Introduction: Modular Vaccum Molding Vacuum Base Box

About: I can fly at will in my dreams. :-)

Have you ever needed to mold a part but didn't have the right size vacuum mold for it? (Think full size Stormtrooper armor) Well this modular vacuum molding base will allow you to join as many of these base boxes together as you need to create parts of varying sizes and shapes! The parts you need are:

one 1"x3"x8' cut into 4 24" lengths with 45 degree miter

one 24"x24" pegboard

one 24"x24" thin plywood

two 3" long nylon tubes cut in half. (you can try different materials and let me know how they work)

Gorilla Glue (not sponsoring, just my favorite)

A band clamp. In my case I used a ratcheting tie-down strap which worked just fine.

These parts represent a single box so multiply the quantities to make as many as you need!

Step 1: Creating the Frame

Cut an 8' 1"x3" into four 24" lengths with 45 degree bevels at the ends as shown

Step 2: Assemble the Frame

Lay out the frame pieces with the 45 degree miter cuts facing inward. Use the pieces of nylon tubing on the corners to allow the band clamp to slide freely and prevent the glue from sticking to the fabric of the band.

Step 3: Gluing the Frame

This Gorilla Glue (not advertising, just my favorite) requires you to wet the surfaces that will be glued. This glue expands as it cures so a VERY thin bead is required at the joints. Take each frame piece and wet the 45 degree miter cut and apply a thin bead of glue. Press the joints together and pull the band clamp taut. Make sure the plastic you use to keep the band clamp from sticking to the glue is aligned correctly and tighten the ratchet of the clamp. Once it is fully tightened press all the frame pieces down to ensure all the surfaces are flush. Measure the distance between diagonal corners and press the frame into a square as required. You can also place your 24"x24" plywood over the frame and visually align it to ensure a fairly square alignment. You can now wet the top surface of the frame wood and the edge of the plywood and apply a thin bead of glue along the frame surfaces. Place the plywood on the frame and nail it into place with a brad nailer or very small finishing nails. (this will hold the piece in place as the glue expands). Turn the frame over and repeat this procedure with the 24"x24" pegboard. Allow the entire assembly to cure overnight. Once it has dried remove the band clamp and clean up any glue that has oozed out after expansion.

Step 4: Drilling a Hole for the Vacuum

The vacuum source for this type of vacuum former is typically a shop vac. Using your shop vac hose, draw the shape of the hose that will fit into the side of the box and cut a hole that is small enough to create an interference fit and will form a good seal.

Step 5: Conclusion

This vacuum base being only 24"x24" makes it very easy to combine them in multiple configurations (L-shape, T-shape) or in a large 4'x4' vacuum bed that will make forming large parts very easy. This portion of this project only covers the base and further instructables will cover creating the material frame that holds the sheet plastic that will be used with the machine and creating the heating element that will heat up the plastic for forming. I hope this gets your own creative processes going. Please feel free to submit suggestions, improvements, and any helpful recommendations. I look forward to vacuum molding my own parts soon!

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