When it comes to getting a grip of timber primarily for sanding, I have large pieces covered by my Fe$tool VACSYS,
and the small ones with my shopmade vacuum cup clamps, the latter ideal for “hand held” sanding on an upside down ROS,
Nevertheless, I was still in search of better alternatives for small pieces.
I was introduced to these Vacuum Clamp Pods through an eMail spam from Rockler,
I immediately order a pair (2 sets of two) and after receiving, wrote a basic review of them, if only to make people aware of their existence.
You can zip off and fabricate your own vacuum clamps… as there are many Internet submissions on the subject, however, as I opted for these, I can only article what I have done with them. The option to buy was eased by the hassles I had toying with my vacuum cup configuration which I may have avoided had some other bunny bothered to write a review on these 6 or so months ago.
The clamps are designed/advertised to be mounted on t-tracks and joined in sequence using the plastic hose supplied.
however, I have opted to join them using Nitto couplers as I have/had a bucketload of leftover supplies
from when I was outrigging my workshop with air distribution to all corners and rooms in it.
I am a great fan of the MFT style workbench and thought about using that concept for mounting as I have limited t-tracks installed.
As always, the first stop was SketchUp, where I designed some bases for mounting the clamps using their t-track option that can then in turn be mounted onto an MFT style workbench using my TSO lock dogs,
I designed the "mounting" bases for the pods around three basic configurations :-
1. Single pod base with the 6 dog holes to provide greater mounting versatility. I planned for four of these to provide from a single to four pod configuration.
Up to 4 singles configured to your desire
Rather than use a single plastic hose to link two pods in sequence, I chose to use some Nitto connectors for greater versatility... however, on hindsight, I might have to shorten some of them... (made obvious if you've seen the video). Though when faced with the need for the four configuration, I’d be reaching for my Fe$tool VACSYS,if space permits, as it is nestled in a confined space. The beauty of these pods is that they are movable and with the holes drilled in the sides, can be edge mounted to most flat surfaces… or temporarily screwed down.
Combine the pods with my Grabo and you have a cordless vacuum clamping configuration to be used anywhere…
c’mon, ya gotta be impressed.
2. Tandem in sequence sporting 10 dog holes, for those "longer small" pieces,
3. What I call “minimal”. Small backer with only 2 dog holes for those tight spots,
Once I designed a layout for the pieces out of a 2400mm x 140mm x19mm pine board,
It was off to the workshop to layout and drill the 20mm dog holes using my UJK Parf system,
AT this point I’d like to add that I though the Bluetooth feature of the Fe$tool system on a drill was a wank… however, with 50 + dog holes that required the shopvac to clear the swarf, the auto start/stop was greatly appreciated.
To ease the t-track grove routing with a dedicated t-slot cutter, I cut the pieces to size before hitting the router table (for all you PC’ers it wasn’t hurt). No magical calculation, just routed through the centre and flipped the board, extended the fence by 1mm and re-routed flipping in between repeated extensions till a good fitting track eventuated,
Then mass routed the remaining pieces as two passes was not too arduous on the router bit.
A late though for the base (as I was drafting this post), so it was over to the drill press to drill some 9mm holes
for that additional clamp mounting,
I use 2 TSO lock dogs to connect each base to my MFT surface, however, if you chose to go down that line, you can cheat by using 1 (expensive) TSO loc dog and a cheap alternative dog. The TSO loc dog will anchor the base and the mongrel dog will prevent rotation movement. Alternatively use a 20mm dowel pushed so it is half way between the base and the MFT surface,
During operation, I use a remote controlled power board (cube), to remotely toggle (that poached egg looking thingo) the pump.
I use Nitto fittings between the two pods in sequence, and a "splitter" to feed each double sequence in parallel,
Naturally most may not have a Fe$tool VACSYS, so if you clamp a large piece, the mounting bench has to be level and so does the subject. Lay out your clamp configuration,
and you have to push down over each clamp to ensure each get the appropriate seal before you start to abuse the captive.
Here I am using my Grabo to drive the vacuum, It registers 154KG of holding force, however, a lot of that power is lost at the pod's end.
The main difference between my Grabo and the traditional pump is that the pump runs continually while the Grabo switches off when full pressure reached and only reactivates when pressure drops to pre-factory configured levels.
I have tried a few configurations,
The latter two proves bugger all other than you can do balancing acts... the weights placed on top are nothing scientific other than to prove there is a reasonable vacuum in crazy configurations.
These are not rock solid hold ons, but I have found they provide sufficient lateral hold for my normal non-over abusive use.
Personally, up front this may not be a cheap venture… I depend on past investments… (which is why I often don’t play Scrooge, as I know that most of my purchases will be put to good use sometime in the future… this includes past purchases of the UJK Parf system, vacuum pump and Grabo, whose use was never intended this way when initially sourced.
Just remember, when you look at the price tag and freak out, it’s only gonna get dearer in the future. As I say to most people, show me your bank balance where you can point to the money on your last rejected tool purchase. A very few can, but most can’t.
So dig into your lobster-pot wallet and start spending some shekels that you can’t take with you and make your life easier now.
For those fortunate not to venture down my suggested video viewing in the review, here is another tempting morsel, if only to bolster my viewer stats... you don't have to watch past the first few seconds.
Want to see/download the SketchUp,
As always, a lot of my projects crap out at the end, the planned storage, did not fit... must be my metric measurements not being comfortable in an cheap Chinese imperial container.
If you get this far, thanks for watching... and if you didn't, you won't know about my thanks.