Next wall area maybe


We’ve nearly finished the first set of walls for the woody dusty area so I figured I’d start a new thread for the discussion on what comes next
I recognize that some of my opinions might not be agreed with by others but at the same time it’s important for everyone to express an opinion
Consider this just a bunch of ideas being thrown out



I think we should take advantage of the large over hanging vent near the corner where the wood is stored
at the moment it has a piece of wood sticky taped to the bottom to try and keep the heat in, but I can see this being used for two purposes

  • Venting of CNC Mill dust
  • Venting of welding fumes

With the current CNC head there’s no downward air blowing from the spindle so most of the milled wood stays on the board where it can be vacuumed up
If we decide to get a bigger spindle (which would require larger Nema23 motor’s which I think can be fitted to the shapeoko2)
It’s likely to have a downward air flow which will blow all of that milled wood dust all over the place (unless there’s an enclosure)
This is something I discovered with my own mill at home.
I’m planning on building an enclosure at home to capture the dust and to protect against flying mill bits if something goes wrong when milling aluminium
Using a fan to blow the stuff out the vent if we ever setup a enclosure / larger spindle is something worth considering.


For Welding we currently have

  • Small red MIG welder
  • Small blue stick welder
  • Large MIG welder on wheels

The small red MIG welder I brought in is quite old but can be used for general purpose welding
It can’t be used for gassless since you need to reverse the polarity for that and there’s no switch on it for that currently (probably because of it’s age)
But there is an unused bottle of argon gas with it at the moment (argon is non flammable).
The small blue stick welder I’ve not used
The large MIG welder has several things to be looked at, including the mains supply wiring, if it needs another gas bottle, and the speed control.

Having a large fan over the vent that leads outside to suck the fumes away might be a good idea

Weldy / Grindy Area walls

From what I’ve heard so far one idea is to avoid having any walls around the area that we do welding in with just cheap welding curtains.

I think the cheap welding curtains are a good idea. There’s also a suggestion for a large steel table for smelting with a lip which I feel is also a good idea
But I have a differing opinion on the walls in that I think it would be better to have the welding area sealed off with a door and wall frames instead of just the curtain.
perhaps in the corner where the fire escape is surrounding the air vent.

  • Catching sight or visibility of the spark by accident can lead to a small blot in your vision (that will go away after about a week or so)
  • If someone is welding then they won’t be aware of what’s going on around them (because of the mask etc)
    so it’s easy to startle someone from behind in this situation (from what I’ve been told the curtains will some how prevent this)
  • We need to consider that we may have people in the space that are not experienced (myself included)
    and others that might be more accident prone (not naming names) for example if the curtain got nocked over
  • Keeping any fumes to a localized area that could be vented
  • Double up as a isolated dark area for photography maybe?

I like the idea of a big red button on the wall that cuts the electricity in that area and sprays water in that zone
although I’m not sure how practical that would be to setup, at the very least fire extinguishers in that area should be a must.


I just thought to add a couple of extra bits to the above

With welding there probably won’t be much in the way of noise other than a mild buzzing, and curtains would protect from the bright arc
But for anyone sitting at a desk they’ll probably notice that corner of the room light up then go dark, light up then go dark again, so it might get a bit distracting when sitting at a desk with lots of flashes in one corner of the room.

Also while I would like to describe everyone in the space as highly trained workshop professionals, it only takes one person on a hoverboard waving they’re arms about for hilarity to ensue.

Just a couple of things worth thinking about anyways


Ok, let’s start of with the easy bit - the suggested Big Red Button for the welding area.

Spraying water on someone welding, holding an instrument designed to discharge an arc and use that electrical energy to melt metal, is a seriously bad idea - never mind the effect on equipment should someone set it off by accident, and the mess/damage it could cause. That’s a seriously bad idea, and is why you use buckets of sand and CO2 extinguishers with welding. Which I agree we will definately need in the vicinity if we are doing that level of metalwork.

The cutting off electricity is also not a great idea, due to accidental pushing, and other issues. Any issues electrically should be dealable with the RCBO or other safety equipment that can either plug in to the socket (small circuit breaker etc) or by the equipment is self (otherwise the equipment wouldn’t be safe to use). Any electrical fire would be on the welding desk or in the equipment - the first is solved by having the equipment away from the desk/workspace while running it, while the second is solved by the socket on the wall having a switch, and estop buttons in sensible places on pieces of equipment that we agree need them.

It’s worth noting that these machines are sold for home use, bar the Big One (which is of a type also sold for personal use), and therefore will be relatively safe with a bit of care being taken.


