Vacuum Table Ideas

I am looking into to making a vacuum table for my X-carve. I have found information on making the actual table, however most of the ones I have seen use a shop vac for the vacuum source. This is problematic due to the fact the shop vac will over heat and eventually give out. I want to stay away from and vacuum generator that is air driven. Has anyone make a vacuum table or have any ideas for a reasonably priced vacuum source?

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I just made one using a shop vac. The key is to allow some air into the vacuum. I’m looking at a cheap vacuum pump at harbor freight for my next test. Here is the video


Kinda depends on what your definition of “reasonably priced” is.

Look into a Fein or Festool dust collector. They have the same form factor as a Shop Vac, but have separate cooling for the motor and are designed for long duty cycles. They are pricey though (~$400).

A true dust collector, like one from Harbor Freight, is cheaper, but takes up more space (vertically, especially), and I’m not sure it would provide the pressure you need for a vacuum table.

I have the harbor freight dust collector. It will NOT have the necessary pressure

I thought about harbor freight dust collector just wasn’t sure.

Nice job on the table. I am end up using a shop vac. I was at IMTS this week and looked at some professional vacuum tables. You could put a piece of MDF waste board on the table and then put your work on top of the MDF and it would hold nicely. That is what I am trying to achieve, however what I want and what my wife will allow me to spend are usually not the same…lol

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Cheap to my wife is under $200.

I’ve got about $50 into my 20"x20" vac table that I use CONSTANTLY with my old 14 gallon Rigid. I run the 2" hose from my Shop Vac/Dust Deputy through a “Y”… 1 side to the table, the other to the Suck It dust shoe. I run the dust shoe side through a blast gate as a “valve” to keep most of the pressure drawing from the table.
Build materials:
(2) 3/4" MDF 24"x24" (Home Depot)
(4) 6’ 3/4"x3/4" alder strips (Home Depot and no table saw)
Wood Glue
2" to 1/14" shop vac reducer (amazon)
1 1/4" shop vac crevice tool (Home Depot)

I guess it depends what your trying to hold down, but this works awesome for plastics.
And for what it’s worth, I bought the Shop Fox 1HP dust collector, much like the one at Harbor Freight, and it has no where near enough draw to hold the material in place.

That is a nice looking table. I have a couple of ideas. I may try taking and old air compressor and turning it into a vacuum pump. I have a shop vac I can use until I get it converted.
I am in he process of redoing my shop so I will be adding dust collection, separate air compressor, storage etc. How do you like your dust collector. I have been looking at those too.

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Here is an experiment i’ve been working on:

O-Ring material fits in the grooves defining the area the vacuum can hit. This is combined with a cheap vacuum pump.


That is a nice looking setup, I am I interested to see how it works. Will you be able to cut clear through a piece of material once it is completed?

As long as the vacuum is contained to the area of the final part, cutting outside of that area shouldn’t be a problem. I will use it mostly for engraving however, so I don’t expect any issues.

BlackBox’s Hurricane ($2550) and the F4 from ShopBot ($4K) are the two cheapest systems that I know of. Each have 4 Ametek whole house vacuum cleaner motors that have an auxillary cooling motor built in and if handy you can buy the motors directly from Ametek and build your own for far less. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I would think that buying one or more used whole house vacs would work every bit as well.

Getting one of the Amtek motors maybe a good way to go. There is no way my wife will let me spend another 2K …lol. I bought a used air compressor this weekend to turn into a vacuum pump. I am going to get back working on it as soon as I finish the workshop. If that doesn’t work I’ll check out the Amtek motors. Thanks for the recommendation.

I used to run a converted air compressor on my lathe for vacuum chucking. I could pull 26 out of it and then I bought a cheap vacuum pump. They work great and you can pick them up cheap at harbour freight. I have not tried using vacuum on my Xcarve but I think it is on my list to do.

Go for the hurricane only if you have a large table. I moved up to a 4x8 CNC after the X-carve a couple of years ago and bought the hurricane. It is awesome, but would be way too much for the X-carve. They do make smaller models, however.

That is a nice setup. It brings up one more question. Will I be better off to use larger lines to move more air or smaller lines? I want to zone my table also and was thinking of using 3/4" lines throughout.

I believe 3/4 inch lines would be too small. Too much friction for the air flow. Also, keep all corners as sweeping as possible. I went to 3 inch lines except for the final few feet. Also, keep in mind Rigid as well as Shop Vac have lifetime guarantees and are very prompt in replacing burned out units.