Frequent Questions / Knowledge Base


 

Questions are grouped by category. Click on the question to view the answer. Or you can search for your question by using the search box below:

Silicone Membrane:

Membranes are considered a consumable item. There is no warranty for that reason. We have no way to control how people use the membranes and almost all punctures are or rips are caused by user error. It is almost for certain that the membrane itself is not defective. In the hundreds of yards of membrane we have sold, we have only seen one or two defects. High standards of manufacturing prevent defects and each membrane is inspected before we ship it out to you. Most people rupture membranes due to a lack of experience in knowing what they can and cannot get away with in terms of their molds. Most holster makers when they start out will usually puncture several and the number of membranes damaged goes down as you gain experience. If you are purchasing cast handgun molds, then you should inspect every mold when you put in the vacuum chamber. A rough spot or sharp edge is almost always the reason for ruptured membranes. Hollow voids such as improperly blocked trigger areas or using real handguns with the magazine removed also will pull the membrane into the void and stretch it beyond its limitations. Punctures and abrasion tears can always be avoided by sanding any rough spots and if you are using a real firearm in the vacuum former, all sharp corners and edges should be covered with blue painter’s tape to prevent membrane damage. We have seen literally thousands of holsters made on a single membrane and the longevity is all because the operator was careful. However, if you are certain that you did not cause the failure or there was no sharp edge that caused the failure, you are welcome to contact us and will allow you to return it for inspection. You will have to pay for the shipping to return it to us. Once we receive it, we can inspect the membrane under a microscope. Visual examination under magnification will reveal immediately if it is a defect or an abrasion. If it is an abrasion or cut, we will not replace it. If it is in fact defective (which is very rare) we will most certainly replace it. However, under no circumstances will we replace a membrane when it has not been returned to us for inspection.

We have not found a reliable way to repair membrane once it has ruptured. We have tried liquid silicone, all types of bonding agents, super glues, etc. Some of those repairs might work for a few more uses, but almost always fail. In some cases, you may get by for a short time by using duct tape on both sides of the membrane if the hole is not in the high use or “image area.” We recommend keeping all ruptured membrane and not discarding it. You can almost always find another use for it. They work well inside cabinets and drawers as liners. They also make great mats for gun cleaning. You can cut them and use them as stencils for painting. You can cut them out and use them to help grip stubborn lids on jars. There are just too many uses to list.

Yes. We sell membrane up to 36″ x any length. We can cut it to fit whatever size you need. The more you purchase, the better the price. We sell a lot of different sizes here on our website so be sure to check that out. If you don’t see a size you need, then please contact us. To order custom cut silicone membranes click here.

We have done a tremendous amount of testing on silicone membrane. We are not talking about testing where some lab can say it has x elasticity or y elongation. We have tested our membrane using real holster making conditions on actual holster molds at actual temperatures used in holster making. We have tested all thicknesses, all durometers, etc. We ran actual tests to see which membrane gave the best definition and yet was still flexible enough and durable enough to work inside vacuum formers. We then had to take into account cost. The reason for this is that there are membranes that have better “numbers” in a lab. But they either did not perform well in the vacuum former or they were just too expensive. Imagine purchasing a $100 membrane only to have it rupture after a few uses because you forgot to tape a mold corner, or sand a sharp edge on a new mold. That would be a costly mistake. We have actually seen the corners of kydex itself cut the membrane because the kydex either cooled too quickly or was not proper temperature. The membrane we ultimately selected is one that has properties that we specified and it is made for us. We know of no one else selling this membrane. It offers the most and the best value for the purpose for which it is intended without breaking the bank but it also is not the cheapest.

All of the silicone rubber membrane we sell is .032 inches in thickness.

The white powder, similar to talcum powder or baby powder, is normal. The powder is part of the manufacturing process and keeps the membrane from sticking to itself before it is completely cured. We recommend cleaning this powder off of both sides of the membrane prior to first use. Use a soft damp rag or damp paper towels to wipe the powder off.

It would be easier and cheaper to fold the membrane or just stuff it into a padded envelope. Instead we roll it up and secure it and insert it into a plastic sleeve. It is then shipped inside a cardboard tube for protection. This prevents the membrane from getting permanent creases in it that could shorten its service life or result in reduced definition from the crease being used inside the “image area” of the vacuum former. The membranes are not cheap and it only makes sense to handle them and ship them to you correctly.

ThermaPress VF1

All ThermaPress VF-1 formers have a 30 day money back guarantee and a one year warranty from date of purchase.  If you don’t like it, send it back within 30 days and we will refund your purchase price less any shipping costs and the cost of the membrane if it has been installed..

We warranty the ThermaPress VF1 for one year against defects in materials and workmanship. Items that are NOT covered on the ThermaPress VF1 warranty or money back guarantee are the membrane and the removable molding deck board.

We also do not cover abuse, misuse, and neglect.  For example, over tightening your membrane bolts will cause damage and void your warranty.  We do not recommend using a drill or impact gun to tighten them with.  Also, placing your VF-1 too close to your heat press could cause warping or damage. Keep your VF-1 at least 18 inches from your heat press. Things like that are not covered.

Most people have no issues on the ThermaPress VF 1 assembly. It is rather easy. However, the optional VSS (Vacuum Storage Solution) relies on you for assembly and gluing the pvc fittings together. For this reason, the vacuum former itself has a one year warranty against defects but the optional VSS (vacuum storage solution) that works in conjunction with the vacuum former has no warranty. In other words, if you glue two pieces together incorrectly while assembling the VSS you will have to order the replacement parts. We have created both the VF 1 and the VSS to be modular and completely user serviceable. So if you did glue something up wrong, or a glue joint developed a leak, you would only have to replace the affected parts and would not have to ship the entire unit back for repair. Many of the parts, are parts that can be found in the plumbing section of your local home center. This saves in return shipping costs, down time, and overall costs of ownership.

The video is located in the members only section of our website. If you purchased one of these from us, please sign into the website using your login information and password and navigate to the media section of our website where you will find exclusive videos and information for our vacuum former owners.

Yes! The VSS can be purchased separately later and easily added to the VF 1. That is exactly what it was designed for.

