Introduction: Soldering Fume Extractor

Picture of Soldering Fume Extractor

I'm just getting into home projects, but after doing a few I decided breathing flux fumes probably wasn't too good for me or my kids. I could just buy one (prices range from ~$40 to well over $100), but decided to build my own. It ran a bit more than it probably needed too - I probably could have shaved a few bucks on some of the parts, but overall I probably came out a little ahead, and learned a bit in the process.

Parts list:
Project Box (8" x 6" x 3"); Radio Shack 270-1809 $6.99
DPDT Rocker Switch; Radio Shack 275-695 $3.99
Fan, 12VDC, 99CFM; Jameco 1585389 $11.95
Weller Fume Extractor Filters (3 pk); Jameco 684828 $7.15
Jack, DC power, Male 2.1mm; Jameco 151590 $1.19
12V Power Supply; Jameco 252823 $13.15
wire, nuts & bolts, solder, etc. I had lying around
total $44.42 (with two spare filters as well)

It works well, isn't too loud, and now I feel better about soldering.

Step 1: Prep the Project Box

Picture of Prep the Project Box

Corner holes were marked by holding the fan on the outside and then using a very thin round file to mark the plastic.

I used a hand held drill with wood bits - seemed to do fine on the soft plastic. You can see that I roughed out where the center of the fan was because I didn't need holes there, although I clearly wasn't always too careful about where I drilled. In retrospect I think I should have cut a single large hole then used a wire blade-guard. That would have provided less resistance in the outlet. I used a deburring tool to clean up the edges. The switch and jack holes were made with larger drill bits - used a caliper to figure out the diameter of the shaft of each.

For the front hole I used one of the filters to pencil in the size, and then measures out a slightly smaller hole. I used a Dremel tool with a cutting wheel. It left a sloppy edge that I cleaned up with a razor-cutter and then a sanding drum on the Dremel. I used a punch to mark the holes for the wires pretty much by eyeball, and then used the wood bits again.

Step 2: Attach the Parts

Picture of Attach the Parts

All downhill from here. Turned out that the mounting holes for the fan were not exactly aligned, so I had to use the deburring tool on one of the top holes to get the bolts in.

Switch and jack each had a removable collar to secure them. I soldered extension wires to the jack and switch before mounting them so that I'd have an easier time making the necessary connections. Final wiring was tested by just twisting wires together before doing the final soldering.

I just used black copper wiring to attach the filter because I had a big spool of it. Originally I had planned to do a fancier bracket on the inside, but the realized the wire would block less of the airflow.

Step 3: Done

Picture of Done

Screwed on the front panel of the project box with the included screws, and we're ready to go.


kwoeltje (author)2010-09-04

too bad. I like the design otherwise. I've got mine plugged in with a wall wart - sort of wishing now I'd gone with batteries to keep the cable clutter off my workbench. I might use your idea and go with a voltage regulator. Or I could see if there's room to cram in 8 1.5v batteries. Probably is. /K

kwoeltje (author)2010-08-18

Tthe arms would be a good idea. You'd have to weight the extractor so it wouldn't tip. I'm interested in what circuit you plan on using - are you going to use a rheostat or PWM circuit for speed control? /K

jeff-o (author)2008-10-22

One further suggestion to anyone who is thinking of building a fume extractor: use a 120V fan and skip the AC adapter. They're about the same price, but more powerful. Just be careful when you're working with that much voltage!

AnarchistAsian (author)jeff-o2008-12-27

the voltage doesn't matter, it's the current that's dangerous...

jeff-o (author)AnarchistAsian2008-12-28

Well, in this case 120V has enough oomph to push current through your heart, where 12V doesn't, except in some special circumstances (wet hands).

AnarchistAsian (author)jeff-o2008-12-28

uhhh, no, voltage doesn't matter, voltage is voltage... amps are current...
that's what can kill you...

jeff-o (author)AnarchistAsian2008-12-28

Yes, it's the current that will kill, but you need enough voltage to push the current through the resistance of your body. At a few thousand to a few hundred thousand ohms of resistance, your body does put up a bit of a fight. Just do the math: 12V divided by 10000 ohms is just 1.2mA, not enough to kill you. But increase the voltage to 120V with the same resistance and you're looking at 12mA, which IS enough to stop your heart.

Iridium7 (author)jeff-o2009-11-28

 btw, this is off topic but who is that on your profile (pic)?

jeff-o (author)Iridium72009-12-01

Superteen extraordinaire!

Freakazoid!  Freakazoid!

Iridium7 (author)jeff-o2009-12-01

 knew he looked familiar.

Punkguyta (author)jeff-o2009-01-20

Why do people still argue about this today? (shakes head)... I thought myth-busters already "Debunked" this one for everyone.

