Tips on Vacuum-Press Veneering
As for the process advise, use plenty of protection on all corners of the material you are clamping. I have replaced a many expensive bags due to the sharp corners piercing through the vacuum bag. Make all your bending forms with ridged ribbing (1 pc ribs, not an arched upper pc rib attached to a flat bottom brace). They tend to break or compress on my projects. Make a frame press table for large flat panels (a hinged vacuum sheet lid that seals to a vacuum table). It’s a lot easer than sliding large panels into a bag and getting the proper protection on the corners.
I like the clamping jig that you can use with your vacuum pump. They are handy for routing, assembly and cutting when you need that extra hand. Using just the bag for free form bending is one of my favorite things to do with my vacuum press. There is a lot of good info on the web do a search for veneer bending, vacuum pressing veneer.
From contributor S:
Welcome to working with vacuum. There are two DVD's that I would recommend buying that will explain everything you need to know to do anything from veneering to bending or working with curves and moldings. The first is called "Working With Veneer" and this is a complete guide from start to finish and it also explains the pumps and bags.
The second is called "Working In A Vacuum” it deals with curves and shapes. Both can be bought from vacuum pressing systems or at vacupress.com. As far as bags and pumps, you will most likely need two bags. 50" x 50" and 50" x 10'. I bought the inexpensive kit from http://www.constantines.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=702.
It works great as a starter kit and I have used it on many projects and the pump can work just as well on the lager bags. I was planning to upgrade to the better pump but honestly the pump from the kit works so well I have no need to replace it yet and I have had this kit for two years now.
From contributor L:
We've gotten far more use out of our vacuum system than I ever thought we would. I started with two different types of bag, one urethane and one poly. Hands down the urethane is better than the poly. We bout the 5x10 frame and built a table for it after having the bags for a year. It’s much easier to use for pressing mild curves, flat panels etc. We have the 3/4hp pump and it works OK but with a lot of use it runs quite hot, generally not good for motors.
We installed a muffin fan inside the case to help keep the temperature down. We also installed a small vacuum tank to reduce the number of start stop cycles the pump has to make. The tank is made from 4" PVC pipe and fittings. Get the videotapes they are very good. Especially the demo of wrapping maple veneer around the radiused edges of a circular tabletop. The pillows also work amazingly well to help support the inside of forms.
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