I was browsing Pinterest a few days ago and I came across an article showing how to use expanding foam to create a custom drawer insert for your tools. I immediately thought that I needed to try this. So the next day I started working on it.
The first problem I ran into was that I couldn’t remove the drawers from my Craftsman 3 drawer chest. So I needed to build a mold that was the same size as the drawer. This turned out to be a good idea anyway because I wouldn’t ruin my drawers if something went wrong.
Once I built the drawer, I chose some tools I didn’t care about to run a test. Even though they didn’t say it in the article, I was afraid of the foam leaking through the fabric and ruining the tools. Once I had an arrangement I liked, I also hot glued the tools in place. I figured that if I didn’t they would have moved around and ruined the insert.
I used a piece of shower curtain fabric, which may have been a mistake. It was very slippery, so I thought it would slide around and get into crevices. It also is designed to shed water so I thought it would hold back the foam better than the shirt they used in the article.
When I filled the drawer with foam, I had a hard time spreading it out, so much so that I pretty much ruined the first try. I had to cut a new piece of fabric and try again. This time I just filled the drawer with foam, covered it with newspaper and pressed down on the whole thing with a piece of plywood. I then removed the plywood and newspaper, filled any remaining big voids, and covered the foam with newspaper and the plywood again. Then I put some weight on it.
I came back after about 4 hours and the foam was still somewhat squishy, but I pulled the insert out of the drawer anyway. I was really disappointed that the foam didn’t expand into the sides of the drawer and didn’t flow around the tools. The tools basically left shallow impressions in the foam. I probably should have waited a full 8 hours, because when I came back this morning to look at it, the foam was hard and it had expanded in the center a bit more.
I was also disappointed that the foam leaked through the fabric and stained it in random places. It also got all over the tools, I’m glad I didn’t use good tools. I think a cotton shirt would have stretched and made a better fit, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t leak foam through even worse.
I haven’t decided if I will try this again. Maybe next time I’ll try a thick cotton shirt with tighter weave. I’ll also be sure to leave the foam cure for at least 8 hours.