The vacuum pumps most of us are using were mainly designed to be used by the heating and air industry to remove air and moisture from HVAC systems. They are designed to handle small, tiny, amounts of debris. While adding a filter will catch small pieces of lint, hair, dust, and other debris that fall onto your vacuum former, we are of the opinion that the filter is overkill and not necessary. Regardless of what people say, your vacuum pump has to work harder to pull a vacuum through that filter. Therefore, the filter is restrictive in our opinion. The primary contaminate contained within the vacuum pump oil is moisture, condensate and humidity from the air. The filter being pushed by our competitor will not filter out moisture and is merely a way to add additional revenue. Save your money and change your vacuum pump oil more often. However, because demand drives the market, the ThermaPress VF1 can easily have a filter added to the vacuum line if you just feel like you need a filter. Again, we do not sell it with the VF1 because we truly believe you do not need it and will tell you so. In fact, most of the user manuals that come with the vacuum pumps will tell you to change the oil often. (see our other FAQ about vacuum pump oil). It is really ironic that people have been purchasing an expensive filter to protect a cheap Chinese vacuum pump that already has metal shavings and filings in it from the factory. Yes, that is correct. If you take one of these brand new Chinese pumps apart you will see it has metal shavings in it from the factory. But if you feel like you have to have a filter, you can purchase one from Vac-Motion. We recommend that if you are going to buy one, at least get the 1/2 inch inlet filter so it is not as restrictive on your vacuum pump. We feel that having compressed air at your workbench is much more important than a vac filter. You will use the compressed air to blow dust and debris out of your vacuum former before it can be sucked into the vacuum line and the compressed air is used to speed up the holster making process by blowing cool air onto the membrane so your kydex will cool and set faster, therefore increasing your production rate.

Everyone who purchases one of our vacuum formers receives unlimited email support. If it is something that cannot be solved through an email, we will call you and work you through the issue. Additional support is found from within this knowledge base (which will continue to grow), our YouTube videos, and the owner’s section of the website (requires login). Be sure to check these resources first before contacting us since most issues can be resolved with just a little reading on your part.

There is no need for a check valve if you have a ball valve between the vacuum former and your vacuum pump. You may choose to replace your ball valve with a check valve to avoid having to constantly throw the lever on the ball valve. Any check valves in a vacuum system should be located as close to the vacuum pump as possible. Also keep in mind that check valves almost always act as a restriction if they are not sized and tuned correctly to the system they are in. The “crack pressure” must be calculated correctly to insure correct usage. We include a check valve in the optional VSS kit that we sell which has been correctly sized to the Robinair #15800 8 CFM Vacuum pump. We do not rely on a PVC check valve made for water supply systems nor do we glue the valve into place within another component. All check valves will eventually fail and should not be permanently glued into the system. You do not want to have to destroy the whole system just to replace a faulty check valve. Your vacuum pump contains a separate check valve inside it. We will not tell you to remove the check valve that is in your vacuum pump. Removing the pump check valve allows oil to siphon up the vacuum tube, into the vacuum former and into other components reducing their service life and also voids the warranty on your vacuum pump. It also causes your vacuum pump to not be very efficient or pull a full vacuum because of the oil that is in the tube which should be in the bottom of the pump. The check valve we use is has been carefully selected as not to reduce efficiency or increase strain on your vacuum pump.

Yes. The VF1 and VF1 PRO are both designed to be ambidextrous so the valve and controls can be assembled on the left side. The VF1 can be swapped to left or right hand at anytime. The VF1 PRO must be initially setup either left or right handed cannot be changed later because of the VSS. Simply set everything in reverse from what is shown in the assembly video.

First, please refer the assembly video for your product located in the owner’s section. If you have not already purchased the VF1, you will not have access to this area of our website. The VF1 does not include a vacuum hose or fittings to connect to your pump. WE DO NOT INCLUDE THE FITTINGS OR HOSE to connect to your pump. The reason for this is because we have no way of knowing which pump you will ultimately buy and what fitting or hose size you will need. The size of your pump and who manufactured the pump will dictate what fitting you will need. Regardless of what size, thread pitch, and type of fitting and hose you will require, we recommend using a 3/8″ inside diameter hose. The ThermaPress VF1 will accept up to a 1/2″ Male National Pipe Thread into the included ball valve. If you plan on purchasing the Robinair #15800 vacuum pump (what we recommend), we sell an optional connection kit just for that pump which includes the hose and required fittings. Click Here to see that kit.

There could be several reasons for this. You need to turn the pump off and make sure the vacuum former maintains the vacuum for at least a few minutes. Assuming there are no leaks in your vacuum connections, there are likely other things at play that affect the reading on your gauge. First, these gauges are not very expensive. Quality vacuum gauges are very expensive. The gauge we use on the VF-1 does fairly well for what it costs. Most vacuum gauges are going to have +/- 2 inches of mercury accuracy. If your gauge is not going to 29.5 inches of mercury, your gauge could be slightly off. Another possibility is that your vacuum pump does not actually pull 29.5 inches of mercury. Many, many vacuum pumps do not perform at the level they are rated and that is most likely the reason. We have purchased two identical pumps and tested them side by side and had differences of up to two inches of mercury between them.

We are unable to give you a total cost without knowing exactly what you will order, the final shipping weight, and your zipcode / final destination.  We do not sell vacuum pumps, please see the other FAQ’s where we discuss why.  Total cost also may be affected by when you place your order or any discounts or promotions that may be ongoing.  The simplest way for you to determine the cost is to visit our website and add the items you are wanting to the shopping cart, then add your zip code and press the calculate shipping button.  The cart will then give you the most accurate total cost based on the information you have provided.

Absolutely not.  You should always protect the plenum (white diamond grid) on the vacuum former from direct heat of the kydex.  Doing so will void your warranty and damage your vacuum former.  This means you should always use the molding board, the DFD plate, or some other barrier to protect the plenum.  When using the ThermaJig, you will not use the molding board or DFD under the ThermaJig, but you must make sure the hot kydex is not hanging off of the jig and touching the plenum board or damage may occur.  If you must use an oversize piece of kydex in this situation for some reason, we recommend placing a cotton towel between the plenum board and the ThermaJig.

We are not sure what driving a truck up onto a vacuum former has to do with how well it performs.  If you need to support the weight of your truck, we highly recommend purchasing jack stands or ramps that are intended for that particular purpose.  Don’t buy a screwdriver if you need a wrench.  If you want to purchase the best kydex holster making vacuum former press on the market, then we recommend purchasing a VF-1.  We have seen that video and immediately noticed that the frame lid had been removed beforehand.  We also wondered what in the world that has to do with vacuum forming kydex holsters . . absolutely nothing.  We believe our customers are smart enough figure that out and choose not to make a similar video.   If that determines your purchasing decision for which vacuum former to buy, well you are going to run into a few bigger problems in learning the process of holster making.   We want our videos to be truthful, honest, and relevant to the task at hand.  Although, if the truck test is that important to you in making a purchasing decision, our press would probably withstand that and then some.  We prefer that people not use our press as a jack stand for changing the oil in their truck for liability reasons.

Vacuum Storage System (VSS)

All ThermaPress VF-1 formers have a 30 day money back guarantee and a one year warranty from date of purchase.  If you don’t like it, send it back within 30 days and we will refund your purchase price less any shipping costs and the cost of the membrane if it has been installed..

We warranty the ThermaPress VF1 for one year against defects in materials and workmanship. Items that are NOT covered on the ThermaPress VF1 warranty or money back guarantee are the membrane and the removable molding deck board.

We also do not cover abuse, misuse, and neglect.  For example, over tightening your membrane bolts will cause damage and void your warranty.  We do not recommend using a drill or impact gun to tighten them with.  Also, placing your VF-1 too close to your heat press could cause warping or damage. Keep your VF-1 at least 18 inches from your heat press. Things like that are not covered.

Most people have no issues on the ThermaPress VF 1 assembly. It is rather easy. However, the optional VSS (Vacuum Storage Solution) relies on you for assembly and gluing the pvc fittings together. For this reason, the vacuum former itself has a one year warranty against defects but the optional VSS (vacuum storage solution) that works in conjunction with the vacuum former has no warranty. In other words, if you glue two pieces together incorrectly while assembling the VSS you will have to order the replacement parts. We have created both the VF 1 and the VSS to be modular and completely user serviceable. So if you did glue something up wrong, or a glue joint developed a leak, you would only have to replace the affected parts and would not have to ship the entire unit back for repair. Many of the parts, are parts that can be found in the plumbing section of your local home center. This saves in return shipping costs, down time, and overall costs of ownership.

The video is located in the members only section of our website. If you purchased one of these from us, please sign into the website using your login information and password and navigate to the media section of our website where you will find exclusive videos and information for our vacuum former owners.

Yes! The VSS can be purchased separately later and easily added to the VF 1. That is exactly what it was designed for.

The vacuum pumps most of us are using were mainly designed to be used by the heating and air industry to remove air and moisture from HVAC systems. They are designed to handle small, tiny, amounts of debris. While adding a filter will catch small pieces of lint, hair, dust, and other debris that fall onto your vacuum former, we are of the opinion that the filter is overkill and not necessary. Regardless of what people say, your vacuum pump has to work harder to pull a vacuum through that filter. Therefore, the filter is restrictive in our opinion. The primary contaminate contained within the vacuum pump oil is moisture, condensate and humidity from the air. The filter being pushed by our competitor will not filter out moisture and is merely a way to add additional revenue. Save your money and change your vacuum pump oil more often. However, because demand drives the market, the ThermaPress VF1 can easily have a filter added to the vacuum line if you just feel like you need a filter. Again, we do not sell it with the VF1 because we truly believe you do not need it and will tell you so. In fact, most of the user manuals that come with the vacuum pumps will tell you to change the oil often. (see our other FAQ about vacuum pump oil). It is really ironic that people have been purchasing an expensive filter to protect a cheap Chinese vacuum pump that already has metal shavings and filings in it from the factory. Yes, that is correct. If you take one of these brand new Chinese pumps apart you will see it has metal shavings in it from the factory. But if you feel like you have to have a filter, you can purchase one from Vac-Motion. We recommend that if you are going to buy one, at least get the 1/2 inch inlet filter so it is not as restrictive on your vacuum pump. We feel that having compressed air at your workbench is much more important than a vac filter. You will use the compressed air to blow dust and debris out of your vacuum former before it can be sucked into the vacuum line and the compressed air is used to speed up the holster making process by blowing cool air onto the membrane so your kydex will cool and set faster, therefore increasing your production rate.

In order to obtain maximum performance out of your ThermaPress VF1 or any other brand of vacuum former, we DO NOT recommend the use of a vacuum control. There are several reasons for this. First, a controller is expensive and there are better ways to spend your money. Second, our testing shows that the controller prevents the vacuum former (all of them, not just ours) from achieving full vacuum. We have proven this in our shop over and over again. The automatic vacuum controller is designed to operate with “cut in” and “cut off” points. While these points are adjustable within a range of vacuum, it is just that . . a range. That range never reaches a full 29.5 in.hg. vacuum. The controller works just like the regulator on an air compressor. When the pressure gets lowered to a certain point, the regulator kicks on and the compressor pumps up to a pre-set air pressure and then kicks off. The same is true for the vacuum controller. The pump runs and when a certain vacuum is achieved it shuts the pump off. When vacuum starts to decrease, it may drop significantly before the controller kicks the pump on. It is a known fact that every second is critical when vacuum forming kydex to achieve excellent definition. The kydex immediately looses heat and if your vacuum pump is not turned on and running when you put the hot kydex down onto your mold . . you are losing precious seconds that reflect in quality and definition. We have seen multiple times where the vacuum controller will not turn on when the ball valve is opened simply because the “cut in point” was not reached at all or not for several seconds. When that happens that holster is being formed any where from 22-27 in. hg. and the vacuum pump is not running. We strongly advocate that you use a foot pedal switch to control your vacuum pump and not an automatic control. This way, your pump is on and already pulling vacuum from the moment you put the kydex down until the lid is closed and then it can build to a full 29.5 in. hg vacuum for maximum definition. Now, after all this there are people who will still insist on using a vacuum control for whatever reason. Can the vacuum control be used with the VF1? Yes, it can be added to VF1 and the optional VSS (vacuum storage system) is already plumbed with three auxiliary ports to add vacuum accessories. Here is the link to the foot pedal switch we recommend instead of the vacuum controller: Foot Pedal Switch

