Plumbing a Vacuum System for Your Wood Lathe: The Manifold

OK, you’ve purchased or built a vacuum pump for the vacuum chucking system on your wood lathe. Now you have to get the vacuum from the pump to the lathe and also control how much vacuum you need for each application. A few standard plumbing fittings and valve (or valves) combined with a few air line fittings, filter, a gauge and air hose, and you’re in business. One more thing — and this may sting a bit —  a rotating vacuum adapter for your lathe.

Basic components of vacuum sysem

Components of a vacuum system manifold are shown in the photo above from the left, rotating adapter, dust filter, inlet T with control valve and gauge.


A regular air hose is suitable for any flexible hose in the system and as there is no significant flow of air, 1/4″ diameter is sufficient. A decent quality hose will resist collapse better than the very cheapest grade, so use mid-grade at least.

You will require something long enough to get from the pump to the manifold and a short piece from the manifold to the rotating adapter on the outboard end of the spindle. Friction loss shouldn’t be an issue in a length up to 20 feet, so it’s possible to locate the pump away from the lathe to reduce the noise and keep dust and shavings off the pump. Because the manifold is right at the lathe, the short flex line from manifold to adapter can be less than 2 feet.

Because you are using air hose it goes without saying that by using the quick connect fittings that go along with it where necessary will make life easy when setting up and breaking down the system.

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