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Hello all,

I have been doing leather work for a few years now and I do it out of my apartment.  I have tried many different adhesives on my work and ended up preferring barge glue over them all.  I do large amounts of glueing, as I glue liners on all my work.  The trouble is that barge glue stinks up the entire apartment even when doing it next to an open window and forces my wife and son to breathe the toxic fumes as well.  

I have considered buying a respirator, which would protect me but not my family, so that's out.  I have also considered a vent hose the sucks the fumes through a window to the outside, which seems like the best option.  My concern is that barge is flammable.  From the reading I have done, it has been recommended that 'spark resistant' or 'explosion proof' fans be used when venting flammable vapors... But they cost and arm and a leg!  I don't have that kind of money to spend but need a vent solution for the glues and dyes I use.  

If anyone has suggestions I'm all ears!  Thank you for reading and God bless!

-Dave-

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a. extraction fans need not be expensive

b. the 'explosion' of vapours is a myth. I'm on plastic modelling forums and this subject comes up frequently. 'It happened to a cousin of a friend of a friend of one of our club members' is the usual. No one has yet had it happened to them. The modellers are using more explosive mixes than barge glue. I used to use an unprotected extractor fan in a shed when spray painting cars and parts with thinned cellulose paint. Over 20 years never even a pop.

c. use an extractor unit designed to remove cooking fumes from over a cooker. They are sealed to protect them from grease and water vapour. They extract at a large cfm rate. For a lower rate use a bathroom fan or one designed for modelling spray painting booths

d. take the exit hose at least 1ft away from the window otherwise the natural breeze will bring the fumes right back into you.

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Glue it outside.  No excuse for subjecting others to potentially harmful vapors.  If you can't do it safely, then probably shouldn't do it.

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While I do believe Fred that these explosions are probably a myth. I fell victim to the myth and made sure I set up my airbrush booth for lacquer paints with an explosion proof fan. The fans that are sold in the modeling/airbrushing are very pricey. Since one of my long time hobbies is boating I was aware of bilge blower fans. You can find them for $25-30 new all over eBay. I use two 4" ones with dryer vent hose attached. I then bought me some window screen framing material at home depot and made a frame to fit my window with a bracket to hold the vent hose. Put it and paint...remove when done.

That all being said. I have great success with the original Weldwood glue that Home Depot sells. The newer stuff that does not say original doesn't work worth a damn..well at least for what I tried it on. The Original works good and has no fumes or smell.

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Myth or no myth? Let's get the information relative to whether solvent vapours are explosive or not.

For an explosion to happen, there needs to be a high enough concentration of the flammable vapours exceeding the lower explosive limit (LEL).  It is different for various vapours and gases.  If you keep enough air moving through the space, no problem with explosions.  Hydrogen is one of the worst with the widest explosive range.  Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) 4% in air, Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) 75% in air.  See the following for more information on other vapours and gases: http://www.wermac.org/safety/safety_what_is_lel_and_uel.html

I know of a house (next door to my MIL) that blew up.  They were installing carpet in the basement, using a glue with a very volatile solvent.  They were just about finished when the vapours hit the gas fired hot water heater and ignited.  Lost the whole house (insurance built them a really nice replacement).  Most of these solvent's vapours are heavier than air, so sink to the lowest area.  Thus the basement without adequate air exchange became a disaster. 

If we assume that toluene is the solvent, its LEL is 1.2% and UEL is 7.1%.  So if the concentration by volume in air is in the range of 1.2 to 7.1%, and there is a source of ignition, there will be an explosion.  Toluene is a common strong solvent.

