DIY Vacuum Form Parts

By Charles T. Jackson

As promised in my last post, in this post  I’ll discuss how I made my vacuum form having just watched some videos on YouTube.

IMG_1173

For the first piece of the Vacuum form, I used a scrap piece of plywood left over from the 2′ x 2′ cubes I had made for the “Mother Goose” production. I cut a hole in it to allow for the vacuum port, and then installed the vacuum attachment.

IMG_1175
I used the adaptor that allows for the use of different sized vacuums in case the smallest one that I had planned on using didn’t work. I’m very glad I did due to the fact that to get a proper “pull” on the softened plastic, I did need the largest shop vac that I had.

IMG_1176

I then built a frame out of scrap 2″ x 3″ and attached to the plywood bottom. I would later caulk it all in due to “leakage” when the vacuum was attached.

IMG_1177

I made the inner frame if 1″ x 2″ and supported the pegboard surface with staggered pieces of 1″ x 3″ in the open area of the work surface.

Vacuum Form Surface Supports

I wasn’t initially worried that the supports would be blocking the holes of the pegboard surface, but it turned out that would not to be a problem at all.
IMG_1203

The next thing I had to make was a “media” holder that could both hold the plastic, and withstand the heating process. The above was my first try and proved way to leaky to allow for a good pull at the plastic. Using my grill as my first heat source turned out to be a bit disappointing as well, so I brought the whole rig inside to use our new oven. (Wife was at work!! LOL)

IMG_1826

My second effort was the ideal media holder, and worked like a charm. It was a lot of work to make, and operate, but worked so well that it was well worth the effort. The key to the success of this one is the number of wing nuts…

IMG_1827

…and the recessed bolt heads so the whole media frame gets flat on the vacuum surface, and gets a great seal. Even with all of the work that I had done with this project, the hardest part was figuring out what was the correct plastic to use in the media holder. After a couple of misfires with to thick, or hard to heat plastic, I finally got ahold of the right guy at Plastic Craft Products Corporation who recommended that I try .060 PETG plastic. With all of the elements in place, and realizing that the oven being on broil heated the plastic perfectly, I was able to make all of lanterns that we needed for our production of “Oliver” in a single morning. In my next post, I’ll outline what is needed to get a good “pull” off of your home made vacuum form. Thanks for stopping by!