A very easy guide to building your own vacuum table for your press.
(This one for the Ryonet 4 color press.)
Im just getting into screen printing and want to focus on primarily poster work. Through many trials and many errors, I had finally gotten down the process but the adhesive that was needed to hold the posters down became very problematic. So I knew I needed a vacuum table. My first option was to just build a vacuum table that would be a separate single color press. But I lack the space for another large object in my shop(bedroom).
So I decided to just make one to fit on my 4 color press.
The problem I ran into was that it had to be as thin as my platens, which were only 1 3/4" thick. The issue with that was the wood would be to thin and would probably warp in a short amount of time. So I drew up some plans to make one that fit the arm and be sturdy enough to last a while. It having two separate compartments that are connected.
All in all, it cost about 40 bucks and took 4 hours or so.
Dimensions: 24" x 31"
Materials: (2) 8.75" x 31" MDF 3/4 thick
24" x 31" Hardboard 1/4 thick
16 feet of 1x2
(I was originally going to have all the 1x2's cut to size but found it easier to glue and nail first then hand cut the remainder) So dont go by any of the measurements in the image above.
Wood Glue- - A whole lot
1" brad nails
3/4" square tubing
Shop Vac or any vacuum cleaner will work
Hand saw or any other small saw (jig, etc.)
Drill with 3/32 bit
Measuring Tape / T Square
Additional: Good Music. I chose to listen to Bob Dylan's Bootlegs Vol. 1-3[IMG][/IMG]
So to get started take one of your 8.75 x 31" MDF boards and glue and nail the first 1x2 flat.
A good technique is to apply glue then place board and pop 3 or 4 nails in it to hold. Then I would clamp it down tight and run 6 more nails in it.
Do this on the one long side and the two ends. Apply wood glue very generously to seal wood. Doesn't really matter how messy you get. You wont see it and it won't affect the suction.
Once that is done, Figure out how much space you'll need between the to compartments. I took my platen bracket and measured it the added an inch for a bit extra space.
Then take your 3/4" square tubing and cut so that about two inches will be inside each compartment.
Now you can measure and cut your 1x2 to wedge between square tubing and end board. And wood gluing the steel seamed to work just fine.
Not your first compartment is done. Let sit for about 30 minutes. while clamped so the glue can dry a bit.
Do the same thing for the next compartment. Make sure that you leave the correct space between the two for your platen bracket.
Also, leave space on the outside for whatever your connection to your vacuum is.
For my vacuum connection, I took one of the extenders for my shop vac and cut it to about 8" long. Then I clamped it down to flatten the end. This worked really well. Dont worry if there is a lot of gap between the hose connection and the boards. You'll fill that in with silicone later.
So you're ready to attach the top panel. Run a bunch of glue along every board that will contact the top panel.
Now place your hardboard panel on top. I went ahead and nail the edges down with my brad nailer. the nail head sunk in so there's no need to worry about it messing up things when your running prints.
**do not nail down the center of the panel.
You can use screws or regular nails also. Just make sure they sink and you can putty over them.
Once things are in place, clamp in down and place something heavy in the center to make sure the glue in binding the top panel to the bottom 2 compartments. Let sit for at least an hour. Longer if your not as impatient as me.
Now after the top panel has sat for a while and the glue has dried, you can remove the clamps and weight.
It's time to drill the holes.
I drew a 1" x 1" grid over each compartment. Then use a 3/32 drill bit to drill the holes. Your bit can be a little bigger but too big and you'll have issues when printing. Also depends on the weight of your paper stock. With 3/32 holes you can print on 80lb cover and not have any issues.
Once your holes are drilled, you can sand down the hole thing. use a grit around 200 or higher.
Now the last step is to attach your platen bracket.
Since the top panel is so thin, you'll need to attach a piece of you MDF underneath so you can screw in you bracket without coming threw the top panel. I just glued the MDF to the under side. No need for nails.
You'll have to figure out how far up to position the bracket. I believe i put mine up 15". This way most of the weight was on the middle of the press arm and not at the end.
The final step is to seal the vacuum connection and any leaks.
I used silicone II for the vac connection.
And to find other leaks, cover the top holes with a large peice of paper or tape. Connect vacuum and turn on. The take a peice of toilet paper and move around seems. It will get sucked on if there is a leak. You can fill it with silicone or wood glue.
**I had a few leaks on mine but witht the shop vac being so strong there really wasn't a need to fill all the leaks.
So that's it.
If you have any additional questions, I would be glad to answer them.
i have also built many other things for my shop. Press table, 10 screen drying rack (for about 15 bucks), and collapsable drying rack for posters. if you are interested in "how tos" for these let me know.
Hope this is useful to some of you out there.