There is no need for a check valve if you have a ball valve between the vacuum former and your vacuum pump. You may choose to replace your ball valve with a check valve to avoid having to constantly throw the lever on the ball valve. Any check valves in a vacuum system should be located as close to the vacuum pump as possible. Also keep in mind that check valves almost always act as a restriction if they are not sized and tuned correctly to the system they are in. The “crack pressure” must be calculated correctly to insure correct usage. We include a check valve in the optional VSS kit that we sell which has been correctly sized to the Robinair #15800 8 CFM Vacuum pump. We do not rely on a PVC check valve made for water supply systems nor do we glue the valve into place within another component. All check valves will eventually fail and should not be permanently glued into the system. You do not want to have to destroy the whole system just to replace a faulty check valve. Your vacuum pump contains a separate check valve inside it. We will not tell you to remove the check valve that is in your vacuum pump. Removing the pump check valve allows oil to siphon up the vacuum tube, into the vacuum former and into other components reducing their service life and also voids the warranty on your vacuum pump. It also causes your vacuum pump to not be very efficient or pull a full vacuum because of the oil that is in the tube which should be in the bottom of the pump. The check valve we use is has been carefully selected as not to reduce efficiency or increase strain on your vacuum pump.

Yes. The VF1 and VF1 PRO are both designed to be ambidextrous so the valve and controls can be assembled on the left side. The VF1 can be swapped to left or right hand at anytime. The VF1 PRO must be initially setup either left or right handed cannot be changed later because of the VSS. Simply set everything in reverse from what is shown in the assembly video.

First, please refer the assembly video for your product located in the owner’s section. If you have not already purchased the VF1, you will not have access to this area of our website. The VF1 does not include a vacuum hose or fittings to connect to your pump. WE DO NOT INCLUDE THE FITTINGS OR HOSE to connect to your pump. The reason for this is because we have no way of knowing which pump you will ultimately buy and what fitting or hose size you will need. The size of your pump and who manufactured the pump will dictate what fitting you will need. Regardless of what size, thread pitch, and type of fitting and hose you will require, we recommend using a 3/8″ inside diameter hose. The ThermaPress VF1 will accept up to a 1/2″ Male National Pipe Thread into the included ball valve. If you plan on purchasing the Robinair #15800 vacuum pump (what we recommend), we sell an optional connection kit just for that pump which includes the hose and required fittings. Click Here to see that kit.

All other questions:

Yes. We are still referred to as Blue Light Tactical or “BLT”. However, our legal name is ThermaPress, LLC.

While we like the added ease of using the magnetic system for holding the membranes in place, it has some issues. Our DIY plans called for using really strong magnets. The reason for this was mainly for being able to use our curved jig and taller items in the DIY PVC former without the membrane slipping from under the magnets, pulling loose, or leaking. The magnetic system is good if you mainly work with split molds and short items. To use the magnetic system with taller items, we had to use stronger magnets. 3/4″ neodymium rare earth magnets are very expensive. They also were so strong, it became difficult to remove them from the vacuum former. They were also very difficult to separate. Almost always, if one was dropped on the concrete floor in our shop, the magnet would break. Sometimes, they just break for no apparent reason. The bolt / frame method takes a little longer (just a minute or two) but it is more secure, works well with taller items, and has lower cost of ownership over the life of the vacuum former. Magnets are also a safety hazard to small children and we just don’t want that being an issue since most of our customers are using these in their homes. The ThermaPress VF 1 only works with the bolt/frame method. Here is the truth about using the magnetic system in our opinion: While it looks cool and seems faster it is not what it appears which is why we chose to not use it in building the ThermaPress VF1. Lets just say for sake of argument that it takes three minutes longer to change out a membrane on the ThermaPress VF1 as opposed to a former with the magnetic system. What is three minutes when you can be sure it will not leak, will not slip, and allow you to mold tall items in the vac former? Besides, if you are constantly changing out membranes . . .YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG and need to determine what the exact issue is.

Everyone who purchases one of our vacuum formers receives unlimited email support. If it is something that cannot be solved through an email, we will call you and work you through the issue. Additional support is found from within this knowledge base (which will continue to grow), our YouTube videos, and the owner’s section of the website (requires login). Be sure to check these resources first before contacting us since most issues can be resolved with just a little reading on your part.

Yes . . . We did! We chose to use cabinet grade plywood as the top frame and underbase. However, the plywood is not part of the vacuum chamber and cannot leak vacuum. After trying multiple substrates, such as acrylic and other plastics, we ended up using a combination of materials in building the VF1 along with some major improvements in technology and engineering. This increases the weight, strength, and heft of the upper frame and the entire former. It gives you a feeling of quality and not the feeling of cheap plastic. The result is the best vacuum former we have ever built and what we believe to be the best vacuum former on the market.

Yes. The VF1 and VF1 PRO are both designed to be ambidextrous so the valve and controls can be assembled on the left side. The VF1 can be swapped to left or right hand at anytime. The VF1 PRO must be initially setup either left or right handed cannot be changed later because of the VSS. Simply set everything in reverse from what is shown in the assembly video.

No, we do not and we have no plans at this time to build larger vacuum formers. We have found what we believe to be the ideal size for forming kydex holsters and built those dimensions into the VF1. Our experiences show that if you need more through put in your vacuum forming operations, you are much better off to be running two separate vacuum formers rather than one larger one. The overall cost of ownership on the larger former is higher, but a much higher production rate is achieved with two standard size formers instead of one that is larger.

Sorry, we do not build custom size formers. The setup costs and R&D to build a particular size former are staggering and we cannot alter our production line to build one unique item. The ThermaPress VF1 is also not scalable due the amount of engineering and critical dimensions that went into designing it. If you think you want a bigger, larger vacuum former than the ThermaPress VF1 . . we strongly recommend against it. Tests in our shop confirm that two regular sized vacuum formers will out produce and are much more efficient to run than one large sized vacuum former. Two formers hands down will out produce in volume a single large vacuum former of equal capacity. In addition, overall costs of ownership are much greater on a larger vacuum former. Larger membranes can be very costly to replace if ruptured.

