Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929)


Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929) by Ron Williams 1976 - plan thumbnail

About this Plan

Vacuum Forming Table.

Quote: "Make your own Vacuum Forming Table. By Ron Williams. At last! An easily-built vacuum former for odd cowls, canopies, wheel pants, and whatever. Change dimensions to suit your own requirements, but don't make it one inch too small!

One has but to read a few how-to articles on U/C or R/C scale (or semi-scale) to realize how often the question of canopy, cowl or wheel-pants comes up; free-flight scale often requires light weight wheels and canopies as well. What to make them of .. a thin, light plastic shape; but how to get it? Articles often mentioned 'vacu-forming' the part.

The Mattel Toy Company manufactured a vacu-form toy some years ago which has become a valued tool far many free-flight scale modelers (see Bill Hannan's column in the December 1975 issue of MODEL BUILDER). This toy had a small hot plate next to a vacuum chamber with a frame that hinged between the two. Small sheets of plastic held in the frame could be heated on the hot plate, flipped over to the vacuum table and pulled and formed over a small object by a hand-pumped vacuum. It was quite well designed and works very efficiently. For builders of larger models, however, the Mattel unit has limited capabilities due to its small table size (approx 3 x 5 inches). Canopies and cowlings for a large stunter or R/C job require more formidable equipment. There is also the growing problem of finding Mattel units in working condition.

We will explore the process of vacuum-forming at home with the vacuum table described here. Look the drawings over to see what's what. Most canopies for larger models are about 12 to 14 inches long by 2 to 4 inches wide. SIG mail-orders 8-1/2 x 17 sheets of heat formable plastic (styrene, I think). These dimensions seemed reasonable for the development of a useful unit. Smaller sheets of plastic can be handled by bringing them up to the larger size with the addition of heavy bond paper taped to the small sheet.

I decided to start with our family vacuum cleaner. It is a GE tank type of unknown vintage. I have seen similar machines for $30 in local repair shops, second hand of course. Your local repair shop should also have an adapter tube (Fig No. 1) which, though not entirely neccessary, will facilitate' the attachment of the cleaner hose to the vacuum table.

The vacuum table was made with scraps of birch plywood and masonite found in the cabinet shop's throw-aways. Some straight clear pine is also required. The box sides were made with 3/4 inch birch ply, the top with 1/4 inch birch ply, the bottom with 1/4 inch masonite (tempered) and the frame members with 3/4 inch clear pine ripped to 7/8 of an inch wide. Tite-bond glue was used, and the frame supports at-tached with 10 No. 10 flat-head sheet metal screws, 1-1/2 inches long. Some 50 thumb-tacks are required (they hold the plastic film in place in the film frame). I used 1/8 O.D. surgical tubing (about 54 inches long) as a vacuum seal between the film frame and the support frame.

Tools required are a few 1/32 drills, a drill the size of the tack shafts, and one half-again as large. It's nice to have more than one of the 1/32 drills, as they are likely to break what with all the holes to be drilled. A high-speed drill like the Dremel Tool is a great time-saver; a pin-vise is suggested for masochists. Gluing is facilitated with an assortment of clamps, but if they are not available, the joints can be screwed as well as glued. Don't leave the glue out, it acts as a vacuum seal.

Begin construction by cutting the wood to size. Lay out the hole pattern on the table top (plywood or masonite) and drill the holes. My table top had 578 holes; the Dremel Tool enabled me to finish the drilling in 30 to 35 minutes. I broke one drill in the process. Sand the top very carefully after drilling, smooth to 600 paper, and clear all the holes. Glue the outside frame of the box together, making sure the top and bottom surfaces of the frame are flush..."

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Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929) by Ron Williams 1976 - model pic

  • (oz14929)
    Vacuum Forming Table
    by Ron Williams
    from Model Builder
    April 1976 
    clean :)
    formers unchecked
    got article :)
  • Submitted: 06/11/2023
    Filesize: 1934KB
    Format: • PDFbitmap
    Credit*: theshadow
    Downloads: 1061

Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929) by Ron Williams 1976 - pic 003.jpg
Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929) by Ron Williams 1976 - pic 004.jpg
Vacuum Forming Table (oz14929) by Ron Williams 1976 - pic 005.jpg

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User comments

I bought my wooden box at the liquor store. A bit pricey but it came with two free bottles of wine.
Hans - 16/11/2023
I don't think "The Wife" would be too happy if I cooked the vacuum cleaner in the oven, I'd be in the dog house again.
John Boy Paddy - 16/11/2023
Any way to search for plans tagged as ‘Extra’?
K.K.Iyer - 16/11/2023
Not 'search' exactly no, not currently. But you can 'browse' them all, using the top menu, select: Browse / byCategory / Extras and that will bring you to the page showing all the Extra plans. As of today there's 43 of them.
SteveWMD - 16/11/2023
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