Making your own Vacuum Forming set up CHEAP

This has been an off again/on again project for almost 6 months. It took me awhile to find the right oven. (One that would really tie the room together ya’ know?) Then as luck would have it, I would have no way to hook it up in my shop without installing a new electrical box too…

So I ditched the 220v idea all together and pulled out the bottom element. Then I replaced it with a 110v Smoker Element that I had on hand.

I also had a converter/inverter that I could use as the switch for the smoker element.

It works! definitely gets hot enough to heat the ABS to a proper temp.

The table is really just a 1" hole drilled through my work bench with a shop vac stuffed underneath. I used some door seal molding to shape the seal around the top.

You can use almost anything as your mold as long as it doesn’t have a melting point of 220-300 degrees. I use wood, laminated to the thickness I need and then cut and sanded to the shape I want. Sometimes I can just add a piece to the mold if I’m adding a component. *I used a few flat head screws in the bottom of my mold to barely lift it up off of the table. This really helps get a good suction on your ABS.

I used 5/16" screen frames cut to oven size and then clamped together over the abs sheet.

The process is simple if you keep things in order and time it the same way every time. Pre-heat your oven, place your screened abs in the oven and wait for it to sag. It’ll sag a few inches below the screen frames when it’s ready to form. I left an oven rack below it just to make sure the sagging abs couldn’t hit the hot element.

In this order, Turn on your vaccum, open your oven, pull the abs sheet, place it on the vac table, make sure you press it down far enough to get a good seal, turn off your oven, Let the vacuum run a couple of minutes while the abs cools.

Now all that’s left is to trim the fat off of your new cover. I use a 5 in 1 tool and a dremel. A band saw would be nice though!

As you can see, the ABS flexes to the shape of the deck nicely and road clearance is pretty damn good! These enclosures shown here are 39mm in height. 2 zippy 4s 8000’s or 2 zippy compacts 6s 5000s fit great.

I’m limited to enclosures under 19" in length because of the size of my oven so keep that in mind when you’re hunting for ovens. You can find free broken ovens pretty easy. Then just do what I did and buy a 110v smoker element. It will install into your oven easily and you’ll be up and running without an electrician. I think the elements cost about 30 usd. If you don’t do this, you’ll need to get your 220v oven wired into your house or shop. I would have needed a new panel installed as well as some new wiring. Quoted $1500 to $2000. Of course I chose the DIY alternative. Haha!


This seems like the best way to make enclosures!

And there is enough flex in the ABS to not crack if your deck flexes, right? That’s one thing I ran into with my Arbor pintail… The only way to make everything work was to set it up like a boosted board, with the battery in the front, everything else in the back, and nothing in the middle. This prevented me from using larger batteries, because I didn’t have a way to make a flexible case in the middle to mount components to.

Love it!..

Have you been able to find any material that has a carbon fiber screen print on it. Fake carbon fiber look. Alien had it for his and it looked pretty nice.

@cmatson I think if your enclosure had soft walls (angled, not straight up and down) it would definitely flex with your board.

@onloop Yeah it’s available for the same price in sheet form. I haven’t purchased any but I was thinking about it. It would be cool to find someone to sublimate graphics into the sheets. Then we could do some cool stuff.

Enclosures for sale.

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if you want fake carbon fibre look on a box that’s easy. I did these battery packs in carbon film.

doing the same thing to the ABS box wouldn’t be hard.


Have you tried different plastics with this method? Just wondering about acryllic because it comes in multiple colors and also in clear and color tinted clear. ITs probably tough enough for this application, right?

If I was going to do a floor model, something to build and take to events for display, i’d likely want to use a clear or tinted box so you could see the guts, possibly with a mirror film applied to the deck below the box.

I tried acrylic one day because I found a sheet for 4 bucks. It worked, but it was really brittle. I agree it would be cool for say a lighted display on a showroom floor, but I don’t think it would last long on a board.

Tried Lexan (clear) today and it didn’t work for many reasons.


@psychotiller I’m very interested in how this failed because i have some lexan sitting around waiting for a project. Got any pics of melty plastic?

I couldn’t get it to a glass like state without it bubbling. Even when it bubbled up it still wasn’t ready to form. I’ll snap a picture for you tonight.

I sort of ran into the same problem when i was slumping some lexan for an art project. I thought it was because i was using too much heat since i was using a mapp gas torch at a distance (i didn’t have a good heat gun at the time) but maybe its just the way the plastic is. Looking forward to the pics!

Also, I’m on the hunt for colored ABS. Seems like the only places i can find it only have it in black or white, but i know it can be colored and even clear. Hell they make tail lights out of the stuff and tail lights are tinted clear.

I have found black white gray red and green in 3mm, found c.f. too but it was way too thin. Look on eBay

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in your experience is 3/16th too thick? is 1/8th inch or 3mm ideal?

3mm = ~1/8th inch ~4.5mm = ~3/16thinch

3/16 will work. The thing is though, it is a lot harder to trim and your enclosure will be super heavy. Flex will definitely be an issue too. There’s no way it will conform, so you’d have to make a perfect mold to match the concave of your build.


Oh wow. Yeah that didn’t work too well at all. Too bad the shape didn’t form though because the bubbles would have looked really cool with some LEDs in the box.

I’m working out a process in my head that would let me use the deck as the vacuum table without destroying it with holes. I think it can be done. That would allow you to mold to the concave of the deck being used resulting in a perfect box for the deck. Only downside is that if people wanted you to do this for them they’d have to mail you their deck. lol

If I nail down the process though I’ll share it with you. Its something i’m going to need to be able to do before I can build the quality of customs that I want.

That would be an awesome achievement!

just ordered some ABS from ebay. Hopefully I can talk my wife into letting me borrow the oven in the kitchen to droop some plastic in. Wish me luck!

I also just ordered a blank longboard deck from a skate supplier on ebay, but that’s another thread. I will say that it has an ideal wheelbase for the space cell and its 9ply rock maple which means that a decent sized cavity can be routed out of it. its a crazy bullet shape with deep wheel wells but no kicktail, reminds me of one of bustin’s DH boards. All of that is to say that the plan is to vac mold a sleek, low profile box for it while using the deck as the vac table if possible.