Vacuum Clamps

I do a lot of work on live edge for a customer. I’ve been having issues from time to time with clamping. After doing some research, I came upon these:

I received them yesterday, along with a 7 CFM vacuum pump I ordered from Amazon. I installed the system today. So far it works great as long as all 4 daisy chained are covered and sealed (a slight push down usually accomplishes this).

My plan now is to build a 4 port valve manifold, so I can use each pod individually. Here are some photos of the setup I have now.


A moment of peace in advance for the fancy clamps that will soon meet an untimely demise in a hostile work environment


I see you’re being optimistic! Murphy was an optimist too!

there are some four way manifolds which may work which are used for air pumps for ponds. They are cheap and very sturdy.

So I made a manifold out of PVC parts from the local Big Box. Of course I paid a little too much for parts, which were cheaper online, but I didn’t have to wait.

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that is way better than buying it on amazon. How about sharing some photos of them in use. I was about to built a vacuum table or t track table since I am making signs.

seldom is a thru cut made on live edge, thats the point of live edge.

Like this, right?

True, I generally don’t do through cuts on live edge.

That’s live edge. You wouldn’t want to cut the bark off or else you wouldn’t pay extra for it. It’s a design decision to utilize that.

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I have gone back and forth on vacuum clamps a few times, my biggest question is how level the top surface of the clamp will be. I go to a lot of trouble to skim the top of the wasteboard so that it is as close to perpendicular to the spindle and as flat as possible. If I use a vacuum pod, how much variance am I introducing?

The extra cost for live edge lumber comes in the drying part, not really in the sawing part. It is much tougher to stack in the kiln and because the edges aren’t straight end up taking up lots more volume in the kiln. You’ve got to be careful not to bang the edges together while tossing boards around, or you knock the bark off and waste all your effort up to that point. And then you have the many times where you do everything right, but when you open the kiln, all the bark has fallen off anyway!

I like the idea of the vacuum clamps. I believe if I were using those or others, I would make a spacer with matching holes or slots for each vacuum chamber or table out of 1/4" plywood. The plywood spacers are disposable and can be replaced when too many through cuts are made on them. I checked these vacuum systems out and they are too expensive for me, but they appear to be very nice to have.

wow. thanks for posting the video. I generally make 12 by 14 signs out of PVC and these would allow me to cut stock which is very close to the final size. Anything you have learned using these?

I just followed the link to the clamps. They are reasonably priced. Can you just screw them down to the waste board?

i just ordered them at $27 and then went to Amazon for the pump. That is the pricey part at $120. I am figuring I will pay for it with stock savings since I will have less PVC waste which is $100 per sheet.

The clamps that I have can be screwed to the wasteboard, but I used .25x20 countersink screws and nuts, and attached them to my T-Track.

Second upgrade to the vacuum system. As originally designed, the vacuum clamp pods were to be daisy chained together. I wanted more flexibility, so using some PVC components, I made a vacuum manifold with individual valves. I found that there were too many leaks in the system and that the pods would not maintain a strong vacuum. I came across an item on Amazon, normally used in aquariums, but was perfect for my needs. Best part is that it cost less than $4.00. It is a steel manifold with built in valves. I replaced the PVC manifold with this one, and ran several tests. It works perfectly, and I can now control each clamp pod individually while maintaining a strong vacuum on each pod. Here are a couple of photos:

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