A method of net-shaping using aerogel materials is provided by first forming a sol, aging the sol to form a gel, with the gel having a fluid component and having been formed into a medium selected from the group consisting of a powder, bulk material, or granular aerobeads, derivatizing the surface of the gel to render the surface unreactive toward further condensation, removing a portion of the fluid component of the final shaped gel to form a partially dried medium, placing the medium into a cavity, wherein the volume of said medium is less that the volume of the cavity, and removing a portion of the fluid component of the medium. The removal, such as by heating at a temperature of approximately less than 50.degree. C., applying a vacuum, or both, causes the volume of the medium to increase and to form a solid aerogel. The material can be easily removed by exposing the material to a solvent, thereby reducing the volume of the material. In another embodiment, the gel is derivatized and then formed into a shaped medium, where subsequent drying reduces the volume of the shaped medium, forming a net-shaping material. Upon further drying, the material increases in volume to fill a cavity. The present invention is both a method of net-shaping and the material produced by the method.