We've never wanted to go this route and we already have commercial/lab quality vacuum pumps in our shop that we use for the Collin's Saddle Mill. We've also made our own vacuum fixtures and stock gasket material but never saw the need to clamp bridge on this way.
I suppose that if one is a builder only and repetitively does the same process with some sort of registration pins or method to glue on bridges and can resolve the issue of cleaning up squeeze out and preventing skating cool more power to ya.
In the repair world lining up and matching where a bridge has to be located because of finish issues, etc. requires one to see what they hell they just did after the clamps are in place so we have a shot at getting it right. Vacuum clamping for bridge reglues blocks one's view and I wouldn't like this at all.
Also in the repair world irregular and deformed tops are standard fare on older instruments. This requires at times creative clamping in areas such as the wings where more clamping horse power is required. This is not available with vacuum clamping either.....
Our primary vacuum pump is the quietest that I have ever heard but still I would not want to have to hear that thing for long periods of time either.
With all of this said what you plan on doing will dictate if vacuum clamping is right for you. If you are building with methodologies that are repetitive and you get it all down to a procedure that works with vacuum clamping I can see this as one way to go. I don't see any advantages though..... But if your world includes repairing and lots of variation my preference would be conventional clamping and all the variance in camps, locations, shapes and quantities that will silently.... do their jobs while our glue cures. Being able to clean up squeeze out AND recheck final location without it being a leap of faith would likely keep me from atrial fibrillation as well.
We have a commercial repair shop making my measure different than folks who are not doing repair work on a professional basis. The question that I ultimately ask myself when considering different methods and tooling is will it improve the quality of our work and the value to our customers and/or make us more money. If it's a triple no, and it is in this instance for us, it's a no go.
Thanks very much for that.you make some very good points.
I've yet to perform my first bridge re glue so was intrigued when I came across this vacuum system.
How about heating blankets to help remove a bridge?What are your thoughts on those?
Happy to help Mark and welcome to the trade if you're new at this.
We prefer a 250 watt heat lamp for softening the glue under bridges and fret board extensions. We also make and use cardboard protective shields lined with heavy duty foil, reflective side out to protect the instrument. Heat lamps should never be left unattended and I typically only heat for perhaps 30 seconds at a time before testing the glue with my pallet knives.
Blankets require contact to work via conduction where heat lamps don't have to have physical contact with the irregular shapes that bridges and fret board extensions with frets installed represent.
We also use metal cauls dedicated for use with cartridge heaters for bridge plate removals.