AnarchistAsian (author)jeff-o2008-12-28

oh, i see, ok, sorry about that... ooohh, i'm so excited, i'm almost done with my DC to DC boost converter for my coil gun...

the_mad_man (author)jeff-o2008-10-25

or if you in Australia, 240v fan

merseyless (author)the_mad_man2008-12-27


kwoeltje (author)jeff-o2008-10-24

Thanks. I hadn't looked into that, but for now I feel better about lower voltage DC. (and I'll look out for used lamps) /K

HWillems (author)2009-03-28

What would I need to do to add a fan speed switch to the Fume Extractor? My goal is to try and decrease the speed of the fan to lower the noise level and because I don't always need that much speed on little jobs.

Iridium7 (author)HWillems2009-11-13

 you could use a potentiometer

kwoeltje (author)HWillems2009-04-11

Although the rheostat idea will apparently work, it looks like that at low speeds there can be problems. I came across another option - a pulse-width modulation (PWM) circuit here:

A similar circuit without the IC chip is here:

Probably overkill for what you want, but thought I'd include the links for future reference.

kwoeltje (author)HWillems2009-03-28

I'm an electronics newbie, but I suspect you could put a rheostat in the circuit to do this. /K

HWillems (author)kwoeltje2009-03-28

K, thanks. I'm really new at electronics. I'm not even sure how to wire this up without the speed switch. I can't tell where the wires are going from your picture. I'm trying to find somewhere on the internet that teaches me how to do it.

kwoeltje (author)HWillems2009-03-28

The wiring for the fan is very basic - I've included a crude diagram. I'd have to look at some example circuits to figure out where to put the rheostat. /K

HWillems (author)kwoeltje2009-03-30

Thank you. I got it working!

kwoeltje (author)HWillems2009-03-30

Great! Let me know if you get the variable speed working. /K

Scrubsfan1234 (author)2008-12-27

what about wearing a disposable mask that u can find in most stores, and buy a bunch, then use them accordingly. I am new to soldering, so correct me if i'm wrong, but one mask per project, and a company called Ammex sells them in cases of 12 boxes, with 20 masks for 100 bucks. It may be more pricey, but convenience is key.

kwoeltje (author)Scrubsfan12342008-12-28

Those masks may be good for particulates, but I'm not sure how well they filter the toxins. The filter in the extractor appears to be activated charcoal, which serves as more than just a mechanical filter because it can bind a lot of toxic substances. Masks can also become uncomfortable to wear relatively quickly (for me anyway). /K

Dorien (author)kwoeltje2009-01-14

What you say there is the key, toxins, not particles. Many in this topic keep referring to the "rosin" fumes and the "irritation" of the smoke. Unfortunately it is what is not visible or irritating that is harmful, this time anyway. Dorien

Scrubsfan1234 (author)Dorien2009-01-15

k, it was just a suggestion for an easy, convenient solution, but now I wont risk it.

Dorien (author)Scrubsfan12342009-01-14

What AleGuy says there is the key, toxins, not particles. Many in this topic keep referring to the "rosin" fumes and the "irritation" of the smoke. Unfortunately it is what is not visible or irritating that is harmful, this time anyway. Dorien

fallenspirit123 (author)2008-12-27

great instructable!

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-12-27

Hey, this is nice, but really, my dad has been breathing those fumes from soldering for more than 40 years, and he's good as ever...

i've been breathing those fumes for 3-4 years, and i still feel fine...

really, it's not too bad for your health, just don't try to breath them in, and you'll be fine...

eljohn3 (author)2008-12-18

Nice one, probably the only fume fan I've seen on instructables that actually seems practical. I'm making a portable one similar to this, hope my results turn out as good as your.

kwoeltje (author)eljohn32008-12-18

Are you going to make it battery powered? If you want really portable Make has instructions for a fume extractor in an Altoids tin. See:
about halfway down (the link to the story by itself isn't working, but everything you need to know seems to be at the above link).

Post what you make - this was my first post on Instructables - wasn't hard to do. Just take a few photos along the way.

Best of luck. I look forward to seeing your project.

edfel01 (author)2008-12-17

its impressive on a monitor too. nice job

amk503 (author)2008-10-22

Great idea. Most people reading this have or can improvise some of the parts, including and most notably the power supply and 12v fan. So your price estimate is probably higher than what most people will need to spend. Also, try mounting your extractor to some sort of adjustable arm. An old desk lamp with a flexible arm works great. If you want to step it up a bit buy a swing arm drafting lamp ($30 or so for a cheap one) , remove the lamp, and mount your extractor.

kwoeltje (author)amk5032008-10-24

Thanks. I had thought about suspending it from above with chain, but it doesn't take up that much bench space, and is right about the height of the holder I use when soldering, But I didn' t think of the lamp idea - I'll have to look into that. /K

jeff-o (author)amk5032008-10-23

Garage sales and thrift stores are gold mines for old lamps.

About This Instructable




Bio: Favorites enjoy robotics, python, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and making in general.
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