continuous run bagging

Do all you vac baggers use the control gauge-resevior type vacuum presses in sandwich construction or has anyone done it “hell cheap” (as Bert would say)?

I was thinking of just hooking up my shop vac to a homemade bag, hitting the switch, and letting it suck to be damned. Bad idea?

I’ve scoped all the JWW vac press plans and what not and that stuff looks awesome but I lack the disposable income at present. However, if my 25 dollar shop vac eats it–no big deal. I remember Bert saying something about burning out his wife’s vacuum cleaner in the early days… hmmm.

if your pump dies during operation

u may loose the patient

id suggest a

1.pressure switch at least $70 nz

2.a guage $60

  1. bag that doesnt leak however much u wanna spend

  2. a bag closing system tape or wood/pipe clamps

i think u couldnt get any cheaper then

Hell Cheap

It can be done that way, especially for a one off board, but the shop vac will eventually die. They are not made to run continuously for very long. If your bag is sealed really well, a small (and I mean small) pinhole in the hose just in front of the vac will allow a little air flow into the motor and helps it run a little cooler and so lasts longer. In my own experience, home made bags with a shop vac won’t pull enough vacuum to worry about a regulator although a gauge is always nice to have. I’m in Wilmington too so drop a line if you have any more questions.


I’ve tried this and had several successful dry-runs but as soon as I needed it to work it wouldnt. I think it actually pulled more vaccum then my vaccum pump. You need to seal it really well and have a good bag. I tried using those plastic painter sheets from HD, like I said it worked several times doing dry runs, but as soon as I did it for real it crapped out. If you want to make several boards buy a vaccum pump, sealant tape, breather, and good plastic for a vaccum bag. I use a continuous running vaccum pump (oil-less) so its made for this, it doesnt overheat or anyhting. I think its definatley worth the money once you get a few boards under you’re belt you wont regret it.

I just use a refrigerator compressor with a vac gauge. I run it all night and unplug it in the morning. I’ve done a half a dozen lams so far with no disasters… yet. But it’s certainly going to happen eventually and I’ll end up with a half baked lam. I haven’t done any balsa yet.

good luck


I do mine just like Dower. Buy a vac pump or find a fridge compressor. You can also use a venturi vacuum pump hooked up to an air compressor if you have one of those.

Shop vacs depend on air flow to stay cool. Once your bag is under vac, there’s no flow and your shop vac life expectancy goes down to minutes.

Glad to see you’re still at it. Vacuuming can run up the bills quickly (its the crack of the surfboardbuilding world (addictive and expensive)! If your truly creative there are many ways to solve the problems Check out Benny1’s last-minute save the day approach

Here’s the whole story here;search_string=water;#194714 . The board looks nicer than anything I’ve ever built

I am a cheapskate – or maybe just DIY obsessed. So I am building my own vac system:

  • Vac pump (total $0 - from a fridge :slight_smile:

  • Vac switch (current total cost $10, probably another $5 in nuts and bolts)

  • Small reservoir (current total $5, probably that much left to spend)

  • Vac gauge ($10 left to spend)

  • Other odds and ends (tubing, etc $5. Maybe that much again left to spend)

The design allows me to switch the vac pump for a venturi system. Which I will do when I get a working compressor (motor in the old one is dead) - will be on the scrounge for a new compressor when this kit is done.

Could have saved $5 on the switch and got the gauge for free if I had spent a few hours in the junkyard… But I was in a hurry that day :slight_smile:

So far the assembled components are all working the way I expected. It’s possible something will not go as expected, but that’s part of the fun :slight_smile:


I got a WWII-era army-issue aspirator pump from ebay for like $30. It has a needle valve to control vacuum, and is an oilable vane pump, so I just run it continuously. No problems so far.

If you search ebay for “aspirator” you can find some good deals sometimes, as they are occasionally listed simply as medical equipment, without mentioning that it is a vac pump. If the word “vacuum” doesn’t appear in the listing anywhere, %99 of people looking for a simple vacuum pump won’t know to look for it that way. That’s how I got my little gem. Also, many medical aspirator pumps have the means of controlling vacuum pressure. They might not be accurate down to the in/hg, but I think for surfboard building purposes they are more than adequate.

Just something to think about.