Step by step Pelican Case pick n pluck foam
tutorial with the 1495 case
For this step by step example/tutorial I am showing my new 1495cc2 Pelican laptop case from brand new out of the box to complete with computer and lid organizer. However, customizing your Pelican pick n pluck foam for all of the Pelican cases would use a similar process.
This tutorial applies to all Pelican cases that use the Pick n Pluck foam.
1. Brand new 1495 out of the box
Brand new out of the box. Some people might think it is strange that a Pelican case comes in a box (at least I thought it was funny), but you will be happy to know that Pelican has switched to all Green cardboard/paperboard packaging that is fully biodegradable and recyclable.
I thought some people might like to see the case as it comes brand new.
2. Opening for the first time
And this is what you see when you open the case for the first time.
Brand new pristine foam, lid organizer if your case has one, and a handy brochure to see all of the other cool Pelican cases.
The strap is also in the case but I had already set that aside when I took the picture (oops).
3. 2 foam pieces
I pulled the foam out to see exactly what you get. There are two pieces included. The bottom piece is a
denser foam piece to give solid bottom protection. The top foam piece is the famous Pelican pick n pluck™ foam.
The pick n pluck fits snug exactly to the top of the bottom half of the case.
4. Choose layout configuration
While I tried a variety of positions for the two most important items in the case, my laptop and power supply, considering the size of my laptop
I didn’t have a lot of choices. My goal was to pick the best position for the laptop, leaving the extra cushioning from top to bottom at the bottom
of the case when it was sitting on end to give it more cushion protection.
My power supply was the real problem. I wanted to leave extra space for other accessories or doodads I might want to put into the foam later, but the
power transformer with my tabletPC seemed to take up all the space. Then, almost by accident I tried putting the transformer in the pocket on the right side.
I had to disconnect the detachable AC side of the cord to do it, but it fit perfectly. I decided this was the best option as that would mean I only had to cut
out a whole big enough to fit the power cables themselves, leaving plenty of space to put a bluetooth mouse or other accessories in the foam later.
Once you have determined your ideal configuration it is time to mark the boundaries and begin cutting/plucking the foam.
5. Marking the configuration
I used bamboo skewers (they were handy and we had a bunch in the kitchen) but others have recommended toothpicks.
With your objects in place insert position markers (skewers, toothpicks, or the like) around the object.
When the object you are marking out is halfway between one row of pick n pluck block sections, choose to go IN one row towards the object.
This will ensure a much tighter fit and more solid protection of your items in the foam. But use your judgement; depending on the shape of
the object you are customizing a hole for, if it is too snug it can be difficult to get the item in and out.
Either way, I would recommend opting for the smaller hole first if there is any doubt. You can always take out another row of foam if necessary.
And while a little spray mount glue will allow you to reaffix foam that you want to put back it seems safer to just start smaller.
NOTE: I have chosen to do the largest compartment (hole/section) first. Once I know the most important and largest item in the case (my laptop) is
safe and secure, I can make better decisions of how much space I have left for other items, and how much foam protection will be left between the
various compartments. However, if you were doing a case with many smaller objects you would most certainly want to map the entire configuration (or
at least rough it in) prior to plucking any foam.
While this step is not absolutely necessary, I learned that the pick n pluck foam from Pelican is stuck together REALLY good .
Picking and plucking is fairly easy without precutting, but the pick n pluck rows of blocks are stuck together strong enough that I
decided to pre-cut simply to ensure that I didn’t accidentally pull apart any other surrounding rows or have to squish the foam too much.
Not that you could accidentally pull a whole row or block of foam completely off, but I noticed the strength of connection between the blocks
was enough that you could pull extra bits partially off leaving a less clean line at the top of the foam, making for a less clean customization.
Since I wanted perfectly straight cuts at the top, I opted to precut the pick n pluck. But just to be clear, pre-cutting is NOT NECESSARY . The
pick n pluck foam is designed to be easily pulled out and requires no actual cutting to customize your case.
