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Kaizen Foam – Miracle Product or Gimmick?

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Bridge City Toolworks nestled into the kaizen foam

top view of the kaizen foam sheet on the mft tableSimple Drawer Organization

As part of the sewing cabinet build, the bottom drawer was built oversize in order to hold an embroidery attachment for the sewing machine.  Because the embroidery attachment is “T” shaped, I wanted to build a nice system to hold it tightly and somewhat form-fitting.  My original thought was to create something out of MDF, but after giving it more thought I remembered the foam product that FastCap sells called “Kazen Foam” that is touted as being easy to use storage foam.

The idea is that you trace the object you want to embed in the foam, cut it with a knife, and then you can peel back layers of the foam to create a perfectly matched hole for the item to fit snugly in.  Since I have already created many MDF thingy’s to hold other thingy’s in my life (and enjoyed the process about as much as I enjoy going to the dentist) I decided to give the Kaizen Foam a shot for the embroidery attachment to see how well it worked.

Kaizen Foam on the MFT table showing the thickness and layering of the foam

I purchased mine through Rockler, and they sell two thicknesses:  1-1/8″ and 2-1/4″ in 2-foot x 4-foot sheets that are black.  If you order from FastCap (and probably other retailers), you can get it in white or black/white in addition to black; and they also have 7/8″ thickness available as well.

 

First Step: Cut Out the Larger Rectangle

cutting the kaizen foam with the Festool TS-75 track sawFor my first step, I measured the drawer box interior length/width and marked those measurements on the foam with a silver sharpie.  Since it was 2-1/4″ thick, I knew that I would need to pull out the big guns to cut through it: the Festool TS75 Track Saw! Ok, so this may be a bit of overkill, but I figured cutting it on the bandsaw may create a giant mess of foam in the air, and I just wasn’t too keen on running it over the Saw Stop.  Plus, the jigsaw would leave a ragged edge most likely.  So, the tracksaw just seemed to be the best tool for the job since the track would hold it down, the cut should be clean, and it has great dust collection.

Overkill?  Maybe, but I’ll tell you it worked like a charm!  This will be the method I use in the future when cutting out the larger shape of the piece I am using.

Because the embroidery attachment will need more than 2-1/4″ to fit in, I cut out two pieces the same size, and I’ll stack them one on top of the other.  This left me an extra piece (identified with the ‘x’ marks in the photo above that I used to give the foam a trial run by embedding my Bridge City Toolworks pieces into the foam.  After cutting, I had two pieces that fit perfectly into the drawer box.

another shot of the kaizen foam in the drawerkaizen foam cut out and fits perfectly into the drawer

 

 

 

 

 

Second Step: Layout the Items To be Fitted

All the tools laid out on the kaizen foam ready to be traced and cutBecause I have made the mistake of just jumping into using new products without testing only to find out some important lessons that require me to redo my work, I decided to get some practice by inserting all of my Bridge City Toolworks layout and measuring tools into the foam.  I first placed all the items on the foam to find the perfect way to position them so they all fit and looked decent. Luckily, BCTW tools are a bit pricey, or I would own more than would fit on the piece of foam I had.

Once I was happy with the arrangement, it was time to start cutting out the pieces.  I saw no point in tracing the objects with a marker first, but you could if you wanted to.

Third Step:  Cut The Shape Out

One by one, I held each item in place and used a marking knife to cut around the perimeter of each item to be installed.  The foam cut like butter.  Having some experience using high density foam that is usually used for upholstery, I found the Kaizen Foam to be much easier.  It is more stiff than the furniture foam I’ve used in the past.

Fourth Step:  Peel Back the Layers Like an onion.

peeling back the kaizen foamThis is where I would argue that this product is overrated.  To be honest, I may just need a bit more practice, but it didn’t peel out as easily as it is made to seem in videos. Although it didn’t peel out perfectly, it was really good enough for what I was doing. It also occurred to me that it made to be peeled in the other direction, who knows.

Once I had peeled out the foam layers and popped the items into their little cubbies, the tools sat snugly and the slight undulations really didn’t matter much.

Fifth Step:  Step Back and Enjoy Protection and Organization

After all was said and done, I was impressed at how easy it was to get my tools fitted into the Kaizen Foam.  The whole process probably took me about a half our in total.  Now, this was just a pretty small set of tools to be fitted, and if you planned on using this for a large project, it would be a pretty significant time investment.  However, I feel that compared to many other organization options, I believe the Kaizen would be quicker.

ts-2v2 fitted and inserted into the kaizen foam ts-2v2 and rulers fitted and inserted into the kaizen foam tools securely inserted into the kaizen foam Bridge City Toolworks nestled into the kaizen foam

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think Kaizen Foam is a decent product.  You’ll have to decide for yourself if the extra ease is worth the money.  The 2-1/4″ sheet is about $21, and the 1-1/8″ sheet is $14 at Rockler.  Obviously, you can achieve similar results with things like MDF or even natural wood using offcuts and scrap pieces for free.  Being the end of a large project, the foam was a welcome addition to the arsenal of tools and options, and getting the project completed is much more important that adding “custom made” items that will almost never be seen.  Further, the foam offers more protection that wood.

If you want to get some Kaizen Foam, head on over to FastCap’s website, or you can also get it on Amazon. I use the 2″ Kaizen Foam.

Bonus Material: Kaizen Foam Tips & Tricks Video

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  • Jayce R February 14, 2017, 6:03 AM

    Good review. I just used this stuff for the first time last night in one of my gun cases. The cutting and fitting was a breeze. But like you had mentioned, the removal of the material proved to be a bit more difficult than advertised. The layers didn’t seem to “peel” away as simply as I had thought they would. The result was a somewhat uneven surface that want too aesthetically pleasing. However, after placing my pistol and accessories into the foam cut-outs, It looked awesome. I would probably use the Kaizen foam again, provided their price eventually comes down. Again, great review and spot on!

    • Zac Higgins February 14, 2017, 11:25 PM

      Thanks Jayce! I bet that gun case is a beauty!! Yeah, it’s pretty cool stuff but not as user friendly to get those layers out of as I’d have liked it to be for the price. Still, pretty cool product.

  • Andrew April 15, 2018, 12:52 PM

    Hello, I’ve learned that you can fix that uneven bottom to your cut outs easily. After removing the material from the pattern peel one of the layers from the excess material and lay it in the hole you just created. You will have to account for the extra piece in the bottom by simply cutting your pattern 1/8″ deeper. The kaizen foam is still way more expensive than it should be. A large case for say a telescope is quite a bit of change. Just saying…..

    • Zac Higgins April 17, 2018, 12:02 AM

      That’s brilliant! Great tip Andrew =D Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the price, definitely cheaper ways to go. Still, it is pretty cool stuff if you’re ok with paying for it

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