Introduction: DIY Fume Extractor

Picture of DIY Fume Extractor

I've spent too much time breathing the stuff that emanates from the tips of soldering irons. After checking out the available fume extractors, I thought I could do better putting something together myself. If it didn't turn out that way, at least it would be my loud, expensive, and low air flow fume extractor. Maker’s remorse is always better than buyer’s remorse.

Luck was on my side this time and I don’t have to deal with any remorse. I’m happy with how this project turned out. There’s more than a couple improvements that I could make and more than a few things I could have added at the beginning, but keeping it simple helped get it done. This DIY fume extractor does the job and it's a great addition to my work bench.

WARNING: This project requires making AC power connections. Please give it the diligence it deserves. Don't take risks that might end up hurting you or someone else.

Step 1: BOM

Bill of Materials:

Cooltron AC Axial Fan 120mmx120mmx38mm 110 CFM 2600 RPM
Carbon Filter Material
2 x Silverstone Fan Filter with Grill 120mm
120mm Chrome Fan Grill
Hammond 1415D 6”x6”x6” Steel Enclosure
16A 125V DPST Rocker Switch E-Switch RR812C1121 or equivalent

1/4” Wire Grommet
Wire Eyelet
4 x 2” #8-32 Machine Screws
4 x 1.5” #8-32 Machine Screws
4 x #8-32 Nuts
4 x #8-32 Nylon Lock Nuts
4 x #8-32 Wing Nuts
IEC Power Cord (Computer Power Cord)
Shrink Tube
Rust-Oleum “Hammered” Black Spray Paint 7215830
Self-Adhesive Rubber Feet

Step 2: Cutting and Drilling

Picture of Cutting and Drilling

Find the center of each lid and layout the locations for the fan and grill mounting holes

Cut a 4.5” hole in the center of each lid, and drill the grill and fan holes

Layout the holes for the power switch and power cord on the enclosure. Leave enough space to clear the 1.5” thick fan. I drilled my switch hole too far back and it was a bit of a pain to modify the fan, etc. to get it all to fit.

Drill holes for the power switch and cord. I used a .75" – .5" shank drill bit which is a little small for the switch. I opened up the hole and cut the keyway by filing out the extra material.

I had some thumb screws laying around that I thought would make the fume extractor look more awesome and make changing the filter easier. I drilled out the original lid holes in the enclosure and tapped them for the thumb screws.

Step 3: Mock Up the Fume Extractor

Picture of Mock Up the Fume Extractor

Mount the fan and chrome grill on the back lid with the 2” #8-32 screws and nylon lock nuts.

Use one of the Silverstone grills as a template to cut a square of filter material and poke the mounting holes

Mount a Silverstone grill on the other enclosure lid using the 1.5" #8-32 screws and nuts

Slide the filter down the 1.5" #8-32 screws and place the second Silverstone grill on top

Secure the Silverstone grill with 4, #8-32 wing nuts

Mount the filter sandwich and the fan in the enclosure with the lid screws included with the enclosure.

Make sure everything fits. If your switch hole is just big enough, it can be difficult to pop the switch in and out. I made sure the switch fit when I filed the hole. Rather than struggle with the switch, I ran the power cord that came with the fan out the switch hole so I could power the thing up. If everything fits and works up to this point, disassemble everything and get ready for paint. Depending on how your enclosure fits together, at this point you might want to make some notes on the back of the lids and inside of the enclosure denoting top, bottom, front lid, back lid, etc.

Step 4: Paint

Picture of Paint

Scuff the entire outside surface of the enclosure and lids with Scotch-Bright to help the paint adhere to the surface.

Clean and remove all dust, oil, and dirt from the surface to be painted.

Paint the parts in a well-ventilated, well lighted, area. I hung mine in the garage with modified wire clothes hangers after blowing the dust out the door, and off the parts, with a compressor

Follow the directions on the can and allow the paint to fully dry

I’m amazed at how the Rust-Oleum “Hammered” finish turned out. I’m in love with this stuff.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Picture of Final Assembly

Determine which fan mounting bolt is going to hold the ground wire and remove the paint from the fan in that area

Mount the fan and the chrome grill on the back lid leaving the nylon lock nut intend for the ground connection loose

Insert the .25" wire grommet into the power wire hole on the enclosure

Cut the C13 (computer plug) off of the IEC power cord

Pass the cord through the wire grommet from the outside of the enclosure and pull through a good length of cord

Strip the outer insulation off of a sufficient length of the power cord to expose the insulated conductor wires

Tie a knot in the power cord to prevent it from being pulled out the power cord hole and grommet. This stain relief will protect your connections should the cord get pulled or yanked.

