Author Topic: My Vac-Sys setup  (Read 665 times)

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Offline scholar

  • Posts: 108
My Vac-Sys setup
« on: June 10, 2018, 06:46 AM »
Someone may be interested to see how I have adapted the excellent Vac-Sys vacuum holding system for my workshop.

I already had a vacuum pump for my vacuum bag system - an Airpress pump that provides 8m3/hr - this is higher than the Festool pump, I believe, but as far as I can tell the vacuum pressure is the same (the AirPress pump is adjustable anyway and the Festool units still hold well at much lower pressures).

AirPress do make some vacuum holding pods that are quite neat, but I had been looking at the Festool kit for along time, just unnerved at the cost - in the end some eBay vouchers and some good discounts encouraged me to buy a Festool SE1 set and SE2 set, plus the alternative size plates - total outlay for these was £805 after I sold off the 2 Classic Systainers that I didn’t want (and are not a very good storage solution unless you are transporting the units to a job site) - RRP would have been £1,268.  Even so it is a sizeable investment.  In addition, I spent about £100 on the various additional fittings to modify all the connections to quick release, as mentioned below.

I needed to get a few interconnecting fittings because the fitting on the AirPress pump is different to those on the Festool units - there is a rather annoying range of different air tool connections, but it was fairly easy to sort out the fittings needed.

Having got the system all connected up, I thought about how I really wanted to use it - the units could just sit on top of the workbench, but they would have to be stood in from the edge to avoid the dog holes and they would not be at an ideal height.  I decided to find a way of fixing the units to the front apron of the workbench - this I did by making some 3mm steel plates that are bolted to the SE1 and SE2 units and in turn can be bolted to the workbench.  I installed some M8 threaded inserts in the front apron of the workbench (possibly a bit sacrilegious to do this to my lovely Lie-Nielsen workbench, but the inserts are fairly discreet and could always be removed and the holes plugged with some maple).  I backed the steel plates with some rubber sheet to avoid them clunking on the workbench.  The fixing holes in the plates mean I can install the units at two different heights.

The SE1 and SE2 units come with all the hoses attached - the hose is rather stiff and thick so it makes the whole unit rather unwieldy - I figured it would be better if all the connections were quick release, so I modified the hose connections with appropriate quick release fittings that makes it much easier to set up.  (Standard hi flow air fittings are required for this - you do not need to get Festool fittings that are inordinately expensive as spares - the only issue was finding 9mm barbed fittings to fit the ID of the hose - these are available, but not a common size).

Finally, I decided that it would be nice to have the pump located remotely so that it was not constantly buzzing whilst in use - I have not compared the noise of the Festool pump with my AirPress pump, but whilst the AirPress pump is not unbearably loud, it is preferable to have it out of the workshop.  So I have installed the AirPress pump in an under stairs store cupboard outside the workshop, with air connection and power switch inside the workshop - I fashioned an assembly of air connections and copper tube to get the connections on either side of the wall.  I can also now use this setup for vacuum pressing where again having the pump remotely positioned is nice (in fact the pump has two ports so I could use both the airbag press and the Vac-Sys at the same time, although I have only made one connection through the wall).

Here are some pictures that hopefully explain.  I am very happy with the setup and would certainly recommend adding the QR fittings as it makes deployment of the unit so much easier.

Final step, still to do, is to make some plywood boxes to store the two units under the workbench (the Systainers would not have worked for this due to the steel plates and anyway, I found the Systainer storage annoying as the foam lining did not allow the units to be lifted out easily, plus the Classic catches are not nice compared to T-Locs).

« Last Edit: June 10, 2018, 08:06 AM by scholar »

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Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4452
Re: My Vac-Sys setup
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2018, 09:26 AM »
Nice install... [big grin]...it's also nice to place the noise maker in a different room.   I made similar stainless plates with 2 attached 20mm aluminum dogs that fit in the holes on the bench. That way the vacuum chucks can be positioned anywhere on the surface of the bench.

I especially like the idea of converting everything to QD fittings.  [thumbs up]

Love the bench, did you import that from the states or is there a distributor in GB?


Offline scholar

  • Posts: 108
Re: My Vac-Sys setup
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 09:47 AM »

Love the bench, did you import that from the states or is there a distributor in GB?

Ha!

I bought it from the man himself quite a few years ago. Axminster Tools sell the workbenches and they used to have an (excellent) annual show in the West Country - I bought this as a very keen deal from Tom on the last afternoon of the show and have loved it ever since.

I got him to pose with it too!



Cheers

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4452
Re: My Vac-Sys setup
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 11:04 AM »

I bought it from the man himself quite a few years ago.


Ah...that explains why the legs are different than the current version.

Great photo. 👍👍