Vacuum Table

Summer, 2019

An artist I know was looking to outfit their studio for screen printing, and one of the first tools they wanted was a vacuum table. Tables like this are used to hold paper firmly in place while the screen is lowered onto the paper and ink applied. The main goal here was a functional, low budget, build, from simple materials. The artist had sourced 2 sheets of plywood and a 4x8 sheet of acrylic to act as the tabletop. The main build would consist of a sandwich of plywood, topped with the acrylic, with holes drilled through the plastic and top sheet of plywood. There would need to be an airspace between the sheets of ply, and some sort of channel system to distribute the pull of a vacuum.

At first I greatly over complicated laying out and drilling of the holes, but I finally tracked down a chalk line, and realized I didn't have to worry too much about making all the holes perfectly vertical. All the holes were drilled in the ply first and then the acrylic was epoxied on top so the ply could be used as a guide. A border frame was built onto the bottom piece of ply and some thin strips layed out on the bottom of the piece with holes. This was all then sandwiched together and sealed with silicone calking. Finally an adapter was fashioned to connect a standard shop-vac to the bottom of the table.

The artist I built this for had a screen clamp that I also mounted to the back edge of the table and the build was done. The table worked well, and gave me a lot of ideas for future versions, either for myself or other artists.