Thanks Don, David, and Andrew!
I don't actually have a vacuum forming machine. I do have as you guys know tools and materials to make one easily in steel or aluminum, or whatever.
But in that thread my real hope is to get people who have very little in the way of resources to try to make something, using easily available materials, and as few tools and measurements as possible. Kind of the opposite approach to what we usually value here in our machine shops.
I just visited our local elementary school Friday all day long and sat in on classes as a member of the school board of directors. What I saw dismays me. I feel there is a great lack of manual skill development in our school systems. When I was a kid, probably 90 percent of boys I knew at least were building model airplanes. They could wield a hammer and hand saw, build a tree house or a skooter out of an orange crate and some wheels, etc. Now, children have almost no idea that they can use tools. Everything is a purchase. And I go to a place like Walmart and see no kits of planes or much else that you can build and paint. I see only shiny plastic gadgets.
Manual skill development has been relegated in high school to the lowest levels of education. Actually, it has been entirely eliminated. To me, manual skill development is one of the highest forms of education, and it is a great mistake to treat it as less important than other forms of learning. I think our culture is really making itself dependent in ways that are unsupportable, long term.
Anyway, off the soapbox, my desire in that airplane building thread was to try to illustrate building something sophisticated in shape and function in as rudimentary way as possible, to show people that you need very little beyond the desire and understanding of basic marking and cutting principles to succeed. Maybe kids will see that it can be done, or adults, too, and think, gee, maybe I'll give that a try. It doesn't cost anything to carve out a piece of foam.
So, the vacuum forming "machine" will, like the rest of it be something as small and simple and rudimentary as I can think up, rather than something welded or machined, etc. That doesn't mean I wouldn't greatly admire a true home-built vacuum former -- and there are already many of these illustrated throughout RCGroups Forum -- a search will bring many references up. Gingery has a book on one. And I may even secretly build a "real" one for my shop at some point. Seems like it would be handy to have, and my spot welder would make quick work of some angle iron, hinges and a latch in a one afternoon project in metal.
But for this Simple Shoestring thread, it's going to be something as minimal and rudimentary as possible. So I hope it doesn't disappoint here! I'll be thinking about it today. And trying it out, I hope......