Field of Operations
It was a holiday last Friday (June 12, 2015), but instead of proceeding with my current project (MC Penelope), I decided to build something else.
Black BoxFor some months since I have started airbrushing, I have set my main airbrushing booth using a relatively huge black plastic tub or box (similar to the picture above). It was nothing special at all. It's just a tub turned on its side. I just lined the bottom and sides with kitchen filter and scratch paper and fixed a movable lamp on the side to light the inside. I have my painting sessions on a relatively open-air area (roofed), specifically on our small receiving area. It is nice since it has enough ventilation and I don't have to worry about dirtying the place up as the place is relatively easy to clean. The only problem is that this setup is kind of cumbersome in more aspects than its benefits can offer.
- The box is huge and it does not score well in terms portability. For a long time, I wanted to have a spraybooth that can be moved from one place to another easily - this box is not compliant to that criteria due to its size.
- Health concerns. May it be acrylic or lacquer, inhaling atomized paint is not good for anyone. My booth, as I mentioned, is set on a well ventilated place. But what if I need to move indoors? Not good. My booth lacked that ability to vent out fumes. I always wear a respirator (mouth/face mask with a filter cartridge), but it will only protect me and not the people around me. You will also have to deal with the built up fumes and gases indoors.
- Area. Having your airbrush setup on an open-air area can be double-edged. I already said the benefits, now here are the disadvantages that really irked me to upgrade. First is the area itself: our receiving area is the side nearest to the street and this will mean that it will gather the worst amount of DUST in just a day. I always hated preparations before airbrushing in this setup as I need to dust and clean the booth itself to prevent dust from getting to my kit parts. In just after a day after the last time I painted, it's already filmed with dust and DIRT. Second, RAIN. The area is roofed but nowadays, sudden thunderstorms are harsh and windy. I already experienced windy thunderstorms and it made me lose my appetite to paint because of it. It also risks ruining the paintjob.
A Better BoxHonestly speaking, I was at first actually too lazy to build one and almost decided to just get a pre-made one - a branded one.
Here were my options:
Style X Spraybooth- Style X is a brand I recently discovered. Style X is a S. Korean brand that manufactures all sorts of hobby tools and supplies. One of their products is this spraybooth.
Another option that I also seriously considered was this one from Tamiya:
Tamiya Airbrush System No.38 Spray-Work Painting Booth II (single fan)
Despite good feedbacks and seemingly desirable qualities, here are what made me decide to just create my own:
The first problem is the price. The Style X is only available (as of the time I inquired online) and in stock in Special Toys Center (Philippine Hobby Store) and it costs Php 11500 (shipping not included) as of May 2015. Too pricey for my taste. Now, the Tamiya Spraybooth can be pre-ordered from Genki Panda (a shop in the Philippines as well) for only Php 5320. Not bad at all and I almost went to order it but that brings me to the next reason.
Sustainability, sustainability in terms of parts and repairs. Being branded, these will come pre-made and ready to use. But in the long run, you will need to replace parts such as the filter or even the fan itself. Yes, you can buy these parts but that will depend on its availability and time to procure one (e.g. parts for the Tamiya Spraybooth can bought from Lil's Hobby Shop but it is not always available and knowing Lil's, they usually take a long time to replenish their stocks). Worth noting is the fact that the parts will also still be branded, therefore will cost more than it should be.
Working with these factors and limitations all listed above, I designed my booth using these criteria:
- Portability - something easy to move from one place to another
- Health and safety - indoors or outdoors, the booth should be able to get fumes away. If this can be done, the problem regarding the area will no longer be and issue
- Price - it should be as cheap as possible
- Sustainability - the parts should be easily available. I need to make sure that you can buy all materials from a single store/source but at the same time making sure that each material is common enough to be bought from any other hardware store if ever a single source will run out of stock. This will also reduce the total cost of each material (and the whole unit itself) as the supply is high and commonly available.
My BoxThe base of my new booth is still a plastic tub/container as it is cheap, readily available and easy to manipulate for the few modifications I will need to do. This is the one I bought:
Next you will need the exhaust system, the one that will take out fumes from your immediate area. I got one that is intended to be a ceiling ventilation fan which you can fit with a duct hose. Actually, I would suggest looking for the right type of exhaust fan first before looking for a box because the size of the box will be depending on the fan you will use. For my case, I got this 4" ceiling exhaust fan:
|I can't remember the exact price, I think it was at least Php599|
Speaking of venting out, I also got a flexible/collapsible duct that fits the fan like a glove.
The duct is 4" in diameter and has a total length of 10 feet, which can be collapsed for easy storage.
Now the good thing about the fan I bought is that it has a coupling where you can attach (or tape) any duct/hose you would like to use. The coupling then slides to the main cylinder where the fan is, making sure that air will only exit through the duct. I used duct tape to attach the duct to the coupling:
Next thing, I wanted to make my spraybooth have its own lighting. Given so, I got myself an LED Light Fixture - one that will be small enough to fit on the upper side of the box:
Once everything was mounted and holes were cut for the wires, this is how it looks like - technically ready to use:
Like I said a while ago, this is already ready to use but like the usual suggestion, we must find a way to still protect the fan. It has always been discussed in forums and in youtube about the fan getting funked with paint particles and paint fluids that might cause it break down earlier than expected. For this, you should get a filter. I think the best option is to use air conditioner filters as they are thinner and easier to work with (they might even be washable - but not so sure of that). The problem is that they can be relatively expensive (Php 300+ a sheet, but you can cut them to fit smaller boxes like mine). The next best option is this one I have used before in my earlier booth:
I also added a secondary layer of filtering. I borrowed the concept from the Mr. Hobby Spraybooth used by a number of modeller's I've seen in youtube:
For some people, the fan I got might be too weak and too quiet to convince them that it is working. But I believe it works well given that I only use low air pressures and that will be enough the ensure the fumes will get vented out properly. I don't smell any fumes anyway.
Another plus of this design is that I can pack the components neatly if ever I need to move locations. A detachable duct, a detachable outlet - I can store them all in the box itself, place the lid back on, lock it into place and viola! Ready for relocation :D
A big plus is its total cost, the total cost should not be more than Php1900 for the box, kitchen filter, duct, exhaust fan and LED lighting (this is the most expensive). Also, compared to the Tamiya and Style X ones, (aside from the cost alone) the parts are easily replaceable and the parts easy to find.
Portability, Health & Safety, Price and Sustainability - I think I pretty much covered them efficiently. Can't wait to do long painting sessions on this baby in the near future :D
Hope you learned a thing or two from this DIY build. Until next time!
If you can find a spark-proof exhaust fan, get it. It adds an extra layer of safety which avoids the risk of fumes igniting accidentally due to the electrical properties of the fan. This is a very rare chance to happen but if you can find one, get it instead.
A couple of random pics from my airbrush painting setup: