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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vacuum Forming Table

I don't know about you, but I've always wanted a vacuum forming machine.  You take a sheet of plastic, heat it up, and shrink-wrap it over an object you want to copy.  If I had a dollar for every time I could have simplified a project by running off a thin plastic shell of something...well, I would have saved up enough to build one.  So I figured, that's a silly statistic, and I built one anyway.

I'll be using the kitchen oven to heat the plastic, so I only needed to make the vacuum table.  The table is actually a box that hooks up to my shop vac, so it sucks the softened plastic down.  It's 2' square, with a pegboard top, 1x2 sides, and plywood for the bottom.  The legs are 2' 2x4s.

I found a PVC fitting that fits my shop vac hose perfectly.  It's some kind of reducer that I just adhered with caulk over a hole in the middle of the plywood.

It hooks up like this.

These are the frames that will hold the plastic.  Aluminum window screen frame stock made into 12 x 16" frames with L brackets and Gorilla Glue for good measure.  They'll get clamped on either side of the plastic sheet.

Like that.

If you've been watching the numbers, you'll have noticed that my frames are smaller than my table.  I'm taping off the holes in the extra area of the table.  I wanted to make it bigger than I needed for future projects.

Now, I won't say what my first project with the vacuum former is yet, but I will tell you that it's related to the new projection effect.  Stay tuned, because in the next few days I'll put this thing to use.