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shop ventilation

1lpvinyl's picture

shop ventilation (post #169250)

I am a hobbiest with a basement shop. i enjoy using oil based wipe on products but the fumes are a problem. I do not mind water based products but prefer the glow of oil. I have a good DC system. I am not looking to exhaust dust but fumes. I have a window approx  14 x 33 in which i installed  a small bathroom vent fan. It does not work too well. I live in Wisc.  so I can dry my projects in the garage for three seasons.But winter can be very productive for me. I occasionally spray laquer or enamel on small boxes  but mostly its oil based stains and finish. My shop is small with walls of  clear sheet plastic separating the rest of the basement. I would like to install a better fan in the window.My basement is quite dry but   I  plan to tap into  a furnace supply duct with a diffuser opposite the window and use a box fan to blow the warmer drier  air across my finished pieces toward the window fan.I would like to know if this plan has merit. If so, can anyone suggest a specific fan for the window?Any ideas about CFM required?Do I need an explosion proof fan? Any other ideas for venting the fumes from the shop? Thanx.

roc's picture

The simplest solution is the hardest to arrive at. (post #169250, reply #1 of 5)

Hi 1lpvinyl,

Since I am a first responder to your post and rather contrary ( but practical ) I will do the usual contrary thing, not because I am being a butt head but because it is what I have to share.


Let me start by saying :

I have had basements shops in the past.

I now have the biggest work space that I have had , not including shared spaces.

No windows just the big garage door.  Hey, one works with the best they have.

I can recommend two finishes where the fumes are no problem  I can apply them even in the living space in the middle of winter :

1.  For oil based wipe on look into the world class Maloof finishes.  One is made of boiled linseed oil, tung oil and polyurethane.  The other that is usually applied as a "wax" over the dried first finish is made of boiled linseed oil, tung oil and bees wax.  You can make your own or buy it pre mixed.

2 .  The second finish I can recommend is plain old shellac as in french polishing etc.

One caveat; the shellac fumes are no problem using REAL denatured alcohol, some of the proprietary shellac thinner MIXES have toxic components and are best used with some ventilation.

OK carry on.  Hopefully you will get some higher tech solutions so you can use the finishes you already have in mind.

Spray lacquer. . . . ! . . . in the basement . . . ! . . . . oooooh . . . that one may be scaring away people who might otherwise be joining in the fight here.  They don't want you to blow yourself up or asphyxiate your family.  I know a guitar maker in my area who sprays lacquer in a booth in his attached garage.  Very pro looking set up.  I will see if I can dig up his ph nu

PS: be wary of where the fumes go when they leave your system to the outside.  They may get picked up by the neighbors , dogs, kids, what not.  


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

roc's picture

Annnnnd Furthermore (post #169250, reply #2 of 5)

 An article where he discusses making and using his finish is here :

The premixed products are available here ( I just mix my own ) :

See photos:

The first one is bubinga planed but nothing else on it.

The second one is my first  quick and dirty application of Maloof for practice.  Same bubinga wood. This saw horse is listed in the Guinness book of wood working as the worlds strongest saw horse. ( Just kidding but probably would qualify ).

Third photo is another practice before I made the big dining table.  It is Maloof one and two but no shellac.  Still just fine after many years of daily rough use, other than the steak knife drop marks.

Last photo is an experiment I am fairly happy with, perfectionist here, but can not yet recommend.  It is heavy applications of Maloof #1 ( the one with 1/3 poly urethane NO WAX ) with shellac french polished ( sort of ) on top for the higher gloss.

The depth is warm and good though.

Did I mention the depth is great ?!

The depth is friggin' awsome !

And I never use that word ' awsome '.


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

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Westchester's picture

Basement (post #169250, reply #3 of 5)


Don't spray lacquer in your basement. 

Cutting into the duct won't provide enough warm air because when the furnace is off the space will become cold quickly.  Also when furnace air is not blowing fumes can enter the grill even when it's closed.  Get one of those oil heated electric radiators.  They make even heat and are much safer. Be careful no matter what you do - none of what you're thinking is safe. 


roc's picture

I know you are not saying use heaters with the lacquer. (post #169250, reply #5 of 5)

>Heated oil electric radiators.<

Those are good.  I have two of those and use them on the coldest days.  For an unheated shop I like them because they do not produce fumes or exhaust once the paint on the things fully cures.

I wonder if the switches are not an ignition source in a significant atmospher of vapor.  Food for thought for 1Pvinyl.


So worth learning about safe handling even for oily rags.


Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

RalphBarker's picture

Can we vent about venting? ;-) (post #169250, reply #4 of 5)

There is a spectrum of choices with venting. At one end is the person who sprays anything and everything in the shop. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the professional finisher with a high-tech booth for spraying volatiles. I wanted to interview the first fella, but he and his family died in the explosion when he turned on the fan. Somewhere in the middle, or toward the first end of the described spectrum, is the person who occasionally does a few quick spritzes with an aerosol can.

There are a couple of key factors to consider. First is the relative volume of volatiles in the air space and the associated flash point. Once the flash point is reached, the least little source of ignition (e.g. the spark of an electrical switch, motor brushes, etc.) will result in the proverbial kaboom. Most exhaust fans have unsealed motors, so the air/volatile-gas mixture is pulled across the motor - not a good thing. This can be avoided, to a degree, by putting a pulley on the fan blades and driving it with a belt from a protected motor.

Mixing shop (garage) air with house air is not a good idea under any circumstance. In fact, most building codes prohibit doing so.

The second factor to consider is that for an exhaust fan to work, even with non-volatile air, an air intake of equal or greater volume needs to be provided. No intake, no exhaust.

To calculate your CFM requirement, calculate the volume of your space, and then decide how quickly you want that volume of air to be completely replaced.