Vacuum Pressing Systems - VacuClamp PadsThe VacuClamp system holds a workpiece firmly in place using pressure from a vacuum pump
Routing the edges of a small part often requires clamping the piece to a workbench, routing a section of the perimeter, and then moving the clamps to allow access to the rest of the edge. The process is a hassle, and it can lower the quality of the work with burns or lumps where the routing stops and starts. Vacuum Pressing Systems is now selling a clamping kit based on pads that use vacuum pressure to hold parts in place, effectively eliminating the need for clumsy clamps.
The machined aluminum pads, with a built-in vacuum valve on each side, attach to a vacuum pump. A soft rubber gasket on the edges of each face of the pads helps maintain a vacuum seal when the pump is turned on. The vacuum pressure (up to 1,800 lb. per sq. ft.) adheres the pads to the benchtop and secures the workpiece to the pads. The workpiece can be released from the pads by depressing a foot switch. Pads can be used individually or linked together with plastic tubing, and they can be mounted vertically or secured to support surfaces for production applications.
The system works well. It was strong enough to hold a part while I carved it with chisels and mallet, and it also held a piece solidly for routing. The only downside is that the pads need a relatively clean, smooth surface to ensure adequate holding power. Also, the workpiece must be wider than the 4-in.-square pads.
VacuClamp pads can be purchased directly from Vacuum Pressing Systems (800-382-4109). The basic kit includes two pads, a foot switch, and 20 ft. of tubing with a quick-disconnect fitting matched to the company’s pumps.