Waste board as vaccum table

I have seen a number of posts about making vacuum tables for the X-Carve. But why not just use the waste board as a vacuum table. There is room under the waste board, and if you can cut a hole from underneath in your work table, the vacuum hose can be connected there. You might need to seal off the edges, and make two connections for large workpieces that cover both sides of the waste board, and maybe cut some larger holes in the board itself. I’m not sure the little screw holes for the clamps will be enough. Just make those holes small enough that they don’t interfere with other projects.

Any thoughts?

Always on point!

1 Like

I’ve seen that. But why go to the trouble?

How big do the openings have to be to get a firm hold on your material? Especially if its something soft like foam padding? I am planning on cutting foot pads for kiteboards out of those floor mats with the jig-saw puzzle edges.

Edward Ford worked up such a design for a similar machine — the files are unfortunately in a proprietary format, but it should be simple enough to just re-create from the previews / photos:


“Why destroy your existing waste board and make it incredibly weak?”

Again, how big do the holes have to be? Too big and the material would sag. Small enough to not allow sagging might not sacrifice much strength.

And I could add reinforcements underneath if necessary.

Thanks for the input.

1 Like

I have been contemplating the same thing.
As part of the upgrades to my machine I added a lot more railing and cross bracing so that it is ridged without the waste board. In part so I could try this.

I was thinking of something like phil’s wasteboard. A solid aluminum plate with large windows cut out to create a grid. Clamp rails along the grid “lines” and MDF pucks over the open areas, with air holes drilled in. Each “window” could be a different vacuum zone. Either controlled by valves or just blocked off with tape when not in use.

The rails would allow traditional clamping. and by making the MDF smaller sectional pieces it makes it easier to make and replace them as needed. (as I would want to have the CNC drill all the air holes)

1 Like

it’s not impossible to do it, it’s hard to use it.
Just say you made 1000X1000 checker board pattern vacuum base, you plumed for sectional use with valves, you sealed every sections with round rubber seal and used plenty enough sanding seal or similar.
You raised your X-Carve, took your support bars underneath, your waste board smashed to vacuum base.
You started your vacuum (We’re not talking about your shop vac) then you shaved your waste board for even level and sealed edges with sanding seal.
You don’t need to make a hole on your waste board, both side skimmed MDF sucks everything straight you need.

Now fun part is cumming;

  1. You must use vacuum for everything you’re carving, because when you stop vacuum, you lost your level.
  2. Expensive vacuum pump either dry or liquid hurts the budget.
  3. You energy bill climbs up.

I have vacuum table 1250X2500 equipment. I also use another sacrificial 8mm MDF on top of it.

You can think smaller, if you really need it.


I was thinking of just enough to hold down those foam pads. A dozen one inch holes might be enough to hold down one of those mats, which are always the same size and would always be placed in the same position, with just my shop vac. Don’t think that would work? I wouldn’t be cutting all the way through the mat, just leaving a thin spot where I need like a perforation for easy cutting with scissors.

I did already do some cutting of this material just to make some roof rack pads for my windsurfing equipment. I used double sided tape. I may just stick with that as it seemed to work. I may only go with a vacuum table sometime if I am doing a lot of jobs like this.

You may go through a lot of shop vacs. Most of them cool themselves with the air going through the hose. Thats why the exhaust is warm coming out the other side. No airflow(suction on material) no cooling. You can bleed air in to the system to get around this but you lose holding power. Might not be an issue with foam. Just something to think about.

I would “bleed” the air by connecting the hoses for the vacuum table and the dust control system to the same shop vac.

Problem with shop vac is running time limits. What if you start carving project takes more than let’s say half an hour.
You see black smoke comes out of your shop vac. Remember Shop Vacs cools down by passing thru air, which you will block air input. I think best vac can work about 5 minutes without air circulation.

Random thought.
So it sounds like full blown vacuum clamping is rather involved.

I wonder if a less effective setup, lets call it “draft assisted hold down”, would be worth it?
A simplified setup of drawing air down through the waist boards bolt holes with the dust collector.
I wonder if it could have enough draw to add a little additional dust collection and help keep the center of an edge clamped sheet of material form being lifted by the cutting bit?

I keep thinking of this as I watch my XC carve, how all the holes makes the waste board look like a giant vacuform table. And that the larger dust collectors have 2 input ports. Could a down draft through the wasteboard be at all helpful?

Again, I don’t know if it would add any effectiveness to the machine, but I am curious enough to maybe try a duct taped prototype some day, just to see.

Just search google, I’ve seen somewhere small individual pieces of round vacuum parts you can use four at a time with low cost small vacuum pump. I’ll take a look at and let you know if I can find.

I’ve been looking at this setup, just need to make a bump stop to line it up

Very interesting… have you managed to find a price?

From what I found it’s a kit with the pump included, I want to say it was like $100ish

1 Like

If you’re talking about V-Clamp, pump is not included to any of them. It works with your pump or air compressor.
But quick solution. Especially V5 attachment.

Go all out! Peterson Workholding!