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Curtains Around Lathe

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Jun 2, 2019
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For those that have curtains around their lathe, I was wondering what you all found to be an ideal distance that the curtain is from all sides of the lathe? While I have scaffolding over in the lathe area, I am going to hang some Unistrut this weekend from which the curtains will hang from. Thanks.
 

Dennis J Gooding

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For those that have curtains around their lathe, I was wondering what you all found to be an ideal distance that the curtain is from all sides of the lathe? While I have scaffolding over in the lathe area, I am going to hang some Unistrut this weekend from which the curtains will hang from. Thanks.

Larry I believe that it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to protect something nearby from chips and sap, I would say put the curtain close to that something so as not to constrain your mobility. If you just want to contain the chips to make clean-up easier, then move the screen in a bit. Bear in mind that if you put screen all the way around the lathe and close in, you will not only contain the chips but also the air-born dust, increasing the need for filters or respirators. A further comment: I find that almost all of the chips go toward the front of the lathe or downward. Therefore a screen behind the lathe has relatively little value. I have pull-down plastic window shades about 6 feet in front of the lathe and about 6 feet behind the lathe and rarely bother to pull down the rear ones.
 
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Larry I believe that it depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to protect something nearby from chips and sap, I would say put the curtain close to that something so as not to constrain your mobility. If you just want to contain the chips to make clean-up easier, then move the screen in a bit. Bear in mind that if you put screen all the way around the lathe and close in, you will not only contain the chips but also the air-born dust, increasing the need for filters or respirators. A further comment: I find that almost all of the chips go toward the front of the lathe or downward. Therefore a screen behind the lathe has relatively value. I have pull-down plastic window shades about 6 feet in front of the lathe and about 6 feet behind the lathe and rarely bother to pull down the rear ones.

Thanks Dennis. You make a couple of very good points. My intent is actually a combination of both things you mention but probably more about containing as much as I can to make clean-up easier. I hadn't really considered the thought that fully contained would increase the need for respirators but it makes sense.
 
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You may already have your curtain material. I have found window screen material works great. The chips dont stick to it and it allows lots of ventilation. I used “heavy duty” from the box store.
 
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You may already have your curtain material. I have found window screen material works great. The chips dont stick to it and it allows lots of ventilation. I used “heavy duty” from the box store.

I haven't bought anything yet but will say that your idea sounds interesting. Is the screen edged in anyway and is it weighted down? Do you happen to have any pictures of your set-up? Thanks.
 
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I use gliding shower curtains.
First try reached the floor. Any air movement made the curtains move horozontally.
Version two stop 6" over the floor. Now they hang where they should and still keep almost all chips in. No weighting needed.
 

john lucas

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I bought some clear shower curtains and plan to buy the material to hang them from. I have a problem in that my ceiling is sloped starts at 9 feet high. I need to put up a railing and was looking at hospital curtain railing but the metal stuff is pretty expensive. I'm looking at this plastic rail but it's supposed to be bolted to the ceiling. I may be able to build a wooden framework to act as the ceiling and attach it to that. anybody have any opinions on this stuff. I need to do this pretty soon because I will be roughing some green bowls before long and need to contain the spray and shavings. https://www.amazon.com/Ceiling-Curt...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
 
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Lummi Island, WA
My lathe sits at the front of the shop - about 5 feet from the doors that open to 12' wide and still about seven or eight feet from the table saw at the head of the rest of the shop. Overhead the ceiling is pitched over the lathe area and at 9' for the rest of the shop working area. I put a 3/16" wire from side to side in front of the table saw and hung heavy, clear visquene to shield the rest of the shop from shavings. Unlike Dennis, I find that most of my shavings fly in front and to the left of me - aimed pretty well at the table saw (perhaps I'm doing something wrong, but that's where mine go for the most part). The curtain goes from about 8" from the ceiling to the floor. Water from wet wood doesn't bother me, the ceiling is high enough and I generally turn with the front doors open. I left the visquene longer than the wall distance to sheild the end from shavings - I just pull it across and use the end to cover the wall and shelves when needed. My grinder is inside the enclosure next to the lathe.
Works very well and tucks to the wall when not in use.
 
