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Quick and easy spray booth

One of the many issues that confront the modeller today is the ability to paint our finished models whilst generating the minimum amount of pollution in terms of both paint vapours and noise from our partner complaining about the smell. Another issue that affects many modellers is that of space, not all modellers are blessed with a permanent home for their art and are often exiled to the kitchen table or other suitable cubby hole in this situation a permanent spray booth just isn’t applicable. Aside from the obvious benefits of having somewhere to paint our kits indoors there is one other important benefit of owning a spray booth. Modern paints, be they enamels or acrylics all contain chemicals that are harmful when breathed in excessive quantities, getting these fumes out of the immediate area is obviously beneficial to everyone’s health.

Modelling can already be an expensive hobby when one factors in the cost of tools, kits and other sundries and all too often the purchase of a Paint Booth is seen as an expensive extravagance. Not only that but they are often large and heavy and require somewhere permanent to use them. The other option is of course to build your own, however not everyone is a master carpenter and often the expense of the materials often works out the same as an off the shelf booth. I was one of the latter modellers, wood and I have an agreement, I don’t cut it, it doesn’t split!

It was whilst having such a discussion with my partner that she suggested I used the now defunct bottle bin, an idea that if anyone ever asks...was of course mine.....all mine.

The following spray booth can be made for less money than any 'off the shelf' item, and with a few simple tools can be made in under 30 minutes with very little mess.

You will need the following 'bare essentials', which are required to make a simple spray booth:

“Tuff Crate” or similar storage box
Extractor Fan
Flexible Hose
2 or 3 core flex
2 way “On/Off” switch
2 or 3 self tapping screws
1 Plug

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All the parts were purchased from my local hardware store for under £35 and should be readily available. I suggest using a clear type of storage crate as this lets in more ambient light which should help greatly in the painting process. (Pics 1-5 show the parts).

To start with you need to wire up the fan using the flex, switch and plug. The fan is a simple affair and is not earthed so requires only the live and neutral wires to be attached - (pic 6).

At some pint along the flex preferably somewhere closer to the fan than the plug you need to cut and strip the flex ready for the switch. Again a simple switch simply requires the wires to be matched up on each contact, and as long as all is secure should be a simple job to wire up. (pic 7). Once completed you should have something that resembles the what you can see in (pic 8).

Now that the fan is complete it’s time to turn our attention to the booth itself, start by marking out an area for the fan by scoring around the edge on the rear of the crate. (pic 9). The hole itself does not have to be a work of art so don’t worry about making an exact job of the cutting process, I used a Dremel to cut mine but a sharp knife or jigsaw works equally as well. (pic 10). Note that in the hole that's been cut, there is a small cut away section on the edge; this is to allow the cable easy access out of the rear of the booth. You will also notice that the hole has not been cut in the centre of the booth; the reason for this is two fold. The fan is not designed for the removal of paint fumes and residue and if the fan was directly behind the model to be sprayed you would largely be spraying paint directly down the fan itself. The other reason is that the fan is constantly sucking not only paint fumes from the booth but also anything else that happens to be in the air, the last thing you want is for specks of dust and dirt to be dragged across the freshly painted surface of your new pride and joy. (pic 11). The fan can now be fitted into its new home and secured with the aid of a couple of self tapping screws, again there is no real reason to go overboard on this process as the fan is highly unlikely to move unless you have made the hole too large but you should be able to judge their necessity on your own booth. Now attach the hose to the rear of the fan and secure it with one of the supplied cable ties, I opted for a 2.5 m long hose as this allows you to place the booth pretty much anywhere. (pic 12).

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That whole process should take about 30 minutes and leave you with a simple yet functional Spray booth. The beauty of this method is that not only is the booth cheap but also portable so you can use it in your usual modelling area and pack it away once you have finished with it. The job does not have to end there either. To prolong the life of your fan unit I would suggest that you make use of some “filter” material be it thin foam or ideally a piece of cooker hood filter, this will catch the small paint particles while still allowing the noxious fumes to be removed. You can also add a light to aid your painting in the wee small hours, unfortunately adding a light is not quite as simple as adding a fan so one easy option is to use an external light source that you can add and remove as necessary, the beauty of this method is that it cuts down on the wires permanently attached to the booth that require storage. (pic 13).

Editor's Note: On a safety note, some readers have pointed out that the extraction fan must be of the kind that does not 'spark', because of the risk when drawing flammable fumes through. So please bear this in mind if planning to build your own spray booth. On the other hand, the fumes created, especially when using acrylics are small in volume, and I've never actually heard of any accidents resulting from a home made spray booth made for modelling.