Wanting a Vacuum Chuck for Woodturning

Flute Maker

Mike
User
I am sort of contemplating a vacuum chuck to be used in my woodturning.. (Thanks Charles for bringing the need to know what I would use this for to my attention!). Don’t feel like putting together or making one….too many things already to do. But I would like one maybe someone started and decided they didn’t need it? Or someone has one for sale… I’m just tossing the idea around right now. I have seen the need for one lately..
 
Last edited:

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
A vacuum chuck for holding what? There are many variations possible.

I use a vacuum pump to hold work pieces on my bench while working on them. It's just some closed cell foam Weather stripping attached to a flat piece of wood in whatever shape that I need. I drill a hole part way through the wood from within the center of this Weather stripped area, and then a second hole from the edge of the board to intersect with this hole. I then install (usually epoxy) an air line fitting for the line that connects to the vacuum pump in this edge hole. This completes the assembly of my vacuum chuck.

In use, I attach this vacuum chuck to my workbench with a couple of screws. Then use some semi rigid air line to attach the vacuum chuck to the vacuum pump. Then I turn on the vacuum pump and then place my work piece down against the Weather stripping. As soon as there is a good seal, the work piece is pulled down tightly and is secure enough to rout, cut, shape, etc. Turning off the vacuum pump releases the work. The holding force is 14.7 pounds for every square inch of surface within contact with the weather stripping, if there are no leaks. I have a vacuum gauge on the vacuum pump that lets me see easily if there is a good seal and no leaks.

Rockler sells some vacuum chucks and a vacuum pump, but their prices are a bit high. I received some of their vacuum chucks as a gift and they work OK, but are a bit small. There are much better vacuum pump deals available than the one offered by Rockler. The refrigeration service vacuum pumps from Amazon are quite good. Get at least a 2.5 - 3.5 cfm pump for this. Bigger is always better. Add an inline air filter to keep sawdust out of the pump. The line that I use is 100 mm semi rigid plastic line. It comes in 100' coils and is quite reasonably priced, so unless the piece that I cut is long I never re-use it. The short pieces just go in the trash when the project is finished. The fittings that I use are designed for use with this tubing. 1/8" pipe on one end and 100 mm tubing on the other. The tubing just presses in and locks, but pressing the collar around the tubing releases it, so the tubing and fitting can easily be re-used. Make 90 deg cuts of the tubing ends with a sharp single edge razor blade and the fittings will not leak. Cut them at an angle or with dull knife and they will leak.

Charley
 

Flute Maker

Mike
User
A vacuum chuck for holding what? There are many variations possible.

I use a vacuum pump to hold work pieces on my bench while working on them. It's just some closed cell foam Weather stripping attached to a flat piece of wood in whatever shape that I need. I drill a hole part way through the wood from within the center of this Weather stripped area, and then a second hole from the edge of the board to intersect with this hole. I then install (usually epoxy) an air line fitting for the line that connects to the vacuum pump in this edge hole. This completes the assembly of my vacuum chuck.

In use, I attach this vacuum chuck to my workbench with a couple of screws. Then use some semi rigid air line to attach the vacuum chuck to the vacuum pump. Then I turn on the vacuum pump and then place my work piece down against the Weather stripping. As soon as there is a good seal, the work piece is pulled down tightly and is secure enough to rout, cut, shape, etc. Turning off the vacuum pump releases the work. The holding force is 14.7 pounds for every square inch of surface within contact with the weather stripping, if there are no leaks. I have a vacuum gauge on the vacuum pump that lets me see easily if there is a good seal and no leaks.

Rockler sells some vacuum chucks and a vacuum pump, but their prices are a bit high. I received some of their vacuum chucks as a gift and they work OK, but are a bit small. There are much better vacuum pump deals available than the one offered by Rockler. The refrigeration service vacuum pumps from Amazon are quite good. Get at least a 2.5 - 3.5 cfm pump for this. Bigger is always better. Add an inline air filter to keep sawdust out of the pump. The line that I use is 100 mm semi rigid plastic line. It comes in 100' coils and is quite reasonably priced, so unless the piece that I cut is long I never re-use it. The short pieces just go in the trash when the project is finished. The fittings that I use are designed for use with this tubing. 1/8" pipe on one end and 100 mm tubing on the other. The tubing just presses in and locks, but pressing the collar around the tubing releases it, so the tubing and fitting can easily be re-used. Make 90 deg cuts of the tubing ends with a sharp single edge razor blade and the fittings will not leak. Cut them at an angle or with dull knife and they will leak.

Charley
Thanks!!
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
There seems to be three main components of a vacuum system for a wood lathe
1. Vacuum pump
2. Rotary junction
3. Vacuum chucks.
Of course there's the various plumbing fixtures and hoses.
The vacuum pump is the easiest to get since it is a single unit.
The rotary junction is the fly in the ointment. That usually requires some engineering to work with the individual lathe's tailstock and spindle bore dimensions. Spindle bore dimensions can vary from spindle to spindle within the same model and make. I've been bit by assuming they are all the same when a precision fit was needed.
The chucks are the cheapest part and easy to make at home unless you want to pay someone for their engineering time and shop time.

Back in the 1990s, everyone looking for a cheap-out used a shop vac. That was just as bad as you can imagine, but it did work well enough.
 

Cuthriell

Cuthriell
User
This is pretty easy. The smaller diameter of the wood piece fits in your chuck. The faceplate has a centered hole. The metal piece is a lawn mower pully made with a sealed bearing. It came from the local lawn mower shop. The tube is a lamp rod. The pully is pressed in tight and epoxied. The lamp rod is epoxied to the bearing. In use the lamp rod passes through the headstock and I hook up the vacuum hose to the end with a clamp. The pump is close to the lamp rod and there is very little banging around of the rod. I have some thin sticky back foam on the faceplate.
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KenOfCary

Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
I have the Frugal Vacuum Pump kit and found the pump part very easy to put together and it works great. He basically refurbishes old pumps from medical oxygen supply systems. Great customer service - mine had a bad starter capacitor when it arrived and he overnighted a replacement.

I built a small plywood shelf to mount the unit on the wall next to the lathe.

I wasn't happy with the vacuum attachments that came with the system so I bought one of these.


Hold Fast makes some great heads in various sizes.

Here's some pics of the system.



 

gritz

Robert
Senior User
I have a Gast pump plus a vacuum tube and flexible bellows if anyone is interested. I no longer plan to build out a system.
 

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