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Thread: Vacuum Chuck questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Vacuum Chuck questions

    Does any body have one of these?
    If so is it any good?
    Is there one you would recommend over this one?
    Would I be correct in thinking that with this chuck the bowl has to be grater than 6" for the chuck to work?
    It could be worse You could be on fire.
    Stupid hurts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I use the chuck head part of that set, but I use a vacuum pump instead of the vacuum generator. (They both work well.) The Holdfast chuck head is very good. They also have a 3" diameter head here. You're correct about the diameter...a 6" chuck head won't hold anything smaller than about 6 1/2" in diameter.

    You can also make your own chuck head with MDF, a short piece of PVC pipe, and some rubber o-ring or gasket material. I know Stu has made his own and posted pics here. I've got the parts to make some others for myself, but so far the 6" chuck head has handled everything I've needed. The few times I've had something smaller than that, I've dome up with other ways to finish the bottom of the piece.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Making vacuum bells is a very easy thing to do and a WHOLE lot cheaper than your reference.

    I make mine out of PVC caps. Get a tap to match your lathe spindle thread. Hot glue a wood plug to fit inside the cap. Drill and tap though the cap and plug. Thread it on the headstock spindle and true up the edges of the cap. I taper the edge inward slightly and slightly round over the outside edge. You don't want the vacuum to leave a "ring."

    Get some closed cell door/window insulation tape. 3/8" to 1/2" works well. Make sure the insulation tape is closed cell or it will leak air in. Cut a diagonal mating of the ends. Stick it on the edge of the cap. Make several of different sizes. Caps are cheap. The tap won't be but it is a one time purchase and will be handy again and again. I have a tap for the tail stock center as well.

    Some folks use a coupler and turn an end plug to fit. That works too. To seal the plug in either application, run a bead of hot glue in the intersection of the plug and the PVC wall in the inside.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Central Illinois
    YUP, including the lathe.

    You can get a 3" cone, too.

    and get the Reversing adapter, too.

    Bruce Shiverdecker - Retired Starving Artist ( No longer a Part timer at Woodcraft, Peoria, Il.)

    "The great thing about turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed and you have something beautiful. Nature does the hard part!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Austin, Texas
    The vacuum adapter on my DVR looks like little more than a bearing that fits the hole in the headstock. They recommend a shop vac (a good one that has separate cooling - I use a Fein). Tiny pieces don't stick but a larger piece sticks fine to the piece of plywood and foam that I put on my faceplate.

    With a good size piece (so there is plenty of area for air pressure/vacuum difference) a shop vac works great. For smaller pieces I have to dig out my vacuum pump to give enough suction to work. I have turned hunks of 2x4 as adapters between shop vac and the pipe I stuck in the bearing - to get the shop vac down to the pipe size, etc.

    Total cost $25 for the "vacuum adapter" (aka sealed bearing) and almost no other cost.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Making the chucks is easy, but DON'T use MDF, that was my mistake, as it is as porous as a sieve I ended up having to soak, and I mean SOAK the entire piece of MDF with thin CA glue to get it to seal, what a pain.

    Hardwood, or good plywood with a coating of poly would most likely work, I do like Carol's idea of the end caps, but the ones I've seen here the flat on the end cap is slightly domed, so that would be hard to use
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    I've made them with MDF and BB. Both types leaked like sieves but, an application of 1lb shellac under vacuum is sucked up right quick. And with all that air passing through it dries right quick too.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Escondido, CA
    Domed caps? Not a problem. Turn a domed plug to fit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
    If I understand it properly there is a hard line through the arbor hole & a connector of some kind that won't turn with the line & the chuck head what is it can it be built of off the shelf parts? Can someone please put up pictures of their shop built vacuum chuck with explanations. Also what is an inexpensive but good vacuum pump & where to purchase one?

    Yes I want to build my own in Bart's above ground dungeon.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Here's a how to that Steve S. posted and is now in the the tip & tutorial forum.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

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