Whether to brush-paint or airbrush?

I'd appreciate some insights on an issue which has been exercising the old
grey cells of late. I have an airbrush and have painted quite a few models
with pleasing results (I'm not an expert by any means - I just have low
standards ). The thing is that although I have my own workshop it's full
of woodworking machinery and, consequently, the air is constantly full of
tiny particles of sawdust which make it impossible to airbrush anything
without it being covered in "bits" within seconds. Obviously airbrushing
enamels on the dining room table won't go down too well with SWMBO and I'm
even nervous about shooting acrylics because I refuse to indulge in
practices which could affect the health of myself and my family just because
of a hobby. I'm not even sure that a spray booth is safe enough to use
indoors (it would have to be a homebrew one on cost grounds anyway). On the
other hand it would be a shame to have to return to brush painting now I've
had experience of the great results achievable with an airbrush. Has anyone
else had this dilemma? How did you resolve it?
Thanks in advance.
Ron Headon
Swindon, England
Reply to
Ron Headon
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Can you at least hose down the floor of the workshop (if not more of it)? This will help alleviate the dust and particle problem.
And although inhaling *anything* in large quantities is not safe, in the long run; the exposure to acrylic particles, is fairly safe, as well as minute....in our hobby. It is not as if you would be spray-gun-painting full-sized cars in an auto-body shop.
Reply to
Greg Heilers
Ever hear of a vacuum cleaner??? I picked up a used one at a yard sale and keep it in the cellar just for cleanup in the workshop.
Bill Shuey
Reply to
William H. Shuey
Sort of thinking out loud, but how about adapting some clean-room technology and making a cross-flow spraybooth? You would need two fans, one with a filter to deliver clean air and one to extract fumes and etc. from the booth. You may be able to get away with a vacuum cleaner bag as a filter - you're only trying to remove coarse contaminents, after all. Deliver the filtered air at the top and extract fumes etc through the bottom. You'll need a mesh shelf.
Balancing the airflows will be the most difficult bit. For *cleanliness* arrange the filtered air delivery to exceed the exhaust extraction rate, so that the booth is at positive pressure. For complete fume extraction, make the exhaust flow larger, but this will draw in contaminated air. Keep the booth opening as small as you can.
Why are you wary of acrylics but happy with enamels? What is it about acrylics that makes them more of a risk?
I airbrush in the kitchen, using a foldaway cardboard spraybooth that surrounds the kitchen hob and uses the cooker hood to extract fumes and give a positive airflow into the booth. The cardboard forms the floor, back and sides of the booth and extends far enough to prevent any overspray from getting into the kitchen. I spray enamels and occasional lacquers, and have my wife's approval, which indicates that the fume extraction is complete enough to eliminate any residual smells.
Reply to
Alan Dicey
The idea ya want here is a negative airflow in the spray booth. i.e.; ya want the exhaust fan to be slightly *ahead* of the intake fan. I say negative meaning that the spray booth is evacuating the airflow from the airbrush immediately, with no overspray *hanging* around in the booth at all.
That said....... Make sure that there is NO chance of spark from ANY of the fans themselves. (dust explosions suck, TRUST ME !!)
Best fans are belt, or gear driven axial flow one's
Allan
Only A Gentleman Can Insult Me And A True Gentleman Never Will
Reply to
AM
Serge,
Good point! However, since I know the perils of working with sawdust I take adequate measures to protect myself from it. This includes canister respirators and ducted dust extraction. However, I do a lot of woodturning which involves use of a woodlathe - from which it is notoriously difficult to trap all the dust. This means that a lot of shavings are often on the floor and the atmosphere contains a lot of small particles. Doesn't affect me since I use respirators - it just affects anything which I might want to airbrush! On the other hand, I'm a little nervous about airbrushing acrylics indoors because it's an area which I share with the rest of my family who, for some reason are a little averse to wearing masks while they sit and watch the telly or do their homework . Until I'm sure that it's safe for them, I simply won't do it.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Hi Alan,
Sorry, I think I've given the wrong impression about enamels over acrylics. I'm definitely not happy spraying enamels indoors, however, I've read somewhere that even acrylics may not be as safe as we might think. However, that may not be accurate which is why I'm soliciting advice from you guys on the group. Certainly your idea of a cross-flow spraybooth certainly merits some thought. It should make an interesting project. Thanks for your response.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Hi Bill,
I have a dedicated vacuum cleaner for the workshop plus a small ducted dust extraction system. Trouble is that I'm a woodturner and wood lathes are notoriously difficult to trap shavings/dust from - not to mention the bandsaw, sanders and other portable power tools. Because of the work which goes on in there, it would take literally hours to bring it up to a state where the ambient air quality is high enough to be able to airbrush models successfully - and then I'd go and spoil it all by turning yet another fruit bowl!
