Vacuum Table For Thin Plywood

Hey all, I plan on cutting a lot of 1/2" and 1/4" plywood, simple rectangles all the way through. I was told by several people that it’s best to use a vacuum table to hold down thin plywood, is that the case for any of you that cut thin plywood? My concern is slightly warped plywood that could be cupped. Is there any other reliable way to handle it? I know a lot of people prefer cutting the thinner plywood with lasers, but I don’t have one.

I’m new to CNC routers, my Shapeoko 5 Pro hasn’t even arrived yet. Thanks for any help or tips!

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Yes, vacuum workholding would be ideal. What sheet stock size(s) are you using?

The other techniques I’ve see used are:

  • through holes into threaded inserts or directly into the baseplate
  • polymer nails
  • blue tape and cyanoacrylate glue
  • a suitably rigid fixture/clamps which are designed to exert pressure along the entire surface

Regarding the slightly cupped plywood, a benefit of vacuum workholding is the even pressure. You might see it pull down and effectively “flatten out” your plywood which might be nice.
Granted, it might re-cup after cutting :man_shrugging:


How big is your stock and how big are the cutouts? Are you keeping the rectangles or the piece you cut the rectangle from?

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The rectangles would not be more the 16" long, and 12 wide, most will be smaller than that, like 8x2". This is for boxes with rebates and slot together internal dividers.

I may or may not use plywood, some parts could be made from HDF too to save on cost.

My approach on that, since they’re so small would be to set up work holding from the left/right edges and cut the front/back edges first, then re-clamp from the front/back and then cut the sides free — two operations, but it should let you maximize material.

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