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Fish carving foam

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by gary04, May 22, 2017.

  1. Would like to try carving my fish bodies does it have to be a special form or any will do?
  2. Genie

    Genie Member

    Many years ago I ordered fish bodies but they never fit properly. Carving my own is messy but I get a great fit. I believe many that make their own fish bodies go to some expense and buy a special foam and pay a considerable shipping charge. But I hope those carvers respond as I would like to hear about their experiences. I never felt the need to use more than the blue and pink, 4 x 8 sheets of foam insulation. Cheap and easy to get. Layers can be held together with hot melt glue for thicker bodies. It's possible to start carving 15 - 20 minutes after using the hot melt glue. There are some problems: The blue or pink color does show through in the lighter areas (belly). When the fish gets painted that color has been covered for me. Some use a water based paint to color the foam white before mounting. Also, for larger fish it's a bit tricky to get a sufficient amount of hot melt glue down before it starts to cool and firm up. When carving the body sometimes small pieces of foam become dislodged because they got missed by the glue but they can get glued back into place. I've tried a few other adhesives but that's what has worked best for me.

  3. I use the two part urethane foam. I take my top profile of my fish pattern that I traced and staple it down(freezer paper) then I cut pieces of cardboard and make sure they are taller than the side profile pattern. And I cut slits about every inch on the flat cardboard that will be stapled around the contour of the top profile pattern. And I just keep working it around the profile and stapling. When done I mix the amount of urethane foam I need, mix with a drill and then pour into the cavity. When you pour it the foam rises and then when it sets up all you have to do is pin your side profile pattern to the cured foam trace it and cut it out and then start carving. I apologize because I would post a picture to go with all of this but ever since photobucket got bad I haven't been able to figure out how to post pictures. And I know it's nice to have a picture. I will try to post one if I can later today. Also one last thing,i bought the one gallon urethane kit and I have been using the same batch for 3 years now lol. You can make a ton of fish bodies this way with a one gallon kit. Hopefully you can make sense of what I posted. Just trying to help. For whatever it's worth.
  4. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Foam density matters. The less dense the foam is the more it will show indentations. Rick Crane has worked with several foam companies and has developed the ideal density foam for carving fish bodies and you can order it from him. JL
  5. Jimmy Lawrence

    Jimmy Lawrence Well-Known Member

    I prefer the Ivory foam from Matuska Supply in Iowa. I really like how it carves, and sands. It's my go-to foam when carving bodies.
  6. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    Personally Ive used all kinds and so far the best one is Rick Krane's foam. I liked his wood carving foam the best but it's no longer available. I now use his sea green foam and it's better than any other but that's JMO
  7. Monty Artrip

    Monty Artrip Active Member

    I totally agree about Ricks foam. Perfect density, it don't dent easily, and will hold a staple if you desire. Well worth a little extra imo.
  8. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    What happens when you are carving and hit that hardened hot glue?

    I believe John C said he sprays on lacquer thinner with a spray bottle and quickly joins the pieces together and doesn't have an issue with sudden hard spots as with the hot glue. Never tried it.
    John C likes this.
  9. Genie

    Genie Member

    Hey Cecil,
    I did try John C's lacquer thinner trick but I didn't get real good adhesion. I might have to try to perfect that strategy. You're right, carving into a vein of hardened glue does slow down progress and care has to be taken to smooth a lump. You know how it is, often we keep the problems we're familiar with so we don't have to solve new problems.
    Thanks for the lacquer thinner tip.
  10. try gorilla glue, its a foam, works real good and you can carve and rasp it..
  11. WLELTD

    WLELTD Active Member

    the gorilla glue is good stuff but still harder than any foam you would be bonding, think you would have same issue as hot glue
  12. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    For bonding the pink and blue foam together I use plaster of paris from home depot, rough up both sides and apply plaster of paris put the sides together and add weight on top and let sit till dry, the plaster is pretty easy to cut or sand, if you have a dent in the foam you can add some plaster and sand it off smooth, apply 2 coats of white paint to color and toughen the foam.
  13. fishmaster

    fishmaster Well-Known Member

    I would prefer to use Ricks or Matuskas foam so no glue up is necessary. I have a local source here that I've used for 30 yrs or I would be using there's also. Anyway, if you are going to use foam panels to glue up (pink or blue) you can use spray foam to glue it together. I use this method when I'm needing to glue 4' thick foam panels to make something bigger.
    Cut your panels to the same size and you can glue and stack several at the same time. Make sure that any thin plastic film is peeled off the foam first. Lay the foam panels side by side and mist one panel with water. Use the spray can foam like is used for sealing around doors and windows and apply it in a zig zag fashion on the one panel. Press the two panels together and smash them together. If you are doing more, do the same process and add another layer. Lay a piece of plywood over the foam and add as much weight as you have. Bags of plaster etc and let them set overnight.
    The foam will giue the layers without leaving a hard edge that is difficult to carve or sand. The water kills the expansion of the foam but makes it kick off and set.
    I have used this method for lots of projects and works well.
    John C likes this.
  14. duxdog

    duxdog Active Member

    i use 2-part foam and make my own
  15. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Do you just place a garbage bag in a plywood box to act as a release? Various size boxes for different size fish? What density of foam do you use?

    LaVerne Miller near me uses his kid's sand box. He places his fish on top of a plastic bag and pushes that into the sand. Pulls out the fish and puts his foam into the depression he made. Then carves the excess off.
  16. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    I'd love to use Rick's foam but I bet the shipping is killer from NH to Indiana. I need to use products from Rick as he has been a good customer with fish sales and references.
    JL likes this.
  17. duxdog

    duxdog Active Member

    Jameson Company in Niles mi. 2lb density I believe. I do both, make blocks by putting in a box or container with plastic wrap or by using my fish molds
  18. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your response Duxdog.
  19. http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,371078.msg2559802.html#msg2559802

    i just ordered 30- 4'x3 foot 8 inch thick blocks and with truck freight was about $100 a block.. closest dist to me is in Denver and thats 900 miles away.
    in the link above there is a link to click on closest distributer..
  20. Cecil

    Cecil Well-Known Member



    Which product am I looking for at the above link?

    Is it Trymer PIR

    or XPS PIB ?