I strongly agree about the need for ventilation along that back wall, for all equipment that needs it - I include the soldering area, CNC bench, maybe a small spray painting area, and definitely welding and smelting. Metal vapours are really quite toxic (and that goes for soldering too), and the ability to remove that hazard is sensible, and is somthing I’ve been thinking about for a while - although I didn’t include the CNC in my thoughts originally.

Firstly, I think that whole room ventilation for the welding area is not a good idea - firstly we have issues with heating the space already, secondly you’d need significantly large equipment to move that much air, and finally it’ll be really noisey.

I suggest piped ventilation going under the proposed cable tray, with a series of in-line fans ( like this ) with area;/tool apropreate ventilation fixings, and maybe a larger fan at the final exit point. This would allow for a single easy system to be used, and to be later added to, removed, updated, etc. We can then add air gates and have the ventilation turn on when a gate is open.

I’m thinking 1inch dia flexible/fixable pipes for the soldering area so they can be placed unobtrusively by work when soldering, an attachment for the CNC miller, potentially a connection for the solder oven if it’s close to another ventilation area, and a ventilation setup for the metal area - I’m thinking a duct box similar to the first illustration in this HSE publication which could also be used or other metalworking fumes. I’d also like to have a position free for potentially adding on a small fume cabinet/paint booth on the extraction system.

Considering the woody workshop would need a similar extraction system in some respects, the air gates, piping, fittings, etc, should all be interchangeable so we only have to effectively design the system and its parts once (and so we can have spares on standby for both systems).

Weldy Grindy Area

Table Workspace

The discussion around the lipped table isn’t just for smelting (although that’s why I’d put a good lip on it, to limit spills and reduce risk if we do go down the smelting route), but also as a welding bench, as a steel table helps with connecting up your cables when welding, and is easier than other options to clean welding dross off etc.That and the fact that it poses no fire risk, won’t get damaged by welding or grinding, and will take magnet clamps well if we go that route for fixing parts down for working on them.

Walls or Curtains

I’d first like to state that welding screens and curtains are the industry standard for this kind of work, and it’s normally either that or breezeblock in any welding shop I’ve been in. By screens I mean somthing like this -

They come in either the green canvas type, another coated fabric or fibreglass, or in a semi-transparent flame and UV protected plastic designed to protect from both sight damage and sparks (both of which I agree are serious issues for bystanders and the space in general).

If our concern is them potentially being moved in error by a member who isn’t welding, we could attach bolts ( and have dedicated holes in the floor to drop the bolts into when the curtains are in use, which should minimise the hoverboard/clutz issue - although I’d argue this is a non-issue as we haven’t had these issues with the wood workshop before, as people are careful around tool users. I’d also argue striking an arc is usually enough of a warning via both hearing and sight to keep people away.

Startling is again, similar for any power tool, and I’d argue that a barrier like a curtain makes people think twice before approaching someone using a welder. Yes, the mask reduces perception while welding, but people other than an instructor or another welder shouldn’t be approaching a welder who happens to be welding - for a start they will happen to be partially blinded by the arc of they get closer than the curtains and don’t have a mask on. Furthermore this ‘situational blindness’ also happens when people have headphones on, are using noisy equipment with their back to you, or are really into their work. And most people understand that, and work on that basis when approaching someone using a dangerous tool.

As for distractions for people working on the tables, as you said, the sound isn’t that bad, and I’d argue the light isn’t any more distracting than the tablesaw and bandsaw. And the welders are likely to be used significantly less than the bandsaw, which our members appear to truly love using (because it’s utterly awesome).

I think un-coated wooden walls in a weldy-grindy area are a large fire risk, and as we saw before, the cost of coating OSB in the paint that we would need is cost prohibitive. The time it took to put up the walls is also an issue, as it took a lot of work, material, and time (we’re upto eight months now, and the original plan was to have them up very rapidly - which didn’t happen for a number of good reasons). Furthermore, with the space as it is, I’m loathed to agree to cut off a chunk of the hackspace to a room that will be this specialised, and that we haven’t got a strong and current user base for. If we used moveable welding curtains, we can keep the space open and in use when people aren’t welding, and keep the space very open and airy. Never mind extra walls cutting off ventilation to the space if we have an accident with a bottle of acetone or worse, perfume.


As for adding the darkroom spec, that’s a totally different specification with different requirements and needs - like a sink, light restriction, etc. I’d argue that not only are they not particularly good bedfellows (flammable chemicals on a welding table… somthing I’d like to avoid), but the spec of both together will make putting the room together prohibitively expensive - I also think there might be ways to do B&W film processing without the need for a full darkroom, but I need to look that up. Then finally, the last, solid, nail in the coffin for the darkroom I think is the fact that again, we don’t really have that many users who want to use it. It’s literally me and one or two others I think, and at this point I don’t think that’s a great way to spend funds (however much I’d like to… I have a canister of B&W film I’ve needed to develop for several years now).