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I need to put up a railing and was looking at hospital curtain railing but the metal stuff is pretty expensive. I'm looking at this plastic rail but it's supposed to be bolted to the ceiling. I may be able to build a wooden framework to act as the ceiling and attach it to that. anybody have any opinions on this stuff.
John - I haven't used that from Amazon you posted, but it is similar in my last shop I used the aluminum curtain railing they sell at Ikea - it was pretty cheap as I recall (don't remember if it compares to the one you posted) and they sell all the hardware, curves and cars needed.
 
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Larry, I use heavy duty clear shower curtains that are 'extra long'. I learned that having them touch the floor became important, its amazing how much can escape even with the curtains two or three inches above the floor. I don't use the curtains all the time, only when I have a lot of shavings flying to help contain the mess. On the back side of the lathe the curtain is two feet from the lathe (I don't turn from the back side of the lathe but this allows plenty of room to sweep). The curtain is about the same distance from the end of the lathe, I don't pull it if I'm turning from the end of the lathe. I have a wall two feet from the headstock end and another wall about five feet behind me. This does well to contain the mess. An air filtration system above the lathe works well for the finer dust when I'm turning.
 
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2284F659-9155-40CE-99D0-9281297BDA58.jpeg
7266F93C-36E6-4B49-98C9-DD0737C0DF84.jpeg BBAE84DC-8D1D-4B5D-AE18-0523953E1282.jpeg
I ran a plastic coated wire across the room and secured the tension with a turnbuckles. I bought shower curtain loops and grommeted a plastic drop cloth that was cut to size.(it’s about 20 years old and looks like it). Keeping my tool area free of chips is my primary goal. My lathe room is 12 x 9. The curtain lives about 20” from wall and the lathe is about mid way. The curtain stops all lathe debris but of course it does not stop all the dust.
All parts to construct this curtain can be cheaply acquired at HD, Lowe’s or your home improvement store. In my two car garage, not shown, I have a similar setup with a tarp that divides the his and her side. My side of the garage has a table saw. So I don’t have to tell you how important it is to keep the dust out. Lol
 

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Dave Landers

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I have curtains along 2 sides of my lathe. My objective (when I remember to unfurl them) is to keep the big shavings from roughing out bowls out of the rest of the shop, so sweep-up is a bit more contained.

My lathe is not against a wall, but one curtain is where a lot of you might have a wall behind your lathe. The other is off the tailstock end. I don't have curtains on the side where I stand because the wall behind me is where all my tools are, and I don't want to block that access. And none off the headstock end because I rarely fling stuff over there. The 2 curtains are just far enough away that they don't get in my way when I'm roughing a bowl while standing off the tailstock end of the lathe.

Most of the shavings from the outside of a bowl end up on the tool rack on that wall behind me, but the tailstock curtain catches some of them. I'm not willing to trade away tool access, so I live with that. The pair of curtains do catch most of the shavings from inside. Sometimes I remember to move a trash can into the curtain corner.

I screwed some short 2x4s (hanging vertical) to the ceiling joists, and reinforced them with shelf brackets. Added some eye bolts and strung parachute cord. The curtains are heavy plastic paint drop cloths cut to size and reinforced with duct tape where I poked holes for the shower-curtain hangers that hang them on the para cord.
 

Dennis J Gooding

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[QUOTE="Unlike Dennis I find that most of my shavings fly in front and to the left of me .[/QUOTE]

Jeff, I think we may be in violent agreement here, depending on how you define your directions. I call the front of the lathe the side that one normally would stand while turning. I find that most chips either fly in that direction or hit me or the lathe bed and fall on the floor near the lathe.
 
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Dennis J Gooding

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Oh, and I forgot to mention that sap from wet wood flies equally in all directions. I have a yellow brown ring running across the floor, up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other wall.
 
