Craft & Design Workshop
Dirt Cheap Vacuum Former

Eric Hart figured out how to make a vacuum former for free, and wrote this instructable showing how:

I recently needed 12 fake candlestick phones for a musical (“Crazy For You”). Real candlestick phones are incredibly expensive, and even replicas were too much for my budget. All 12 needed to match as well. I decided to make them all.

I wanted to match the shape of the bases to the real thing, but it would take too long to sculpt 12 bases, and casting them would be too expensive. It looked like it could be vacuum formed. I’ve worked with plastics in the past, but never with a vacuum former, though I’ve seen some in action. I couldn’t spend a lot of time or money building a vacuum forming machine for this project; I figured if I liked what it was capable of, I would build a nicer one after this project based on what I learned.

After researching what I needed, I found I could build one for free. I already had the necessary components in my shop. I figured many prop makers will already have these parts as well, so I am sharing how I did it.

8 thoughts on “Dirt Cheap Vacuum Former

    1. Not yet, Hank. I’m still working on them. Some of the other parts are being turned on the lathe. I’m working on all of them at the same time, so I haven’t built one to completion yet.

      1. Eric, what are you planning on using for the handset “cord”? Could you please link a photo of a completed phone when you are able?

        1. I was going to use tie-line for the cord, which is a thin black cord we use a lot in theatre (mainly for tying up cables for lighting and sound instruments).
          I will definitely send a photo of a completed phone when I am finished. Hopefully I will have one ready next week.

  1. Rookie question: why not use pegboard for the base? Are the holes too big? Is there something inherently wrong with the material? Seems like using a board that’s already drilled with a grid of holes would be quicker and easier than drilling them all yourself.

    1. When researching how to build this, I read that the holes in pegboard were too big and too far apart. In fact, someone else commented that even the holes in mine were still too big and far apart. The next time I build one of these, I’ll experiment with more smaller holes to see what kind of difference there is.

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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