Foamer Process - 101

Share tips and ask questions on all types of duck decoys. Including working, classics, collectable, and carving decoys.

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Foamer Process - 101

Postby DUKHTR » Sun May 08, 2005 10:14 am

As you all know, I have taken to the foamer decoys heavily in the last couple years. After making and using corks, I have found that foamers can be challenging, but easier overall and certainly less expensive to make. They are durable, ride the water realistically and offer anyone the satisfaction of taking ducks over their own creations.

I have put together a step-by-step process that I have found to be relatively easy and at the same time efficient in making a decoy. This is MY way only....and there may be lot's of other steps or ways to go about making a foamer. I always look to be more creative or to hear what others are doing/suggesting/brainstorming!

Here goes:

Here are the basic tools, along with some secondary tools. The primary tools I use are: a keyhole saw, a surform rasp and drywall screen which I mount on a piece of 2"x4" wrapped in carpet. Other tools I find handy are sandpaper, a sandpapersponge, a hacksaw blade, files and of course a sharpie pen.


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I buy my 'stock' foam sheets in 2" thickness...they are 2'x8' and cost about $12 at HomeDepot. I have a plywood template of the basic blank and get 11 decoys (22 half blanks) per sheet of foam. I cut out the blanks with a key-hole saw.

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I glue two blanks together to form one that is 4" thick....I use Ultimate glue from Elmers, but 5 min epoxy or Gorilla glue works. I use a small amount of glue and let it set overnight.

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next I use the hacksaw blade to cut large sections off at the tail and head

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from there I start rounding out the basic shape with the surform rasp.....everyone will have their own method of working the rasp and everyone will have their own creative shape.....so you are on your own here.....just remember that there are no lines or sharp edges on a duck....everything is 'round'

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after roughing out the shape, I go back and add some detail with a file and fine sand with the screen board.....since the surform and screenboard are long, they provide for easy rounding....you certainly don't want to stay on one spot....keep moving taking little bits at a time......as you get more experienced, this will come easy and take a matter of minutes to complete! Going from a laminated blank to a shapoed decoy takes me about 10 minutes.

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Now we are ready to set the tail board in and the keel. The keels I use are yellow pine cut to a length of 7.5" and then mitred at 22.5*....I hollow out the keel with a drill press and then pour molten lead to weight it.....when I pour the lead I insert a 3" course drywall screw to aid in setting the keel into the blank. I slot the blank with a dremel about 1/8" and glue the keel in....I also apply three coats of spar varnish to the wood which makes a nice finished look, but more importantly seals it......the tail board is 1/4" luan which is set into a slot I cut with the hacksaw blade and that is glued...it also is spar varnished....I let the glue cure overnight


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Now we can start on the burlapping! I use heavy weight landscaping burlap....it is somewhat forgiving due to the course weave....if you use fabric burlap it is alot harder to get the mastic through the fabric to adhere to the foam......I use Acylpro tile mastic...it is waterbased and is easy to clean up after ......I do the decoy in two pieces starting on the bottom where I cut a slot for the keel

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after the bottom piece of burlap is on, the top goes on overlapping the bottom piece.....really work the mastic into the burlap and kinduv squeegie it with your hands....trim burlap as you go using stainless sheers (they clean up easy in warm water....same for your hands so forget the plastic gloves)

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here's the decoy afer one coat of mastic......let it cure for at least 24 hours....sand and then reapply a second thin coat of mastic filling in any gaps, smoothing etc......and then sand with fine sandpaper

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In the meantime, you've been carving and painting the head....I use basswood, but there are many commercial heads available. All can be painted with acrylics. Get good brushes...it'll make a difference! Some heads are plastic (Herter's for example so prep is important for good paint adhesion)...others are 2-part foam such as Toledo Decoys, MLB or EAllens....just some gesso or a good auto primer will work under the acrylics.....and here she is all painted! The body I spray with an airbrush.

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Good luck if you give this a try!!!!!!! As always, I welcome questions....this is kinduv second nature to me so I may have left some gaps you will have questions on. If you have a question on something it is likely someone else does, so post up. Also, post up any suggestions or alternatives!!!
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Postby Mike M. » Mon May 09, 2005 6:03 pm

Great job and nice tutorial. Very informative.

