The bandsaw is an incredibly versatile woodworking tool. I use my Laguna 1412 all the time for notching, resawing, as well as cutting curved profiles. But there’s another great use for a bandsaw that you might not be aware of. A bandsaw produces a great looking cut in medium to firm upholstery foam, because the blade stays square to the material.
Traditional Methods of cutting Foam. It’s very difficult to cut upholstery foam with a serrated knife, so upholstery tool manufacturers have come up with a specialized foam cutting tool. The problem is, it’s a highly specialized tool that only does one thing. It’s a one trick pony that can only cut foam, and it’s quite expensive too. There are less expensive options to cut upholstery foam, such as an electric turkey knife. These small electric appliance knives, like what you’d use to carve a turkey at Thanksgiving, do a pretty good job of cutting through foam material. However, since there’s no guide to keep the blade at 90 degrees to the material, cut quality is often inconsistent.
Cut Foam with a Bandsaw. The shop solution I’ve come up with is to take upholstery foam over to the bandsaw. My 1412 does a great job cutting all sorts of upholstery foam from 2-6” thick. The 1412 could cut much thicker foam as well, but most upholstery foam I use is 6” or thinner. The main advantage a bandsaw offers when cutting foam is the table keeps the blade consistently 90 degrees to the material. It certainly gets your upholstery projects off to the right start when your foam is cut accurately.
Two Caveats: Thin, Very Soft Foam, and Nu-Foam. There are two situations where I don’t recommend a bandsaw for cutting foam. If you’re using very soft backrest foam, such as “1818” foam in a 1” thickness, a pair of sharp leather shears will actually work better.
The second circumstance is cutting a product called “Nu-Foam”. Since Nu-Foam is more like polyester batting than upholstery foam, it doesn’t cut well at the bandsaw. The polyester fibers clog the bandsaw blade and just generally make a mess. For cutting this stiffened batting material, I recommend taking two passes with leather shears. On the first pass cut about half way through the material. On the second pass, complete the cut through the full thickness of the Nu-Foam with your scissors.
What Size Bandsaw is Required? Other than the two specific situations where I prefer scissors, the bandsaw is my go-to tool for cutting upholstery foam. A 14” bandsaw such as the Laguna 1412 has handled all my upholstery needs with ease. If you do a lot of large projects with couches and loveseats, consider a larger model bandsaw such as the 18CX bandsaw. Learn more about all the models available at LagunaTools.com
What Bandsaw Blade is Required to cut Foam? You can cut upholstery foam with any standard bandsaw blade. I usually just cut foam with whatever blade happens to be on the saw. Although, I will say that my favorite blade to cut foam is a ProForce ½” blade with 3TPI. The large gullets and relatively few teeth help whisk away the material for an effortless cutting experience. Check out a short video of the 1412 cutting upholstery foam here!