Welding project team — FORM YOURSELVES!

We have a newish member @raul , who is very keen on leading the drive to make welding happen. I have filled him in on everything that’s happened so far and agreed to help with moral support and guidance about processes, etc.

Right now, I’m also concentrating on further organising and improving the existing metalworking tools and processes.

If you are interested in helping with welding, please make yourselves known. A rough list of tasks includes:

  1. Clear and organise current room (remove stuff that doesn’t belong, set up fabrication tools)
  2. Do more research into suitable extraction system
  3. Buy and install extraction system
  4. Set up welding tools and infrastructure
  5. Devise induction programme for welding

So yeah. Stick up your hand here or on Telegram. And feel free to ask any questions, hurl abuse, etc.

1 Like

I’m all for it myself, we just can’t seem to agree on what to use for the extraction
if someone can figure out and get board approval for the extraction I could probably help with getting the pipe work up

1 Like

Many thanks for assisting with this post to support the move, @mikeh.

Just as he mentioned, I recently discovered and joined Hackspace Manchester while searching for a spot to work on some welding projects.

I’ve been really impressed by all the work the members, especially @Marcus6275, @garlicbread, @Cone, and, of course, @mikeh, have put in. To be honest, I think we’re nearly there in terms of having all the information we need to create a fully functional and safe welding area.

I’m more than happy to take the lead, piece everything together, and give it that final push to make it all happen.

As I mentioned on Telegram, I’ll be rolling up my sleeves today to clean and organize a bit in the welding room.

In the words of @mikeh, if you’re interested in joining the Welding Team, please make yourselves known. We’d love to have you on board!"

@ellis666 might be interested in this? I believe he’s keen to get welding.

Hi Raul, I do some welding projects and am happy to put some time into installing/commissioning the new welding room. Im kind of busy sorting out a new job right now but I usually have time in the week to assist.

I agree with comments that deciding the ventilation system seems the main task to facilitate everything else. Do we know who is confident in spec’ing those parts? I know we have some ducting already.

Hi @ellis666, welcome aboard!

At the moment, I have mainly been cleaning and organizing stuff in the welding room. I believe we have relocated or removed most of the items.

I think @mikeh is going to bring some wall hooks this week, so we will be installing some wall cabinets next.

Regarding the research (point 2 on the list), I personally believe that a portable unit combined with a simple extraction system in that room would be sufficient. However, I want to gather all the information and evidence to support this.

After seeing the proposal that @Josephxtian shared here, I have contacted Bristol Hackspace to inquire about arranging a visit to see their welding area and discuss the steps they have taken, challenges they’ve faced, how people use the area, etc.

I am also planning to reach out to workshops and companies that do welding in our area to learn about the extraction equipment they use. Do you know of any companies or workshops to start with?

@Raul, a good first place to check is Basic Welding, which is 5 mins from the space. I went there aaaaaagggges ago and they were going to sell me one of the portable extractors for something crazy like £700.

They could help us understand the requirements of a fan or maybe point us in the direction of a H+S expert who could come and advise?

Thanks, @mikeh. The issue with providers/suppliers is that they will always try to sell you something. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s their job in the end, but it may not be what we need. Nevertheless, I will still contact/visit them.

I am also looking at this atm:

Hey guys, hope you are doing well.

Quick update from my side:

Following Mike’s recommendation I contacted BWS LTD and they came to the space last week to look at our welding room. In their opinion we are fine with only a portable fume extractor as this type of extractor will take up to 90% of the fumes and particles away. The remaining 10% can be covered with RPE such as this. According to them, this is the setup most of their clients (garages and workshops) have.

I also went to their shop and had a look at some of the extraction systems they provide. Also visited their welding training room (half of the space compared to ours) and saw that they only use a portable unit to extract fumes.

Things BWS can help with:

  • Welding machines, consumables and accessories
  • Welding machine service
  • LEV annual test and certificates

This is a company I found online, they specialise in Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). I have contacted them and they are going to come and visit us, probably next week.

Bristol Hackspace
They started setting up their welding/grinding area back in April this year, and are almost ready to start using it now. I am in conversations with them to know more about the challenges they have faced as well as the solutions they have come up with.

Yesterday Darren R Bell from AutoExtract came to the space to look at our proposed welding area and to discuss possible ways to extract the fumes and particles out of that area.

