The Ventilation System Whit Built

by Whit Slemmons

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NOTE:  Whit nor SF is not responsible for what people may do with this information. Please check with electricians and the building codes in your city to make sure everything meets local regulations.

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Here is the information on the ventilation system described in the 2006 Glass Art Magazine article written by Pat Frantz. This is a very effective ventilation system specifically designed for glass bead makers but is just as effective for silversmiths. It is designed so it can be easily set up by anyone in a portable mode where the tubing and fan is routed out a door or through a window or for a more formal teaching studio or permanent application.


FAN: The fan can take most outside weather as long as the discharge side opening is protected from direct rain (not facing upward).
Deflect-O Bath and Spa Exhaust Fan Model: TFK 6 275 CFM (cubic feet per minute). Price about $170.00. Available at Home Depot Bath exhaustfan department. If you can't find this one, there is a Fantech model that looks identical and has the same output.

When you go to Home Depot, go back to the where they sell bath exhaust fans and toilets. If they cannot find it, you look on the shelves and I think you will find the exhaust fan. They have told me they don't have such a thing and then I have looked around and found several on the shelf. If this doesn't work a Fantech FR160 which you can find on ebay or search Google or at ( It sells for about $170 and is basically the same fan.

TUBING: The fan has a 6 in. inlet. You can buy 6in. flex tubing to connect up to your torch. The flex tubing is bent into a curved inlet underneath and close to end of your torch flame. Connectors are available to connect several lengths of flex tubing if necessary. The fan is waterproof so it can be mounted outside to remove the noise away from the artist. A 6 1/2 in. dia. hole can be cut in an outside wall to run the flex tubing through. Or it can be placed through an open window or door to the fan mounted outside. I recommend wrapping the joints with aluminum tape to minimize any leakage. Note: There is some turbulence caused by the ribs of the flex tubing however an adequate fan like the one recommended can overcome the small losses caused by this. An artist needs to be able to use flex tubing when curving around obstacles. Also, it is important to have a system that can be cheaply and quickly assembled rather than worry about small turbulence losses due to the ribs of the tubing. I recommend using one fan for each torch to make sure each has adequate ventilation.Sometimes 8 or 10 ft. of tubing is required to connect to the fan outside the room.

EXTENSION CORD:The fan can easily be hooked up electrically by purchasing an extension cord of the length to go from the fan to an electrical outlet with a couple feet to spare. The extension cord must be capable of handling the 1 amp. Required by the fan. Most extension cords can carry enough current for several fans but check to make sure. Then cut off the end opposite the plug and trimming back the insulation and wiring to the terminals in the fan connection box.

MUFFLER: Even though the fan is very quiet, I recommend using a muffler to reduce any noise to an even lower level. The silencer should reduce noise by 50%. The 6 in. muffler or silencer is a Fantech Model LD6 and is available from several companies on the internet for about $70.00.( It has a clean straight through design which does not reduce the air flow.

INLET: The enlarged piece at the inlet to the tubing at the torch is made from a 6 in. 30 Gv Side Take-off 30 (Model GV0959-C) that sells for about $8.00 and is available from  Cut off the notched edges and fold the remaining metal back towards the inlet to help direct the air into the tubing and reduce the rough edges. Tape this fitting onto the end of the tubing to increase the intake area about twice that of the 6 in. tubing.

ALIGNMENT: When aligning the vent system to the torch have the opening about parallel to the direction of the torch with the torch slightly above the metal of the ventilation system inlet when the fan is turned OFF. Once the tubing is bent into place position the modified side take off unit on the end of the tubing. If it does not slope back enough, put strip of aluminum tape around the end of the tubing then cut the tubing opening using heavy duty scissors starting at the bottom and cutting through the tape and tubing toward, the top with an increasingly wider cutoff portion until you reach the top and then cut down the other side reducing the portion cut off until you reach the bottom. This will give you a greater slant to the Side Take-off flange piece. Then tape with aluminum tape the side take-off flange piece to the tubing.

When the torch is lit the ventilation system will pull the end of the torch flame slightly down as it pulls all the harmful gasses into the system and away from the artists face. A weight with a wire attached and extending around the 6 in. tubing at the inlet can be used to secure the tubing in the correct position and to allow easy adjustments. In the studio shown in the photographs a 2 in. dia. Disk magnet is placed inside the tubing in a place where the aluminum tubing touches the table and ribs have been flattened. This allows the ventilation inlet to be easily adjusted in and out and left or right as it is aligned to the torch.

Hopefully this will answer your questions. I am enclosing photo's of a quick set-up that has the tubing extending through an old outside door that isn't used. Make sure the motor is properly mounted to a simple support not like shown in this photo. I am also including photos of Andrea's new studio with a complete ventilation system for each torch. This is just five of the systems described here. With all five systems on, you can easily carry on a normal conversation in the studio.

COST: I am making information on this system available because I don't want glass bead or jewelry artists to endanger their health for not having an adequate ventilation system. This system will only cost about $300 for each torch and can be assembled as a portable system in about 1 hour. A permanent installation will take a little longer.

This ventilation system can also be used for other jewelry making operations. The front edge of the flanged inlet can be bent downward until the opening is approximately vertical. A small buffing motor and wheel can be placed in front of it to suck off particles created during these operations. Also soldering and chemical cleaning can be performed in front of the inlet to remove fumes.

CAUTION: I am not responsible for what people may do with this information. Please check with electricians and the building codes in your city to make sure everything is Okay!


1. A quick portable ventilation setup with the flex tubing running through a whole in an old door. Fan should be mounted with a secure base so it will not fall over not like shown in the photo.


2. Photo of the label on the fan from Home Depot.


3. Just the propane flame showing the sucking ability of the system.


4. Normal bead making torch flame (Note: Tip of flame bent towards vent.)


5. Andrea's teaching studio (Andrea Guarino-Slemmons is Whit's wife)

6. The back side of the studio showing the five individual ventilation systems.


ADDED NOTE:  The black cylindrical section between the muffler and the fan is a rubber boot I made by cutting a piece of black rubber gasket material from the hardware store, (about 1/8 in. thick) 6 in. wide and long enough to wrap around the fan inlet and over lap about 3 to 4 in.. I needed the 6 in.length to allow the motor to be mounted into the concrete foundation however usually only about 4 in. wide piece is required. (Fantech also makes connectors from the fan to the muffler that are about 2 in. wide and work just fine.) I used contact cement to glue the over lapped area to provide a seal and stainless screw type hose clamps to attach it to the fan and the muffler. This boot acts as a vibration insulator between the fan and the rest of the mechanical parts so no mechanical sound is transmitted. The fans which draw about an amp. Are controlled by X-10 ( three wire controllers that plug connect from the fan to a terminal strip. This allows Andrea to easily turn on any combination of fans from a $15 controller. I prefer the older style units with dial wheels to set the code. A lot of these details are not necessary however I wanted to make it the quietest system possible within reason.

If you have any further questions please let me know!

Take care, Whit Slemmons


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