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Safety -- Make sure you are safe!

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Old 2007-08-27, 11:49am
Paul Ewing's Avatar
Paul Ewing Paul Ewing is offline
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Join Date: Jul 12, 2006
Location: DFW, TX
Posts: 917
Default My new ghetto ventilation system

I am not totally happy with my new ventilation system, but it appears to work fairly well and satisfies most of my requirements even though I had to make more compromises than I am happy with. It is WAY better than our old setup.

Our previous temporary setup was not good. We would open the garage door and move the table out about two feet. We then had a fan blowing new air from the door on the other side of the shop. This is a picture of it:

Here is a quick view of the new setup:

When designing the new setup, I had these requirements:

1) Acceptable ventilation for standard tasks.
2) Adequate space for two people to work at the same time.
3) Ability to work standing or seated.
4) Minimal structural changes to house.
5) Ability to do advanced techniques like fuming possible.
6) Fitting into current garage workshop.
7) Maintain reasonable cost ceiling.
Reasonably quick to build so that it would get done!

I wanted to have a box enclosure to maximize fume capture. I decided to make the back out of cement board and the sides and top out of steel flashing. I debated this with myself a lot and wandered around between designs that were all cement board and all metal.

I originally planned on making it 8'x3' but when I was at my parents getting their pickup to haul materials, I saw an old metal table frame up by one of the barns. The plywood top was rotted out, but since I was going to use cement board, that wasn't a problem. It was 3' wide, but only measured 7'4" long. I decided a ready made metal frame was a good start and would help on requirement 8 above so I made a compromise on the length.

I made another compromise on the exhaust fan. I would have preferred a squirrel cage fan, but didn't find any locally. I went with a 1540cfm gable mount attic exhaust from Home Depot. I may need to replace this in the future, but it seems to work very well currently. It is mounted in the wall directly behind the enclosure and connected with three inches of flashing making a super short vent run/extension to the existing walls of the fan.

The standard open area of the front is 84 inches long by 20 inches high for 11.67 square feet. The 1540 cfm fan should be more than enough to to handle most tasks.

I did smoke tests with multiple paper towel rolls in different torch positions and the smoke was drawn away straight to the fan very quickly. I am thinking about adding some curved flashing in the top of the enclosure to further help funnel the fumes towards the fan and not give them any right angles to collide and mix around in just in case.

To make it possible for me to do some work standing, I made a two foot wide cutout in the front of the enclosure right in front of the exhaust fan. This will have most of the fumes going straight out the fan, but there is still a seven inch overhang to catch and fumes. I have made a cover with flashing that fits over the inside of the existing cutout area that can be latched in place when two people are working seated.

I put flashing over the cement board. This gives a nice work surface that can be easily cleaned. The inside of the hood is exactly seven feet, which gives each person three feet by three feet of space and leaves a one foot DMZ in the middle. I noticed that Angelique is already lining her new mandrel blocks I made her up along the edge to make a fence.

The hood is lighted with four 150 watt halogens giving 600 watts of power to make it easy to see even with boro glasses on.

This is the bench after it's first night of use. The flashlight is there so I could see to shut off the tanks and wind the hoses back up. I need to get a better light out back.

This was a fairly cheap setup to make and hopefully will be up to the job for a while. It ran about $300 in materials. I will post a cost breakdown in a few minutes. A singe person setup would have been MUCH easier and cheaper to design and build though.

Paul Ewing

Torch Ho... GTT Mirage, Carlisle CC, GTT Cheetahs, GTT Lynxes, and others on tanked O2.