Considering the proposed location and the amount of fumes we could generate, he recommends a mobile extraction unit connected to an extraction ducting that we can build ourselves.

Things AutoExtract can help with:

  • LEV annual test and certificates
  • LEV Installation
  • LEV servicing

Hi guys I think the next steps are

  1. Contact our insurance company (and perhaps our landlord) and check what requirements do we need to satisfy for the to say OK to the welding area.

Who can help with this or who is the best person to talk to?

  1. We need to decide what tools and equipment we are going to have in that room and where are they going to be placed (Generally, messy stuff should be in the back and clean stuff in the main room). Any ideas?

I created this in Floorplanner over the weekend:

This is just to visually get an idea of how it could look like and plan accordingly, feel free to comment and suggest anything.

@Josephxtian @mikeh @garlicbread @ellis666

Looks great Raul, nice layout too. And Great news we won’t need to run the exhaust piping for fumes. Are there specific machines we are looking at yet for the filtering?

Also are we gonna setup the sheet bender and guillotine in the welding room too? Im not sure if there’s a plan to move them to different spaces yet?

Thanks for putting so much effort into this so far Raul.

I’ve had a look at our tenancy agreement and it says the following about the use of the unit we are in:

Having a google this leads to the following:

Subsquent Class B2, B3, B4 onwards get more and more industrial. A bit of a google shows that welding is typically classed as a B2 activity. But this would be in the case of us running a welding business where the quantity of welding would be significant. The key to keeping within class B1 is the last sentence: “Carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area…”

The intention is for these portable extractors to deal with everything at source. Therefore we have a valid argument that the introduction of welding will keep us within class B1.

Somewhere in our welding H&S docs should be a statement such as:

The fabrication room will be used for occasional small scale metalworking by DIY enthusiasts.

The workshop is in the centre of floor plan of the mill on the ground floor, It is bound to one side by a lift shaft, two sides by further Hackspace areas and the fourth side by a little used corridor. Noise-bleed to neighbours will be minimised by the historic construction of the mill - Thick masonry walls throughout and sand/rubble filled masonry vaulted ceilings will provide sufficient acoustic attenuation.

Any fumes, smells, smoke, soot, ash, dust and grit produced from the fabrication workshop will be dealt with at source through portable and self-contained extraction units and a robust cleaning protocol.

It is therefore reasonable to carry out these works without detriment to the amenity of the local area beyond Wellington House where Manchester Hackspace is situated.

As mentioned about the insurers. They would like to see our completed H&S pack and training protocol to show their underwriters before approving insurance. I could give you their number and you can ask them further questions yourself if you’d like. We should make sure we get this stuff approved with the insurers before we start buying expensive kit.

Nice 3d model! I’d suggest the first phase of this would just be getting a single portable extraction unit, rather than the two pictured. If it proves popular, we could think about getting another in the future. But i don’t think we have the money to buy two of these units at the moment (or at least there any many things we need to spend money on developing around the space).

It is also worth thinking about the messy element of the room. How will people clean themselves and the area afterwards. Currently oily hands have to walk from the metalworking area to the toilet/kitchen to wash, this is going to get worse when we have a proper fabrication room. Ideally we wouldn’t have anyone cleaning themselves in the kitchen as this is a sanitary space. Similar for the bathroom really, oily swarf covered hands is a bit of a pain. I’ve no idea if there is a drain anywhere near this room. If not, can we learn something from how building sites/mobile welding people work?

At the moment, i’m probably the best placed board member to deal with this. But given my departure in January (and mad rush around that started a month ago), i’ll raise it at our next board meeting in a weeks time to see if anyone else could better be your point of contact.

1 Like

I think it’s best to use something like a boiler suit while welding as well
If you have an exposed zip on a jacket for example and a blob of weld gets onto the zip then it will be stuck closed (which can be an issue if it’s on fire)

Boiler suit’s I think are designed for this in mind, by having metal clips that pin together instead of zips

As far as cleaning, typically you should be wearing gloves while welding to avoid UV burns.
Generally I tend to use the normal toilet sink, there’s an orange (or used to be) squirty thing with Swarfega in for getting off oil etc

1 Like

These are the ones recommended by the two companies that visited us recently:

BWS Recommends ProtectoVacMax (£600 almost new / £900 new VAT included)

Autoextract recommends: MF-2000 - Portable Welding Fume & Grinding Dust Extraction Filter (£2,466 + VAT)

All specs and details of both can be seen here.

