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Thread: Vacuum Veneering on The Cheap?

  1. #1

    Vacuum Veneering on The Cheap?

    I thought I would try something a bit different on the vacuum veneering front – an experiment per se.
    I came across Reynolds’ Handi-Vac in the supermarket. It’s a low cost vacuum for food storage. Hmmm, maybe it could work for veneering small items? So the following is a quick recounting of my little experiment.
    Here’s what the unit looks like in the package. Bags come in quart and gallon sizes.
    Attachment 17526
    The business end of the vacuum unit and the bag. The blue circle on the bag is the valve used to pull the vacuum. The nose piece is set on the circle and the button pushed.
    Attachment 17527
    Attachment 17528
    The victim – two pieces of 0.025” veneer and a 1/4” piece of Baltic birch plywood.
    Attachment 17529
    The glue-up: I used Better Bond cold press adhesive. (First time I’ve used it – and used too much I think. Plus the walnut shell filler had settled out.)
    Attachment 17530
    Post pull – It might be apparent from the reflections, there is a bit of a bulge in the center, and the closest side is a bit curved up. I pushed the glue out of the center, but could not get that last little curve at the end to lay flat, the unit doesn’t pull enough vacuum to force it down. So I put a clamp on it.
    Attachment 17531
    Attachment 17532
    The end result – the veneer is flat and well adhered. One side did slide a bit. Most likely when I put the clamp on it.
    Attachment 17533

    So, was it worth the trouble? Yes and no. I think if I lay the glue down properly, and use a thin flat veneer, it would be faster and easier than cauls and clamps. But I don’t think the unit has enough oomph to do difficult or thick veneers. It would also remain to be seen if any dimensional pieces would work. It will never replace a full vacuum set-up, but might be worth it to play with. If I get a chance, I might do a few more pieces to see what it can do.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern Louisiana
    thanks wes, i appreciate you sharing your experience

    i wish it had worked better for you


  3. #3
    Thanks for your thoughts Chris - though I did want to explore this one a bit further before giving up. I haven't done any veneering before, and it helps to read the instructions on the glue first.

    Anyhow, I did another test piece. This time I used a thin paper backed veneer and a foam roller to apply the glue (plus I got the filler mixed back into suspension). The veneer laid down very nicely and didn't slide around - I used a lot less glue this time. The Handi-vac did have more than enough power to pull everything tight and flat - no clamps necessary. Here are a few shots of the result.
    Attachment 17563
    Attachment 17562
    Again, this won't replace a full vacuum unit, but it looks like it would work for doing inlay on a box top, or other small items.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Southern Louisiana
    instructions? what are those

    great wes, i am glad it worked out for you. looks great from where i am sitting. this could be a great option for someone who can't afford the vacuum unit but wants to do small veneering such as this.

    thanks again

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Southeast Pa
    Great set up and test. Shows how simple this can be.

    I don't think you would find a better vacuum doing a great deal better. A great vacuum will be something like 1 lb per square inch more than an awful Vacuum.

    If you had a 10x10 inch area a great vacuum would pull 14.85 x100 or 1485 pounds of pressure on the glue up.

    On the same 100 square inch a really poor vacuum would put 13.85 x100 or 1385 pounds on the glue up. I would think you could easily beat the 1385 pounds even with a hand pump.

    The 14.85 comes from a typical atmospheric pressure I have seen in this area while calibrating testers for Vacuum transducers. Even with pretty gross leaks we can easily get below .5psi. Which would be 14.35 x the same 100 square inches for 1434 pounds of pressure. Of course we have to fix those leaks.

    I hope I haven't made any gross errors here and I am sure if I have someone will quickly point them out. The only point I am trying to make is that the absolute vacuum you can pull is more or less ir-relevant as long as you can maintain the vacuum.

    If the bag is to flexible it won't put extra pressure on bubbles and such.

    Last edited by Garry Foster; 02-06-2008 at 03:02 AM.

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