Hi there,

Not a very much used part of the message board it seems here, but seems most appropriate for my question...

I finally have a great space to use as my own stop motion workshop/studio, hooray!
I have done some ball and socket armature making while I was at University and had access over a metal workshop with brazing and welding equipment and all that. I want to set up my new space so I can do silver soldering, perhaps even a little brazing sometimes...

My workshop will be in an attic. There is a window I can open, there are also two holes in a wall where simple vents are fitted now. I will be insulating this wall as it is just a bare brick wall but am thinking to use the holes and build some sort of extraction for fumes of silver soldering, and possibly also a little spraybooth... I've been looking online what diy methods people use for extraction systems and found al sorts of different solutions, some using bathroom fans, computer fans, those big fans you use to cool a room, etc... just not sure what will be the best to use.

Can anyone help me with this? I am looking probably at two extraction set ups, one for silver soldering, and one built in into a spraybooth... Wondering what are affordable options.

Or do you all have small torches and the fumes aren't much of a problem? I used to work with big oxy-acetylene torches, which were used for brazing as well and definitely needed extraction. I've also done a bit of silver soldering just with a fire brick on a pile of boxes inside a studio with not much ventilation... worked out ok but probably not good idea for long term use.

Would appreciate any thoughts, thanks!


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If space is limited, using the window for ventilation would maybe the easier or quicker way to setup for BOTH soldering/brazing and spray painting or other odor intense operations. One needs to make the work stations portable. One might have the soldering station on small casters/rollers. Here is example of one ....

These can also be DIY made from wood. The rollers are from hardware stores. They should have locking levers so bench does not move while in use. Then you have another small bench with rollers/wheels for your paint booth. Seeing your photos, it looks like your got the skillsets to make whatever benches you need.

For soldering/brazing, you do not want direct fan close because obviously your torch might go out. The fan can be at distance creating general air movement circulation so it goes out the window shoots. The other way, is window mounted fan, that sucks air out, principle of kitchen or bathroom fan but that may somewhat blocks the window and may not be able to use the window for dual purpose ... soldering/brazing & spray painting fume booth.

If you have existing vents, that's more involved in doing duct work and fan hook-up & mounting. With vents, you would be using fan-extraction-air out of room, again like kitchen hood fan. I don't know about fan/blower CFM principles & design. I usually study-up on anything ... on a 'need-to-know'. I guess. Usually I just test fan and if it feels right, I will know :) A powerful fan can be kind of noisey. You do not want to attract to much attention.

So my idea may be too Poor Mans but can be temporary, whereas getting into specifics about blowers fans capacity and ductwork, obviously would be more involved.

Homemade paint booths ....

Homemade jewelry/soldering station ....

P.S. Have a few fire extinguishers around just for safety ... I do, even in my kitchen

P.P.S. You got a nice shop/studio there ... I'm guessing dual purpose for animation shooting and fabrication, puppet making, etc? If one is going to animate by day, some means to cover/block the window. 

Hi Roos.

Have you tried paying a visit to John Wright? I don't know if he is still trading but worth asking. Close to the old market in Bristol at the time. I was once given a crash course there some years back when I went to buy armature parts. John asked me if I knew what I was doing. I said "no I haven't got a clue" so he got a puppet maker to run me through the "dos and don'ts" of silver soldering. He did this next to an open window. That is all. I don't know if it is right or wrong but no one was poisoned by the fumes that day. Do pay them a visit. They'll give U advice on this and anything else come to think of it. Great bunch.

Hey LIO - nice to hear from you in here!! On the subject of open window ventilation, it's best if you can have one open window with a fan in it pulling air out (not in) and a window open across the room to let air in. An inlet and an outlet. And keep in mind airflow doesn't like to bend at sharp angles - the windows should have clear line of sight between them - ie not be on the same wall or in different rooms (though different rooms is ok if there's a clear line of sight between the windows - just don't try to make air bend around corners). 

Roos, in your case it looks like your attic space is one big room, though I'm not sure if there are windows on opposite sides (or at least on adjacent walls). 

The biggest fan I suggested is probably too much, but I did read in the article about the soldering fan that it could not pull a candle flame from more than 6" away. That's not much power!

The power is measured in volume of air, because these things replace the air in a room every so often, so keeping it clean...provided you have an inlet for the air! This may just be up through the stairway. It's a difficult question, in the end, because on the one hand there are people who have just opened a window and worked next to it, and on the other those whose starting point is zero exposure to anything harmful. 

If I were going the window route, I would station a fan behind myself to blow the air out of the window...

The workshop looks great, you've done so much work on it!

Simon Tytherleigh said:

the soldering fan that it could not pull a candle flame from more than 6" away. That's not much power!

Simon, I can't tell if you just dislike the idea of the extractors, or if you're not clear on how they work? My vacuum cleaner needs to be a lot closer than 6" to the floor, but it does the job nicely. I suppose I could use a far more powerful model and hold the nozzle a foot above the ground, but there's no need - vacuum cleaners are designed so they're always pressed close enough.

