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Basement Studio Do's/Don'ts

O.K. I’ve got a question for all You Basement Jewelers out there.
I’m having a house built in Colorado, with plans to use the
basement for my studio. Are there things I should plan
for/consider, That I might not have to be concerned with with a
regular studio? Do you guys think It would be O.K. to run
florescent lights down there, or should I stick to incand. bulbs?
It will be a walk-out so there should be some daylight toward the
back. I will be leaving New York on June 7th, to move out there, so
I will be signing off of Orchid for a few months, while I get
things taken care of. Thanks to all of you for your advice over the
years, and good luck!

Tim Goodwin

Tim, I don’t think your lighting concerns are on the top of the
list. Ventilation is the biggest saftey issue, I have had some
friends hospitalized as a result of inadiquate ventilation. This
should be a piece of cake for you as you can build it in to your
new house. The pickle pot, soldering station, enameling area,
casting area, electroforming area, finishing area, and patina area
all need to be ventilated. Not sure what you have so I’m just
listing everything I can think of.

All of the mentioned areas give of toxic fumes or particulate.
Especialy the Patina area, some of those chemicals are very nasty.

For lights most studios I’ve used have florescent overheads with
incandecent bench lights.

Just my .02 cents,

Ed Colbeth Metalsmith, Motorcyclist
Taunton, Massachusetts (Soon to be Deer Isle, Maine)
93 K1100RS "Wanderer III"
ICQ# 6247734

What occurs to me is not an issue over the kind of lights you use
(maybe I should know more), but the issue of gravity. You must be
very aware of the fuel gasses you use as well as any acid fumes
that might collect in the studio. Most of these are heavier than
air and if the workshop is the lowest thing around, and a leak
occurs, it could lead to a very hazardous situation. Be careful so
you can enjoy Colorado for a long time.

-Alan Revere in beautiful Marin, where the sun shines even as
raindrops fall.

What a fantastic opportunity you have - to not have to work around
everything that’s already there and 100 years old !! Just off the
top of my head these would be on my list:

  1. A floor and wall color that facilitates finding things that
    drop ( I think there was a string on this around the holidays)

  2. A good ventilation system right where it’s needed

  3. Good wiring and plenty of the right kinds of electrical
    outlets where you want them

  4. Plumbing and water right at hand and not in the next room: a
    light colored laundry tub so that you can see things that drop;
    maybe a trap in the plumbing underneath so you have a chance to
    retrieve things.

  5. Shelves built right around, over, under the bench so that you
    can store all those things you use every other minute

  6. A bench built that has everything at exactly the right height
    for you so you can sit right down to work in a great chair

  7. Big, heavy nosiy equipment (like compressors) in an enclosed
    area to keep the noise down - or better yet in the next room

  8. I used to work for a bank and in the operations areas, they
    have these industrial mats on the floors in front of the large
    sorting machines. They are heavily padded, providing a lot of
    spring to one’s step and are made of a rubbery material that keeps
    paper from sliding away if it falls. I’ve often thought it would
    be great on the floor in front of the bench: legs wouldn’t get
    quite so tired, glass, stones, etc. wouldn’t chip from hitting the
    concrete floor, and perhaps the bench gremlins wouldn’t grab as
    many things

Am sure you’ll get a lot of ideas from the list and I can’t wait
to see what’s on everyone else’s list !! Laura Wiesler

Treat it as though it were above grade…this will be your work
space, treat yourself right. Incandes. lights, adequate temp.
control, good ventilation.

Enjoy it.

-Elaine in Chicago

I would like to suggest that you provide for flow through
ventilation either through decent sized windows that will catch the
breezes or through vents and fans. One walkout window will not be
enough. —Kathi Parker, MoonScape Designs

Hiya Tim:

I’ve been operating in my basement for l3 years now and my Wife
consantly complains of the fumes from the burnout kiln, pickle,
plating solutions, ect… My first suggestion is VENTALATE! I
assume your windows are capable of opening and you might consider a
vent hood over the smelly areas. If you don’t have a dewaxer, get
one or make one according to the info. recently posted. Also
consider the noise and safety factors in case of fire.

Hope this helps & best of luck in your new location;

Steve Klepinger

I’m a basement jeweler. My husband ran 5-4 foot florecent two
bulb fixtures in my studio (15 x14). I went to Lowes, bought
inexpensive cabinets, inexpensive counter tops and have a great set
up. My suggestions are give yourself plenty of windows. It gets
pretty closed in after a while. Second, when you decide where to
have your soldering/casting area, have ventelation put in that will
exhaust out the wall, not a window. Third, basements are concrete,
the floors play hell on your feet and legs. Get anti fatigue mats
or carpet scraps. If you are getting natural gas for you home,
have a line ran to your studio. Even if you do not use it right
away, if it is there, you always have that option. Hope this helps

I remodeled my shop a couple of years ago and have now had enough
time to reflect on some of the things I like. Its not a basement
shop but in some ways a shop is a shop.

  1. Lots of cabinets- shelves collect lots of dust and its nice to
    have things grouped together in their own cabinet. People always
    say it looks so organized…for a shop.

  2. Lots of countertops- you need space, there is nothing worse
    than having to pull two pieces of equipment out to get at a third.
    I have everything out in its place and bolted down if needed.

