DIY Vacuum Clamp With Toilet Parts, My Best Shop Jig!

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About: I am a woodworker, blogger and YouTube content creator. I love woodworking, problem solving and designing new things.

It can be difficult if not impossible to secure odd shaped items to your workbench. Recently, I've been making elliptical boxes with domed/convex tops. These are especially difficult to secure, so I decided to make a vacuum clamp. The result was SOOOO GOOD that I wanted to share it! The best part is that it's easy and inexpensive to make!

Step 1: Parts Required

For this project you will need:

A gasket for a toilet tank (the one that goes between the tank and the bowl)

  • Some epoxy
  • A quick coupler fitting for an air hose
  • 1 board about 8" x 12"
  • 2 boards about 1.5 x 1.5" x 9"
  • Air hose and a clamp

Step 2: Assemble Jig

Cut notches on two sides of the large board and glue the other two boards into those notches

Hold the gasket on the board and trace around it with a pencil

Route, or chisel a groove that the gasket will fit into

Step 3:

Clamp the jig into your bench vise

Fill groove with epoxy and place gasket into it

Place a board or an item that is similar to what you plan to use the vacuum clamp for on to the gasket

Gently press the board on to the gasket with the clamps and leave it clamped until the epoxy is dry

Step 4: Attach Hose

Drill a 1/2" hole in the board and epoxy the air fitting into it

Attach the hose to the fitting with the clamp

Step 5: Using the Jig

Clamp the jig into a vise, onto some sawhorses, a table, etc

Attach hose to a vacuum pump Place item on the gasket Turn vacuum pump on while pressing item onto gasket.

That's it! The vacuum will hold your item securely in place while you work on it!

I "think" that a regular shop vacuum would work in place of a vacuum pump. I haven't tested that, but I think if you used a larger vacuum hose fitting in place of the small air hose fitting that a regular shop vacuum would generate enough vacuum to hold the item in place. However, you might need to use a larger gasket like those intended to go between a toilet and the floor.

Please let me know how this works out for you!!

Thanks, Charlie Kocourek

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    47 Discussions

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    westm7

    Question 4 days ago on Step 3

    Does anyone know of a vacuum fixture that rotates 360 degrees and is vacuum (air) tight? I plan to build a similar vacuum fixture (maybe two similar gaskets instead of one) one round 12 inch board that is attached to lazy susan (also mounted to a 12 inch board) that can be mounted similarly in a vice or clamped to a workbench. Then I can spin the fixture and use for painting, sanding, etc.


    1 more answer
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    Charlie Kocourekwestm7

    Answer 3 days ago

    I can't think of anything exactly like that. But, the turners use vacuum clamps on their lathes so there must be something that will work. Otherwise, maybe just leave the hose hanging below the lazy susan. You wouldn't be able to keep spinning in one direction, but you could spin it a little bit.

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    PatrickC175

    7 days ago on Step 5

    Regarding using a shop-vac, or similar, you will probably burn out the motor. They should not be operated while plugged. It will put a strain on the motor that it isn't designed to handle.

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    LeeH68PatrickC175

    Reply 6 days ago

    Patrick, blocking a shop vac does not strain the motor, in fact. If the impeller is spinning in less dense air, it has less load, not more. The proof is audible, as the motor speeds up, not slows down as it would under an extra load.

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    stanc55LeeH68

    Reply 4 days ago

    You may not think it strains the motor but the motor will overheat and burn out if there is not air moving through the pump. Shop vacs as well as vacuum cleaners work with air movement and not the amount of static vacuum. I have replaced many vac motors because they were plugged up and couldn't get air movement to cool down the motor. Vacuum pumps for airconditioning and such don't require the air movement.

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    FloridaJo

    8 days ago

    Excellent. Thanks for sharing.
    Can you expand on what fitting you use to connect to the pump?
    I have the same type, but I think it is some kind of special threads or something?

    5 replies
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    LeeH68FloridaJo

    Reply 6 days ago

    FJ, I think that most places that you could find quick connect fittings might also have barbed fittings, which are designed for the job. They are usually mad of brass, and look kind of similar. If you have the kind that Charlie K. used close to hand, then use it, I guess. Since it is a vacuum connection, I suppose that there will not be any force trying to blow it off, but still, it might not resist a good tug as well as a barbed one.

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    FloridaJoLeeH68

    Reply 6 days ago

    Thanks Lee. I was actually asking about the mating to the pump. If it was NP thread, or some other kind. There's not much info in the manual about what to use to hook up to the pump. I assume it is because AC guys who use this most already have the fittings needed. I'm looking to make a vacuum pot and needed to connect to the pump.

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    LeeH68FloridaJo

    Reply 5 days ago

    FJ, I see. Good point. I was noticing that a venturi vacuum generator available on Amazon that is meant for auto AC use seems to have fittings that are specific to the refrigerant type, and seem not to be NPT!

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    Charlie KocourekFloridaJo

    Reply 7 days ago

    Hi Jo,
    It's a regular air hose fitting that you can get at Home Depot. It has threads on one side and you can push a hose onto the other side. I don't need the threads for this project because I just epoxy that side into the bottom of the board.
    I hope this helps,
    Charlie

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    Gofish

    8 days ago

    I love seeing items used for a purpose other than they were intended for. I have filed this under misselanious in the back of my mind. Thanks.

    3 replies
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    LeeH68Gofish

    Reply 6 days ago

    Charlie, to improve on that concept, you could use a one-way check valve. To take care of the leak down, put a pressure switch into the circuit, to activate your pump occasionally. Now you're on your way to recreating a commercially available rig. Stick a tank and some more valves in there, and you won't have to wait for the vacuum to build up, and you can clamp and unclamp quickly. The same could be done with the venturi type generator mentioned above, but a mechanically actuating pressure valve would be needed instead, probably more expensively, which would be offset by the low cost of the venturi compared to a vacuum pump.

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    Charlie KocourekLeeH68

    Reply 6 days ago

    HI Lee, I bought a vacuum switch and a few valves last year, but never put them together! On this jig, I tried installing a ball valve in the hose between the pump and the jig. I hoped that the vacuum would hold when I closed the valve, but it didn't work. I suspect that the vacuum is leaking right through the piece that I am working on. (I did seal the jig with epoxy)

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    Charlie KocourekGofish

    Reply 7 days ago

    Me, too! I love finding ways to make things without using specialty hardware.

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    LeeH68

    6 days ago on Step 5

    Charlie K, That's rather brilliant, thanks. Using a shop vac would not require a bigger connection, though. Vacuum is vacuum, no matter the size of the port. For example, look at the size of the vacuum connection to your power brake booster in your car. Maybe a slightly longer time to evacuate the chamber, but not much. Your point about the larger area under vacuum is well taken, though, as I think a shop vac doesn't pull as much as a pump would.

    1 reply
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    Charlie KocourekLeeH68

    Reply 6 days ago

    Of course, you're right about the fitting size! I just thought it would be easier to use if the fitting was the same size as the vacuum hose.

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    ChrisS53

    8 days ago

    For those who don't have a vacuum pump, you can use the compressor you probably do have to generate a vacuum, using a vacuum generator, such as this https://www.amazon.ca/CV-10HS-Female-Ejector-Gener... (Canadian site ...)
    They don't produce a huge amount of vacuum but should work well for a small space like this. Install it close to the jig. The cost is about US$10

    1 reply
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    Charlie KocourekChrisS53

    Reply 7 days ago

    Thanks Chris. I was aware of ejectors, but didn't think of it for this. Have you used one of these? Is it very noisy?