Introduction: Build a Killer Plastic Bag Sealing Station
If you make or sell things in quantity you may find yourself in need of a plastic bag sealer. These are cheap from China now and there a variety of them. This one I am using can seal bags up to 8" wide and has a build-in cutter to separate the newly sealed bag from the roll.
The only problem with a bag sealer like this is that it can become a pain to operate if you are bagging lots of items in an assembly line. The sealer stands around 3" tall over the surface of the table. You have to hold the bagged part, the roll of plastic tubing (uncut bags), and operate the sealer all while keeping the spool from rolling off the table and your parts from getting all janked up inside your bag. I built this simple bag sealing station around my bag sealing machine and I love it, it makes life so much easier now.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Obviously you will need a heat sealing station. Mine can seal 8" bags and is 12" long. If yours is different, resize the station as needed.
I used scrap plywood and finish board for this project. I belive my plywood was 3/16" thick. For the top surfaces of the station I used some finish/backing board from a set of shelves which was scrapped. It had a nice smooth surface so I can smoothly slide bags across the surface from right to left across the sealer.
A narrow dowel rod around 1/2" in diameter and around 12.5" long (it must be 1/2" wider than the station you are building). This is used to hold the plastic roll on the right side of the station.
You will need a saw. Both a table saw and a bandsaw are very helpful to have, but even just a manual saw will get the job done.
A drill press and an assortment of drill bits are also needed. Probably something around the 1/2" size (to match the size of dowel rod you use).
You will also need some ordinary wood glue along with clamps. At least 2 clamps with at least a 4" wide jaw, but the more clamps you have the more gluing you can get done at the same time. I had 4 clamps available to me.
I assume you have some rulers at your disposal too, this is kind of required for any kind of wood work.
Step 2: Measure and Cut the Base
I made my base 30" wide and 12" deep. This gave me plenty of space on both sides of my bag sealer to both load bags on the right side and to handle them on the "sealed side" (the left side).
Step 3: Measure and Cut the Horizontal Boards Which Support the Work Surface
My heat sealer is designed to work from right to left (due to the placement of the cutting blade). I have found that the cutting blade works better if the bag is slightly higher than the cutting surface so I raised the right side a little higher. Just watch that there is clearence for the cutting slider, you don't want that binding up on the work surface.
I found that the contents of my sealed bags are easier to handle (moments before sealing) if it's slightly below the sealing edge. So I made the left side a little lower. For me it was a "feel" thing, but you can see from the top picture the heights I used.
You need to take into consideration the thickness of the top board being used for the work surface. I recommend cutting that board out first, then measuring and cutting the vertical boards to attain the desired height on each side of the assembly.
Step 4: Measure and Cut the Two Back Sides, Cut a Notch in One Corner
I kept the front open for storage so only the back sides get covered. Draw out all your parts on the wood and cut them to dimension. Also remember to take into consideration the kerf of your cutting blade. A typical table saw blade will have a kerf of 1/8", but double check your blade. Make sure you account for the wood lost making the cut or else everything will be off.
Place your sealer in the middle of your bottom board. Now, you may need to cut a notch for the power cord and/or fuse in one of your right-side pieces you cut in the previous step. Mark it with a pencil and cut the notch out with a bandsaw (most handy option). Now this piece can sit flush against the sealer.
Now you can measure out the lengths of your two back sections. Ideally they will be the same length, but you may have a desire to make the different lengths. I cut mine to fit between the sections running top-to-bottom, make sure you take this into consideration.
Again, you may need to notch one of the rear section pieces to accomodate the power cord and/or fuse on the sealer (so the sealer can slide in and out of the assembly if needed). Just mark it and cut the notch out as before.
Step 5: Begin Gluing the Left Side
Gluing will take several days to complete. I used glue rather than screws because the wood was so thin it didn't provide much material to screw into. There are ways around this but I had enough time for the build that I just went with glue.
Start by gluing the far left side and the left rear piece in place as shown. Clamp the pieces down as shown, this is required. Try to keep them as straight as possible. Make sure you glue the seam between the two horizontal pieces you just clamped in place too. Use a papertowel to wipe up excess glue along the outside edge. The inside edges will not be very visible so I didn't worry about those.
Step 6: Continue Gluing More Pieces
Once the glue has set for the last set of pieces you can take the clamps off and glue more pieces to the base.
Glue the left edge in that buts up against the left-rear piece you previously glued. This is one of the two pieces that holds the sealer in place. Also glue in the far-right edge piece now.
Step 7: And Gluing Continues on the Right Side
Once again, after the glue sets on the last pieces you attached to the base you may remove the clamps and do more pieces.
Place your sealer up against the inner left side support as it will sit in the finished assembly. Glue your right-side support in place and clamp it, be sure to not get glue on your sealer. Make sure the notch you cut is facing the correct direction (rear in this case). Once you get the support clamped down I would recommend removing the sealer to make sure no glue accidentally seeps onto it. If it does, wipe it off now while it's still wet.
Next glue and clamp the right-rear side in place. Make sure to get glue on the vertical edges too. Be careful clamping so that everything lines up as shown.
Step 8: Glue Down the Work Surfaces
Take your left work surface you cut out earlier and glue it down. You will want to clamp the 4 corners down. Weights can work too since this is a horizontal gluing operation. You can see that I had some bowing there, try to avoid that (don't tighten the clamps too hard).
Once you are done with one side, repeat on the other.
Step 9: Cut and Glue the Roll Holder
Measure and cut out two small slats of wood which are 7-8" tall and at least 1-1/4" wide. Locate a dowel rod or other equivelant object which will fit through the inside of the plastic packaging tube rolls you are using. I found this 1/2" dowel rod which worked perfectly. Drill out a pair of holes in the slats so the dowel can fit through them. If you want to make the dowel rod fit snuggly in the rear side that would be a decent idea. Or there are other ways to ensure the rod doesn't fall out during use.
Now glue and clamp the wooden slats at the far right end of the assembly as shown.
Step 10: Test It Out
Install a roll of plastic packaging and try it out! In no time you will be cranking out professionally looking packaged materials.
If you happen to have built your sealing station at a hackerspace, be sure to prank your friends by plastic sealing random objects left out on any tables.