Last edited by Paul Ewing; 2007-08-27 at 11:55am.
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Old 2007-08-27, 12:12pm
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Paul Ewing Paul Ewing is offline
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Join Date: Jul 12, 2006
Location: DFW, TX
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This is a rough cost breakdown:

Free Table Base (I figure $30 to $50 to make one)
$22 2 pieces 1/2" 3'x5' cement board for Table top
$47 50 feet of 30" flashing
$30 3 pieces 1/3" 3'x5' cement board for back
$30 2x4s and 2x2s for enclosure frame
$18 50 yards of foil tape
$20 Screws

$55 1540 cfm attic exhaust fan
$27 Vent cover with automatic louvers
$6 10 feet of 6-inch flashing

$14 25 feet of 3/8" 14g armored cable wiring
$5 Three outlet/switch boxes
$2 Three face plates
$2 Two switches
$1 One plug outlet
$4 One plug connection for AC wire
$8 Four light boxes
$10 Four porcelain light fixtures
$15 Four 150watt halogen bulbs

Rough Total: $316 + sales tax

Paul Ewing

Torch Ho... GTT Mirage, Carlisle CC, GTT Cheetahs, GTT Lynxes, and others on tanked O2.
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Old 2007-08-27, 1:26pm
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lavendar420 lavendar420 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 08, 2006
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nice! and, like, not ghetto!
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Old 2007-08-28, 9:19am
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Wendyki Wendyki is offline
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Join Date: Nov 13, 2006
Location: Ripon California
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nice good job paul

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Old 2007-08-28, 9:29am
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Judi_B Judi_B is offline
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Location: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina
Posts: 1,323

Looks great! I really like enclosed hoods. That fan looks pretty powerful. Do you have any problems with it bouncing the flame around?
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Old 2007-09-05, 12:29am
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Otter's Flame Otter's Flame is offline
He can do the origami
Join Date: Nov 24, 2005
Location: Najin Oyate
Posts: 1,474

It looks like you have some spare torches just sitting around collecting dust...I think you need to send them to me as an RAOGK!!!

It looks really nice, very well planned out. I use magnetic strips to hols a lot of my tools as well, I thought that was a very nice touch to your set up.
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Old 2007-09-05, 8:24pm
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playingwithfirebeads playingwithfirebeads is offline
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Join Date: Jul 27, 2006
Location: The Third Coast
Posts: 630

Thats an awesome looking set-up. I have serious ventilation envy. Want to build one in Galveston county?


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Nothing right now

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What happens in Rockland, stays in Rockland.....
Hellcat, Two M-15s, propane and finally no tanked oxy.
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Old 2007-09-25, 6:49am
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alb6094 alb6094 is offline
I'm kinda biz-EE
Join Date: Aug 08, 2007
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 3,610

Hi Paul;

I actually found lampworketc and this thread while looking for a way to build my own vent system (googled it somehow-and so happy I found your post and LWE). The first thing I did after printing out your posts was to search eBay where I found a rebuilt 1200CFM squirrel cage for $74 and $28 S/H. I paid and it was here in about 3 days, I was really shocked at how fast it arrived. Had a lot of little holes I had to cover in foil tape but ran like a top and the guy wired a low/high on/off switch onto it.
Gathered most of the rest of the supplies from home depot Saturday before last and had a revalation. Home depot is not the greatest, at least mine here in Texas, for HVAC related supplies. I had much better luck at Lowes finding the aluminum flashing and a reducer.

So, squirrel cage at just over ..........100.00
20" (couldn't find 30") alum. flashing, 50 ft. roll.........29.00
25 ft. vent tubing and 8" to 6" reducer...............24.00
Lumber, metal support brackets, screws, tin snips, adhesive magnetic strip, foil tape, and anything else I've forgotten.............90.00

Total cost............................253.00 (or thereabouts, I'm lousy at math) for a single person setup.

A quick aside father was a carpenter, then cabinet maker, then a contractor building for Limited, Inc. I used to help on his jobs in the 70's (age showing here) so picked up enough working knowledge to run a drill, skill saw, etc but I'm *not* good. Your bench is lovely, mine is functional (DH's comment at one point, "There's a gap here". My comment, "It's level, stable, and not rickety." DH again, "Isn't this crooked?" My comment, "No, you're crooked. Now hush and hand me that Makita."

