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Thread: vacuum chucks

  1. #1

    vacuum chucks

    what is the best, easiest to set up and use vacuum chucks system? I have a Thomas continous run vacuum pump. I want do do small things, boxes, eggs, small bowls and spheres

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Ottawa, ON Canada
    The "best" and "easiest to set up" may not be the same. As far as easy to set up, the units that use a lamp rod and sealed bearings to run through the head stock are likely at the top of the list. "Best" is tougher to recommend. I imagine that you will get lots of opinions on that. I have the set up from JT tools and am very happy with it. It's not cheap, but I've not lost a bowl yet. :-)
    Ottawa ON

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Coshocton Ohio
    I have been using the Holdfast system which comes with a vacuum generator that you hook up to an air compressor. I use it often and it works well. Since you already have a vacuum pump you may be able to just purchase the rod and bearing along with whatever size cups you may need. I use two one for small objects and one for larger bowls. Just go to the Holdfast site and you should be able to order what you need.
    I don't know where you live but Hartville tool in Hartville Ohio carries the line.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Houston, Texas
    IMO, you can beat the Frugal Vacuum Chuck setup. I bought mine at SWAT a couple years ago, and love it! I can have it up and running in about a minute. Works great, holds great, stores compactly, and specialized chucks (to hold whatever you need) are very easy to make -- I've made a couple. Check out their website!
    Don't let it bring you down,
    It's only castles burning,
    Just find someone who's turning,
    And you will come around

    Neil Young (with a little bit of emphasis added by me)

    Board member, Gulf Coast Woodturners Association

  5. #5
    I just completed set-up of my own vacuum chuck system a couple of weeks ago and settled on a Frankenstein approach to include the Frugal pump and valve system, the Oneway aluminum chuck, and the JT Turning milled handwheel and adapter. After too many hours of deliberating I decided that, for me anyways, those were the components I felt happiest with. Took me less than 30-minutes to get everything put together but the single best thing I did was purchase Teknatool's $15 alignment tool. This ensured my tailstock was 'spot on' aligned with my headstock and now my pieces run just as true when reversed as when on the head end.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Fredericksburg, TX
    I have the Frugal Vac with homemade adapters and chucks. Here is post: No end what you can do but multiple chucks will likely be required.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lummi Island, WA
    My system grew over time. It started with one of those Thomas rocking piston pumps, 'cause it was cheap. Still works great by the way. I invested in a one way adapter and made all the chucks I needed. That worked fine for the 1642 I was turning on. With a larger lathe came a JT Turning tools vac adapter. It was a major upgrade. I got a deal on an unused surplus Gast rotary vane pump and opted to rebuild the system. Added a JT Turning tools hub that allows changing the chuck size really simply. Added their manifold and now have a system using all JTTurning Tools hardware. It all works beautifully.
    The Thomas pump still sees duty running the carving stand. Built a setup very much like the Frugal.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Fort Pierce, Florida
    I have a small vacuum pump hooked up with a valve to a JT Turning tools replacement wheel and connector. I make my own chucks from PVC pipe and MDF and hard maple. I drill and thread the maple and glue it to an MDF block. True up the block and make a groove for the pipe. Seal the outside with several coats of shellac or varnish and the joints with silicon caulk. They work a charm.
    Retired - when every day is Saturday (unless it's Sunday).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    I've yet to use my vac system making a box, I always use a jam chuck.

    For spheres, make 2 "cups". One for the drive and one for the tailstock. You can untension, reposition and retension the cups and rotate that sphere any way you like. Free.

    That said, I use the Holdfast. NOT the greatest system, but real easy to set up, and not that expensive. It's limitation is air flow. It doesn't have a lot. If you turn softer woods, it wont work. I've been thinking about the wood stabilization kit since I already have the generator.... If that is in your future too.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Hanover, Ontario
    Like Thom I have been making my own Vac Chucks for tears and they work great and I can make them for free.
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