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Thread: Vacuum forming

  1. #1
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    Vacuum forming

    I've recently picked up a few new toys and need some holsters for them. I saw a few youtube videos on doing vacuum forming of kydex and thought I might give it a try.

    Here is the box I've built, which will have my shopvac connected to the port on the side.
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    The top is a simple frame suspending a sheet of 12" x 12" X 1/32" silicon, which is heat resistant to 400* and very pliable.
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    I'll lay the piece to be formed on the box, lay a piece of kydex (heated to 350* for 2 minutes in a toaster oven) aligned over the piece, put the lid over the box/piece to be formed, and turn on the shopvac to vacuum form the kydex to the shape of the piece.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    More pics to follow later...
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  2. #2
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    You are going to have some fun!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  3. #3
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    I wanna see that!
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
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  4. #4
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    i can see some new holsters in the future
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
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    I was able to sneak the toaster oven out of the house tonight and give the vacuum form a test run.

    I started with cutting a few small pieces of wood to tape to the piece to form around. I also taped over the trigger guard to keep the kydex from pulling through where I didn't want it to go.
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    I heated up the oven to 350 and put a small piece of kydex in. I had planned on 2 minutes, but after smoke started coming out after about 1...
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    I had to scrap that piece as it was a bit too gooey and melted to the aluminum foil.
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    Second try, I lowered the temp to 250, let the kydex set for 2 minutes, then grabbed it from the oven and laid it over the piece and quickly placed the upper frame on the vacuum for and kicked on the shop vac. The vacuum quickly pulled down the silicon skin over the kydex and piece, but to get the kydex formed tightly to the piece I had to push here and there.
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    The kydex cooled much faster than I expected, so this piece didn't quite form as tightly as I hoped, but turned out well.
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    The second one I cut a little larger to try to cover the end of the piece, it did ok, but will probably try this style again, didn't quite get the barrel end as squared off as I'd like to have.
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    Both of the pieces above can be put back in the oven and will flatten out to be used again. Once I'm happy with a form I can trim it up, sand the edges, drill a few holes, and rivet them to another piece of kydex or flat piece of leather.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  6. #6
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    That looks like a ton of fun
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  7. #7
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    Nice job Darren!

    I saw one other set of instructions that used a block of ply with a cut out that was used to press down on the kydex to ensure a more 'squared off' profile.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  8. #8
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    Interesting project. I saw a vid recently of holsters being made and formed but using a pressure device to form. The details were enhanced by hand boning the curves. But they were using wet leather.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Dowell View Post
    Nice job Darren!

    I saw one other set of instructions that used a block of ply with a cut out that was used to press down on the kydex to ensure a more 'squared off' profile.
    Sounds interesting, was it a vacuum type or just use manual force on the block?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Interesting project. I saw a vid recently of holsters being made and formed but using a pressure device to form. The details were enhanced by hand boning the curves. But they were using wet leather.
    I think I can get more detail in these, but it was 22 in the shop last night, so the kydex was cooling faster especially when the air from the vacuum started sucking past it. I also don't think I had heated the kydex quite enough to make it slump properly. I did switch from using aluminum foil on the pan to a piece of my silicon, which didn't stick to it.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  10. #10
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    It was manual. They made a cutout of the item, with a bit of extra room, and then used that to push down on the item to get the definition and a sharper corner at the bottom.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


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