1/16″ Maple or Birch veneer
Titebond III woodworkers glue
1″ Insulating foam (extruded polystyrene)
3/4″ sheet of plywood or stable substrate
Thin Air Press Kit 20 X 70″
4 wood clamps
Close-napped 3″ paint rollers
This is an advanced build. If you have not built a skateboard using a vacuum pressing system before, I would advise building a board with less extreme bends.
Step 1: Drop Deck Mold
Once you have your foam mold shaped (tutorial) you will need a stable substrate to make sure that the mold does not distort under the pressure of the vacuum bag and exterior clamps. A piece of 5/8" - 3/4" MDF or Plywood will work just fine. Attach the foam mold centered on your substrate, leaving excess material on each side for the flat area to mount your trucks on.
Step 2: Glue Up!
It is important to work with someone while doing the glue up. I recommend 8 layers of 1/16″ maple veneer for a rider weighing less than 180 lbs. 6 long grain and two cross grain layers stacked from the top down to the bottom:
long, long, cross, long, cross, long, long, long
While gluing, apply glue onto both the top and bottom of the sheets. I usually apply a heavier layer on one and just wet out the other with a smaller amount of glue.
You want to apply an even coat of glue with no build up of excess glue from where you poured it onto the sheet.
Work very quickly when applying the glue. You have less than 9 minutes to get the wet veneers into the bag and pressed. Use Titebond III as it has the longest wet time of any glue presently on the market.
Step 3: In the Bag
Make sure you have pre-prepared your vacuum bag. There is no time to look for a pump or replace your sealing tape. All this needs to be done before starting your build and have everything at hand before starting.
Place the breather netting under your valve. This will prevent the valve from sealing against the veneer and evenly evacuate the air.
The Thin Air Press vacuum bag comes with a one-way valve where the top cap can be removed so you can vacuum the bulk of the air from the bag (using a vacuum cleaner). Then evacuate as much air as you can using the manual pump.
** the hand pump makes a 'clicking' sound when all the air has been evacuated from the bag.
Step 4: Clamping Drops
Place your vacuum bag, mold and veneer stack onto a couple of blocks. I am using two pieces of 2″ foam. This allows room to work with your clamps and wood blocks in the next step.
Place pieces of plywood on the top and bottom, aligning the top piece parallel to the trailing edge of the inside foam mold. Using two clamps, clamp as close as possible to the edge of the foam as shown. Repeat this on the other side of the deck. Remember the glue is drying and timing is critical. Work as quickly as possible!
** If the bag has pulled between the foam mold and veneer, grasp the edge of the TAP bag and firmly pull the material outward. This will ensure the veneer is pressed tightly at the edges of your deck
That’s it! It’s chill time until your glue dries. Wait at least 8 hours before removing the deck from the bag.
Step 5: Cut Out Shape
Check out the flex, see how it works by placing blocks where the trucks would be mounted. Sand and finish the deck as you would any other.
As mentioned before, this deck is an advanced build but not beyond any deck builder with experience using a vacuum bag.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Feel free to ask any questions and I'd be happy to help.
Courtesy of Ted from Roarockit