Author Topic: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail  (Read 5780 times)

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Offline simonh

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NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« on: January 21, 2020, 07:35 AM »
I’m a hobbyist / maker. During making many fitted units using sheet goods I wanted a better way to secure the Festool guide rail to sheet goods including melamine, plywood, MDF and even sheets of acrylic. Some of these surfaces are slick and the guide rail can tend to slip, not good when you are cutting frameless cupboard doors perfectly square from sheets of MFMDF costing upwards of £150/$200. I wanted a quick easy way to clamp the guide rail while I made the cut without using traditional clamps that require access to the underside of the sheet and can often cause the rail to slip when you apply pressure.  I designed some vacuum clamping pods that connect to a vacuum pump (not a dust extractor / vacuum cleaner) and then just simply drop into the rail and use a ¼ turn of a valve to apply and release the pressure quickly. 

I’ve now used these for over a year on various project and they’ve gone through a few design iterations. After showing some woodworking friends they liked the idea encouraged me to make a few.

I’ve just made my first production run and have a limited number of sets available. During design and development, I took the decision that they should be built from high-quality components, so all the pneumatics connectors are Festo and they are engineered from POM engineering plastic which is durable but also forgiving enough not to damage the delicate surfaces.

I’ve attached a few pictures at the bottom of the post showing them in use. And I’ve also put a couple of YouTube videos online:




They are listed for sale on e-bay UK (with ebay international shipping enabled):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/114077757491

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/114077879077 incl KD4-CK-6 connector suitable for VAC-SYS

Any questions just drop me a PM.

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Guide Rail Vacuum Clamp System (VCS-R) for Festool® guide rail tracks

What is it?

A high-quality accessory designed to firmly clamp your Festool guide rail to MDF*, Plywood, Laminate, Acrylic with the use of a vacuum pump. CNC machined from POM engineering plastic with push fit Festo pneumatic connectors.

Benefits

•   Improve safety. No more trying to hold down the rail while pushing the saw along!
•    Compatible with Festool® and similar guide rails
•   Quick ‘no tool required’ attachment and removal.
•   Speed up your workflow and save time.  No more fiddling with clamps.
•   Works without access to the underside of the material, ideal for breaking down sheets flat on the bench / floor.
•   Optional secure mounting for use even on vertical surfaces.
•   Unlike clamps it doesn’t shift the rail position when clamping force is applied.
•   Works with the TSO Guide Rail Square and Parallel Guide System. No rail slippage even on long cuts.

How do I use it?
Align the rail to your cut mark. Place a couple of VCS-R modules in the groove of the rail. Turn the valve a quarter turn. Make the cut. Afterwards, turn the valve quarter turn to release the vacuum pressure. Perfect cuts every time!

What else do I need?
You need a vacuum clamping pump such as the Festool VAC-SYS or another system such as VacuPress. We can supply a Festo KD4 connection at extra cost to connect to the Festool VAC-SYS pump. For other systems you will need an adaptor from 8mm O.D tubing to your system. You also need a Festool or similar guide rail.

*Due to the porous nature of MDF vacuum pressure may be reduced but in testing there was still enough suction down to 9mm MDF to hold a guide rail secure enough to make a cut.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 11:21 AM by simonh »
-Simon

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2020, 09:21 AM »
@simonh That's really cool what you've come up with. I envision a setup with a splitter to hold down cabinet sides to a vac sys head while simultaneously clamping the LR-32 rail to the top for line boring. Would this be possible? @ $265 USD to get it delivered it's too rich for me currently but I do hope you continue to put these kits together in the future.
Instagram @matts.garage

Offline simonh

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2020, 09:40 AM »
Thanks for your support. Great idea! I'll look into what fittings are available for splitting the line to support both usages simultaneously.

I went through the eBay global shipping programme to take care of all the international stuff at this moment. Hopefully, in future there may be a free trade agreement between UK / US / Canada would be beneficial not only for you guys to get Festool stuff from the UK but also for my addiction to Incra and Jessem tools!
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 06:02 PM by simonh »
-Simon

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2020, 09:50 AM »
Thanks for your support. Great idea! I'll look into what fittings are available for splitting the line to support both usages simultaneously.

I went through the eBay global shipping programme to take care of all the international stuff at this moment. Hopefully, in future there may be an opportunity to have a reseller state-side eliminate the need for such a service and international postage costs. That, and a free trade agreement between UK / US / Canada would be beneficial not only for you guys to get Festool stuff from the UK but also for my addiction to Incra and Jessem tools!

In looking at pictures of the LR-32 setup since I haven't used mine in a while it looks like your pods would clear the LR-32 base plate. And the router plunges on the cutting side of the rail so no issues there. Festool supplies the necessary splitter components integral with the second head accessory for their pump with a built in shut off valve. I envision having your heads permanently connected to the pump via this splitter and when you need to do LR-32 stuff you just turn the valve down at the pump and off you go. Using quick clamps or screw clamps with the rail is a little cumbersome when line boring and I think your pods would be just the ticket.