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Pierre,
You aren't missing anything! What I actually meant was that there was absolutely no way I would even consider airbrushing enamels indoors. However, I've toyed with the idea of airbrushing acrylics but apparently, even they aren't quite as safe as we're sometimes led to believe (that's based on a newsgroup posting I read somewhere so maybe it isn't true - as I said I'm no expert) - so that's why I've been wary of using 'em indoors.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Greg,
Hosing down the floors isn't an option I'm afraid. The machinery (some of which has unprotected cast iron parts) would just go rusty with that amount of moisture around. However, I'm interested in your comment about acrylics being fairly safe. Maybe I'm just worrying over nothing. Thanks for your response.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Thanks for this, Ray. I'm afraid going around the workshop with a spray bottle would just encourage the machinery (much of which has cast iron components) to rust! However, your comments about acrylics not being too harmful are encouraging. Maybe with the help of a small homemade portable spray booth I'll get permission to use 'em indoors! Maybe I'm just worrying unnecessarily.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Ok, here ya go.....
Realistically, no matter the type, breathed in in a concentrated vapor form, ALL paint fumes are BAD !!!!! (I've spent 23+ years as a house painter...)
That said, ventilated properly, neither will cause a problem.
Oh.... and the newer acrylics are just as bad as solvent based paints. When you see synthetic lacquer in acrylic paints, make no mistake, they are just as bad as solvent based one's. (if not worse)
Good news is that most of the above vapors being heavier than air, rapidly sink to ground level. Bad news is that is the zone that domestic pets live in, so another thing to be careful about. But being heavier than air, there will be far less airborne material *hanging* around than with your wood projects. It will dissipate very quickly with just *some* ventilation.
None of this (!!!) will cause any immediate harm, but prolonged exposure to said vapors will affect you.
Believe it or not, a good sized floor fan, located near the floor, and exiting outside should more than do the job.
I also made a CHEAP spray booth out of a cardboard box, hooked a fan up to the lower back. (filter in FRONT of fan) It fits into a window opening like an window AC unit, and I spray in my bedroom with no paint fumes left over at all :) (cost all of an boxer computer fan and ps)
This is NOT something to be afraid of, just something to respect.
There are far worse things in life looking to take a bite out of you, so don't over worry yourself about this. No way will you ever spray enough to affect you, unless you do it all day long, month in month out................. (same with family, unless some have allergies )
Allan
Only A Gentleman Can Insult Me And A True Gentleman Never Will
Reply to
AM
Sawdust in the air is also a problem when you paint or varnish your woodworking projects. It's also not completely safe to breath, especially if you work with stuff like MDF or develop an allergy to certain woods.
Install a dust collection system in your workshop. If you can't afford to spend a lot, start with a good shop vac that you can hook up to whichever power tool you're using. Check out the woodworking magazines, they often have articles on dust-removal systems etc.; I recently saw one on building a sanding table that's basically an air hockey table in reverse, so it collects most of the dust as you work.
Also consider getting a good air cleaner for the workshop. Leaving it running for an hour or two ought to remove most of the airborn dust.
I assume you mean that although acrylics would be safer than enamels, you're concerned that they wouldn't be safe enough to use in the "family" parts of the house.
A spray booth with a decent filter and a strong fan should remove most of the paint particles and thinner droplets, but not the thinner fumes, so it would give you partial benefits.
Some modelers connect their spray booth to a clothes dryer vent that's designed to fit into an adjacent window. I made my own out of plywood and insulated it to reduce heat loss in winter. My booth is just a kitchen exhaust hood on a 3-sided box, which sits on a small desk.
Reply to
Wayne C. Morris
Hi Wayne,
Thanks for your reply. . .
I already have a ducted dust extraction system for the workshop but, unfortunately lathes are notoriously difficult to collect dust from!
Your assumption about my position on enamels v acrylics is quite right. I think I might have given one or two other folks the wrong impression.
Your comment about getting an air cleaner is particularly interesting. I've been wondering whether one of these might do the trick but, unfortunately I'll have to save up for one. Nevertheless it might well go a long way towards being the answer.
Kind regards
Ron
Reply to
Ron Headon
Have you ever incorporated your woodworking knowledge and skills, into the modeling hobby? I have just recently re-entered the hobby of model rocketry (after a 20+ year hiatus), and have discovered that there is a huge market and demand for custom turned balsa/basswood nosecones, transitions, adapters, etc. There is a growing "cottage industry" of cloning the classic rocket kits of yesteryear, including the wooden parts.
Reply to
Greg Heilers
Just to clarify my last paragraph, the cooker hood is piped through the wall and exhausts outside the house. I wouldn't try the same trick with a recirculating hood, it wouldn't take the fumes away. The same applies to any spraybooth - pipe the exhaust away to the outside world, through a window or other convenient opening, where the fumes will quickly be diluted.
Acrylics do have aromatics in the thinner, it isn't just water. Whenever I've tried to spray acrylics I've also been a microparticle hazard - the damn stuff dried on the way to the model! Gave a nice flock finish. I'll stick with what I know best...
Reply to
Alan Dicey
I do a lot of scratch building using wood, and my woodworking tools and skills come in handy there.
Incidently, it is my belief that one can learn to do a so-so job of either brush or airbrush painting easily, but to get a really fine finish, it is easier to learn to do it on airbrush than regular brush. A brushstroke-free job with regular brush is a rare skill.
Reply to
Don Stauffer

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