Hello! I have just finished a beginners class on jewelry
metalsmithing and have almost all the tools to work from home, just
waiting until I have all the facts and safety down before getting the
acetylene B tank....
I am not finding a clear answer, and need your help! I want to make
sure that I am being safe and keeping others around me safe, but am
ready to get this started!
So, I do not have garage access, and I'm thinking the best place to
set up is in the basement.
I cannot afford, as of now, renting a space at a studio, or taking
classes. My family has blessed me with most the basics I need to get
started with metalsmithing. I am leasing at where I am currently at. I
am not even sure the windows open downstairs...but I will find a way
to have open windows. (I am DETERMINED!)
I am concerned about safety with the tank/gases. Working in a
basement, what is the best way to be safe?
Here is the bits I have collected on what to do for ventilation:
-Keep a window open, maybe keep a fan above your soldering/torch
station to move the air towards the window.
-Keep as many windows open as you can
-Keep a window open, have a good ventilation system.
What would be a good option/the best way to go for ventilation when
working with acetylene (B tank) ? I am new to this, so I only ask to
be clear on what constitutes safe and good ventilation in a
basement! (I would appreciate options for people with low budgets,
but, if I need to spend more in order to make sure everyone's safe I
will find a way to afford it)
Any basic safety tips working with/having acetylene in a basement,
is much appreciated!* It should be safe to work in a basement, if I
follow safety tips, correct?
What is the best way to get the tank home? *(I'm hearing its best to
secure it in the back of a pick up, sitting up-right, correct?)
I am new to this, so any help is VERY much appreciated!!
Please do, ease my mind. :)
3 thank you
you should at least check with your fire department for regulations
in their district regarding this. their may also be
municipal/city/township/borough/county/state regulations. fortunately
you have fewer than 50 employees so most OSHA stuff does not apply.
Check your home owners policy. If you have a fire as a result of the
tank, you may not be covered.
Working in a basement isnt the ideal place, but beginners have to
make the best of what they have avilable. I started in a cellar under
my old house and needed to move to daylight after a year.
Re the use of acetylene. Have you tried it? with the torch you plan
to use? you must do this, and get used to lighting it and using it. I
would advise against acetylene, you would be much better using
Acetylene smokes badly till its adjusted right. Again, you have to try
out the torches before you buy them. As for ventilation, thats
On boats, the regulations are that any fuel gas like propane or
butane is always stored ABOVE decks. NEVER below decks, so as you say
your leasing? my guess is that your in breach of your lease agreement
using fuel gas in your basement.
You may need to keep the tank above ground with a long hose of the
correct type feeding down to your bench. Do you research FIRST. then
get your equipment. Try it out at the suppliers FIRST, they will im
sure be happy to show you if you say its your 1st time !!. You wont
need a tank larger thany 7lbs of propane. Should last you for at
least a couple of months of daily use.
Let us know you get on.
I think the leasing issue is going to be the deal killer...you don't
want to do something like that (no matter what torch system you
have) without approval from the owner.
If you are going to use propane, get an outside tank and run the
lines into the house. Pricey, if you are going to have to go through
walls or modify windows.
Also, if you are using an acetylene/air (NOT oxygen), system, it
doesn't smoke unless you set the gas flow on the handle wrong (not
as easy to do as you would think). If you are using an
OXYGEN/acetylene system, then yes, you will get smoking very easily.
For a beginner, or even someone advanced who doesn't want to spend
money on a new system, acetylene/air is a good, reliable system.
Oxygen/fuel systems are overkill for a beginner, unless you are
going to work with platinum (& palladium?). I do both silver and gold
work, and enamels, with my acetylene/air torch.
If I read the OP correctly, it's an acetylene/air torch. Acetylene
indoors is much, mmuch safer than propane. Yes, some ventilation
will be needed, but that would be true with any torch system in an
Yes, call your insurance company. When I called mine about moving my
torch from garage to spare bedroom, they didn't flinch. Single
torch, always attended when lit...probably not a worse hazard than
having a gas stove. However, I was moving into a ground-floor room,
not a basement. And I agreed I must have a suitable fire extinguisher
I keep my tank in a nook where it can't be knocked over or kicked.
Since it is touched by people other than me, I also keep a chain
Further to Ted's comment. Propane is a heavy gas. That is why boats
blow up. Propane is often used in the galley and, when it leaks, the
gas flows into the bilge. When the bilge pump comes on the sparking
causes it to blow up. Happens often here in SOFL. Acetylene is a
light gas. So it floats up. If your gas is in the basement, the gas
will flow upward into house and could also be ignited by stoves, etc.