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Baltimore, MD
I have two shower curtains that end about a foot off the floor and well below the peaked ceiling of my garage shop. They do a good job of containing most of my chips - when I remember to pull them shut. And yes, a streak of spray residue on the wall and window behind the lathe and the overhead fluorescent fixture. 498E91FC-A99F-4816-9264-DF19849579CF.jpeg
 
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Hmm, I am thinking some 1 inch electrical conduit would work great for curtain rods. I haven't bothered with them, which in part may be because I had my lathe in a corner.

robo hippy
 
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I have galvanized wire across the shop at the headstock and tailstock for clear shower curtains. Behind me is a aluminum pipe attached to flange mounted to 2x6 from ceiling for back curtain. To the backside of the lathe I have corrugated plastic but cannot go to ceiling due to DC pipes. Spacing is flush with Tail since attic stair is there and about 4-5 feet in other directions. Have never noticed more dust in the air at lathe than in shop and with the bright (5000k) lights I have at lathe it would be noticable.
 
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Oct 23, 2012
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Dawsonville, GA
I put some curtains up the summer of 2016. They obvious don't look so clean and clear now but here are a few pics. I bought some clear curtains that had some weights in the bottom. I believe I used 1" conduit, metal tubing with holes drilled for U bolt for the conduit/rod. I drilled some holes in the tubing to attach to joists in my basement with lag screws.

The room now looks like a disaster area. Shavings and crap all over the place. Really need to stop and do some organizing.

IMG_20160716_212733564.jpg IMG_20160716_203837784.jpg IMG_20160716_211641816.jpg IMG_20160716_211655680.jpg
 
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May 31, 2019
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Highland, MI
- but then I’m lefthanded so often find myself backwards with respect to the rest of the world.

It's all about perspective. It could be that we're correct and the rest of the world is backwards. Only 10% of the population are left handed, so that it means it takes 9 right handers to equal one of us! ;)
 
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Ric, what is the bar across the top of the legs of your lathe for?

It's a DIY stop bar. When I first got the lathe I was experimenting with putting the control box in different locations, but I didn't like that the stop button wasn't always in a consistent location. I made the stop bar so I'd always have a known way to hit stop in a hurry if I needed to.
 
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I bought some clear shower curtains and plan to buy the material to hang them from. I have a problem in that my ceiling is sloped starts at 9 feet high. I need to put up a railing and was looking at hospital curtain railing but the metal stuff is pretty expensive. I'm looking at this plastic rail but it's supposed to be bolted to the ceiling. I may be able to build a wooden framework to act as the ceiling and attach it to that. anybody have any opinions on this stuff. I need to do this pretty soon because I will be roughing some green bowls before long and need to contain the spray and shavings. https://www.amazon.com/Ceiling-Curtain-Curtains-Bendable-Divider/dp/B07Q7VSVBY/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?crid=23MNNBHXU8EBT&dchild=1&keywords=hospital+curtain+ceiling+track&qid=1607032130&sprefix=hospital+curtain,aps,180&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyRTZBVUE4UUFNTU02JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzgyNzgzMURaS1ZaM1c2RFRPMyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjEwNTM1Mkc5Q0tWVFRPNDdNSSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
That looks interesting. Being able to bend around a door or outlet or air cleaner would be a big advantage. If those are designed for medical situations, though, I would worry how they will manage wet gucky green wood shavings. Seems like the relatively small rollers might clog or stick at road blocks of crusted debris.

I used galvanized electical conduit in a single, straight shot and regular shower curtain 'safety pins'. It works OK but the conduit is not super smooth and I worry I'm going to tear the originally clear vinyl pulling on it some day. A 10' length of conduit was just the right size for my small shop. So far so good, and it's been in place a few years.

There are different thicknesses of vinyl used in the inexpensive shower curtains and some have more reinforcement around where the pins go. In the future I might go with the 'safety pins' that have little beads to make the sliding easier and/or cloth shower curtains. The smoother conduits shown above would be an improvement, too. You don't really need the vinyl to catch the shavings, so cloth would work OK, and could be washed.

One issue I was surprised to discover is the shavings going up and over the rail. With a low ceiling and air cleaner, I mounted it about 6 1/2 feet up, but a good volume of shavings clear the height. The shower curtains are about 5.5 or 6' in length, but I don't find the few shavings that go underneath to go far or be a bother.

PS Dennis and Jeff, I think you are describing the shavings going the same direction, but with different words and a different sense of 'front'.
 