If you need to send me some for ahem evaluation. .purposes.

Matt
Instagram @matts.garage

Online Cheese

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2020, 10:27 AM »
That's an interesting approach.  [smile]  Good choice on using Delrin type material.

Have you used these in a vertical application?

Did you ever compare the VCS-R to the Festool Gecko option?

Offline TinyShop

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2020, 10:54 AM »
@Simon H - Thanks for posting - you've given me some great ideas! [hint - a set of slightly rectangular shop-made Vac-Clamp-inspired (and Peter Halle- inspired) HDPE clamping "holdowns" - powered by my air compressor (not a vac pump) modified with a kerf to accept the raised profile of the guide rail).]
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 10:57 AM by TinyShop »
ETS 150/5 EQ (DE) [po], TS 75 EQ (DE) [po], OF 1400 EQ-F (DE) [n], CXS (DE) [n], CMS-GE [DE] [po], CMS TS 75 (DE) [n], LA-CS 50/CMS (DE) [po], VB-CMS (DE) [n], MFT/3 (CZ) [n], DF 700 EQ w/Seneca Small Mortise Kit (DE) [po], FEIN Multimaster 350 QSL (DE) [n], Bosch 1274DVS w/dust collection, sanding frame,  stand & fence (CH) [n], BOSCH 1590EVS w/dust collection (CH) [n], CS Unitec CS 1445 HEPA extractor <re-branded Starmix ISP 1435 H> (DE) [n], CT SYS (DE) [po], Milwaukee 0302-20 (US) [n], Two (2) Porter Cable 862 (TW) [n], Porter Cable 447 (US) [n], Zyliss Vise (CH) [nos], Hitachi C 8FB (JP) [h], Walko 4 MKII (NL) [nos], Festool MFS 400 w/add-on 700 profiles & router slide (DE) [n], Festool RAS 115 (DE) [n]

[po] pre-owned   [n] new   [nos] new old stock   [h] heirloom   (XX) country of origin

Offline ChuckS

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2020, 11:38 AM »
I'm looking into this Australian product:

https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/hand-tools/clamps/59743-vacuum-clamp-systems

I've got a compressor, and if after clarifying with the vendor that all I need is the compressor, I'll try a double-sided system. If any one of you has used that system, single sided or double, please share your thoughts.

Edit: Just realized this is the same system as TinyShop's quoted vac-clamp.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 12:02 PM by ChuckM »

Offline simonh

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2020, 09:58 AM »
Thanks to everyone who's purchased them or given feedback.

I don't see why they shouldn't work with a LR32 rail. None of the vacuum pod protrudes beyond the T channel and the height is only 16mm so barely above the rail. I've used them with a router on the rail to clean-up the edge of some melamine that was used for doors where I wanted both faces perfectly chip free.

There are a couple of M6 bolts and nuts to fix the pods to the rail either for permanent use rather than dropping them in/out and also suitable if you need to affix to a vertical surface. The only use I have tried with them in that position was on the bottom of a door after fitting some new flooring. They worked fine although I felt less comfortable man-handling a saw in the vertical position even though I've watched professional chippies do that procedure numerous times! I'm not sure what you have in mind as I've seen some people designing vertical panel saw type systems but you'd have to try it and see if that was your thought as I have no experience of that.

The key advantage over the Gecko would be a wider range of materials that can be used with an active vacuum system. Just like with the Vac-Sys work holding clamping theres no problem with things like plywood, most solid wood, melamine, acrylic etc.  When used with MDF there is a loss of suction due to the porous nature of the material, but because it is only holding a rail to the surface I've found that the suction is adequate even on 9mm plywood to make a good accurate cut.

I've no experience of using an air-compressor system for vacuum clamping. I remember seeing Peter Halle video at the start of my journey, and the original prototype that I still keep isn't too dissimilar to what you are describing :)

*edited as noted below*
« Last Edit: January 24, 2020, 03:31 AM by simonh »
-Simon

Offline Michael Kellough

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2020, 10:42 AM »
@simonh  I think you need to edit the first sentence of your post above. Omit the second word?

PS. Your very rational and 100% correct IME review of the TSO parallel guide system gives me more confidence that your clamps are well though out and ready for work.

Offline Mike Goetzke

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2020, 10:52 AM »
@simonh  I think you need to edit the first sentence of your post above. Omit the second word?

PS. Your very rational and 100% correct IME review of the TSO parallel guide system gives me more confidence that your clamps are well though out and ready for work.

