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Any foam-core modeler will tell you that it’s important to make a corner that looks flawless so you can easily paint it and finish it out.  A good way to do that is to use a rabbet cut — a notch cut along the length of the edge in question — to mate the two pieces.  The bad news?  Cutting rabbets in foamboard is a pain — unless you’ve got a foamboard rabbet cutter like this one.

Here’s how it works: first, you run the cutter along the edge you want to notch, placing the foam core in one of the channels.  Then you flip the cutter over and use the other channel for a second cut to clear the notch from the board.  If you’ve ever used a hand-held matte cutter, this is very similar.

The $10 investment won’t kill your budget, but the time saved on trying to align corners without tedious frustration or flimsy joints might spare you a few gray hairs.  The only drawback is the unit is really only setup for 3/16″ foam core, so don’t plan on stocking up on off sizes.

Foamboard Rabbet Cutter [Dick Blick]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


2 Responses to Modelmaking Made Easy: A Foamboard Rabbet Cutter

  1. Ken says:

    Have you ever used a router on styrofoam? I was thinking of giving it a try for a new project that I am working on. This tools seems interesting but its size limitation might not work for me. I am going to be using 2″ styrofoam and was interested in flush trimming the sides. Maybe using a trim router. Thoughts?

  2. Matt says:

    Depends on the type of “styrofoam” you’re using. If it’s the type that apears to be made of tiny spheres, I’m pretty sure the spinning router bit will tear out the pellets. It might work with the more homogenous types, like foamboard or extruded polystyrene.
    I think you’d be better off looking at hot wire cutters. There are even a number of guides online if you want to make your own.

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