We do not sell a smaller former and have no plans to build a smaller former. Smaller vacuum formers have a lot of problems and it would be a tremendous disservice to our customers to sell a small vacuum former that they ultimately would be dissatisfied with. We are not going to build a smaller, substandard product in order to hit a certain price point just to take advantage of our customers or people who may not be able to afford a full size vacuum former. If you are wanting a smaller former because of price, we recommend waiting and saving your money to get the VF1. A man’s work is only as good as his tools will allow him to be. Buy it right the first time and you will never regret it. Buy a vacuum former that is too small and you will definitely regret it and you will also be forever mad at the person that sold it to you.

Sorry, but some of our products ship from different / multiple locations making that impossible. Also, for safety, security, and insurance reasons, customers are not allowed into our production shop floor. We work different schedules and we do not have a showroom that is open during normal business hour to the public. Our apologies, but we are not able to accommodate requests to pickup orders.

Our apologies, but we do not ship outside the United States at all.  This means anyone with a payment source such as a credit card with a foreign address, a foreign Paypal account, etc. will not process through our website.  We do not have an export license and therefore it is illegal for us to ship outside the United States or to ship to a mail forwarding address located within the United States.  In addition, the mail forwarding addresses are associated with large amounts of fraud and we will not knowingly accept an order which ships to a mail or package forwarding company or address.   If for some reason you are able to checkout using a foreign payment account, credit card, or use a mail forwarding address, we will cancel your order.  Sorry, no exceptions.

We are unable to give you a total cost without knowing exactly what you will order, the final shipping weight, and your zipcode / final destination.  We do not sell vacuum pumps, please see the other FAQ’s where we discuss why.  Total cost also may be affected by when you place your order or any discounts or promotions that may be ongoing.  The simplest way for you to determine the cost is to visit our website and add the items you are wanting to the shopping cart, then add your zip code and press the calculate shipping button.  The cart will then give you the most accurate total cost based on the information you have provided.

The download will not be available until we actually process your order for shipment.  When that happens you should receive an email confirming the shipment along with a link or instructions to complete the download.  If you do not receive this within one or two business days of placing your order, please make sure to check your junk email folder.  Also, if you used a hotmail email address to place your order, you may want to contact us with an alternate email address since some users with Hotmail have reported they are not receiving anything from our website.

Absolutely not.  You should always protect the plenum (white diamond grid) on the vacuum former from direct heat of the kydex.  Doing so will void your warranty and damage your vacuum former.  This means you should always use the molding board, the DFD plate, or some other barrier to protect the plenum.  When using the ThermaJig, you will not use the molding board or DFD under the ThermaJig, but you must make sure the hot kydex is not hanging off of the jig and touching the plenum board or damage may occur.  If you must use an oversize piece of kydex in this situation for some reason, we recommend placing a cotton towel between the plenum board and the ThermaJig.

We are not sure what driving a truck up onto a vacuum former has to do with how well it performs.  If you need to support the weight of your truck, we highly recommend purchasing jack stands or ramps that are intended for that particular purpose.  Don’t buy a screwdriver if you need a wrench.  If you want to purchase the best kydex holster making vacuum former press on the market, then we recommend purchasing a VF-1.  We have seen that video and immediately noticed that the frame lid had been removed beforehand.  We also wondered what in the world that has to do with vacuum forming kydex holsters . . absolutely nothing.  We believe our customers are smart enough figure that out and choose not to make a similar video.   If that determines your purchasing decision for which vacuum former to buy, well you are going to run into a few bigger problems in learning the process of holster making.   We want our videos to be truthful, honest, and relevant to the task at hand.  Although, if the truck test is that important to you in making a purchasing decision, our press would probably withstand that and then some.  We prefer that people not use our press as a jack stand for changing the oil in their truck for liability reasons.

Kydex holster making:

You will need a vacuum pump. We do not sell the vacuum pumps. You will need all the supplies to make holsters such as kydex, boltaron, eyelets, eyelet press / dies, a bandsaw, a heat press or toaster oven for heating the kydex, the actual firearm, holster mold, etc. For more information on how to make holsters please visit YouTube and just search for “kydex holster making”.

We have tried most of the handgun molds that are being sold to holster makers. It has been our experience that each brand has its own issues or set of problems. Most of the holster mold companies have lacked consistency and had quality control problems with the molds we have purchased. For example, some molds have had voids, rough spots, wavy slides, out of spec dimensions, extended slide safeties on this order, and the next order for the same exact split mold would not have the extended safety. Some makers put sight channel blocking that will allow for the use of suppressor height sights and others do not causing us to have to cut the sight blocking off and replace it with our own. Some have had some features blocked on the mold but not blocked others that should have been blocked. While we have not been satisfied really with any of them and have resorted to making our own molds, when we do purchase molds, we prefer the DIY Holsters molding drones because the molds are cleaner and have been in spec. However, we dislike the their blocking for the sights as they do not allow the use of taller suppressor sights. We have to cut that off and replace it which can be difficult. They also ship their orders very quickly which we really like. For flashlight molds, we recommend just buying the real flashlight or contacting the manufacturer to see if they have spare bodies or defective lights they will sell you. The flashlight molds we have purchased have been disappointing and usually will break from the amount of pressure applied in the vacuum formers. Some places are now making the split molds from High Density Polyethylene or HDPE. While we have not used these molds ourselves, we have used a lot of HDPE and found that after being machined and exposed to repeated heat, it tends to warp. We strongly prefer aluminum split molds and consider them superior but they can be rather pricey. Regardless of which molds you use, we recommend always checking the fit of the holster with the actual firearm and not relying on the mold to be correct as they seldom are. You may have to cover your molds with layers of tape to ultimately achieve the correct thickness.

When we started making holsters, the industry was making holsters on a 50/50 split. In other words, the kydex was equally as deep on each side of the gun. One half of the gun’s thickness was pressed into each piece of kydex. The split only applies to the pancake style holsters where you have two separate pieces of plastic molded together to hold the handgun in place. When we developed the curve jig, we did it differently from what everyone else was doing and split the gun with a 90/10 split and made the holster curved. This eliminated the pressure point on the user’s body and made a more uniform holster where it came into contact with the wearer. It took the pressure point off the gun itself and spread it out into the curve making for a more comfortable and tighter fit against the person’s body. Many other holster makers have adopted using the 90/10 split method over the 50/50 split.

My Order:

The shipment notice you received along with the tracking number means that we have purchased a shipping label to prepare your shipment. It does not mean the carrier has received the shipment. It may take up to 24 hours for the carrier to actually pickup the shipment if the carrier has already made a pickup at our location.

The number one reasons why customers do not receive anything from us is that they likely entered an incorrect email address, they have a spam filter turned on, or they are using a Hotmail email address which is likely filtering out notices from our email server. A second reason may be that your order has been delayed because you provided a shipping address that is different from the address on file with Paypal, your credit card, or we have been unable to confirm the shipping address as legitimate. We send you an order confirmation / invoice, at the time you submit payment, a tracking number when the order is prepared for shipment, and other notices. If you have not received anything, you should contact us because either we did not receive your order because it was not paid for or there is a problem with your email address.

Georgia law requires that we charge sales tax to all orders that are placed from or shipped to the State of Georgia. We follow all the requirements as set forth by state law and the Georgia Department of Revenue and all moneys collected are submitted monthly. If you were not charged sales tax and reside in a state other than Georgia, you are responsible for any sales or uses tax that your particular state may require.

When we send you a tracking number, that does not mean your order has actually left our facility. What it does mean is that we have purchased a shipping label and prepared your order for shipment. Depending on holidays, time of day, pickup time, if it is a weekend, etc. all of these variables will determine when your order actually is picked up by the carrier. For example, if we purchase the label on a Friday afternoon, it may be Monday before your shipment is actually picked up by the carrier. Also, if we are really busy, it could take up to two business days for us to get to your order and prepare it for shipment. Also, if you are trying to ship to an address that is different from your credit card billing address or your confirmed Paypal shipping address, this will almost always delay your shipment while we try to confirm the order is not fraudulent. For fastest shipping, please use your confirmed billing address on file with your payment source.
Occasionally shipments are sent to the wrong city or hub by the shipping carrier. Sometimes it takes several days for the tracking information to be updated, corrected, and for the package to be re-routed to the correct city. While this is an unfortunate delay, it is beyond our control. Please give the carrier time to get the shipment to the correct destination. If your package has not been delivered within 7-10 business days after receiving a tracking number and there is no new updates, please let us know by using the contact us link above and be sure to include your order number so that we can check on your shipment.

We reserve the right to ship any order signature required. This is not only for our protection but for your protection also. There are many reasons to do this. You may not have a secure area for the shipper to leave the package and it could be exposed to rain, snow, or theft from your doorstep should you not be there to receive it when the carrier arrives. Often, we have no way of knowing if you have a secure area to receive packages or if you live in an apartment complex were anyone could walk off with the package. We have had packages left on doorsteps that were stolen, rained on, and in one instance the neighbor’s dog destroyed the package and its contents. It also proves that the package was delivered and who received it. Paypal also requests that we have proof of delivery with a signature on high dollar items. The fact remains that once we have delivered the package to the carrier for shipment, the liability is on the carrier and any claims or losses for mis-delivered merchandise or lost merchandise are on the carrier and you are left having to work it out with them. The ‘signature required’ may be a little inconvenient if you have to go to the Post Office or carrier’s hub to pick it up, but it insures that you are the one who actually receives it and in good condition.

Our apologies, but we do not ship outside the United States at all.  This means anyone with a payment source such as a credit card with a foreign address, a foreign Paypal account, etc. will not process through our website.  We do not have an export license and therefore it is illegal for us to ship outside the United States or to ship to a mail forwarding address located within the United States.  In addition, the mail forwarding addresses are associated with large amounts of fraud and we will not knowingly accept an order which ships to a mail or package forwarding company or address.   If for some reason you are able to checkout using a foreign payment account, credit card, or use a mail forwarding address, we will cancel your order.  Sorry, no exceptions.

We are unable to give you a total cost without knowing exactly what you will order, the final shipping weight, and your zipcode / final destination.  We do not sell vacuum pumps, please see the other FAQ’s where we discuss why.  Total cost also may be affected by when you place your order or any discounts or promotions that may be ongoing.  The simplest way for you to determine the cost is to visit our website and add the items you are wanting to the shopping cart, then add your zip code and press the calculate shipping button.  The cart will then give you the most accurate total cost based on the information you have provided.

The download will not be available until we actually process your order for shipment.  When that happens you should receive an email confirming the shipment along with a link or instructions to complete the download.  If you do not receive this within one or two business days of placing your order, please make sure to check your junk email folder.  Also, if you used a hotmail email address to place your order, you may want to contact us with an alternate email address since some users with Hotmail have reported they are not receiving anything from our website.

Vacuum pumps:

No, we do not sell vacuum pumps.  Please read further to learn why,  and what our recommendations are.  We have tried many different vacuum pumps, but have only tried a tip of the iceberg so to speak. There are all different types, makes, models, of vacuum pumps available for purchase from other vendors. Out of the ones we have tried, we have found that the Robinair #15800 8cfm vacuum pump suits our needs the best. It is a good balance of both price, quality, and functionality. It is also a two-stage pump so it is going to run much quieter than a single stage pump.  The price of the pump seems to fluctuate but is usually under $300 with free shipping on Amazon.com. The absolute minimum recommended pump for use with our vacuum formers is 3 cfm (cubic feet per minute). Before you purchase a different brand or style of vacuum pump you should verify that it will reach 29.5 in. hg. (29.5 inches of mercury). Some vacuum pumps are made by design to not reach a full 29.5 in.hg. vacuum. A 5 cfm is better and an 8cfm is best. We see little value in going higher than a 10 cfm pump as the air volume in our vacuum formers is so small that the extra horsepower yields little in terms of results. Our second choice in a pump would be the Robinair 5CFM vacuum pump which is also a two stage pump.