Or replace it with "to"?  [big grin]

Offline Michael Kellough

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2020, 12:11 PM »
@simonh

You “don’t see why they should work”?

So, they won’t work with the LR32 sled?

Offline simonh

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2020, 03:35 AM »
Thanks for pointing out the errors in my post. I must find out how to get Grammerly working in my browser to at least catch my basic grammatical errors!

It should have read that "I don't see why they shouldn't work" with the LR32.
-Simon

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2022, 01:44 PM »
I don't think these are being produced anymore. I'm fortunate to have a pair that I use with the LR-32 jig as I've posted in other threads. I recently picked these Rocker Vacuum Clamp Pods to play around with. After looking them over it dawned on me if someone were so inclined they could make an adapter to use them with their guide rail much the same as the VCS-R.



The black tabs that the T-bolts pass through are screwed into the back of the pods. The pods are thicker than the guide rails. It would be pretty straightforward to remove the black tabs and T-bolt securing fasteners from one side of the pod and fabricate an adapter to attach to the Festool or whatever brand guide rail.
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Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2022, 06:05 PM »
Hey Matt, did you pick those Rockler vacuum pods up after the other posts lately?  Couple questions after you play with them for awhile. 

1. What pump are you using?
2. If you have a pump that cycles and can tell if they leak around the little ball button/valve?

  I have been curious about those but suspect they leak as I dont see any that have a o-ring seal its all metal on metal seat/seal from what I can tell and have very little faith that chinas machining process on whats probably 100k+ units per month has tight enough tolerance for a good vacuum seal. If you have a continuous pump its not as big of an issue. But constantly cycling pumps gets on my nerves so, I once again just went through my vacuum system again today as I had a small leak I couldnt find and it ended up being one of the pneumatic valves.  I had one that I reused and it had gotten hit with the garage door a few times so it must have gotten damaged.  Its hard to find vacuum leaks I ended up putting in an adaptor so I could hook the air compressor to the system and used water soap to find it.  Swapped out the valve and ran another test of 60 min. with everything on and no cycle of the vacuum pump.  I had to stop it at 60min, because I had to leave.  I will try another test but 60+ min. its waaaay more than I hoped for so Im very happy for now.   

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2022, 09:06 AM »
@afish I'm using the Festool pump so I don't think I can answer your question about leaking.
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Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2022, 09:18 AM »
 [thumbs up]

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2022, 09:49 AM »
[thumbs up]

What I can tell you is that curiously, Rockler went with an M10x1 thread for the ports. This has made it near impossible to source fittings. I'm converting the pods to use 6mm push connect so I can interchange them with the tubing I already use with the VCS-R.

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Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2022, 10:01 AM »
Luckily it looks like 1/8 npt is just slightly bigger than m10 Its very close though.  so close the 1/8 npt might thread in if its plastic. Oh, wait I was looking at the 10x1.5 the 10x1 looks like a bigger drill size.  That is probably going to mess you up. They dont look thick enough to accept a 1/4 npt judging by the photo.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2022, 10:05 AM by afish »

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2022, 10:08 AM »
They aren't big enough. I have some 1/4 npt. I found the M10x1 to 6mm PC fitting from Amazon with a possible 1-2 month ship time. I'm in no rush to use these they're just to play around with for some jigs I have in mind.

As to why Rockler did not use 1/8 npt, being a US company, is beyond me. It's like finding a metric bolt on my Harley. It's rare but it happens.
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Offline Packard

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2022, 10:28 AM »
The countertop industry has been using vacuum clamps for a long time. They are used to lift slabs in the warehouse and they are used for edge-joining slabs.  Amazon carries one system.  This is an industrial grade piece, but selling on Amazon suggests it is produced to a price point.

https://www.amazon.com/IMT-Seam-Setters/dp/B07PWQTY2M?th=1

The glass and the stone slab industries make perfect sense for this application.  The surfaces are typically smooth and non-porous.  Wood would seem to be less suited for this system because of the grain and the porosity. 


Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2022, 12:13 PM »
Correct the manual pumps would be no good on wood. You can pull vacuum through some woods.  You need a pump to keep up with the leaking.  However, I did buy a vacuum cup for helping move sheets around and early on in my vacuum clamping journey I took it apart and found that once the handle is removed 6mm pneumatic tubing will plug into the nipple in the cup so it can be pretty easily converted from manual to pump.  You would need to fabricate a mount for it but there are 6 threaded inserts molded into it so it shouldn't be to hard if thats the way you want to go.  The one below that I purchased is a little different than the ones pictured above so I cant guarantee it will be as easy.