And that's the way the extractors are designed to work. I mentioned table saws with vacuum hose attachments earlier - they also need to be up really close, but as long as they are, they do the job quite well. The extractor units are small and portable so you can easily get them right up close - then they catch all the fumes before they can disperse into the room. I believe the whole point is that, as long as you get it up close enough, you don't need a great deal of power. The point of a torch flame is a very small area, which makes this feasible. 

Thanks for all the replies again! :)

Lio: the portable work station is interesting. I did build the big workbench with silver soldering in mind though, I would be happy to dedicate a corner of it to mainly that. I had initially in mind that I could do something with the vent holes which are already in the wall.

The brick wall which has vent holes is just a bare brick wall, double brick nothing else, there's even some tiny holes where I can see light from outside coming through... I'm meaning to insulate the brick wall as well. The vent hole is only the size of one brick. I imagine that if I were to lead some ducting to that the hole would not be a perfect fit. I don't know if that's a problem as long as there is a big enough opening and the end of a ducting hose would be well attached, something around the edges, etc.

Bascially, the window idea sounds great for any room with a window at a suitable place. In this case I have to stand on a chair to be on the right height for the window. Also because of the slanting roof that would be somewhere halfway the room. It just seems very awkward.

Strider, you mention two windows, one with the ventilator to suck air and one to let air in. Well, I don't have another window. There is another vent hole at the other side of the attic. But if I'd be using the vent hole with an extraction fan and ducting to the vent hole, then I can still open the one window to let air in... And indeed, at the moment I mostly have the ladder hole open all the time which lets enough air in probably... 

Gustavo: I've tried to get in touch with John Wright in the past but never got any replies to my emails... Maybe because I wasn't buying their joints. :P or they just were busy. I should indeed try again. I've walked past the building I know they've got their workshop in but never been inside! Interesting to hear they just had an open window. It'd be a good place to get some advice. Well, maybe I should buy some joints of them and pretend I have no clue what I'm doing... ;) No, I'll just try to write to them again.

Hmm... well to me getting some sort of fan and attach some ducting to it to lead it to the vent hole seems an easy enough option as long as I know which fan I need!
I get you with how the small fan should work as long as it's close enough.
The only thing that would worry me is to have a fan really close to the heat and flame and then getting it in the right position so it does take the fumes but it's not too easy to accidentally point the torch at it.

Found another interesting solution which just seems to use a simple box fan with some ducting attached just through a hole in a cardboard box... then they seem to put the fan outside. Well, maybe that would work just as well leading it to the vent hole, or through the window of course. if opening the window to let air get in anyway...

Hmm, well there still seem to be different ideas about what kind of fan would be needed. :P 
And yes, of course I'll get a fire extinguisher, in fact the landlord I'm lodging from said he would get one when I mentioned doing some brazing in the attic. ;) And I will indeed need something better to block the window when animating in daytime. That should be easy enough, it's not too big. Will also have to think of something for the ladder hole. I can close it when the ladder is in, but I'm not sure actually how easy it is to pull the ladder out from above to the floor beneath when it's in and I'm in the attic. :P Maybe I'll just get another piece of wood to fit the hole around the ladder.

Hmmm ... I see .... the window is more like a skylight. Not on side wall but above. I wonder how that window opens. If it can open maybe cut 3/4" plywood to fit the opening. First cutout openings for one or two blowers and mount onto plywood, then somehow temporarily mount the plywood to fit inside window frame. However, a caveat ... because window is slanted, water may get inside blower. Plywood facing outside would have to be heavily painted to make it sort of waterproof. If it were a window on vertical wall ... much easier to do. Okay ... forget it ... the above too involved! 

As for vent opening in brick wall ... ideally the bigger the opening, the easier for fan to push/pull air through it.  Kitchen vent hood fans ideally use 6-8 inch or larger openings. The fan can push through smaller openings but one loses some CFM.

Your link shows one of various ways of DIY venting. That would work, also other ideas out there too.  I usually use my poor man's venting :) For me, when I solder/braze, I like plenty of room to move around the work. With vent opening so close to the work, I  might even burn the hose/duct!  For paint booths as you know, most  use furnace-type filters at back which captures the spray mist, then fan behind it venting to outside. You can have one vent opening then switch off as needed between soldering/brazing and spray painting. When I paint I just do it in my backyard :)  Yeah it can get involved and be another project. I'm more simple, fast and reasonably works ... don't have to look 'pretty'. 

Sorry for a late reply. Still working on this one, got other bits and bobs for my setup and installing sockets in the attic.
The window opens, how do you explain that... with the pivot in the middle. so you swing it from the top so bottom goes out and top comes in, I'm sure there's a better term for that. :P Anyway, using the venting hole is easier than the window I think, and at a more practical place.

