Midnight Woodworking

Woodworking

New Vacuum Press

I don’t know about where you live, but around me, wood is getting rather expensive. I am very lucky to have a friend or two that can supply me with most of what I need at a good price. My main source of wood comes from my buddy Dave who has a sawmill and has been cutting and air-drying his own wood for years. I also discovered a local farmer who has a sawmill and he is almost literally in my back yard. The main problem with air-dried wood is that it can and is often infested with powder-post beetles or some other type of bug. These critters are not very welcome in furniture so in the past I have been very careful when selecting wood for furniture. When I build for a paying client, I will typically buy kiln-dried wood that is guaranteed to not have bugs in it.

 

A few years back, my buddy Dave’s store of cut and drying wood got infested. Many thousands of board feet of wood became suspect. Having all of that wood kiln dried to kill bugs would have been very costly and would have taken a very long time. He had recently started veneering some of his projects and had invested in a vacuum press kit as well as some large vacuum bags. I suggested him that he might try placing his infested boards under vacuum for a period of time and see if that would kill the bugs. After some testing, he was very pleased with the results. He found that placing the wood under vacuum for an hour did the trick, but he typically would leave them under pressure for 24 hours just to be safe…

 

Vacuum presses were designed for veneering and clamping bent laminations in place while the glue dries, but killing beetle infestations was definitely a bonus as well. The more expensive wood has gotten, the more I rely on private sawyers for my wood supply. I decided that it was finally time to add a vacuum press to my shop as well. It will not only allow me to have some peace of mind when it comes to bugs in my wood, but I can now expand my interests to include veneering and bent laminations.

 

My buddy Dave highly recommended veneersupplies.com for veneering supplies and information as well as the vacuum press and hardware. After researching it a bit, I took the plunge and bought one of the vacuum press kits as well as a large, heavy-duty vacuum bag. I also bought a pack of random veneers and a starter kit for veneering.

 

My first step was to create a large flat work surface for the vacuum bag to lay on. That meant cannibalizing two dining room tables to make a 10′ long flat surface. I will add a 12″ wide drop leaf off the front, at some point, to allow room for the 4’x9′ bag to be fully utilized.

The kit I bought comes with an awful lot of pieces. The online instruction manual says it will take approximately 6-7 hours to assemble…  It was correct, I spread the construction out over a couple of days.

Since everything is going to be trying to hold a vacuum, every connection had to be carefully made and very tight.

I unfortunately couldn’t find clear PVC glue and made quite a mess using the blue stuff…

The directions are broken down into several different assemblies. This allows you to focus on each assembly for an hour or so and then come back to start fresh on the next. The directions were clear and easy to follow.

I did manage to break the vacuum switch by over tightening something but Joe at veneersupplies.com was very responsive and helpful. I emailed him on Thanksgiving day and he responded immediately with a link to the part and even gave me a discount for my trouble. I received the part two days later on a holiday weekend. Good people, very nice to work with.

After receiving the replacement part, I finished assembling the system and was able to test it out.

I grabbed a few 8′ long boards and placed them under vacuum.

After reaching the desired vacuum level, I shut off the compressor and the valve. After sitting for several hours, almost no pressure was lost. Success!

Next, I loaded in some trim and a few more boards that I got from my friend Dave. Since there were some very sharp edges, I wrapped them in cardboard so that I did not risk tearing the bag. It was kind of a pain, but it worked very well.

This little system was not cheap, but it will save me a lot of money in wood, as well as give me a few more things to be able to do in the shop like vacuum clamping and playing with veneers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Information

This entry was posted on January 10, 2023 by in Tool and tagged , , , .

Number of visitors

  • 274,151 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 185 other subscribers

Browse by catagory

Browse my archive

%d bloggers like this: