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12 Updates of Christmas Pt 8

(Vacuum) Chamber of Secrets


Dear Friend,

Hi from Lopez Contracting! I hope you’re enjoying the cheer of the holiday season! About a month ago, I saw a vacuum chamber for sale on Facebook Marketplace, and my eyes immediately lit up. After a meet up and quick test with the seller, I made one of the better purchases of the year. 




Though we’re primarily woodworkers, a big part of that for us is working with a myriad of materials. One of the greatest complements to bespoke wood commissions, such as tables, is epoxy and similar resins. Epoxy finishes are one of the most sought-after services, one which takes meticulous skill and patience.

A vacuum chamber allows for some significant advantages in stabilizing the resin finishes, creating a seamless bond between the epoxy and wood, or glass. This is especially helpful when working with cavernous wood pieces, such as burls. 

Wood commissions often need to be stabilized with epoxy, or they can end up brittle, dusty, and frustrating to deal with. Once stabilized with epoxy, however, the wood remains stable and in stasis, no longer sensitive to pressures such as humidity or rot. The oxygen can trap in the cracks and the epoxy being so viscous and setting in a relatively quick manner does not quickly allow the bubbles and air pockets to settle by gravity alone, especially as the chemical reactions in setting epoxy happens quickly. Using a vacuum chamber, one creates an atmosphere of negative pressure. When you have a negative pressure chamber in a contained space, the less dense materials within such as the bubbles of air are drawn out. This allows heavy density materials such as the epoxy to set in a more central place. In short, the epoxy becomes very solidified and homogenous, seamless, and devoid of bubbles. 

For anyone more familiar with the size of our tables, you might be wondering why we’re working with a container that’s only about a dinner plate in radius! Well, here’s the really fun part; we currently modified its use from a small containment to a large containment, large enough to do more table sized projects! The forms we craft for our tables and other projects will become airtight moulds, sealed with negative vacuum pressure. The massive mould currently measured 4x8’ wide and 3-3/4” deep.


Our massive modified epoxy chamber will be featuring on our West Coast Mill as an attachable component to that invention. The pours will follow milling there and then, right atop the singular working area. The crane of the mill will be used to lift up huge epoxy and/or glass coated slabs, this will make the process a lot easier and allow our artisans to use more of their time and energy in the millwork process.


Our chamber is fully insulated to maintain heat from electric pad and from exothermic reaction, using an electric pad heated to aid the curing process. Our fully enclosed chamber allow for pest and dust free conditions. We can do 60sq.ft. of cutting board epoxy pours, being 2-layers. We can use this apparatus for boards up to 1.5” thick or 30sq.ft, or for pours over a maximum thickness of 3.5”.

We’re looking forward to collaborating with the public on their projects. We have a design department and are able to produce moulds and cast epoxy with a myriad of materials including wood, stone, metal, and dyes. We hope to soon offer our services for large-scale epoxy deep casting.

Thank you so much for your time, Friend. We deeply appreciate your support of our friendly neighbourhood one-stop workshop! We're always glad to be of service, and on behalf of our team we wish you happy holidays!

Kind regards,

Matthew Lopez
General Contractor
Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd
+1 (250) 885-2902

About Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd:

Lopez Contracting & Design Ltd is a local and emerging artisanal contracting company that specializes in highly custom projects, ranging from renovations to bespoke commissions such as live-edge furniture. Our one-stop shop strongly values our community, and we strive to operate within a 100% local network of partnered suppliers, sub-trades, artisans, and specialists. Our wood supply network, for example, sources largely from local ethical arborists.

We host a beautiful and diverse display of Vancouver Island’s finest lumber specimen, ready to be kilned, milled, sanded, edged, finished, or otherwise prepared right here in our shop for any discerning patron or project. Our one-stop shop offers singularly rare and unique services right here in the heart of Victoria, including one of downtown’s only kiln, lathe, and CNC services.


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Our Triple Crown Philosophy

Some years ago, I innately understood that a building structure should have three important attributes. First, it should be structurally sound. Second, it should be aesthetically pleasing. Third, it should be attainable or affordable. Ever since, I have strived to make everything I do worthy of this triple crown of excellence.

During a ferry ride to Vancouver, I saw my young son had drawn Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man in my notebook. To my surprise, my son’s sketch led me to discover the historic importance of this idea. This world-famous sketch of a man in a circle, his arms outstretched in two different overlapping poses, has become iconic. A Wikipedia search showed me how Da Vinci was inspired by proportions described by Vitruvius in his ancient treatise of De Architectura.

Vitruvius was arguably the greatest architect in history. His work is the only major surviving publication on architecture from classical antiquity. It was written for Emperor Augustus, made famous in the Bible for his census which brought Jesus’ parents to Bethlehem. Eminent Roman architects such as Vitruvius were skilled in engineering, art, and craftsmanship. As an army engineer himself, Vitruvius had overseen all manner of building and construction for wars and settlements across Europe and North Africa.

The most famous maxim of Vitruvius was that architecture should embody three qualities: utilitias, firmitas, and venustas. In English, this means that great handiwork should be useful, sturdy, and with beautiful proportions. (Just imagine what Venus, the goddess of love, might look like.)

I was delighted and not disappointed to find out that my idea was old and not new. It gives me more motivation than ever to offer you the product of a triple crown craftsman: sturdy, useful, and beautiful work at a reasonable price.