Many of these issues are really about risk management, and we need to look at what the real risks are, how likely they are to occur, and how we can manage those risks in an appropriate way with an appropriate level of funding. Brunelling it is nice (and a hobby of mine if I’m honest), but we don’t have infinite funds, time, or energy. Unless we have a secret billionaire in our midst.


Big Red Button

With 3 Phase it’s going to be able to provide a lot of power including enough to start a fire without tripping the RCBO
Especially if we’re using induction furnaces which wouldn’t overload the RCBO but may cause a fire indirectly if misused
I agree on the water thing, that probably is a bad idea

But as an optional safety thing (since the switch is expensive) I was thinking something similar to this
It can’t be accidently pushed and would be in an area accessible via a 2nd person if something did go wrong
The one downside is the cost of it, which is why I think it should be something added later on after we’ve got the 3 phase welder working (since it needs a bit of work)


The suggestion over ventilation was based on an assumption of an isolated room which would act as a heat barrier and with upgrades later on could act as it’s own fume cupboard

For the soldering area, we’d need to work out the cost difference between running a dedicated pipe over the cable tray vs getting one of these from aliexpress
the pipe method may be cheaper I’m not sure


My thoughts with the walls were that we could just totally cover them in that cheap welding fabric
Your going to get some degree of metal sparks flying out during grinding or welding, since the curtains only go up so far it’s going to be up to the user
to check that there’s nothing flammable on the other side of those curtains (such as nom nom chemical box or members storage)
Ether the sparks hit walls going all the way up covered in fabric, or they mostly hit the curtains with a little bit going over the top
(this will be especially true with a grinder)
Welding sparks have a tendency to go into places you don’t expect (such as an ear as my Dad found out one time under a Car)

In the case of the bandsaw or other wood tools the sound will eventually be insulated away from the main area once the walls seal that area off
I remember when there was an RPG session at the same time I was cutting wood for the walls using the chop saw which didn’t go down too well

The main delay to putting up the first walls was the amount of stuff in the way and getting all the wood cut to the right lengths
we now already have blocks cut to the correct lengths in the corner and getting stuff out of that corner shouldn’t be that much of an issue now
so it wouldn’t take long to get the 2nd set up.

If the walled area was for welding only then I’d agree it wouldn’t justify being closed off
But with spray painting and fumes I think having a closed off area is also more important for this reason to avoid stinging eyes in the other areas
At this time of year if the area where you’ve been painting has ventilation on in full and there’s no heat barrier or walls the whole space is going to get cold pretty fast


Most of what I’ve read is based on the assumption that users will be doing things in the correct way, the way they’re supposed to
I tend to see things as operating under the assumption we can’t predict that all new or existing members will do things in this way
For example I can see someone easily leaving the chem box next to the welding curtains (or something equally flammable) without even thinking about it

Cost shouldn’t be an issue from a walls point of view
I can pay for the OSB myself if it’s a problem since we already have the frames ready to go now


Alternate Wall Option

After having a word with my father on this one we’ve come up with an alternative option that might keep everyone happy
The idea is to create two walls in the corner where the wood is currently stored
But instead of doors, have large openings on each wall (think something like a garage)
about 8ft High and as wide as needed

  • The osb paneling will be from 8ft upwards to the roof sealing off the area
  • Under 8ft the openings will have 2 welding curtains draped down using the frame as a rail
  • We can hang the welding curtains from the frame downwards on a rail

rough picture

  • Sealing off the area will mean heaters in the main area will have less work to do to heat up the main area
  • Sealing off the area means any ventilation in the weldy grindy area won’t suck all the heat out of the main area
  • The welding curtains is about 6ft x 8ft one of the downsides to having them as seperate panels is that they’ll be difficult to move / store
    and may rock over if not secured at the bottom
  • Because the wall osb is so high this reduces the risk of anything catching fire
  • We can cover the corners of the walls / where the frame reaches to the floor with the overlap of the welding curtain
  • Because the area is large and open we can wheel stuff in and out

One thing we would need to be quite draconian about is not having paint stored in that area if sparks are being made.
Ether we ban any paint / solvents stored in that area, or make a rule that anything like that is removed before anything flamable is used

Chemical Use case

One use case that’s not been mentioned is the use of the area as a sort of large fume cubpoard when using chemicals
Some examples would include making graphene using house hold items
for those not in the know it’s been mentioned that it can be turned into a transparent conductive layer using a flash tube or laser

There’s a ton of others on there