  3. Tons of outlets- I put the air compressor, kilns and dust
    collector each on its own circuit. I put an outlet strip right
    above the countertop all the way around the shop.

  4. Excess lighting- I have 32 four tube units in a 1000 sq. ft
    shop (128 tubes). Plus 3 tube fixtures on each bench. I think you
    need to see the piece you are making better than the customer can.

  5. No carpet- when I picked my vinyl I threw 8-10 gemstones down
    on it to see which I could find the stones on best. and that’s the
    one I went with.

  6. Ventilation- I had a local heating and cooling contractor build
    hoods and install a powerful vent fan. That was money well spent. I
    wish I had vented my dust collector blower outside at the same

  7. Stereo System- Its nice to integrate it into your space rather
    than trying to find a spot later.

  8. Noise pollution- Its good to separate yourself from the air
    compressor, kiln hood, dust collector, etc…

  9. Office area- its nice to have a clean area for billing and
    catalogs and a sandwich (I suppose you have a kitchen upstairs for

  10. A/C and heating- if the room temp is off it makes it harder to

  11. Dog bowl- you gotta have a shop dog.

That’s all I can think of now. I love Colorado.

Mark P.

What can be done if you have your pickle in area with no
ventilation, can some sort of system be put in without going
through the walls? Can anyone help with this,Please? Thanks, Bari

    I would like to suggest that you provide for flow through
ventilation either through decent sized windows that will catch
the breezes or through vents and fans.  One walkout window will
not be enough. ---Kathi Parker, MoonScape Designs

You’re right Kathy. :-)But if there is only one window, here’s a
work around. Put a good fan in that window that sucks air from the
shop and pushes it out the window making sure that you leave a
door open so that you have a cross flow of ventilation that
exhausts the air from your work area while pulling in fresh air
through the door. Also try to set up your shop so your work is
between you and the exhaust fan. This way pickle and other vapors
are pulled away from you and out through the exhaust. (Even though
you may have good ventilation, you still don’t want to be breathing
fumes that are coming toward you because the wind may be blowing
that way.)

Happt Trading!

:slight_smile: Charles

You must be very aware of the fuel gasses you use as well as any
acid fumes that might collect in the studio.

So where would one get more enlightened on this topic? I am a
basement cave dweller with a family upstairs and I would really
like to know the clear details of the safest way to work. I use
oxy/acetylene and no other acids but my laundry room shares space
with my casting/burnout/ultrasonic area. Safety would be a great
topic I’d love to read more about (not that cicada’s arent
interesting and all…)

T. Lee in sticky Mpls.

Hi Bari,

You’ll need to run a exhaust system with a decent hood. You should

two fans. One for back-up in case the primary goes out.

:slight_smile: Charles

Hi Bari,

I’ve recently started using Citrex citric acid pickle, and I’m
really happy with it. It doesn’t produce the nasty fumes that
Sparex does, and as long as you heat it to around 160 deg, it
works really well. Of course, you still need ventilation for
soldering fumes, etc., but I think you could have a pot of Citrex a
fair distance from your ventilation and be safe. Anyone else have
thoughts on this?


Elizabeth C. Wilkinson
Los Alamos, NM

e-mail: @wilkinso

Citrex is what I use in my Mobil Home, as I have one small room to do
Jewelry in. Santa Fe Jewelry sent me the Material Safety sheet on it and
it’s USP anhydrous citric acid crystals, which I got a Walmart Pharmacy
(special order). It’s highly effective and very safe, and I’ve never
detected any odor or fumes. I’m satisfied. One thing I’d consider
necessary for any studio is a good (regularly inspected) ABC Fire

What can be done if you have your pickle in area with no
ventilation, can some sort of system be put in without going
through the walls? Can anyone help with this,Please? Thanks, Bari

I just set up a new studio and while I did vent the soldering/pickling
station through the wall, I used a window for the buffing station. The
location did not lend itself to going through the wall so I removed the
glass from a window just above the station, cut a piece of plexi glass to
fit and then cut a hole in the plexi for the exhaust tube. I caulked the
window and the exhaust hole and added a metal brace outside to help hold
the weight of the metal exhaust hose. Now that I think about it, two
layers of plexi would probably have been better for insulation, but …hmm,
just like jewellry I often want to change the design slightly after its all done.

ICQ # 9472643
Bacliff, Texas Gulf Coast USA

Hi Bari, I had a lot of success using a bath exhaust fan ($15) attached to
a hood made from aluminum flashing and 4" dryer exhaust hose strung to a
window. I put the dryer vent hood in piece of plywood that the window
holds in place. J.A.

I use the pickle goldsmith style, not college style, with a very small
pickle with a lid, all on a coffee mug warmer, turned on when wanted.
Items are put in cold, fumes are not a big issue. (I also have window and
fan.) Am I not correct? How big an issue are pickle fumes? -Elaine
Chicago, Illinois Midwest, US

Thanks everyone, for your great ideas for the basement shop.
As I had suspected, there were a whole lot of ideas I would never had
thought of without your help. I have some whopper ideas now in my head, I
can hardly wait to start.

Thanks again.
Tim Goodwin