One more quick story related to the building of this bench/vent system. Episodes like the following are one of my pet peeves about living in Texas. My husband was born in San Diego, CA and is a wonderful tolerant man who is completely supportive so I've become accustomed to being viewed and treated as an equal. Then I go out into the world and stuff like this happens...
Me at Lowe's asking a 60+ male employee directions....
Me: "Excuse me, could you please tell me where I could find aluminum flashing?"
Him: (with a heavy drawl): "Now, what's a sweet lady like you going to do with something like that (huge condescending smile showing skoal stained teeth)?"
Me: (not missing a beat and fisheyeing him with what I hoped were cold, dead, DISAPPROVING little eyes) "Building a vent exhaustion system for an oxy/propane setup."
Him: "Aisle 47."


At any rate I finished the bench and vent system this last sunday afternoon. I'm still *waiting* (foot tap tap tapping) a week after I submitted my application to Airgas for them to approve my account so I can rent an oxygen tank. Hopefully this will go through this week. I am going to post over in the neighborhood section to see if anyone here in N. Texas knows of a place to rent a tank with less hassle. Have to have an account with Airgas and all the med places I've called so far want a prescription or no go. When I complained to one clerk at one of the medical supplies she stated, "How do we know that you're not going to use the O2 illegally?" ?!?!?!? She had to explain to me (a nurse yet) that some people bag oxy to get high. *Sigh*

So thank you again for the head start with your post! Setting up my studio has been a bit more complicated then I had anticipated but at least it's only a one time setup. I couldn't have done it without your post!

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Old 2007-11-05, 5:27pm
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kirksglassart kirksglassart is offline
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Join Date: Oct 31, 2007
Location: NJ
Posts: 205

Well I have something unique to offer that I thought I would show. Definitely to be filed under the "hey that's funky" section. I have a studio that is a portion of my walk-out basement so I have mucho windows. Did the window fan thing with some small fans but noticed I had a slight natural gas scent at the top of my stairs so felt this wasn't good enough. I started out looking for a strong window fan. I found an Air King 16" 3 speed fan that would fit my window. It's high CFM rating is 2470, (med, 1700 and low 1360).. I use it on high. Put it in the lower window, in front of my torch. Still had the faint scent at the top of the stairs so I knew stuff was escaping. Talked to my fabulous husband who is an HVAC manager and asked him what ductwork I might be able to use to "create" a hood? We scavenged around for stuff in our basement and got the larger 18x24" reducer and built, what he calls, our Devo Hat Hood (from the band Devo). We extended the vent to just in front of the fan. Doing the smoke test, virtually everything went up the hood. What little escaped went directly at the fan and vented out. No smell at the top of the stairs anymore. I think a big trick here was setting the fan up in the upper window (heat rises). I have the fan hanging on hooks on the inside of the window and I did thread a wire across it's front as a safety precaution should the plastic that the hooks go through ever break. I simply walk outside and lower the upper window. There is no smell at all at the top of the stairs any longer and anyone walking into the studio doesn't smell anything. The fan was about $80. It's not that loud either but it sure does "suck"! Come the warmer weather I plan on spray painting my hood some funky colors. And sorry - didn't clean up before I took the pics.

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Old 2008-05-20, 8:46am
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DFS DFS is offline
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Posts: 178

Love the devo hat hood. Really love it.


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Old 2008-05-20, 9:25pm
BeadNiks BeadNiks is offline
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Join Date: May 19, 2008
Posts: 21

Hi Paul,
I love your studio set up, you've come up with some great ideas. I'm new to the world of lampworking, just finished a 10 week course on it and now I'm addicted and looking into making my own studio. At first I was thinking the basement would work, but got scared by some of the concerns raised over homeowner's insurance and ventilation problems below ground. Also briefly considered a hot head torch but have decided to go with a minor burner and to put my studio out in my detached garage that is currently just used for storage, no cars.

Ok, probably way more info than you ever wanted to know, but I'm very excited about this project, and I suppose I want the whole world to know... lol

Anyway, on to my questions... have you had any problem with the tile backer board that you used for the table top sagging? I was considering using it but wasn't sure if it would work by itself or if I should put plywood and/or 2x4's under it (I was going to make my table 3 x 8, just one work station but want to put my kiln on it). Also, have you had any problems with the metal flashing melting when hot glass lands on it?

Thanks for helping a newbie out, ~Nik
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