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lathe stand upgrade #3: vacuum chuck

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Blog entry by jeffthewoodwacker posted 01-02-2009 04:11 AM 8315 reads 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: lathe stand storage Part 3 of lathe stand upgrade series no next part

I have always wanted to have a dedicated vacuum chuck for my lathe but didn’t want to pay the high cost. After doing a lot of research and talking to turners that had built their own system I decided build my own vacuum chuck. The two systems most used are the vacuum pump system and the vacuum generator system which uses an air compressor. I built my system with a vacuum pump. New vacuum pumps are $444.95 and rebuilt pumps are $150.00 and up. I picked up a 3/4 hp pump on Craigslist for $75.00 – it was like new!

A complete gauge kit is $92.95 from several online sources. I went to Home Depot and bought all the brass fittings, the PVC hose, pressure gauge and bleeder valve for $42.00. A vacuum adaptor kit is $56.95 from online stores. I picked up the 3/8×18 lamp rod, and bearing from Grainger Supply for $12.95. The lamp rod and bearing were attached to shop made mandrels to attach to the inboard and outboard sides of the head stock.

I made a stand for the vacuum motor and pressure gauge. A couple more shelves will be added to hold the vacuum chuck heads that I made.

I wanted to have the ability to switch the vacuum motor off and on and salvaged an old heavy duty multiple switch outlet center. This outlet center has five switchable outlets that I can use.

With the vacuum system complete it was time to make the vacuum chuck heads. A 3” chuck head is $57.95 on line and a 6” head is $68.95. While I was at Home Depot I picked up a 1 1/2×3 PVC fitting and a 1 1/2 by 6 PVC fitting for $10.00 I borrowed my wife’s Hobby Lobby coupon and bought a sheet of 12” x 18” funky foam for .66 cents. A piece of hard maple was turned to a spindle and then tapped with my 1×8 Beall Spindle Tap – this piece of hard maple will now thread onto my lathe headstock. With the hard maple threaded onto the headstock I created a tenon for the 1 1/2” end of the PVC. The PVC was then glued on with CA glue. I cut a piece of the funky foam 1/4” wide by 18 long and attached it to the other edge of the PVC with contact cement. This piece was trimmed to size and I will use the rest of it for another chuck head.

In this photo you can see the foam attached to the PVC pipe. In the very center of the PVC you can see the brass end of the lamp rod. This is secured with a hose washer, flat washer and plastic retaining nut.

With my 3” vacuum chuck head complete I gave the entire setup a test run. I have attached a platter to the vacuum chuck head.

Looked at the pressure gauge and I have 24 inches of vacuum – I was not able to pull the platter off with both hands. The bleeder valve is used to regulate the pressure and allows me to reposition the platter as needed.

I will make several different sized vacuum chuck heads to suit my purposes. All the brass fittings, PVC fittings, and other hardware items are stock items at most big box hardware stores. If you have any questions please let me know.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.



7 comments so far

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 2357 days


#1 posted 01-02-2009 04:29 AM

That is awsome!

Thanks for the post

Callum

-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out http://thetimberkid.com/

View itsme_timd's profile

itsme_timd

688 posts in 2485 days


#2 posted 01-02-2009 05:04 AM

Quite a setup you’re getting there, I’m taking a lot of notes for when I upgrade. Thanks!

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3054 days


#3 posted 01-02-2009 05:15 AM

Jeff I’m guessing that the pump runs all the time. It is suggested when using vacuum clamping that the pump run all the time because a small leak could cause the piece to move before the pump got back up to the vacuum needed.

I didn’t notice but I’d suggest a filter in line for the vacuum so that small pieces of wood and dust does not go through the pump.

www.joewoodworker.com carries them I put one on mine and I’ve not noticed anything trapped in the filter but then I’ve not used it yet for clamping. Only vacuum veneering.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3054 days


#4 posted 01-02-2009 05:21 AM

What kind of swivel arrangement connects the stationary hose to the spinning shaft..

I’ve also picked up a salvage vacuum switch which controls the vacuum pressure and shuts off the pump when the required vacuum is reached.

You might want to pick up one then you can use your arrangement for veneering with the addition of a bag.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile

jeffthewoodwacker

603 posts in 2458 days


#5 posted 01-02-2009 05:38 AM

Karson, thanks for the comments. The pump has two filters attached. One is a pre-filter that catches any particles before going into the pump and the other is a post filter. The stationary hose is attached to a barb fitting that is attached to a bearing. The lamp rod runs completely through the headstock and is fitted into the hand wheel side of the headstock with a mandrel and on the spindle side with a hose washer to fit the 3/8 lamp rod, a flat washer and a plastic nut. The pump does run constantly, but I use the vacuum mainly to finish the bottoms of my pieces. Hope this makes sense and helps.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Karson's profile

Karson

34876 posts in 3054 days


#6 posted 01-02-2009 05:49 AM

Jeff I just looked on Google for vacuum lathe chucks. You are the last item on page 1, 1 hr after you posted it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5361 posts in 2239 days


#7 posted 01-23-2009 11:43 PM

can this be modified to work on a lathe without through hole in the headstock spindle with a dead spindle that is closed off.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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