The Vacuum Press

by Peter D on June 19, 2012

I have a new best friend at the shop… the Vacuum Press.

I’ve done large veneer glue ups before – and have had great success with a “clamp and caul” method. This essentially entails sandwiching the veneer between my substrate to which I am gluing it and another sheet of MDF on top of it, then clamping it down using curved “cauls” – which are basically a board that goes across the MDF and clamped on both ends, with the thickest part of the curve in the middle of the MDF, to ensure even clamping pressure across the whole surface.

Here’s a photo of the “clamp and caul” approach:

Well, somehow on my last go-around with this, it didn’t work so well… I was veneering a very figured wood into which I embeded marquestry of a branch. Here’s the result with the clamp press:

It rippled along every grain line! Completely ruined (of course, we’ll find some way to revive it into another piece…). So, it was the kick in the pants needed to build the vacuum press we’ve been aiming to build for the shop.

We decidedon the Venturii II system – which uses compressed air to create the vacuum. It took about 2 hours to build after ordering the specialty parts from and picking up a few fittings from the hardware store. Here’s the result:

And when the new veneered top emerged…

Flat as can be! That’s the fun of woodworking, folks. A challenge, a deep breadth and dive back in! The top came out great and the shop has a new tool to boot!

As with all the other tools in the shop, the vacuum press is available to anyone who becomes a member!

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