I've got some burlapping to do this summer. Thanks for all of your tips.
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Postby ACEBLDRS » Mon May 09, 2005 8:21 pm

DUKHTR, :thumbsup: Thanks for all of the time and effort that you put into that post. Hunters helping out other Hunters. :salude: Thats what makes this site and this group of guys and gals great. Not to mention how great this sport is that we all love. There isn't many other sports where everyone shares all of there little secrets with just anyone. Thanks again. I think i may have to give this a try. Sounds like i'm gonna hafta put off painting the hallway for another week or two. :toofunny:
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Postby huntmq1 » Tue May 10, 2005 11:34 am

Very impressive, really! It looks great. I've wanted to try this, but haven't had the nerve yet to try it. This helps alot. THANK YOU!
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Postby SCoutdoorsman » Tue May 10, 2005 11:40 am

Great post. Thanks for sharing your skills with us. :thumbsup:
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Postby CALLEMQUACKTN » Tue May 10, 2005 7:00 pm

:withstupid: That is so cool. :smile:
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Postby Quackcephus » Tue May 10, 2005 9:09 pm

Lookin' good!!! :getdown:
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Postby Greg Wile » Mon May 16, 2005 1:33 pm

Great post and good looking decoy. Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:
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Postby AlaskaRedneK » Fri May 20, 2005 12:44 am

Wow! :eek:

I am thoroughly impressed. That is one of the best looking decoys i have seen. It looks very natural.

NICE work!

Im definitely going to be asking you some questions about that later!

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Postby ACEBLDRS » Sun May 22, 2005 5:01 pm

What is "Luan" I have not seen this product. Is it a liminate. I asked at the local luber yard that has all kinds of wood, and they havn't heard of Luan. Could there be another name for it? Is it water resistant, or are you relying on the sealer to do it. I don't think that regular ply or mdf would be any good. Just wonderin.
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Postby bowhuntr4ever » Wed Sep 28, 2005 8:27 pm

how do you get the head to stick on to the body?
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Postby DUKHTR » Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:04 am

I use the same general process as with the keel....I use a 3 inch course dry wall screw and Elmers Ultimate glue.

The other way to do it, if you want to have a swivel head is to use an eye srew approx. 6"through the keel (then I do not drill a line hole in the front of the keel) which goes up through the body and screws into the head. Personall, I do not like this method since the head could come loose or fall off etc. I use varied poses and positions when I mount them permanently.
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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:22 pm

DUKHTR, I found my way thanks a lot, if you don't mind I'd like to show others what you "tought" me to do, here are a few of mine using DUK's patented method, he sent me the same thing a few months ago, to date I am up to 3 dozen I have made for my layout rig and 1 dozen for my marsh boat, and what a thrill to shoot birds over decoys that came from your own two hands, by no means show birds, but details are for the hunter not the hunted.
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Postby waterfowler82 » Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:35 pm

Wow! Those look great! I am in the process of painting up some coot dekes that I've thrown together, but I must admit I'd feel a little shy posting them up next to yours. Did you carve your heads or were they purchased? I seem to learn a little something new with each deke that I put together. Perhaps soon I'll have something nice that I can post too.

Great work, man.

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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:01 pm

Thanks all although I cannot take credit for my heads which personally I think really make the birds, all of my foamers get heads from Toledo Decoy, I know Tom he is a great guy and makes great products, I am just getting started into cork birds now, might have a few in teh spread this year but doubtful next year have at least a dozen or 2.
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Postby waterfowler82 » Mon Oct 17, 2005 10:08 am

Here is my first piece using the foamer process. I've definitely learned some things along the way and plan to modify my technique a bit, but all in all I'd say that it turned out pretty well.

The heads were purchased from Cabela's (Herters plastic heads) and the keel was made by adding a 1/2" x 1" strip of foam to the bottom of the deke, covering it in burlap and then screwing a capped piece of 3/4" PVC to create an aqua-keel.
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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:01 pm

Not bad at all, you have probably noticed the more you do it the more you try new things and see how tricky you can get with things, definitly a good time
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Postby poacher » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:12 am

Have you ever done goose decoys in this fashion? I imagine one could use 3 pieces of foam with a little larger cutout, how would you do the neck and head?
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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:19 pm

Poacher I made a swan actually, I have no idea why but I did, yes just upsize your materials and for heads Toledodecoy.com thats all you need right there
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Postby waterfowler82 » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:52 pm

I actually picked up 2 Herters model 92 (I think) heads from Cabelas to make up a couple of goose decoys, so that is an option for you too.
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Postby poacher » Fri Oct 21, 2005 4:45 am

Thanks for the info, i'll give it a try....
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acrylpro

Postby esq.quackhead » Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:48 am

Does home depot carry acrylpro or any other simlar product, i looked for it and could not find it and the guy that works their had no idea what i was talking about. thanks for the help
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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Fri Nov 11, 2005 10:56 am

Yes Home Depot is were I buy mine, $10.96 for 1 gallon it is in the ceramic tile area.
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Postby sc_countryboy26 » Mon Nov 14, 2005 9:14 pm

Do you use only one layer of burlap?
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Postby ISHOOTDIVERS » Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:30 am

1 layer of burlapp 2 layers of mastic for me, more you go the smoother you get
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