Yes please!

I agree with @garlicbread on using gloves, not only for welding/grinding (unless you like burns) but for anything. I personally try to wear gloves all the time when I am working on something.

The only issue I see with a [Boiler suit (Amazon.co.uk) is the size of the operator(s) (specially after Christmas feast xD)

Going back to the initial setup and specifically for the welding area, I propose the following:

Provided by the Space

  • 1 Portable/Mobile extraction unit (£600 - £900)
  • 1 Welding mask
  • 1 Pair of welding gloves (I have seen we do have some already)
  • 1 Welding machine (I have seen we do have one already, not sure if it works)
  • 1 20L Argon 5% Gas Bottle (£89.00 refundable deposit + £70 refill, total £159)
  • 1 Welding Apron (£24)

Required to bring by those interested in welding when coming to induction

  • P3 respirator such as this
  • Electrodes / Welding filament
  • Pay something for the gas used

I think you missed ‘welding mask’ in things provided by the space. I also think you should provide very clear warnings on entry about the risk of arc eye. Partition screens may be needed

(other than that great work!)

1 Like

Another consideration is power to the room. I don’t know what circuits there are to that room yet but I expect new circuits will be needed due to high power requirement. This may have been handled already as this discussion has gone on for a while.

Check whatever equipment you consider because industrial welders are usually three phase and industrial grinders are usually 110v as industrial 110v supplies encorporate protective measures against cutting the cord. We haven’t currently pursued either of these things anywhere else. They’re not totally out of the question but involve considerable setup cost.

@Ben_Dooks handles this aspect of the space.

we’ve pretty much got rid of anything 3 phase now for that room.
(originally we had a 3 phase tig but that was removed, then the 3 phase mig was sold for parts as it wasn’t fully working anyway)

Currently we have a single phase small white mig in there at the moment that can run off of normal mains. I’ve not tested it myself but I think it works ok.
We also have a large and possibly smaller tank of argon already we can use for Mig (the large one originally came with the 3 phase mig above) so we can use that up first before buying anything new for the gas.

I also have a much older small red mig at home that can also run off of normal mains but it’s very old.
I would like a larger amperage single phase connection for a plasma cutter though, you can run the chinese ones off of normal mains on the lower power setting, but ideally they need more than 13A for the higher power settings.

For partitions there are welding curtains mounted to the doors already, although I think we also have spare for other partitions if needed. Possibly need a light up sign that can be controled / viewed in metal work to see if it’s safe to enter that area or not.

For grinders another option is air tools, although we’d probably need a bigger air compressor for that. If we ever got a bigger welder that took more than one phase I think what they do is use 2 of the 3 phases by convention, but for that to work we’d need Ben to look at cabling it in from the switchboard in visual arts.


Let’s keep our lives simple and stick with 230V equipment that we already have, which plugs into the 230V sockets that are already in the room. 3-phase, 110V, and air tools all require extra work and don’t solve any particular problems right now.

@raul — I like the layout, but we (as in all those who are interested) probably need to get together and plan out the two metal rooms together. Because changes in one will affect the other. Like Ellis said, where will the metal folder, guillotine and bandsaw go.

I’m the kind of person who prefers to do this with little cutouts on paper in a group, but other people prefer to work on computer alone. What’s the general feeling on holding a group meeting on this (metal rooms layout and tooling) in the near-ish future?

I have some top-line opinions, including:

  • One welding bay is enough
  • At least one of the guillotine and folder will need to live in the back room — probably both
  • Richard’s lathe might have to go to make room

Regarding cleaning, welding isn’t a particularly dirty activity, and you won’t end up with oil on yourself. It’s certainly cleaner than working with wood machinery (dust) and the lathe/mill (oil). So I don’t see things getting worse, but I do get that bathroom/kitchen isn’t ideal. We do have the messy sink, but I have no idea what state that’s in…

1 Like

What I’d suggest is putting the single phase welder(s) on a blue plug
The blue plug’s are typically for single phase but for higher amperage (16A or 32A), while normal mains is 13A
This would prevent someone trying to do something daft like using a welder on a coiled up extension cord.

We could also use an isolation switch

If I need to take my lathe home I can do that and I’ll work on it at home.
I keep getting lost in the weeds when looking at linuxcnc, ideally I want to design my own version of a moteus motor control board but again getting lost in other things related to the space.

1 Like