Of course, its ability to float up is determined by many variables.
What I advise my students to do is, get a propane/oxygen system for
their basement studio. The propane should be kept in the small 1.5lb
bottles used by plumbers. The large propane tank should be kept in a
sheltered outside storage area. Go to Harbor Freight and purchase a
connector that allows you to fill the small bottles from the large
tank. Using a little torch, the small bottle will last about 8 hours.
If using a larger torch it will still give about 4 hours use. The
oxygen bottle can be any size convenient for your shop. The only
requirement is that it be securely fastened to a wall or other stable
item. Seems when an oxygen tank falls over and the regulator is
knocked off, the tank tends to act like a space shuttle and it will
take off like a rocket. Not a good happening.
I had a basement studio for many many years and never had a problem.
Enjoy your studio. Cheers from Don in SOFL.
In the first place, from experience, a basement was not my best
choice as a work space they are usually always damp and a window to
natural light is in most of them not available, difficult to
ventilate, yuck !Fuel gas for torches is a risk management situation,
if you want to be technical and picky about it there is not any type
of fuel gas that is safe in any building. Learn the risks from
trustworthy knowledgeable source, uhh, welding classes ? fire safety
codes ? Learn the proper ways to make hose connections, control the
hardware, tanks etc.The is available, make yourself aware
of the risks, use your head, follow the rules and guidelines. Realize
you are at risk and keep the situation from getting out of control.
Attended New Approach school last summer. A good portion of time was
spent on this.
Most Fire Departments or Fire Marshalls will tell you a tank is not
allow in a residential home, attached garage or retail location.
USA National Fire Code 55 or 56 (can't read my writing in my notes!)
says a ONE POUND tank is permitted. We were advised to print out the
code to have on hand for any inspection.
This is the reason so many malls only permit water torches or piped
Apparently a 1 pound tank failure of gas leaking is not so deadly as
a 5 pound. Let alone 20-50. I can recall the plumbers and HVAC guys
only setting foot in the house with 1 pound torches.
All the benches at school were fed from a one pound tank that was
checked/filled every day. You can get the refill adapters at a
sporting goods store that sells camping equipment.
For what it's worth. I'm learning and no expert like some on here.
Ok, I'm feeling a bit discouraged! But I'm in no way giving up! Like
I said, I am new to this, I'm still learning.... My former teacher
and the workers at a jewelry supply store suggested acetylene, I was
told to get an acetylene B tank and have a Smith silversmith kit.
The lease says nothing about having gases in the house. My landlord
is never here...never. I hate to be sneaky at all but...I don't really
have a choice unless it's give up on this right now, and for a long
When you say check with my insurance...what kind of insurance are
you speaking of? (again, new to this, please excuse my ignorance)
The basement is the only place I can work...I do not have a garage.
And I am living pay check to paycheck, but was blessed enough to have
my family chip in for my birthday for starting off supplies. I would
love to take another class...but can't afford it. Maybe I'll have to
find a way I suppose. I have not purchased the tank yet, because I
want to be sure that I am keeping myself, and the others around me
safe. I am asking on here because I don't know who to talk to about
this, I'm thinking of going to the shop I got my tools and get more
opinions from them too. I have a fire extinguisher, I have a sturdy
table and a chain to hold the tank steady to the table leg (this has
been suggested to me). I have a lock to put on the basement door. I
am still wondering what constitutes as proper ventilation.
I really don't want to have to find a studio where I can set up, I
wont be able to afford that.
From the few people I've talked to....they say ill be fine, but
arn't convincing on what's proper ventilation. I just keep hearing so
many things, and reading these responses I'm even more not sure how
to proceed! I will continue to read and research. Again though,
everything I read says "proper ventilation" and leaves it at that.
Thank you all for your input! More thoughts are always welcome!
Check with your house insurance policy about tanks. Or you might have
to check with your landlord if he has the building insurance - and
then he will know you have tanks. In fact a lot of insurance policies
also indicate that you cannot run a business from the house.
I am like you, my workshop is in the basement, by the way making
jewellery is my passion and hobby, took couple of year at the local
art school the rest learn from book or internet.
