My primary intention is to make people aware of these vacuum clamps (pods). Now that you know of them, feel free to leave and pursue more pleasant entertainment elsewhere, however, if you are a sucker for punishment, read on.
Ever since I woke up with a slipped disc in my back a bit over 3.5 years ago, I have been battling a dodgy left arm that inflicted me with only about 10% functionality and as of today, it is roughly 60% functional. While I could still "lift", that was the 10%, I had trouble controlling lateral movement which greatly jeopardised my ability to hold onto things with my left hand... procedures primarily instigated by actions like sanding and drilling.
Consequently it was those gods'-sends when I purchased my Fe$tool VACSYS.
Unfortunately it is designed for larger pieces of timber which still left me on the quest for holding small pieces. I won't comment/review on it any further as the item has been discontinue and I doubt if anyone that has one would stoop so low as to selling theirs.
While I red/videoed about shop built vacuum clamps on the Internet, not having a vacuum pump hindered my progress. Unfortunately, while the VACSYS was great, it had dedicated hoses and couplings and due to it's initial cost and being way above my paygrade, I doubt if my accountant would give me permission to toy with it in case I buggered it up..
In the meantime, or is it I was mean at the time, I bought a vacuum chamber/pump kit to stabalise wood, and armed with the pump, considered using it for some air cups for clamps as I later found it was not ideal to be fed cactus juice.
Not wanting to destroy the dedicated hose for the chamber (I later bought a spare hose), I decided to adapt my Grabo as the driving pump for the air cups. The Grabo is one of my better investments which, I bought off Izzy Swann, who at the time packaged it with a 3D printed base that could be used to convert it into a very functional vacuum pump… the rest is history. I haven’t written a review of the Grabo here (only at LJ}, however, there are a few great videos that can tickle your fancy.
Like Goldilocks, I now had a system for clamping small and large pieces, but nothing in the middle without having to stuff around. Being a creature of convenience, my quest never diminished.
Received a Rockler spam, spruiking their vacuum clamp pods that quickly piqued my interest. Always eager to bolster USPS’s coffers, I purchased two sets and eagerly awaited delivery. You guys may shitcan USPS, however, I received the item quicker than I usually receive a “local” interstate delivery.
The kit includes two clamps. One with a terminating connector that can be replaced by the supplied connector so that more than 2 can be hooked up in sequence. It also contains a generous length of 6mm (probably 1/4") ID plastic tubing to link the clamps in sequence and connect to your vacuum pump. The pump connector is not supplied an you need one that will accept the 6mm hose... I have used Nitto connectors to connect my pods/pump.
There is also a spare rubber pad for that oopsie when you eagerly drill, route, saw or chisel, forgetting the clamp was below and you cock up the seal... bugger up the actual clamp and you're history.
The clamps are designed to be used in t-tracks, however, they also have screw holes for permanent mounting. I’ve extended that idea to mounting into t-tracks so that that function remains available, but rather mount it to a MFT style workbench using TSO lock dogs..., which will be the subject of my upcoming project.
There is a steel ball in the centre of the clamps that protrudes above the level of the rubber pads. The ball(s) have to be depressed to activate/unblock the vacuum. To "release" the clamps, you need to cut off the vacuum by either turning off the pump or breaking the seal. One of the downsides to this system is that when you turn off the pump, the vacuum is still present and you may either wait for the drop in pressure or break the seal... I separate my hoses with using the Nitto connectors fitted.
If you have connected your pods in sequence using just the hoses, and one of the pods is free, you can simply depress the steel ball on it which will release the other clamp(s). While I haven't done extensive testing, I do not recommend leaving any clamps connected in sequence free as they may be subject to potential leaks through the steel ball contact, or lack thereof.. To free my clamps, I am looking at one of these Pneumatic Foot Pedals.
FAIW, if you so desire, you can suspend a sheet of ply over the edge of your workbench as per gallery pic #4... why? buggered if I know, other than you can... however, in the words of Ralph Malph, "DON'T sit on it pottzy!"
As mentioned, I am planning to post a project about my setup to a MFT style workbench.
For anyone eager to jump the gun, you can check out my video of the upcoming project. You don't have to watch it... just click on it and immediately exit... you won't get exposed or sublimated with stupidity, but you'll up my stats count.
If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD