Can anyone offer advice for building an economical yet effective
ventilation system for my metals studio.
I’m particularly wondering if I can put together a single system for
multiple ventilation/extraction needs, namely:
1. soldering (silver and copper)
2. pickling, patination, glueing fumes
3. bufffing motor, polishing dust (fibers, compound)
4. flex shaft particle waste
Here are some considerations: I am a hobbyist (with a demanding day
job), and am at my metalswork only sporadically. I also generally
minimize procedures and practices that expose me to toxins.
Nonetheless, I’ve decided it’s time to get prudent. My studio is in
my home, which is a loft-space. The studio space is adjacent to a
wall of large windows, one of which could neatly accommodate an
output vent. The studio space also is not enclosed by walls; you
might think of it as being at the far end of my living room and
immediately adjacent to my bedroom, none of which are separated by
I work mainly in silver and copper. I have an acetylene/air torch; a
flexshaft; buffing machine; and enameling kiln.
Thanks for any input. By the way, how come I don’t see any
ventilation rigs in the collection of bench pictures people have sent
Tracy - right on! now that you mention it, I went back and looked
and I deid’t see any ventilation systems above work benches. Maybe
they are there somewhere?
How about it everyone - how many of you work without an adequate
ventilation system? And if you don’t have a “professionally
installed one” what are you using to compensate? This is like a
second truth or dare survey.
Mine isn’t professionally installed, it looks rather jury-rigged.
But it’s powerful. It’s a large furnace blower motor, mounted in a
sheet metal hood over the burnout kiln. It vents to the outside
through a vent installed in a square of the glass block basement
window. It’s not visible in the photo of my bench, but when I’m
seated at the bench, it’s 2 feet to my right and 3 feet up. Visible
smoke from soldering is drawn toward it when it’s on, so I know it
works pretty well. (And yes for those who’ll be sure to ask, I tested
it with the furnace draft, and it isn’t strong enough to affect the
furnace or the chimney venting ).
Feathered Gems Jewelry
When I build my 4th and final shop two years ago, one of my top
priorities was an a good ventilation system. In this shop I have a
vent for our large polisher, one for the burn-out oven, and one over
the plating area. I also knew that a ventilations system was needed
for our workbench area, so using a small wall-hung tank vacuum
cleaner, I hooked up 2 " plastic tubes from a woodworking
ventilation system that are mounted across and along the “L” shaped
bench. We have 3 openings with a blast-gate on each one, so we
can open and close them for what we are doing on the bench. We have
one for soldering and , one for the pickle pot, one for the small
dental lathe polisher and all vented to the outside. We ordered a
motor speed control switch from Grainger Co. so we can select the
speed and noise level of the motor of the vacuum. It works extremely
well and the air in our small shop is a lot cleaner.
HI all I have a ventilation system for my soldering station only But
need to remember to turn it on. I can get the "rest of the details"
but a squirrel cage blower vented to the outside and a rheostat which
controls the volume of air being pulled through. I know it works
real well. We had a customer of my husbands come to pick up his
clock. A real stove pipe smoker. I got nauseas being in the studio
with him. When he left, I turn that blower on HI and within 20
minutes the stink was gone. All the best;
Barbara McLaughlin - Handcrafted Jewelry
Leaving for Tucson soon!
How about it everyone - how many of you work without an adequate
I think the details of my vent are in the archives, but I can’t
ignore a challenge based on my own “survey”! I have a very effective
vent system that looks like hell, but it was cheap and easy. I bought
an enclosed blower (round inlet, round outlet, powerful and quiet)
from American Science and Surplus for $15. They don’t currently list
them in their site or catalog, but something similar should be
available from Grainger or other supplier. I used dryer hose, the
flexible round metal kind, and hose clamps plus duct tape to run from
the fan out, and from my desk, um, bench to the blower, so the fan
can sit still, and I can move the intake. At the intake end, I used
heating and cooling duct parts from the home center to expand the
hose to a galvanized steel box, maybe 10" x 15", that sits right
behind where I’m working. Smoke and fumes make a straight line right
into the vent. The fan is quiet, but the air is noisy, so I plugged
it into a switch which in turn plugs into a power strip conveniently
placed so I can turn it on and off as needed. This doesn’t vent my
pickle pot, but I use citric acid, and keep it covered. I don’t
actually do much buffing, believe it or not. So this setup works well
for me, and cost almost nothing. I already had a roof outlet for my
ceramic kiln’s vent, so I just switched it over. I feel very
comfortable knowing that the fumes are removed, not just diluted.