Strip all three of the power cord conductors

Cut the fan connector off the power cord that came with the fan with a little more than enough wire to reach the switch

Separate and strip the fan cord’s conductors

Pass all four wires out the power switch hole, add shrink tubing to all four wires, and solder in the switch (consult the switch data sheet and/or pin out the switch with a multimeter to ensure a proper connection)

Strip the ground wire and install the eyelet

Install the lid/fan assembly, switch, and ground wire

Plug the power cord into an outlet and test the fan and switch

Unplug the power cord

Assemble the filter sandwich and install the front lid

Stick the self-adhesive rubber feet to the bottom of the enclosure

Step 6: Voilà

Picture of Voilà
That's it. Now you can breathe easy while soldering.

Thanks for reading.


plesperance (author)2016-09-03

Does putting a fan into an enclosure produce more airflow?

m0j0r1s1ng (author)plesperance2016-12-23

Depends on the shape and of course if there is another port on the enclosure, but yes just look at what a ducted fan can do compared to a regular propeller or even a jet engine for that matter both are shrouded like an enclosure. But just a box and fan no design I think would have the opposite effect

phenx made it! (author)2016-07-04

Thanks for posting this. It was a very useful and fun project to make. Added a 4 position switch, so that I could control the speed of my noisy/beastly fan, and a digital voltage meter (almost completely unnecessary other than looks).

jimdkc (author)2016-06-26

You can buy a fume extractor for less than the cost of the enclosure specced here.

But, if you have a fan and enclosure in your spare parts bin, this would be a good use of them!

si made it! (author)2016-06-05

Thanks for the instructable!

I had a couple of Corsair AF140 LED fans left over from a PC build, an old 12v 2a power supply, and an ABS enclosure that was the wrong size for a project, so the only thing to purchase was some carbon filter (now on its way). Finished this afternoon, fans fit like a glove, stoked!

Crumpred made it! (author)2016-06-04

Loved this project so much I had to build my own.

bobby.nunnery.9 (author)2015-06-23

Quick question. I'm very new to the idea of needing such a fan and wonder if a hobbyist who uses some organic solvents (read acetone for smoothing 3-prints) would be safe since acetone is such an ugly vapor?

TomT23 (author)bobby.nunnery.92015-10-28

Acetone can kill you. Between breathing it and using it to clean off resin from my hands when building a boat - OUTSIDE, I ended up in emergency room twice with final in intensive care with chemical poisoning with organs shutting down. It was a close call. Use mask or other precautions. Been there done that! :-/

Acklan (author)2015-09-20


Stuart_F made it! (author)2015-01-20

Awesome project! I made two minor tweaks. I added an illuminated fused switch/plug combo and a toolbox handle to the top. Thanks for sharing!

RJBurton (author)Stuart_F2015-01-22

Very nicely done, Stuart. I'm waiting on a few more parts to arrive so I can finally build mine. I tweaked a few things also. How's the airflow/sucking power on yours?

Stuart_F (author)RJBurton2015-01-22

I'd say it's comparable to the video. I'm really pleased with it, and if anything, I'd say it works better than I expected. Fumes are easily sucked in from a comfortable distance (~4-6"). Just park the extractor next to where you are working and solder like normal. You don't have to solder right up next to it or anything. I did seal off the four small gaps in the enclosure at the open ends with gorilla glue and filed them flush prior to painting. However, after trying it out, I'm pretty sure it would have worked just as well without doing that.

Ktulu_1 (author)Stuart_F2015-01-21

Stuart, that's freaking awesome. The power cord socket/switch is a huge upgrade.

Stuart_F (author)Ktulu_12015-01-22

Thanks! It's just icing on the cake though. Again, great project!

Morten LeonardF (author)2014-07-31

I ordered the same box (Hammond 1415D 6”x6”x6” Steel Enclosure).

The picture shows lids to accompany the box, but mine arrived without lids.

My question being if the box came with or without lids?

Ktulu_1 (author)Morten LeonardF2014-07-31

Yeah mine came with lids and screws for the lids. Unless something's changed, Digikey or Hammond owe you two lids.

Moffe2k (author)Ktulu_12014-07-31

I got in touch with them, they will send me a new box with both lids and screws. Thanks for the quick reply. I will be making this when the other parts come in the mail. :)

ninjanody (author)2012-12-12

nice design. i am using just a simple pc fan with filter from cooking extractor and a grill protector.

rush_elixir (author)2012-10-05

You can also use a PSU unit, just reverse the fan and you have an instant fume extractor and a nice bench supply for your electronic projects.

SGT. Desert (author)2012-10-03

nice 5 stars

Bonecaya (author)2012-09-26

Very nice Filter. Nice clean and compact.

Would it be possible to use the second grill that you got instead of the chrome wire grill on the intake side of it though? Of course remove the added mesh and just leave the larger honeycomb openings. Or would that restrict airflow too much and reduce the effectiveness?

Ktulu_1 (author)Bonecaya2012-10-03

Sure. The chrome grill is on the exhaust side of the fan, but why not? I haven't measured the airflow but it looks like the Silverstone grills are much more restrictive than the chrome grill. Removing the mesh looks like it would improve the airflow a bit.

I'm debating replacing the Silverstone grill on the inside of the filter sandwich with a chrome grill, but I'm uncertain if it will seal the filter adequately. I might remove the mesh from the inside grill as you've suggested.

pudtiny (author)2012-09-26

WOW great work, how did you cut the 4.5" holes?

Ktulu_1 (author)pudtiny2012-10-03

With a drill press and hole saw.

LynxSys (author)2012-10-01

Very nice looking project! I feel compelled to issue a health warning about evil fumes, though. The foam "filter" that's used to keep dust out of your computer case will not capture the nastiness that soldering produces.

Because soldering fumes are composed of both tiny particles and gasses, you need both a HEPA particulate filter as well as an activated carbon filter to neutralize the respective threats. You might also consider a standard filter in front of the HEPA filter to extend the HEPA filter's lifespan.

Also, you need to be sure that your airflow is great enough that you're really getting all of the fumes. Realistically, for the hobbyist who isn't soldering all that often, (OSHA inspectors, please skip to the next paragraph) you can probably skip the math for the airflow requirements and just go with "if I can't smell it, it's probably not hurting me...too much." Obviously, if you can still smell or see the fumes your filtration is either ineffective, or you're not capturing all of the fumes to begin with.

Also, a question about the form factor: is there a reason that you chose an enclosure with as much depth as that one, or did it just happen to be the best fit? If there's no functional reason to have it be that deep, I be inclined to try to build a thinner one and perhaps mount it on a gooseneck or something similar.

Ktulu_1 (author)LynxSys2012-10-03

Finding a suitable enclosure was difficult for me. I needed something that was sturdy and with 6" ends on it and the Hammond box was really all I could come up with. I would have loved a similar box with about half the depth. The enclosure was by far the most expensive part in this. A cheaper enclosure would make this much more of a deal when compared to commercially available models.

jimbalny (author)2012-10-01

This is a really nice looking fan, think it's about time I build myself one! The other day I dipped my soldering iron in tip cleaner/tinner and got a nice plume of smoke right up my nostril. I could taste that crap in my LUNGS, such a bad menthol/chemically taste ugh.

ledshed (author)2012-10-01

That's a very nice looking device!

Z.K. (author)2012-09-28

Nice Project though a little on the large size for me since I don't have a large work space. I am planning on using a DC Fan I have laying around with a PWM circuit to control the fan speed. I am not sure if I really need a fan control, but some of these fans get really noisy and I don't like a lot of noise. Maybe I will look around for a whisper fan though they tend to be a bit expensive.

joerice01 (author)2012-09-26

Love the look, nothing looks better completely black.
Could you get the same result from a DC fan or is AC they way to?

Z.K. (author)joerice012012-09-28

Depends on what you need. You can get some fairly good DC fans. You just need to make sure they move enough air. I would also put a speed control of some sort on it as fans do get quite noisy.

Ktulu_1 (author)joerice012012-09-26

The AC fan made it easier to put this together but a DC fan and appropriate power supply would work just as well. There's probably a much broader choice of 120mm DC fans as well.

agis68 (author)2012-09-28

really grate work. . I have a similar device, not very good looking as yours but on mine i adde also a thick CO2 filter.

carmstrong2 (author)2012-09-27

Does anyone have experience making a similar unit for small scale welding with stick and TIG?

fusorx (author)carmstrong22012-09-27

This same one would probably work fine for that as well.

carmstrong2 (author)fusorx2012-09-28

Hmmmm . . . The airflow rate is too low. About 500 - 700 cfm would be suitable to create the capturing air-pass velocity over the weld area. Perhaps lower cfm in an enclosed or sided box enclosure work area?

londobali (author)2012-09-28

QUOTE: "Maker’s remorse is always better than buyer’s remorse."
yeah.. true story! :)

great job! looks super professional too..
Thx for sharing..

jhr007 (author)2012-09-27

Awesome! I'm gonna make one for sure. I've got enough DC wall warts sitting around.

As an FYI for those who haven't seen this site, it will take your dimensions and give you the plans to make your own box. Free!(as in beer) Laser, CNC, or just manually cut the lines.

mtnredhed (author)2012-09-27

Wow. Looks nicer than the commercial units (like Hako). I already have 12vdc on the bench, so I'll probably go with computer fans and a pull/push box.

Again. very nicely done.

rosenred (author)2012-09-27

Excellent Instructable. I wonder whether one could use this for extracting cigarette smoke (yeah, nasty habit I know but...)

The filter would need to be regularly changed for sure.

Oh, you get plus points for "BOM" :)

dantistus (author)2012-09-27

Thank you, final result looks cool!

amandaghassaei (author)2012-09-24

looks great! I need one of these, that stuff is nasty. how often do you have to change the filter? how much does something like this retail?

Ktulu_1 (author)amandaghassaei2012-09-26

I'm not sure at what point I'll need to replace the filter.

fin saunders (author)2012-09-25

There was some confusion over at Hackaday about powering it up. I think they thought it was a DC fan that you were using.

This is one of the most professional looking projects that I seen on instructables. Very nice, simply elegant.

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