Most of the vacuum pumps now are made in China. If you pay $300 for a Chinese pump and get three years of use from it using it everyday, you have gotten your money’s worth. Replacement parts can be difficult to obtain and it may be cheaper in the long run to just by a new pump instead of fixing the old one if it has failed. Pumps have different warranties such as 90 days or one year. The problem with that is that you have to send it back to the manufacturer for warranty repair and that can be very expensive because the pumps are heavy and shipping costs are outrageous. We have received a lot of feedback on the Robinair #15800 and most of the ones that had problems were dead on arrival or failed within the first thirty days. For this reason, we recommend purchasing your vacuum pump from Amazon.com because of their 30 day return policy in which Amazon pays for return shipping if there is a problem. After the 30 day period, you have to rely on the manufacturers warranty. Many, many other vendors that sell vacuum pumps want you to return the pump to the manufacturer on your dime if there is a problem with the pump when you receive it. Amazon sends you out a new one if it fails within the first 30 days or gives you a refund. You get the idea.  Be sure and try to purchase the best vacuum pump you can afford. You will not regret it.  If there is only $50 between a 5 cfm pump and an 8 cfm pump, spring for the 8 CFM pump.

Yes. We recommend you do not breath this mist, especially for prolonged periods of time. Several people have told us they have adapted oil filters to fit onto the exhaust to capture the mist, others have purchased aftermarket exhaust filters and adapted them to put onto the pump. We however, just attached a hose with a hose clamp and ran the hose through the wall and outside. We chose not to restrict the flow of the exhaust by adding a filter.

The vacuum pumps most of us are using were mainly designed to be used by the heating and air industry to remove air and moisture from HVAC systems. They are designed to handle small, tiny, amounts of debris. While adding a filter will catch small pieces of lint, hair, dust, and other debris that fall onto your vacuum former, we are of the opinion that the filter is overkill and not necessary. Regardless of what people say, your vacuum pump has to work harder to pull a vacuum through that filter. Therefore, the filter is restrictive in our opinion. The primary contaminate contained within the vacuum pump oil is moisture, condensate and humidity from the air. The filter being pushed by our competitor will not filter out moisture and is merely a way to add additional revenue. Save your money and change your vacuum pump oil more often. However, because demand drives the market, the ThermaPress VF1 can easily have a filter added to the vacuum line if you just feel like you need a filter. Again, we do not sell it with the VF1 because we truly believe you do not need it and will tell you so. In fact, most of the user manuals that come with the vacuum pumps will tell you to change the oil often. (see our other FAQ about vacuum pump oil). It is really ironic that people have been purchasing an expensive filter to protect a cheap Chinese vacuum pump that already has metal shavings and filings in it from the factory. Yes, that is correct. If you take one of these brand new Chinese pumps apart you will see it has metal shavings in it from the factory. But if you feel like you have to have a filter, you can purchase one from Vac-Motion. We recommend that if you are going to buy one, at least get the 1/2 inch inlet filter so it is not as restrictive on your vacuum pump. We feel that having compressed air at your workbench is much more important than a vac filter. You will use the compressed air to blow dust and debris out of your vacuum former before it can be sucked into the vacuum line and the compressed air is used to speed up the holster making process by blowing cool air onto the membrane so your kydex will cool and set faster, therefore increasing your production rate.

In order to obtain maximum performance out of your ThermaPress VF1 or any other brand of vacuum former, we DO NOT recommend the use of a vacuum control. There are several reasons for this. First, a controller is expensive and there are better ways to spend your money. Second, our testing shows that the controller prevents the vacuum former (all of them, not just ours) from achieving full vacuum. We have proven this in our shop over and over again. The automatic vacuum controller is designed to operate with “cut in” and “cut off” points. While these points are adjustable within a range of vacuum, it is just that . . a range. That range never reaches a full 29.5 in.hg. vacuum. The controller works just like the regulator on an air compressor. When the pressure gets lowered to a certain point, the regulator kicks on and the compressor pumps up to a pre-set air pressure and then kicks off. The same is true for the vacuum controller. The pump runs and when a certain vacuum is achieved it shuts the pump off. When vacuum starts to decrease, it may drop significantly before the controller kicks the pump on. It is a known fact that every second is critical when vacuum forming kydex to achieve excellent definition. The kydex immediately looses heat and if your vacuum pump is not turned on and running when you put the hot kydex down onto your mold . . you are losing precious seconds that reflect in quality and definition. We have seen multiple times where the vacuum controller will not turn on when the ball valve is opened simply because the “cut in point” was not reached at all or not for several seconds. When that happens that holster is being formed any where from 22-27 in. hg. and the vacuum pump is not running. We strongly advocate that you use a foot pedal switch to control your vacuum pump and not an automatic control. This way, your pump is on and already pulling vacuum from the moment you put the kydex down until the lid is closed and then it can build to a full 29.5 in. hg vacuum for maximum definition. Now, after all this there are people who will still insist on using a vacuum control for whatever reason. Can the vacuum control be used with the VF1? Yes, it can be added to VF1 and the optional VSS (vacuum storage system) is already plumbed with three auxiliary ports to add vacuum accessories. Here is the link to the foot pedal switch we recommend instead of the vacuum controller: Foot Pedal Switch

The owner’s manual that came with your pump will likely say that you need to change it after each use. This does not apply to us who are using it to vacuum form holsters. They operate under the assumption the pump is being used to vacuum HVAC lines. When you first receive your new pump, it will come with the oil in a separate container. (Here is a valuable tip: Before you fill the pump with oil, draw a line with a marker at the oil level on the container. Do not discard the container. Save it and use it to change the oil. You will pour oil into the container first and measure it instead of trying to guess when the pump is full of oil. The sight window glass takes awhile to adjust and is not immediately accurate. Fill the pump with the oil. Let the level adjust and confirm that the oil level is in between the Low and High marks on the sight glass. The oil will be almost clear to crystal clear when you pour it into the pump. The more you use the pump and the more humid environment in which you are operating it will dictate when it needs changing. Your vacuum achieved will degrade over time as the oil degrades. We usually change the oil in our pumps when the oil starts to turn a light yellow or light honey color. It is cheaper to buy the oil by the gallon than the smaller containers. You may change the oil more frequently if you are in a humid environment, dusty shop, etc. Do not wait to change the oil until it reaches a dark honey or pancake syrup color. Also, it is best to locate your pump on a shelf so that the oil drain on the bottom of the pump extends over the edge of the shelf. This makes it very easy to change as opposed to it sitting on top / back of your work bench. Never ever use motor oil in your vacuum pump. Use the oil recommended by your vacuum pump manufacturer.