My husband did not think my solution of opening a window was
sufficient ventilation. So he installed a strong bathroom type fan
right into my soldering bench. It faces the ceiling and is only 6"
from where I solder. I forget the exact specs but it replaces the air
in the entire basement every three hours or so. This means that when
I solder the smells get sucked out right away and are not pulled up
past my head on the way out. You can actually see it sometimes
depending on how much smoke is present. The added bonus is that in
our very cold winters I do not need to freeze to have fresh air.
Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady)
May your gems always sparkle.
I have a large hood over my casting machine and burnout oven with a
powered roof mounted fan providing the suction. I purchased a Braun
variable speed stove top vent, the kind installed in home kitchens. I
installed it 18 inches over the top of my bench. I had the A/C
contractor come in and install round pipe from the top of this vent
and splice it into the exsisting pipe of my burnout oven vent going
thru the roof. Turns out that I don’t even have to turn my bench top
vent on because the roof top fan pulls enough. I bought the variable
speed stove top vent because I could turn it on at lower,Quieter
speeds. I removed the 2 light bulb fixtures in the hood and installed
a 24 inch florecent bulb fixture and that way I have the kind of
light I want. I am about to install another of the same over a
newley set up plating station. They cost about $130.00 plus, if
mounting on the wall you’ll use large shelve brackets and plus the
cost of the vent piping.
I’ve been meaning to take a picture of my bench and post it. If you
are paying to condition the air in your shop, you don’t want too
strong of a vent or you’ll be wasting money.
Michael R. Mathews Sr.
Dear All Orchidians,
I am very interested with the posting about venting systems as up
until now I have not had a place where I could build/place one. Even
now with the new found spacious room, it is still a rented ‘row
house’ ala Asian style. Which means I cannot break walls down to put
vents and my neighbors are 5 feet away and very curious about a
foreign women making strange machine noises in the upstairs bedroom.
I have one fairly large window with twist open out glass but remember
the heat and mosquitoes in the tropics, and I have solder area, a
small new kiln from Rio Grande with which I hope to try ‘kiln
soldering’, the polishing machine has it’s own filter but I do need
some ventilation. Oh, an I probably will need to air-con the room in
the HOT season coming up soon. How does one do this is a rented
Any help will be very appreciated.
And as always thank you for all your wonderful and positive words of
advice to everyone on this forum and especially to Hanuman who is
truly a god to us around the world.
Sharron in becoming hotter as the rains are stopping, Kuala Lumpur
One more point for those of you using flexible duct as part of your
ventilation system. DON’T USE PLASTIC DRYER DUCT!!! It is
extremely flammable (you really shouldn’t even be using it for your
dryer, truth be told – there is a move afoot in the U.S. to educate
consumers about the fire hazards associated with it). The metal
flexible duct is a much better choice, and won’t whoosh up in flames
if your torch accidentally gets too close to it.
My husband (an HVAC guy), rigged me up a wonderful little
ventilation system for my soldering table at home. It consists of a
high-CFM (high rate of air exchange, measured in Cubic Feet per
Minute) fan, mounted in the window, attached to an 8-foot length of
the metal flexible duct. At the business end of the duct is a
roughly “scoop”-shaped catcher (crafted from aluminum flashing) that
I can position right by what I’m working on . Usually, I have it
positioned just in back of the piece to draw any fumes away from my
face. It’s also large enough that I can have the longer part of the
scoop hang over the top of the piece I’m working on, for added
efficiency, if I wish. The whole thing is light enough to be held by
one of my extra third-hands if I need it in a weird position for a
It works really well for my fabrication and soldering needs. One
measure I have of that is a very sensitive smoke detector on the
ceiling about 3 feet from the soldering table. If I light my torch
and forget to turn on my ventilator, it takes about 2 seconds for the
smoke alarm to go off. If I have the ventilator on, I can solder
happily all day with no alarm.
Hope this helps!