I think although it is a relatively small opening in the bricks, it's just bricks, I'm going to insulate the rest of the wall, but leaving that hole for the ventilation, the bare bricks plus the hole is hopefully enough to direct the air through, wouldn't see why not?

I think the occasional spray painting would indeed be quite easy to just do in the backyard. So I'm most concerned getting it right for silver soldering, and if it works for some other jobs with fumes too than that's great.

I wrote to John Wright as well, who was kind enough to write back and hopefully I will meet up with him some time in the future when he is less busy. :) He directed me to the company they get their extraction from, although their solutions are quite big, industrial and expensive, just with the idea that they may be able to point me into the right direction. Unfortunately they just quoted me something after I mentioned I was looking for something in a home workshop on a low budget, which was still many times more expensive than I'd ever be able or want to spend on it.
Another person I talked with who currently works at John Wright said they have a few extra set ups where they just use a hoover as extraction... although he said they tend to not use them often because they've got the proper extraction set ups as well.
So well. still not sure. I suppose the small soldering fume extractor will at least remove some fumes and make it a healthier environment than without any extractor.
But if that was really all that's needed when doing a lot of soldering than there would be no good reason for people and companies to use bigger more expensive systems. So I suppose some middle way might be a good idea if I'm planning to do a fair bit of soldering/brazing.

Been looking at this one: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/VEN250-SEALEY-PORTABLE-VENTILATOR-AIR-FAN...
Looks like quite a good deal including the ducting and everything. A lot more power than the very small one. Not sure if it would be extremely noisy. If it would be overkill. Wait, it's also confusing that it says 'ventilator' and 'air delivery' and doesn't specifically mention extraction, but I suppose it's the same thing...? hmm.. 
Got to make a decision and get on with this stuff. :P

Question (for strider as you mentioned using the Xytronic fume extractor, or anyone else who may know in general): I had another look at it and it seems quite a bit more powerful still actually than the otjer little ones whcih looked similar which I could find on UK ebay. The ones I found were around 38cfm while the Xytronic seems to be 95-115cfm. I'm thinking to go for it and give it a try.
It just seems I'll have to have it shipped from the US. That's ok, it'll add some costs and time but still be cheaper than the much bigger systems and can't find an equivalent here. But what I was wondering is if you know perhaps if the Xytronic coming from the US would be compatible with European 230/240v electrical system...? I couldn't find much info anywhere so far, but I thought maybe you have some info that came with it when you bought it. I'm not sure if it would mean getting some sort of converter otherwise... I've only had to deal with converting plugs between UK and rest of Europe so far. :P

Oops sorry, didn't see this until just now! I don't know much about it - Nick might know since he's lived a nomadic life in many parts of the world, including apparently not far from me (we've been in the same theater) and if I remember right the UK. Here most stuff runs on 110v using what's called an Edison plug that looks like this:

We use 220 for heavier appliances like ovens and refrigerators, with a different type of connector:

The Xytronic would use our standard 110v with the Edison connector. So most likely you would need an adapter and probably one that steps the power down to 110v. 

I think it's a good choice to get one - it will at least draw off the fumes before they get into your face and will clear the majority of them. You should probably order a few extra filters at the same time - not only for standard replacement when they get clogged but because of the inevitable accidental torchings they'll receive now and then. ;)

Cool, yeah it looks like it should be fine with just getting a converter, something like this I suppose: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mercury-Step-Down-Travel-Voltage-Converte...

I've actually seen a few Xytronic's listed on UK Ebay and other websites but somehow they have to be 3-4 times as expensive than. :P Looks like one from the US including international shipping costs and the cost of a converter is still a better deal... crazy world. ;)

I was thinking if somehow I would feel it's not doing enough I supose I could even get another little fan blowing from the other direction. Blowing the air into the extractor in a way... Then it's a bit like the idea of having a fan blowing towards the window, but now the 'window' is an extractor. Anyway, I'm sure it will do fine on its own. But perhaps if for some reason in some occassions I couldn't get the extractor close enough to the work or so that might be an extra solution...

Thanks for your thoughts and the pictures. Oh wait.. that adapter I found doesn't seem to have the hole for the earth thingy... I thought US plugs often just had the two flat ones without the third. But if that's quite standard I'm sure there are converters to fit that too...

Next is choosing a drill press... Then a job so I can still eat and pay rent as well. Damn I should have just become a writer... paper, pen, done. ;) (ok and still the food and rent maybe) 

Oh yeah, many plugs don't have the ground part. I would go and check the Xytronic - I can see it from here but the cord is hidden, and I:d have to disturb my sleeping dog - I've always heard it's best to let them lie, you know. Don't remember if it has the ground or not, but if it does and your adapter doesn't have a hole for it, you can just get one of these little adaptors for your adapter:

Hey, pretty soon you can have a big mess of adapters plugged into adapters! 

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