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I used PVC with EMT (Electrical Conduit) inside for the vinyl curtain support. The clear plastic shower curtain rings slide easily on the PVC. I have a sliding headstock lathe so allowed more room with the curtain arrangement to slide the headstock down and do bowl turning off the end of the lathe. The Walmart opaque vinyl shower curtains have a textured surface and seem to retain more dust than the clear. A leaf blower isn't effective in removing it.
 
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Quad Cities, IL
It's a DIY stop bar. When I first got the lathe I was experimenting with putting the control box in different locations, but I didn't like that the stop button wasn't always in a consistent location. I made the stop bar so I'd always have a known way to hit stop in a hurry if I needed to.

Dang another project to keep me from turning.
My lathe with a mobile stop button is new. I keep repositioning it but wonder how long it would take to locate it in an emergency
 
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Alvin, TX
Larry, I use heavy duty clear shower curtains that are 'extra long'. I learned that having them touch the floor became important, its amazing how much can escape even with the curtains two or three inches above the floor. I don't use the curtains all the time, only when I have a lot of shavings flying to help contain the mess. On the back side of the lathe the curtain is two feet from the lathe (I don't turn from the back side of the lathe but this allows plenty of room to sweep). The curtain is about the same distance from the end of the lathe, I don't pull it if I'm turning from the end of the lathe. I have a wall two feet from the headstock end and another wall about five feet behind me. This does well to contain the mess. An air filtration system above the lathe works well for the finer dust when I'm turning.

Damon...thanks for the thorough reply on dimensions! As far as air filtration...I am still kind of torn as to what to use. It seems like the majority of people use a Jet unit but I read an article a year or so ago about a woodworker/writer who was visiting a cigar store and noticed they had a Rabbit Air in their shop and was impressed at the lack of cigar smoke/smell there was...but, I digress from the main topic.
 
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I used PVC with EMT (Electrical Conduit) inside for the vinyl curtain support. The clear plastic shower curtain rings slide easily on the PVC. I have a sliding headstock lathe so allowed more room with the curtain arrangement to slide the headstock down and do bowl turning off the end of the lathe. The Walmart opaque vinyl shower curtains have a textured surface and seem to retain more dust than the clear. A leaf blower isn't effective in removing it.

Joe...EMT inside of PVC is an interesting idea that I haven't thought of. I might have to consider this as I am likely to have a fair amount of EMT left over from wiring my shop.
 
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Most of the shavings from the outside of a bowl end up on the tool rack on that wall behind me, but the tailstock curtain catches some of them. I'm not willing to trade away tool access, so I live with that. The pair of curtains do catch most of the shavings from inside. Sometimes I remember to move a trash can into the curtain corner.

I have thought the same thing. I am setting my area up with the tools on the wall behind me and a bench grinder in the left corner near the headstock and was thinking that a curtain would be a nuisance. Since I still have my scaffolding in the area, I might hang supports to surround the lathe and then decide later where I truly need it as I see where the chips fly and how my workflow goes.
 
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Just finished putting up curtains around the lathe. I have been working on upgrading dust collection and also wanted to improve chip containment around the lathe. I have used some of the suggestions that I have read about here. I used unistrut and threaded rod to support plywood and attached curtain track. The four curtains are 6' x 8' and slide nicely around the lathe. I may get one more and it would completely surround the lathe.
curtains396.jpgcurtains390.jpgcurtains391.jpg

Now that I have it cleaned up time to make a mess again. :)
 
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Just finished putting up curtains around the lathe. I have been working on upgrading dust collection and also wanted to improve chip containment around the lathe. I have used some of the suggestions that I have read about here. I used unistrut and threaded rod to support plywood and attached curtain track. The four curtains are 6" x 8' and slide nicely around the lathe. I may get one more and it would completely surround the lathe.


Now that I have it cleaned up time to make a mess again. :)
Great solution! Please write up a list of components and submit to American Woodturner. That's a system that lots of us would like to know about.
 

john lucas

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That's exactly what I am planning being. I bought the shower curtains but still havent bought the track. They sell the plastic track pretty cheap.but you need a support. Your plywood idea hanging from unistrut is the perfect idea.
 
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