turns wood at his home in southeastern France. Mark Sfirri> a professional woodturner % also contributed to this article.
The author's cardboard booth sets up in minutes in front of a window, and is ideal for spraying small work with water-based finishes. A fan pl<iced in the window pulls spray fumes outside.
Finish small projects in a booth you can build for under $20
by Michael Dresdner
Commercially built spray-finishing booths cost thousands of dollars, and they're usually worth the investment. Outfitted with air filtration, explosion-proof fans, and high-tech features, these finishing rooms guarantee the safe, controlled environment that full-time spray finishing requires.
But where docs this leave the rest of us? Even for a small-shop woodworker, a spray booth is essential if you want to spray finishes. In this article, I'll show you a collapsible bcnchtop booth based on a simple box fan. There is one important warning, though: This booth is designed only for spraying nonflammable materials, such as waterborne coatings. Do not use it for solvent-based finishes!
No matter how well you aim the spray gun at the wood, a certain amount of finish escapes as airborne mist called overspray. This cloud of fumes can settle on everything in the shop, smell bad, and stick to your newly applied finish, leaving it rough as sandpa per. A well-designed spray booth will capture the over-spray and direct it out of the building, away from you and your work.
In its simplest form, a spray booth is an air funnel. You stand at the large end spraying into the funnel; a fan at the small end draws "dirty* air out. Clean air should come in as straight a line as possible past you, and continue past the work being sprayed. There it becomes "dirty" with overspray and fumes before it continues out of the room. When the booth works correctly, you are always in the path of (and breathing) clean air. Air laden with fumes and mist is headed straight our of the building. A filter in front of the fan protects it from finish buildup.
My booth consists of a cardboard-shrouded fan sitting in the open window of my shop just above the bench. I turned the fan on its side so I can reach the speed-control dial easily. Cardboard taped to the bcnchtop keeps the surface clean while I spray. Once I'm finished, I remove the fan, fold the shroud up flat at its two duct-tape "hinges," and close the window. The whole unit stores below the bench and sets back up in under two minutes.
For the small benchtop booth in the photo, I bought an inexpensive ($14) 20-in. box fan with three speeds. The "shroud" that forms the funnel is made from pieces of corrugated cardboard and some duct tape. The filter is a $ 1 furnace filter (available at home centers) secured with removable masking tape. When it gets gummy and clogged with accumulated finish, you simply replace it. Including the trip to the store, I spent less than $20 and two hours on the whole project, and it works like a charm.
Start with three pieces of corrugated cardboard about 18 in. wide. You'll need two sides about 3 ft. long and a top about 4 ft. long. Lay out the parts as shown in the bottom drawing, then cut them to size. I used a protractor to lay out one 120* angle, cut out that piece, then used the cut piece to lay out the angles on the remaining pieces. If your fan is smaller or larger than 20 in., alter the dimensions to suit as shown in the drawing.
With the parts cut and laid flat on the benchtop, match up the mitcrcd angles as shown in the drawing, and tape all three pieces together with duct tape. Make sure to tape both sides of each joint. Now stand the assembly upright and secure the filter to the inside of the shroud with masking tape and you have your booth.
On my booth, the sides extend below the fan so that they meet the top of my bench. To protect the wall at the rear of my bench from overspray, I taped an additional panel of cardboard between the two sides of the booth. Set your booth up whatever way is most convenient for your work area.
A useful accessory to your spray booth is a small turntable. (Sec photo.) With a turntable, you can turn whatever you're spraying so that a new side faces you, while still aiming the spray at the fan.
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