rosewood / curly maple /purpleheart / lacewood #3: operating in a vacuum !

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Blog entry by patron posted 10-07-2009 06:49 AM 4273 reads 15 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: heres the tutorial for the starburst . Part 3 of rosewood / curly maple /purpleheart / lacewood series Part 4: well , i got this far . »

now i am glueing down the inlay , using west epoxy .
the problem being that i don’t like puting things ,
( like bricks , paint cans , bucket s of sand or water ) ,
and i dont have enough wood to make cauls .
so back to an old trick i learned in the fiberglass boating world .

as i think in a vacuum , it’s only natural to work in one too ?

so here it is .

a vacuum is not pressure , it is the absence of pressure .
when they went into space , it wasn’t like going down
deep in the ocean , where the weight of the water gets heavier
the deeper you go .
if you go out in space , a vacuum ( space ) ,does not get any more empty ,
than it already is . so if you want to travel in space ,
you only need to bring the pressure you want to operate comfortably .
the fuel and oxygen tanks and such , only need to be strong enough to hold the stuff together ,
not keep out the vacuum , as it just isn’t , zero pressure !
if you go outside without your ’ pressure ’ suit , the internal pressure in your body will rip you apart ,
because our body’s are not built to keep things in , but to keep things out .
air doesn’t weigh much , but gravity has more pull on it than the vacuum of space , which has no pull .
so to gluing my inlaid table down , i used a vacuum to let the air pressure in my house to force the inlay down ,
by covering it with bubble wrap the space between the bubbles lets the trapped air escape thru the vacuum cleaner ,
a cheap shop vac , thereby letting the air pressure force and hold the parts in place .
as i don’t have the money for an expensive vacuum forming bag , i had to improvise .
the shop vac is a far cry from a dedicated vacuum for this , as it sucks some air , but is not air tight .
but i’ll take what i can get .
air pressure at sea level is 14,5 lbs per square inch . so this helps quit a bit ,
and it is distributed evenly everywhere on the inlay !
.i start by laying out some stops at 90 degrees in the center ,
and sreading my epoxy with a notched trowel ,
in that quadrant , and placing the pieces in their place .
to keep them from sliding around , i put a strip a the edge and push them until they are even and tight ,
then tack it down with mi brad shooter .
the stick is mi radius , it lets me know when the back stops are even .

now i just mix enough glue for a quadrant at a time ,
and do the same for all of them .

here is my vacuum pickup adaptor , there is a dado in the bottom of it to let the air come to it , and not just snap tight to the wood beneath .


here is the pickup in place , with the bubble wrap ( smooth up ) .

here we are with the sheet of 4 mil plastic over everything and the pickup coming thru a slice in it ,
and the edges taped to the table board , to seal it off .

and here with the shopvac hooked up and running ,
notice the plastic is clearer than the last picture ,
because it sucked to the surface .

i let it run until the glue start to turn to honey , and has its own holding power .
then i will leave it to cure for a day before working on it again
total time to here ,15 hours over 3 days .
and my mind is still as empty as ever !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

44 comments so far

View EzJack's profile


456 posts in 3196 days

#1 posted 10-07-2009 07:29 AM

Yeah but your free.

-- Ain't better or worse than any other woodpecker in the woods.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3380 days

#2 posted 10-07-2009 08:27 AM

I was only discussing the use of a shop vac as a vacuum pump press for veneering just this week. It was with Pommy on Skype.. He wanted to use the wifes storage bags.. lol. So don’t anyone tell her.

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View BarryW's profile


1015 posts in 3932 days

#3 posted 10-07-2009 08:50 AM

using the bubble wrap is genius…excellent idea.

-- /\/\/\ BarryW /\/\/\ Stay so busy you don't have time to die.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 3387 days

#4 posted 10-07-2009 09:52 AM

Hey David,
Clever idea and cheap…....well done.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3359 days

#5 posted 10-07-2009 10:34 AM

Brilliant! I wonder if this would work on pizza dough. You never cease to amaze me David with your know how and ingenuity. I guess that’s what comes from having to actually earn a living doing woodworking, something I could never do.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3527 days

#6 posted 10-07-2009 12:25 PM

Jeez, David… A highly skilled Craftsman, a Philosopher, a Poet, an Artist, an Adviser, and now a Space Scientist and Engineer…If you are thinking in a vacuum, most of the rest of us are trying to slog through mud!
Great Thinking… Again!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View hootr's profile


183 posts in 3372 days

#7 posted 10-07-2009 12:27 PM

this just keeps getting better David
i’m gonna try this sunburst but on a trivet or something small first
what is your substrate and type of epoxy? it would have to be slow setting i assume

-- Ron, Missouri

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3320 days

#8 posted 10-07-2009 12:43 PM

Aaahhh, David,
Surgery is a lot like woodworking.
We have this same system at the hospital for wound care.
It is basically identical except the bubble wrap is engineered foam, and the wood is wound tissue void of skin.
It’s called a wound vac. You could have been a millionaire if only you incorporated this to medical field.

Another excellent tutorial, I tucked it into my favorites.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#9 posted 10-07-2009 01:51 PM

David, that is a pretty good system that you have worked out for the vacuum press. It looks like it works pretty well.

Very ingenious.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3366 days

#10 posted 10-07-2009 02:18 PM

heres the results , the epoxy is above the surface of the inlay ,
it cane up through the joints .
this tells me that the inlay is down flat and even .and not all hill and dale lumpy ,
so sanding will be even .

and as much as i want to start now ,
i think that i will split firewood today ,
i just found my hair dryer !
stay tuned …............

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4426 days

#11 posted 10-07-2009 02:25 PM

David: A very useful and inexpensive vacuum bag.

Some great engineering went into the design. Nice job there.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3312 days

#12 posted 10-07-2009 03:20 PM

Are you a genius or what! It is amazing what we can learn on this site

Thanks David


View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 3668 days

#13 posted 10-07-2009 03:23 PM

do you think something like this would work with as a regular veneer press? How much strain does it put on the vacuum? Would I want to use my good shop vac to do this or maybe get a cheap 5 gallon for this? So many questions…...

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3248 days

#14 posted 10-07-2009 03:26 PM

Nice work. I have always wondered why vacuum bag systems cost so much money…it has always seemed to me that you should be able to produce nearly the same results for much less money.

This brings another question to mind. (Newbie – please forgive me) If vacuum bags creating less than 20 psi is sufficient to create a good glue bond, why does everyone torque their clamps down so tight?? They have to be creating hundreds of pounds per square inch.

-- James -

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 3513 days

#15 posted 10-07-2009 03:34 PM

Pure genius, or very poor, or both! :) Now where are my wife’s storage bags…

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

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