When I start I use hand held propane torch then advance to propane
and oxygen, our house has air exchanger so I use that for ventilation
or sometime I turn on the fan above the stove. Though I don't us my
torch that often always carful about it.
I love the orchid got lot of good info from all the professionals.
You really are trying to walk before you can even crawl, be that as
it may, as your determined to forge this new path for yourself, you
WILL get there, but, one step at a time. If it was me, id do the
following, in this order.
1. get out the lease, read it and look to see if there are any
exclusion clauses as to the house use, for example it may restrict you
to residental use only, no business.
2. Look to see if part of your rent includes the cost of the
building fire insurance, if not youl will have to tell you landlord
what you want to do. If it does,youll need to talk to them and tell
them exactly what you want to use the basement for.
3. Even if you say its only a hobby at this stage,
4. ask your landlord to come and see you, so you get the chance to
put him ? in the picture. all landlords like this from their tenants.
Once you have cleared these hurdles, and have their approval, then,
you need to find a jeweller who is working for himself that would
come, look over the basement and advise what you need to do. you may
have to offer something in return like money for his time and
travelling. If I was near, it would only take me a couple of hours to
sort it all out for you. so you need a mentor to get you started.
Next, get back to the supply house and request that you might have
to change from using acetylene to propane/ butane and would they be
able to change the torch? Landlords and insurance co's know about
propane, they dont like acetylene!!
If your landlord and or the insurance co say NO, then your next step
is to find some place that does evening classes in jewellery making.
There youll have a teacher and most importantly all the equipment you
will need to learn how to use before you get your own.
Its going to take time, as I said above, your starting everything
from the very beginning.
Keep us posted how you get on with your efforts.
When you say check with my insurance...what kind of insurance are
you speaking of? (again, new to this, please excuse my ignorance)
Your homeowners or rental insurance.
I am still wondering what constitutes as proper ventilation.
Rio Grande, and probably other suppliers, sell a book on ventilation
that explains it all for you.
Look for it here or in your paper catalog:
It explains how much air you need to move per period of time based
on what you're doing.
The simplest thing to do is to install a fan in the window while
you're working. They address kind of fan, strength of fan, etc.
Make sure the fan doesn't draw the air across your face on it's way
out the door.
There are also suction type systems that work closer to the source.
I have a guest post on my blog about that:
There's a link to that guest post there, plus some additional links
to other articles.
Best of luck to you!
I think Acetylene is totally safe, sure it's a gas but used properly
there isn't a problem. We get semi-annual fire inspections on our
shop and the fire department has no worries about a tank.
If something happened, your insurance company that you have your
renters policy through COULD claim you were operating a business then
things would get sticky
I checked with my homeowners insurer (renters insurer in your case.)
Don't know if it would have made a difference to have a multi-story
house, or a basement studio. Mine is a one-level affair. They were
fine with acetylene/air indoors.
Proper ventilation! It's a detailed subject, based on the volume of
your workspace, the airflow needed for healthy ventilation, safety
issues, exit points, etc. Since no one but you knows the layout of
your basement, the size, construction type, etc., probably no one
wants to walk on the eggshells of offering specific *engineering
advice*. (In a similar vein, no one here will offer you actionable
medical advice!) Why don't you give an airconditioning business a
call and see if they will work with you. They handle airflow issues
all the time. Consider this an investment in your health and safety.
Hope this helps,
I read all your answers before posting my 2c.
Accounting is a safe profession but jewelry-making is not. I see a
lot of questions on this forum about safety and we are right to seek
the safest procedures in this art, but if you really want to be
safe, jewelry-making is not the profession for you.
This is the best advice I've read here about ventilation.
Ventilation done properly is a must for any premise that have the
by-products of the gases that are burned in the torches used. Make up
air MUST be available otherwise the exhaust equipment will create a
partial vacuum that will not supply the oxygen needed by the torches
and the occupants. ASHRAE have publications on the subject and these
in the hands of those trained form the basis for a safe and efficient
ventilation system and a safe and healthy workplace.
My advice is that any of you who are burning gases that have noxious
fumes as by-products to get a safe and efficient system installed to
protect your health. I have in my many years in the industry seen
too many individuals who were affected by the results of poor
ventilation. Some of these effects -- brain damage, emphysema, carbon
monoxide poisoning, methoselioma, etc.
Be wise, consult a professional in the field of ventilation and don't
listen to the mostly unreliable info. that is passed on by those who
likely mean well, but do not know anything about the subject.