Offline tsmi243

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2022, 02:07 PM »
Reminds me of this thing from Izzy Swan-  I think it's cool as heck, just not sure I need one

https://www.izzyswan.com/Store/Grabo%C2%AE-Portable-Electric-Vacuum-Lifter-p294389109

Offline Packard

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2022, 04:18 PM »
Correct the manual pumps would be no good on wood. You can pull vacuum through some woods.  You need a pump to keep up with the leaking.  However, I did buy a vacuum cup for helping move sheets around and early on in my vacuum clamping journey I took it apart and found that once the handle is removed 6mm pneumatic tubing will plug into the nipple in the cup so it can be pretty easily converted from manual to pump.  You would need to fabricate a mount for it but there are 6 threaded inserts molded into it so it shouldn't be to hard if thats the way you want to go.  The one below that I purchased is a little different than the ones pictured above so I cant guarantee it will be as easy.

I have a lever actuated plate glass clamp.  I wonder if that could be converted too.

Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2022, 04:32 PM »
No I doubt it.

Offline mrFinpgh

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2022, 11:07 PM »
Darryl Keil has a number of plans for making vacuum press driven clamps in his books.  Bill Hylton has some as well.

Additionally, veneersupplies.com has materials and fittings for making 'pods' such as these. I have a few and they work well.

It seems like it wouldn't be a stretch for a company that makes 3d printed festool accessories to produce a correctly dimensioned adapter that could hook on to a guide rail and do what you're describing, @DynaGlide.


Offline Bob D.

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2022, 06:26 AM »

It seems like it wouldn't be a stretch for a company that makes 3d printed festool accessories to produce a correctly dimensioned adapter that could hook on to a guide rail and do what you're describing, @DynaGlide.

I was thinking the same, so I looked on Thingiverse.com but didn't find one already out there.

I am looking into designing and printing my own. I have a spool of silicone O-ring material that
is ~.250" diameter IIRC which should work. Time to get out the calipers and start drawing.
First need to track down the O-ring material and see what the actual diameter is and how much
I have left.
-----
It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?

Offline afish

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2022, 07:10 AM »
Correct the manual pumps would be no good on wood. You can pull vacuum through some woods.  You need a pump to keep up with the leaking.  However, I did buy a vacuum cup for helping move sheets around and early on in my vacuum clamping journey I took it apart and found that once the handle is removed 6mm pneumatic tubing will plug into the nipple in the cup so it can be pretty easily converted from manual to pump.  You would need to fabricate a mount for it but there are 6 threaded inserts molded into it so it shouldn't be to hard if thats the way you want to go.  The one below that I purchased is a little different than the ones pictured above so I cant guarantee it will be as easy.

I have a lever actuated plate glass clamp.  I wonder if that could be converted too.

Sorry, I was rushing around yesterday and couldnt elaborate.  The problem is the lever clamps work by pulliny the back of the cup to create suction.  If you look at the picks of the the ones like I posted there is a small dot on the inside of the cup.  This is a small port that works with the plunger button on the side of the handle and it actually evacuates or pulls air out of the cup.  So as you pump the plunger on the side of the handle it is drawing air out of the cup.  This is what a vacuum pump needs.  On the unit I posted the manual pump is all in the handle and it has a small plastic nipple on the bottom that just press into a rubber socket molded into the rubber cup portion. There are 6 screws that secure the handle to the cup. Once you unscrew those the handle just comes off and the where the little rubber socket that the handles plastic nipple used to go into is where you plug in the pneumatic tubing.  Its a snug fit.  I had thought about going that route but in the end it was just cheaper to make my own out of scraps.  There is literally nothing to making a vacuum pod. Its just a air tight substrate with some type of gasket and a air fitting of your choice.  You will need a pump and a pneumatic valve thats it.  The great thing about making your own vacuum pods it you can make them any size or shape you want.

Offline DynaGlide

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2022, 09:36 AM »
Another option for guide rail clamping that I've become aware of:

https://kouroscarpentry.com/vacpad/p/3in1vacpad

It's not readily apparent but I watched a story on IG where he says you can slide the unit onto the T-track channel on Festool style guide rails to clamp the guide rail in place.
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Offline rst

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2022, 04:11 PM »
If you want to see various vacuum uses, check out Woods website.  They make all sorts of hand activated vac setups for photo and the glass industry.  I've used their hand vac circular pads for 42 years as a glazier.  They make large systems for hauling glass up into the stratosphere for skyscrapers by crane and we have a wheeled unit with four hand activated cups that can be wheeled into place for 300+ lb units to set within a 10' height.  Their 8 and 10" hand units are the industry standard and the innovators all other companies copy.
 

Offline Svar

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Re: NEW: VCS-R vacuum clamping system for Festool guide rail
« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2022, 04:56 PM »
I think it is possible to devise vacuum clamping for FT rail similar to that of Mafell's Aerofix. There is 1.5 mm space under the rail between the strips where "vacuum" can be created using dust extractor. Or bottom t-slot space confined by two non-slip strips could be used with a vacuum pump.