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Ventilation and gas / torch for gold work


#1

Hello everyone, I’m setting up a studio in the basement of a house my
husband and I are building, and I’m not sure how best to ventilate
the soldering/pickling area. It’s just me making silver and gold
jewelry. We’ve looked at regular kitchen range hoods, don’t know
what else to consider. Any suggestions? Does anyone know the optimum
cfm (cubic feet per minute) displacement?

Also, I’ve worked mostly with silver and have always used a regular
acetylene and air torch. I’m starting to do more gold jewelry, have
had some problems, and have noticed that most people doing gold work
use some kind of mini torch with propane and oxygen. What would
those of you experienced in working with gold recommend?

Thanks,
Sharon


#2

Will your basement be a daylight basement? I don’t think you can
install propane unless it is. The gas cannot drain out if you have
a leak and there is the danger of an explosion. Rose Alene McArthur


#3

Sharon,

Your questions are bound to evoke numerious opinions. They have
been discussed many times in the past. That being said, here is my
reading on them…simply my opinion folks.

When I had a fairly large shop up north (my whole basement), I used
ventilation only when I was burning out to cast. It was a hood
affair with a standard kitchen type blower attached. I did not use
ventilation when soldering or pickeling. Even when I did 10 to 12
jobs an evening I did not feel uncomfortable. Now, if you are going
to have several torches working at once and do many jobs, thats a
different matter, but when there was just myself it was never a
problem. If you are going to use chemicals and other ‘bad’ stuff then
you need to consider more elaborate facilities.

Re the torches, you are going to hear about acetylene/oxy and
propane/oxy and everyone has their favorite torch. After using
everything from a blowpipe on up, I have been using a 'Little Torch"
for years (the past 7 with propane and oxy) and have never been
disappointed. Even do shop level casting with it using a rosebud tip
and it works fine. The propane is cleaner than acetylene and, these
days, a lot cheaper. It is perfect for all-around soldering jobs
from sizings up to sweat soldering. The best you can do is listen to
what everyone has to say and choose one option. Most all of them
work and once you get comfortable with a specific torch, there is
little reason to change is there?

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut.


#4

Sharon, I doubt the problem with gold has anything to do with the
type of gas you use and more to do with the fact that gold works so
differently from silver. This change over will just take time to
work out. Personally, I prefer natural gas or propane to acetylene.
But every gas has it’s advantages in different situations. If I had
room and the budget, I’d have natural gas, acetylene and hydrogen
with many different sizes of torches. But propane and 3 torches
work perfectly fine.

I use a range hood in my shop for both soldering and burnout
ventilation. But my shop is extremely small so I don’t need
anything larger. If you do install one try to buy one that is
quiet. Keep in mind that if you have a gas furnace and put in
active ventilation you may be pulling carbon monoxide from the
furnace and poisoning your studio. If you do have a gas furnace it
is best that you get professional help.

Larry


#5
have noticed that most people doing gold work use some kind of mini
torch with propane and oxygen. What would those of you experienced
in working with gold recommend?-- 

I can’t comment on your questions regarding ventilation, but I added
the propane/oxygen mini torch to my acetylene/air torch when I
started working with gold. The mini torch is, by definition, a much
smaller and hotter flame than that provided by my other torch, and
all my more precise soldering was improved, whether in gold or
silver. For example soldering bezels, jump rings, and earring posts.
I bought the melting tip for the mini torch to see if it would
replace my other torch, but it really didn’t work as well, so I still
use the acetylene/air torch for when a larger flame is needed for
both gold and silver, and I use each of them about equally.

Bill


#6

Keep in mind that if you have a gas furnace and put in
active ventilation you may be pulling carbon monoxide from the
furnace and poisoning your studio.

Is this true ONLY if your ventilation is in close proximity to the
furnace? Does your comment apply if my studio is located apart from
my basement where the firnace is located?

Thanks.
Alice S.


#7

Hi Alice,

   Keep in mind that if you have a gas furnace and put in active
ventilation you may be pulling carbon monoxide from the furnace
and poisoning your studio. Is this true ONLY if your ventilation is
in close proximity to the furnace? Does your comment apply if my
studio is located apart from my basement where the firnace is
located?

Nature abhors a vacumn. What happens any time you exhaust air from
an enclosed space, narture tries to replace it. In most houses the
’replacement air’ will filter in through cracks around doors,
windows and other penetrations in the outside walls & ceiling. It’ll
also take the path of least resistance. If this happens to be a
furnce, water heater or fireplace chimeny, so be it. The air will
come in any place it can.

The problem that creates is this; any gases that are products of
cumbustion won’t be able to overcome the inflow of air & will be
pulled back into the house. If the amount of exhaust gases pulled
back is severe, you could end up with a poisoned atmosphere in the
house.

One way to help prevent this is to open a door/window close to the
exhaust vent a little while it’s running. Many building codes now
require a source of fresh air in rooms where there is a furnace or
water heater that uses an open flame.

Dave


#8

Alice,

When you use active ventilation in an enclosed space like a house
you create negetive pressure. The air being pulled out of the space
in your studio has to be replaced by other air or else you are not
getting any ventilation. The replacement air will come from the
source that provides the least resistance. If you are working in the
winter with all the windows shut and live in a house that is well
sealed, then one of the only sources of air is from a gas or oil
furnace or a gas water heater outside vent. If the furnace or water
heater is running it is actively creating carbon monoxide and you
run the risk of poisoning. It doesn’t really matter where your shop
is in this situation, if you run the ventilation long enough to
begin creating negative pessure in your house you run the risk of
pulling in gasses that are supposed to be vented outside. This is
why you need a professional to take a look at your individual
situation, to see if you are running a risk of this type in your
home. Perhaps it is a small risk, maybe it is probable, but the
results of CO poisoning are so dire (death) that it is imperative
that you rule out such a thing happening. CO is odorless and
colorless and an extremely dangerous gas.

Larry