7. Beginning to pluck primary compartment
Rip out the whole block section as a single piece
To pluck simply stick your fingers into the gap between the rows you have marked off. Begin pushing down and pulling towards you. I used a
slight wiggling and pulling motion as I pushed downwards until I reached the bottom of the pick n pluck foam.
Do not try to pull out single blocks of foam at a time. Attempt to pull out the entire hole that you are creating in one piece. It will not only
go faster this way, but it is more difficult to do in sections. But most importantly (as we’ll see below) you might want to use the foam you are pulling
out for further customization, or worse, you might accidentally take out too much, and single solid pieces are easier to work with.
8. Foam removed from holes/sections
Now you should have nice clean holes/sections for the items you are going to be protecting/transporting in your Pelican case.
Next we need to test our work and make sure we did it right.
9. Checking the holes/sections
Before finishing we obviously need to test our newly customized holes/sections.
Here we discover that the hole is perfect (well actually I had to take off one more row on the back-but it is perfect now).
The laptop is perfectly snug in it’s protective foam. However, the laptop seems to be a little deep in the hole. Considering
how nicely packed tight my laptop is could make extricating it quite an ordeal, leading to premature wearing out of the foam.
So next I am going to further customize the depth of our hole using the block we have just removed.
10. Customizing the depth
In the photo to the right you can see that my laptop has an uneven bottom. While great for ergnomics when using the laptop (and a great grip/handle
when I flip the screen and use it in tablet/notebook mode) it doesn’t have full protection in my case yet with areas that are not in direct contact
with the protective foam.
Using the perfect width blocks of foam we just pulled out I estimate the correct depth I will need.
In my case, due to the angle of incline for my laptop, in order to get a final level and fully protected position inside the case, I am going
to use several strips in three depths to ensure maximum contact of foam to my laptop. I have chosen to use three blocks thick for the thinnest
part of my laptop that will sit near the handle. And then two more strips two thick in the middle, and one thick closest to the battery/back of
10. Customizing the depth
Now we test again. This time I discover that the three block thickness was just too thick and now my laptop actually sticks out of the top of
So I remove the one strip from the three block strip, and test again.
This time it is absolutely perfect, just shy of being flush with the top of the foam. Now my laptop is as secure as I can make it in the case, offering
maximum protection, while easy to get the laptop out without having to force my fingers deep into the foam everytime.
11. Doing the subcompartments last
Now that I know my laptop fits perfectly, I repeat the above steps to do the remaining smaller compartments (holes/sections).
At the time of this tutorial I had not decided on what accessories I was going to carry with me beyond the power supply. I had not
yet decided on a supplemental pointing device (beyond my pen which lives inside the laptop itself. Or maybe I want a little spot to
safely transport candy, lunch, or a palm pilot in the case as well.
So it was extra important to me that I leave the largest amount of untouched unused foam as possible for future items I may want with me
when I am on the road or at a coffee shop. That is how I came up with the idea of using the pocket on the right side of the lid organizer to
hold my power transformer (which for some unknown reason is at least an inch thick), and then just cut out a big enough hole to hold the power cables.
This is a perfect example of how you can customize your Pelican in any way you can think of. In my case I used a pocket for an unconventional use to
optimize space, but some people build crazy things into and onto their Pelican cases
(see our Creative and unique Pelican mods article for other things people have
done with their Pelican cases).
While I could have optimized space by turning the hole for the cords 90 degrees, I didn’t want to have to fold the cables that small risking damage over time.
And there you have it a perfectly customized Pelican case to suit your exact needs.
Depending on the items you plan to transport and protect this shouldn’t take more than a half hour.
Fifteen minutes for a single large simple shape and maybe an hour or so if you have lot’s of intricate
Hopefully this tutorial was helpful.
Think of CoTradeCo the next time you need any cases or other specialty supplies for your industry .
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