Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Foamcore House!

Today’s One Day Build is a homecoming for Adam, in a few ways. Using only one type of material and one cutting tool, Adam makes an architectural scale model of the house he grew up in. It’s a walk down memory lane, and a return to the basics of building! Find a bonus clip from this build here!

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli

Comments (28)

28 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Foamcore House!

  1. Once again Tested a great one day build with Adam. I teach Graphic Design at a university in Oklahoma and it is really sad how the hand skills (and lack there of) are so poor with alot of the students I have these days. As a designer we are still asked to create mock ups of package designs as well as mount design pieces on black mat board for presentations (which we still ask our students to do). So I find it great to see Adam demoing a process of utilizing just a simple exacto knife and foam core. I will definitely be showing this to my students.

  2. Great video, I used to make models like this every day out of foamcore for the architectural firm that I worked for – and I have but one small photo composite to show for it as I never had the time to take pictures of my work, much to my chargin.

    This is a model that you could lift the roof off to view into the attic, then you’d lift that floor out to see below and so on – but the external walls remained in place throughout. I was rather proud of it at the time. All hand made in the same fashion as Adam’s… and Decosoul, the edges were hidden too.

    Unfortunately this shot was taken about a year after it was made as it was exhibited in a London architectural gallery and got knocked about a bit, so parts are missing from it. I doubt it survived.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the house either as this comes from a period in my work life where I was frankly too busy to take photographs of anything. I’d go in at 9am and often be there until the small hours, then I’d go home, crash out and get up a few hours later to start all over again.

  4. I have friends that are recent architecture school grads and have been working for a few years. Seems to be the norm.

    Can no one really schedule work properly in that industry?

  5. Adam, have you ever tried graphite tracing paper? It is a thin paper with graphite dust on one side. You lay it graphite side down on the material you wold like to transfer to. Then you lay the pattern on top and go over all the lines with a pointy (but not sharp instrument). I use a mechanical pencil with the lead not sticking out, A regular pencil lead works as well to trace but has to be sharpened from time to time. It works really well, you can even do some slight shading if required (not pretty but if you want to know what areas needed to be shaded in while burning it works).

  6. Am I missing something re transferring those internal dimensions by flipping the paper over? It’s not symmetrical, right? so it’ll be backwards? Or are you drawing on the underside of the foamcore? Maybe I just need to have my morning coffee..

  7. I built some models in order to visualize some vacation home plans I was considering. Foam core is awesome.

    That dollar-store stuff though? Wow, you should mention that there are different tiers in terms of foam core quality….

  8. As a bit of caution. If I were to put a blade into a can, someone, probably me, would crush the can and get a hooooorible surprise. I come from the land of can crushers (they take up less space in recycling that way).

    Great project though, had me wondering what the roofline was like.

  9. I’ve always been super curious what the house looked like… ironically this didn’t help in that regard.
    Fantastic build!

  10. It’s funny I just got started on a similar project but using Unity3D so I could move around that space.

  11. Why cut out the plans, if you’re using the pencil graphite to transfer the lines? It seems like an unnecessary step to me.

  12. it’s a really fast and versatile technique. especially useful if it isn’t worth buying and using carbon paper.

    i recently built a bow for my sister and wanted to transfer a simple ornament guideline onto the fade/handle area. since it was just a small piece anyway, and it wasn’t crucial to capture every last bit of line quality, just transfer the dimensions from paper onto a slightly curved surface, i also used this technique. worked just as well, and much faster than me going off searching where the hell i put the carbon paper.

  13. I love one day builds though they seem to be so much shorter now. Maybe it’s caused by so much time lapse. I would like to see more build please.

  14. In my youth, I worked for a stained glass shop, and constantly had to transfer patterns. If you need to do this often, then carbon paper will be your best friend. I always used red colored pencils to trace over the originals, so I could easily see what had already been transferred or missed along the way.

  15. Agreed. When I heard that this was going to be his childhood home, I expected Adam to reminisce a bit during the build, maybe talk about his early crafting experiences and his first workshop in the basement that he pointed out. Instead we mostly got a talk about foamcore and a lot of time-lapse video that doesn’t even let us appreciate his building technique very much.

    On the other hand, once you’ve seen him hot-glue the first few pieces together, I guess there’s not that much more to show – but still, there must have been some tricky corners and difficult pieces that might have been interesting to see him tackle.

  16. Thanks for the build, love watching these. I’ve always wanted to try this but after watching I have two questions. When you flip the plans and start re-tracing the lines to transfer over to the foam are you flipping the foam back over after cutting it out,? So that you don’t get a mirror image? Or do you have the plan mirrored already via CAD, so flipping actually corrects it? Also Adam must have a plotter cause he does not seem to care about cutting up the plans since he has them on CAD anyway.

  17. So obviously the foamcore has a thickness, how do you work that into the design? are the internal rooms smaller or is the exterior larger? if you were to measure your house are the internals or externals more important?

  18. I used to build architectural models as well, and I used to build them out of Museum board instead of foam core. The advantage to museum board is that you can render the exterior materials beautifully with pencil, and you can create finer details because the material is thinner and teh cut edges look the same as the flat edges. Our models were mostly intended as a representation of of the exterior of the house. In other words you never looked inside the model. At my peak it would take me about 30 hours to build a model of 8.000 s.f. house to the level of detail required. I don’t think i have a single photo of any of my models there- i wish I did.

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