Sunday, January 20, 2013

Airbrush incoming - prepping the booth

Ahh... smells like Pine Sol and Febreeze, so nice!
(Credit for the photo goes to the site)

So I've finally taken the plunge and invested in an airbrush setup. Right now it's a very simple setup, and should work fine to get started. Here's what I did purchase;

  1. "Master Airbrush Brand High Performance Multi-purpose Gravity Feed Dual-action Airbrush Kit with 6 Foot Hose and a Powerful 1/6hp Single Piston Quiet A"
  2. Badger Air-Brush Co Sotar 2020-2F
  3. Badger Air-Brush QD Coupler
  4. Iwata-Medea Airbrush Cleaner (8 oz.)
  5. Iwata-Medea Cleaning Station 
  6. 2x 6 foot braided hoses
So I know what you're thinking, a cheap compressor? A cheap airbrush, then a Sotar 2020 brush? Yeah, it's not perfect, however I had a tight $180 budget, so had to work with that and remember that I needed to fit tax and shipping into that price. This was a one time purchase for the time being, so I wanted to jam as much in as possible for $180. That said I had to go with a low power, no tank compressor, something that I can easily upgrade later once I become proficient with the airbrush itself. No need to go buy the brand new sports edition of a car if you're only buying your first car to drive a mile to the train station. Once you start taking trips and have some miles under your belt, then it's time to get that nifty edition. So, I'll save up and pawn this one off for a few bucks a year down the line.

Enough about that though, let's talk about cool stuff. It's cool to have a $390 airbrush at a steal for $75, it's cool to have a little compressor humming along helping you paint. It's definitely not cool to huff atomized acrylics... So what to do? Make a airbrush "booth."

This, admittedly, I had not budgeted for, so I limited myself to $40. All of the project needed to fit into that budget. Here's the list of items from the local home improvement shop;
  1. Bathroom fan - super simple model, $13
  2. Bathroom vent kit - super simple wall vent model $14
  3. A 2x2' section of plywood (left over from my terrain board.)
  4. One spray can of white Rustoleum (left over from another project and optional)
  5. A medium size storage container $7
  6. Duct tape $1.50
Total price: $35.50... F'yeah, $4.50 coffee run! ;)

Alright, so how does a fan kit, container, duct tape and paint come into play? Creatively and with a do-it-yourselfer attitude. Let's go, and remember: You're going to be working with sharp stuff, potentially dangerous things, do not screw around and come back with pictures of your hand messed up, your house on fire or whatever, this is a hack job, and it's a decent one, but it's also done with my years of working with power tools and sharp stuff. You've been warned, so adventure on if you dare, just don't blame me if it goes to hell in a hand basket please. ;) Ok, onward!

So ugly, working on it!
First, find and scope your placement and space. I found a corner spot that I knew would be easy to work with and was driving me crazy anyway with its emptiness.

All the pretty pieces
The power!
Second I knew that I would have to understand the bathroom fan I bought, so I took the whole thing apart top to bottom. Keep in mind, these things come from the factory sharp, so mind your hands when working around sheet metal. Also consider that you may have to do light electrical work. Be ready for it. Without realizing it I purchased the one fan that has a proper plug for plugging in an extension cord, so I took a grounded extension cord and grounded the box itself, using the plug for hot/neutral. If you don't know what I'm talking about find an electrician buddy and ask him to help here. You don't want a fire, especially from silly wiring...

Remember the angle!
Third, I got out the jigsaw and started making a bracket for the fan housing. I did this with cardboard first, then made my cuts. As you can see the bracket is angled. That's because the box has an tapered angle of about 10 degrees. Forgetting that will mean a harder seal up job later.

Fourth, I got to opening the plastic box, getting the hole setup. Mind you it need not be perfect, though it helps to be close when doing this. You're going to use duct tape regardless to help get a good seal, just don't rely only on that alone. Drill holes first along the line you're going to cut. I used a very fine blade on my jigsaw at very high speed to cut the plastic. With some patience and a straight edge you could press a utility knife to do the same. Warning - this plastic shatters so watch out for cutting yourself on the plastics.

Like the driven snows of the wild back yards
Fifth up was making this not look like a plastic bucket with industrial innards, steam punk I'm not. So, I staged everything, then assembled it, a bottom board, the brackets, the fan, all of it screwed together and ready. You can see the fan clearly here, and know that there's duct tape between the bottom of the container and the fan housing sealing it nicely. I stuffed newspaper into the housing then sprayed the inside gloss white.

Suck cannon engage!
Finally after a few hours of getting gorked on the fumes letting the spray paint dry properly I put the booth in place. While I'm going to have a filter over that vent plate later, right now it's just there to keep up appearances. Still not done though! The thing needs to vent outside.
Crafty jig saw fun
 Venting outside is straight forward, and since I'm not a professional artist putting a hole in the side of my house isn't necessary. So I made a plate for my window. No need to explain much here, just remember that your storm windows have a bunch of lock spots, so use the one that's your closest fit for the height of your venting plate. The pictures are self explanatory and make sure to paint this too as it'll result in happier neighbors.
Rough top edge... Jigsaws don't like straight lines
All mounted
Noob toob
Finally connect up your hose to your new plate, secure it to the back of the fan housing with the appropriate kit gear and you're done, turn that puppy on, put a filter over the opening and you're in business!

It's hard to get shots of the venting since it's all behind my desk, however the wife is pleased. There's just something on my desk, there's a plate that can come and go in the window occasionally and I'm a lot safer for not huffing acrylic laden air.

If you have more questions I'll be happy to answer them.
Bob Twyg-lla from This Old Blog signing off.

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