Make Your Own Fume-extracting Glove Box


Here’s an easy to follow guide for building your own glove box. It’s a lab tool that contains the project you’re working on to keep things in or out. For instance, we could have used this a few years back when we tried to add an acrylic window to a hard drive. Instead, we ended up putting several hours of work into a cool-looking paperweight. But it will also come in handy for chemistry experiments that generate harmful or dangerous byproducts.

The picture above tells most of the story, but [Jason Poel Smith] does include several good tips about the construction in his video. He uses weather stripping along the edges of the clear container to ensure a seal. The hose is used to provide negative pressure so that no fumes leak out. We figure adding a smaller hole on the opposite side with a charcoal filter will help air pass into the chamber to serve as a fume extractor.

We’ve already seen a similar setup for a reflow oven. Perhaps this is the perfect solution to protect yourself from 3D printing fumes. We’re sure you saw the headlines about 3D printing being as bad as smoking cigarettes.

25 thoughts on “Make Your Own Fume-extracting Glove Box

  1. the charcoal filter is a neat idea, use a HEPA filter instead and you have the start of a sterile enviroment, real issue is getting something inside the box while keeping it sterile.
    i used to have a similar setup for handling yeast samples and cultures, worked fairly well as long as you disinfect every tool and use an airlock, cleaning and sterilization is of course neccesary as with any other fairly sterile environment .
    you can get HEPA rated filters for vacuum cleaners, they should filter most contaminants and arent too expensive.

    1. A charcoal filter really doesn’t do it for soldering either. I built a soldering station with a HEPA filter specifically because of a fantastic okinternational presentation I found.

      my well-timed placeholder post:
      Lead is bad:
      seriously, it is:
      once more:

      I sent it in to hackaday about a year ago, but my writeup was shit (no blog!) and the photography was embarrasingly bad – so I understand why it wasn’t posted :)

    1. You cannot get to absolute zero, and it would take a more than a metal container and way over $100k to get to ultra high vacuum. Start with a roughing pump, then follow with a cryo-pump that gets close to absolute zero (temperature). Then you can get down to 10e-8 torr. More time and effort you can get to Ultra-High Vacuum.

        1. In order to operate a tube, you don’t need a vacuum anywhere NEAR that strong. I’ve seen homemade tubes that used a rotary vane pump (from a refrigerator) and a homemade mercury diffusion pump. As for containment vessels, I’ve seen everything from jam jars to bell jars used. (homemade electron scanning microscope on make) In theory you might even be able to use a metal box, or a box epoxied (really well mixed) together with really thick glass or Perspex. (or a similar plexi-glass like material that wont evaporate in a vacuum)

    2. You must be more specific when you say ‘complete vacuum’..

      If the seal on the lid doesn’t leak first, then the box will collapse under the weight of atmospheric pressure. You’d need a rather large vacuum bell jar (like those used on old-school sputter coating machines) for a “complete vacuum”.

      1. See above post on spacesuit gloves, and vacuum chambers. Actually, I think the biggest problem would be the cathode rays that would bath the space. I’m not sure anything will protect against that suitably.

        1. Cathode rays will not be produced with standard vacuum tubes, as the plate voltages are usually in the range of 350V or so. You’d need considerably higher voltage for cathode rays (10’s of kV).

    1. Wonder if a mix of inert gases could do the job
      without causing unwanted changes in the flow
      of the electrons?
      I know that in arc welding various gases and blends of
      alter the characteristics of an arc, so may not be doable
      as a substitute.
      also wonder if gas density at varying pressure levels
      changes things much? i.e. potential voltage to cross a gap or pinch off the flow of electrons when desired.
      Just thinking out here.

      1. Mercury vapor might work, as it wouldn’t have a resistance that would block the elections like regular air, but would be a little dangerous and would probably short out the electronics, as it would be like having conductive air. A combination of vapor and inert gas might work, but would have to be carefully tuned to the geometry of the tube, as it would have to conduct electrons straight through the grid, but not around it. Also, ionized vapour might get a little hot. (and the whole deflection thing with the grid might not work)

  2. My grandfather used a box like this for film retrieval. It was a wooden box painted black with long black textile sleeves. (it wasn’t air-tight, not needed for that)
    So if you need to work with something light sensitive, you can use this. You may even add an IR camera and infrared LEDs and a monitor to see what you’re doing there. (or red LEDs if that’s enough)

    1. I think modern film may be sensitive to all light near the visible spectrum, even light a little outside it, like infrared. The only thing I can think of that might not disturb it would be an electron beam, as in that Russian probe that scanned the back of the moon, but even then I’m not certain, as the film was developed at that point and was merely being scanned.

        1. Colour film is developed inside machines nowadays, drop ’em in one end and the photos come out the other. All in complete darkness, except the necessary lights for projecting the image. With that in mind I’d think red bulb darkroom use is less important than other factors, eg colour accuracy, in creating new film formulas. For colour at least, hobbyists who develop their own usually work in B/W.

          And that’s assuming they still even MAKE film, of course. At least one type of film had a production run specially commissioned by hobbyists after they stopped making it.

          1. colour development is still possible as a hobby.
            there is also a dedicated following of enthusiasts, the price certainly isnt trivial like it was once (probably due to cheaper alternatives) but it is possible.
            that said the process is an absolute hell, the processing of the negatives themselves arent that bad, but having to manually mix the colours when you project it onto paper takes real time, skill and effort.

            i still do b/w analog for fun.

            also any actual negative development requires 100% darkness, even old BW, it is the paper print that people work on under redlight, colour print paper does come in a redlight safe version as well.

  3. For power in you’re better off either installing a power strip or mounting one of those wallwart extension cords [] in the wall with the sealant. I’d go with a cleear polycarb or plexi window in the top and front for doing more intense or detailed work too. Otherwise, its a great design, very straightforward and simple utilitarian solution to pesky problems.

  4. When it comes to working on harddrives and the likes I would go with an overpressure, not underpressure. You would want absolutely clean air, meaning injecting slight overpressure HEPA filtered air from the top, creating a downflow, with restricted exhaust ports on the sides. Then learn to work in a cleanroom environment with matching work methods (always pick up “downstream”, never reach over the workpiece or components, etc)

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