Hi, This is my first instructable, so please let me know if I should add more steps or pictures, etc. I originally decided to create a vacuum chamber because I am creating a mobile N64 and need to make a plastic case to house everything. (I don't have a 3d printer so that wasn't an option.) I researched how they work and figured it would be pretty easy to build one. This project is pretty straightforward. You will need to use sharp tools so please be careful and wear all necessary protection. I don't know how the disclaimer works on here, but just in case, I will state that I am not be responsible for any issues you have with this project whether it be injury or damage to property. Just be safe and enjoy it!!
Step 1: Step 1: Gathering Materials
Drill Bit (15/64)
hole saw drill bit (size depending on your shop vac hose diameter)
2 18" x 16" x .5" plywood (This will be the base and the top)
2 13" x 1.5" x .5" plywood (This will be used to create the frame)
2 18" x 1.5" x .5" plywood (This will be used to create the frame)
Two picture frames that are 18" by 16" and are a mm or 2 thin. (It doen't need to be this big, it just cant be wider or longer the the Top. Alsoyou can make one if you can't find one.)
Step 2: Step 2: Building the Base
We will call the 18" x 16" x .5" plywood the Base
We will call the other 18" x 16" x .5" plywood the Top
We will call one 18" x 1.5" x .5" plywood A
We will call one 18" x 1.5" x .5" plywood B
We will call one 13" x 1.5" x .5" plywood C
We will call one 13" x 1.5" x .5" plywood D
Take the base and set it on a flat table.
Take A and lay it on top of the base along the edge of the corresponding length and make sure it lines up correctly. Now pick it up and generously apply wood glue to A and place it back along the edge. Take 4 nails and evenly space them out along A.
Take C and lay it perpendicular to A on top of the Base along the edge to make sure that the C end is flat against A. Apply wood glue and place it along the edge. Take 3 nails and evenly space them along C.
Take D and lay it perpendicular to A on top of the Base along the other edge to make sure that the D end is flat against A. Apply wood glue and place it along the edge. Take 3 nails and evenly space them along D.
Finally take B and lay it on the last edge and make sure that it fits snugly against C and D. Apply wood glue and place it along the edge. Take 4 nails and evenly space them along B.
Take some glue and apply it to where A, B, C, and D meet the base on the inside.
(Important: It's important that there is no cracks in between the frame and the base.)
Step 3: Step 3: Drilling the Hole for the Vacuum Hose
Measure the diameter of your vacuum hose and buy a "hole saw drill bit" that has the barely a smaller diameter.
Flip your base over so the frame is laying on the table. Measure to find out where the center of the base is.
Mark the center with a pen and drill the hole using the "hole saw drill bit".
The vacuum hose will barely not fit, so take a dremel and carefully shave away at the inside of the hole so that the hose will fit snugly in the hole.
Step 4: Step 4: Drill Drill and More Drilling
Set the base to the side for a moment. Take the Top and lay it down on the table.
Take a measuring tape and lay it along the 18" edge and mark every inch.
Take the measuring tape and lay it along the 16" edge and mark every inch.
Now take a measuring square and draw lines across the board so you have a grid structure.
Drill holes where the lines meet like I have in the picture. Leave 3 inches of each side un-drilled.( reference the picture)
I had wood chips protruding from the holes after I got done drilling so I just took a sanding block and sanded over the holes on both sides and it got rid of the chips.
Step 5: Step 5: Gluing the Base to the Top
Before gluing the base to the top apply glue in the cracks between A,B,C and D. Then add glue along the top of A,B,C and D.
Place the top on the frame so that it is lines up perfectly.
Take nails and evenly space them along the edge of the Top so that it is tight against the frame.
Take wood glue and apply it to the cracks between the frame and the base and the frame and the top.
Congrats you have made the vacuum.
Step 6: Step 6: Framing the Plastic
Take a picture frame and lay it on the table. Place the plexiglass on the frame and then put the other frame on top of the plexiglass. Take binder clips and place it along the edge so that the plexiglass is firmly in between the frames.
Step 7: Step 7: Heating the Plastic
Find an object you want to vacuum form. Wood is generally good. (It goes without saying Don't use plastic.)
Place the object on the center of the top.
Hook the vacuum hose to the base and turn it on.
Using the hotpads take a heat gun and wave it over top of the plexiglass but make sure not to burn it.
Once the plexiglass starts to sag, line the frame up with the Top and push the frame down onto the top quickly and firmly. After a second or two the plastic should be sucked in around your object making a cast.