Stop the presses! Big assist for a vacuum chuck.

Maybe the title is a little over the top but I’m pretty pumped about a stupid-easy fix that I tripped onto for a common problem when using vacuum chucks.

It's a wrap.

Yesterday I was vacuum chucking a hollow form to finish the foot (I usually use a special arbour I have for this). Although not Malcom Zander thin, it was still fairly thin walled compared to most turnings that I put on a vacuum chuck. Like all wood, it leaked – to the point where I felt I shouldn’t procede. Normally a piece will leak in the end grain areas and a little masking tape over the areas solves the problem. This leaked everywhere and being  cheap I didn’t want to use half a roll of tape to solve the problem. I picked up a roll of shrink wrap that I have, tore a piece off and wrapped the hollowform totally with the stuff, including the gasket on the chuck face. The gauge instantly went from a fluttering 5 inches of mercury to about 20 inches with the needle rock steady. The picture was taken after I finished so the plastic was a little thrashed but it got the job done. It will look far more sophisticated next time.

As always, I encourage your comments and questions, so please refer to the tag line at the bottom of the article to post a comment.

About Ed Pretty

I am a professional woodturner, specializing in gallery work, commercial work, teaching and demonstrating. I have been turning since 1958, so... a long time. I use this site to present my work to the public at large and to let people know that I am available for teaching private lessons in woodturning. Wood turning is one of my passions (the other is motorcycle touring). It is my desire to pass on everything that I have learned over the years to others so that the craft of woodturning will grow.
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2 Responses to Stop the presses! Big assist for a vacuum chuck.

  1. Dennis Cloutier says:


    There is a down side to this. I did it once with a fairly thin hollow form. I turned the bottom of the piece too thin and a small crack formed. Normally this would relieve the vacuum and it would end there. But with the wrap on it it just kept squeezing the piece until most of the pieces ended up inside the vacuum chuck. It looked like it was being sucked into a black hole. It was actually pretty amazing to watch.


    • admin says:

      Hi Dennis,

      I can see that happening. The arbour I normally use may eliminate that problem and it may not, but probably better odds than a vacuum chuck. I just thought I would give it a whirl. The plastic really did it’s job at the gasket area and would be good for all kinds of leaky pieces. Just another tool in the drawer.


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