There is no need for a check valve if you have a ball valve between the vacuum former and your vacuum pump. You may choose to replace your ball valve with a check valve to avoid having to constantly throw the lever on the ball valve. Any check valves in a vacuum system should be located as close to the vacuum pump as possible. Also keep in mind that check valves almost always act as a restriction if they are not sized and tuned correctly to the system they are in. The “crack pressure” must be calculated correctly to insure correct usage. We include a check valve in the optional VSS kit that we sell which has been correctly sized to the Robinair #15800 8 CFM Vacuum pump. We do not rely on a PVC check valve made for water supply systems nor do we glue the valve into place within another component. All check valves will eventually fail and should not be permanently glued into the system. You do not want to have to destroy the whole system just to replace a faulty check valve. Your vacuum pump contains a separate check valve inside it. We will not tell you to remove the check valve that is in your vacuum pump. Removing the pump check valve allows oil to siphon up the vacuum tube, into the vacuum former and into other components reducing their service life and also voids the warranty on your vacuum pump. It also causes your vacuum pump to not be very efficient or pull a full vacuum because of the oil that is in the tube which should be in the bottom of the pump. The check valve we use is has been carefully selected as not to reduce efficiency or increase strain on your vacuum pump.

First, please refer the assembly video for your product located in the owner’s section. If you have not already purchased the VF1, you will not have access to this area of our website. The VF1 does not include a vacuum hose or fittings to connect to your pump. WE DO NOT INCLUDE THE FITTINGS OR HOSE to connect to your pump. The reason for this is because we have no way of knowing which pump you will ultimately buy and what fitting or hose size you will need. The size of your pump and who manufactured the pump will dictate what fitting you will need. Regardless of what size, thread pitch, and type of fitting and hose you will require, we recommend using a 3/8″ inside diameter hose. The ThermaPress VF1 will accept up to a 1/2″ Male National Pipe Thread into the included ball valve. If you plan on purchasing the Robinair #15800 vacuum pump (what we recommend), we sell an optional connection kit just for that pump which includes the hose and required fittings. Click Here to see that kit.

While quick connect fittings may work in some cases, we do not recommend the use of quick connect fittings.  Most, but not all, quick connect fittings are designed for air pressure and not vacuum.  The fittings rely on the internal pressure to actually seal the fitting itself.  We have seen some quick connect fittings that would hold a vacuum but a lot depends on the design and how it was manufactured internally.  Unless the quick connect fitting is actually rated for vacuum operations, we recommend against it.  The other drawback is that quick connect fittings usually cost about four times as much as other reliable methods.  Availability can also be an issue if you develop a leak,  You do not want to have to wait a week to receive a special quick connect fitting.  We recommend using tried and true vacuum connections that use standard parts you can find at your local home center.  That way, if you have a problem or need to change the plumbing connections for some reason, it is easily done.  Once your system is setup the way you want it . . why do you need quick connect fittings?  They are just not necessary in our opinion.

There could be several reasons for this. You need to turn the pump off and make sure the vacuum former maintains the vacuum for at least a few minutes. Assuming there are no leaks in your vacuum connections, there are likely other things at play that affect the reading on your gauge. First, these gauges are not very expensive. Quality vacuum gauges are very expensive. The gauge we use on the VF-1 does fairly well for what it costs. Most vacuum gauges are going to have +/- 2 inches of mercury accuracy. If your gauge is not going to 29.5 inches of mercury, your gauge could be slightly off. Another possibility is that your vacuum pump does not actually pull 29.5 inches of mercury. Many, many vacuum pumps do not perform at the level they are rated and that is most likely the reason. We have purchased two identical pumps and tested them side by side and had differences of up to two inches of mercury between them.

Warranty / Returns

Membranes are considered a consumable item. There is no warranty for that reason. We have no way to control how people use the membranes and almost all punctures are or rips are caused by user error. It is almost for certain that the membrane itself is not defective. In the hundreds of yards of membrane we have sold, we have only seen one or two defects. High standards of manufacturing prevent defects and each membrane is inspected before we ship it out to you. Most people rupture membranes due to a lack of experience in knowing what they can and cannot get away with in terms of their molds. Most holster makers when they start out will usually puncture several and the number of membranes damaged goes down as you gain experience. If you are purchasing cast handgun molds, then you should inspect every mold when you put in the vacuum chamber. A rough spot or sharp edge is almost always the reason for ruptured membranes. Hollow voids such as improperly blocked trigger areas or using real handguns with the magazine removed also will pull the membrane into the void and stretch it beyond its limitations. Punctures and abrasion tears can always be avoided by sanding any rough spots and if you are using a real firearm in the vacuum former, all sharp corners and edges should be covered with blue painter’s tape to prevent membrane damage. We have seen literally thousands of holsters made on a single membrane and the longevity is all because the operator was careful. However, if you are certain that you did not cause the failure or there was no sharp edge that caused the failure, you are welcome to contact us and will allow you to return it for inspection. You will have to pay for the shipping to return it to us. Once we receive it, we can inspect the membrane under a microscope. Visual examination under magnification will reveal immediately if it is a defect or an abrasion. If it is an abrasion or cut, we will not replace it. If it is in fact defective (which is very rare) we will most certainly replace it. However, under no circumstances will we replace a membrane when it has not been returned to us for inspection.

Everyone who purchases one of our vacuum formers receives unlimited email support. If it is something that cannot be solved through an email, we will call you and work you through the issue. Additional support is found from within this knowledge base (which will continue to grow), our YouTube videos, and the owner’s section of the website (requires login). Be sure to check these resources first before contacting us since most issues can be resolved with just a little reading on your part.

Absolutely not.  You should always protect the plenum (white diamond grid) on the vacuum former from direct heat of the kydex.  Doing so will void your warranty and damage your vacuum former.  This means you should always use the molding board, the DFD plate, or some other barrier to protect the plenum.  When using the ThermaJig, you will not use the molding board or DFD under the ThermaJig, but you must make sure the hot kydex is not hanging off of the jig and touching the plenum board or damage may occur.  If you must use an oversize piece of kydex in this situation for some reason, we recommend placing a cotton towel between the plenum board and the ThermaJig.

If you have a question that you think should be listed here, please submit the question below. If we receive multiple requests for the same question, we will add it. For immediate assistance please contact us.

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