Setting up the Spray Booth

A new addition to my work space setup for the F-4 Phantom build is a spray booth. I first saw one on a YouTube video channel run by a professional model builder.

The concept is fairly simple: Use a fan to create negative air pressure so the airborne paint and other chemicals goes toward the fan instead of hanging around your face. Of course, you should still use a suitably-rated safety mask. (Note: I use a 3M mask with a filter (60923) suitable for the most toxic stuff I use, which are lacquer-based paints and thinners.)

Two reasons I decided I needed one:

  • Although I use mostly acrylic (water-based) paints, the primer is lacquer-based. Each time I used it with the airbrush, there was a really strong odor. And I could see particulate in the air, which has to come down and rest somewhere… clothes, surfaces, etc.
  • With several coats of blue acrylic paint on the chassis of the Camaro, (and not wearing my mask — shame on me!), I noticed a blue color when blowing my nose. I definitely don’t need a case of paint-lung.

Make or buy?

You can Google instructions for how to make your own spray booth. If you have some basic tools (and a place to use them) combined with mechanical skills, you can save some money. The mechanism is basically a fan drawing air through an air filter you would use in your home.

Given I live in an apartment, it made more sense for me to buy one. I’d probably choose differently if I was creating a more permanent area for modeling because I own the space.

I purchased a Master Airbrush portable hobby airbrush spray booth from Amazon for about $80.

Basic features

  • As the product name implies, it’s portable. You can fold it up and use the handle to tote it around. (I doubt I’ll use this capability, but I could see that being useful if you’d need to put it away to free up space on your table.)
  • This particular brand supports linking two of them side-by-side for larger projects.
  • If you want to spend about $20 more, you can get units with built-in LED lighting.
  • There’s a small turntable so you can rotate things around as you paint them.

Assembly; problems and solutions

Let’s get to some pictures! Here’s the un-boxing…

Without the vent hose attached, here’s what the back of the unit looks like…

Fortunately I figured out more or less how things went together, as there was some pretty bad Engrish in the instructions…

I was able to “peploy” the side covers, but was at a loss for how to “ratherish lift the front work bedplate, open the frond left and right side” to put things “flatewise.”

Pro-tip: Skip the step where it tells you to remove the screws to the fan grate on the back. You can’t fit the adapter on otherwise!

Problem 1: Gaps in the walls

It’s designed to be portable, so things don’t quite have a solid fit…

My solution was to cover the gaps with some masking tape…

Problem 2: Vent clamp location

The instructions say the clamp goes on the rubber fitting near the back of the unit…

The rubber makes a great seal, and friction keeps the hose on just fine. The other end would fall off just by looking at it sideways. So I put the clamp there instead…

Ready to go

With everything assembled, I set the booth on the end of the table closest to the window…

(The black turntable just rests on the bottom plate, so it’s easy to move around, or just remove if not needed.)

Moving one of my goose-neck lamps around should provide enough light while painting. (I’m curious if the air pressure is strong enough that I won’t need to put some protective plastic on the magnifying lens on that lamp.)

The unit came with two filters installed, and the instructions said you only need one if using the venting hose. Presumably with both filters, you don’t need to vent to the outside.

Another consideration was whether I wanted to

  1. Have an additional small table for the booth to rest on (which would free up table space)
  2. Move the booth out of the way when I wasn’t painting

I went with neither option. My computer desk is on the right side of the window, so Option 1 would leave very little room for my chair. Option 2 would likely create more friction (just another thing to set up when what I really want to do is paint). We’ll see if Option 3 ends up serving me as I get into the actual build.

What’s next

My work space is ready to go with my new spray booth, so the element with the most unknowns is my new camera and how I want to edit/share what I record without going overboard and turning the other part of the bedroom into a media production unit. 🙂