I just posted some images of my shop made vacuum system in the project gallery. It was suggested I start a blog on its construction – so here we go.
I followed the online directions provided at JowWoodworker.com I bought 2 rebuilt Thomas pumps and the Mac valve, regulator, relay kit that Joe sells. FYI – I am in no way affiliated or associated with JoeWoodworker I’m just letting you know where I got the info to make my system.
With the 2 pumps and the reservoir system vacuum pressing is quick and efficient. I do my vacuum pressing on the first floor of my house, I live in a big old farmhouse and most of the first floor is where I do my hand work and marquetry. When I am vacuum pressing a project I rarely hear the pumps cycle on during the process.
As you will read in the online directions (I think it is downloadable as a PDF) the reservoirs act as reserve vacuum so if your bag has a very very very slow leak, the reservoirs can usually keep down the vacuum preventing the pumps from cycling on too much (wow that was a long sentence!)
In the pictures you can see the 2 pumps (with the computer fan guards over their fans) the MAC valve with its small sub reserve tank (allows for the pumps to “burp” releasing the vac on their systems so they can kick back on without sensing a preexisting vac) – this is also where the water trap is located. The vac line then goes to the 2 bug reservoirs underneath and then to the guage and out the 2 available ports. The rest of the system is all electrical. The pumps each have a capacitor that you can’t see – they are placed underneath nested in the void created by the 2 reservoir cylinders. From their you go to the vacuum relay, the clear plastic looking box next to the back side of the light switch. This is where all the electrical comes together and the vacuum regulator controls the MAc valve which is what kicks the pumps on when more vac is needed.
I spent a day or two really studying the instructions on the wiring, I think I even emailed Joe to double check that I got the 2 pump wiring process right. I probably went above and beyond in my pre work and staging before I actually started the assemble of the system. I don’t mean to scare you – but take your time and really make sure you understand what your wiring – and if you have any doubts, ask Joe. Or someone who your trust knows something about this level of complex wiring. It’s not exactly like wiring a light switch – but if you take the time to make sure you’ve got it right – it’s really not any harder than installing a 3-way light switch.
Dialing in the final vacuum level is very easy. I make my own bags using Joe’s bulk vinyl and vinyl cement and his handy dandy valve stems and quick connects for by bags. Once again, if you follow Joe’s directions making your own bags is a snap. He even sells the plastic tubes with the snap over shields to close up the open ends.
While it is true that these bags are not a s robust as the much more expensive bags – as an amatuer woodworker – the should serve me well.
Well, if there is anything else I can tell you guys about building my system or you can tell me to make my process better – just let me know. We are all here to learn and improve upon our craftsmanship!