the best choice when maximum durability and the finest detail in the finished project are necessary. Metal wood carving tools work best with Balsa ̴ Foam® 20 pcf. Balsa-Foam® 20pcf also has the ability to be carved with a CNC Router making it ideal for prototyping. Balsa-Foam® 20pcf is also an great alternative to wood as many of the same applications can do done with both, but at a much lighter weight. All metal components in direct contact with Balsa-Foam® should be cleaned and lubricated with light oil after each use.

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