One weekend many years ago, I was working as Shift Supervisor in the Utilities Plant just across a service lane from the Gas Compressor House.  The Refinery produced hydrogen and used it in a hydrogenation process to remove sulfur from the hydrocarbon streams used in the manufacture of diesel and gasoline.  The two hydrogen compressors (1200 hp 3 stages each) were located along with other compressors in the compressor house.  They raise the hydrogen pressure to 1200 psig for the Unifiners.  I get a phone call from the Process Shift Supervisor.  They have a hydrogen leak and have 95% hydrogen atmosphere in the Compressor House.  Of course it was safe from causing an explosion since the atmosphere was well above the UEL.  How to get from there back to hydrogen free, while passing through the explosive zone?  No one can enter it without a Scot Air Pack (no oxygen to breath), no one can shut off the electric drives or switch anything for fear of creating a spark even though all the wiring is in sealed explosion proof conduit and boxes.  Can't take the risk.  They bring in the plant fire crew with some new fans they had purchased recently that ran on water pressure and placed them in the doorways to ventilate the building without doing anything inside the building, and to avoid adding any risk of generating a spark. Even outside the building, gas was above the LEL.

We monitored the % LEL in the Utilities Plant 50 feet from the Compressor House.  The drift and seepage of the hydrogen into the Utilities Plant raised the % LEL in the building to 2%.  We had 3 large boilers that were potential sources of ignition if the hydrogen level got too high.  Anyhow, to make a long story short, they were able to ventilate the Compressor House successfully with no fire or explosion.  Funny thing was that they couldn't find the source of the hydrogen leak.  Must have blown an oil seal and had it reform by itself.

Tom

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Another dumb story!  I had a wet distributor cap after washing down my car's engine.  So I took the cap off, rinsed it with methyl hydrate (alcohol) wiped it out, plugged all the spark plug wires and coil wire back in and put the cap back  in place.  Climbed in the car and hit the starter.  BANG!  Didn't start!  Checked under the hood.  It had blown the distributor cap off.  So had just enough fumes, plus a spark, and off she went! 

Haven't tried that since and that's over 40 years ago.

Tom

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Tom,

 Thanks for that but I must admit most of it was over my head. What I did understand is that I don't have to feel that I wasted my money on exhaust fans. I bought them for airbrushing  but when I do use barge, which is only for high heat applications, I do it in my airbrushing booth so it ventilates. I was only half worried about blowing up...I was more worried about killing off the few brain cells I didn't wipe out in the 70's.

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Thank you everyone for your replies!  I will definitely be building a vent Hood for my projects.  I think it should work nicely. 

Do I need to look for a certain cfm rating for this kind of thing?   I want to be sure I'm moving enough air.  I will likely make a 2-3 foot wide Hood that sits on a table top and draws air out to the side of the project.

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18 minutes ago, Michellleatherworks said:

Do I need to look for a certain cfm rating for this kind of thing?   I want to be sure I'm moving enough air.  I will likely make a 2-3 foot wide Hood that sits on a table top and draws air out to the side of the project.

I'd pick either one of the larger bathroom exhaust fans (with a low sound level) or a range hood. 

 

33 minutes ago, Mark842 said:

I was more worried about killing off the few brain cells I didn't wipe out in the 70's.

Need to keep all we have!

Tom

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17 minutes ago, Michellleatherworks said:

Do I need to look for a certain cfm rating for this kind of thing?   I want to be sure I'm moving enough air.  I will likely make a 2-3 foot wide Hood that sits on a table top and draws air out to the side of the project.

The more the better. Depending on just how much glueing you do possibly a standard kitchen cooker hood and extractor fan will do. If you do a lot of glueing then maybe look at a commercial grade cooker hood fan. You might be able to pick up a second hand cooker hood/fan unit thru a second-hand website like gumtree

Don't forget, you'll need to allow air into the room as well: from another open window or a doorway, opposite to the out-put.

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13 hours ago, Michellleatherworks said:

Do I need to look for a certain cfm rating for this kind of thing?   I want to be sure I'm moving enough air. 

Like I said earlier I use bilge fans. The average bathroom fan only moves 50-80CFM and cost in the $50 range. I went and looked up the two bilge fans I picked up. They are 270CFM each and unlike a bathroom fan the motors are sealed. I would compare the noise to that of a computer fan. the two drawbacks are they are 12V fans. I pulled an old computer power supply and it works great. The second drawback is a recommended run time for no more than 4 minutes. That is why I put in a second one so I can get 8 minutes if I'm doing a bunch of gluing. For the average project I'm spending about 1 minute spreading the glue max and few waiting for it to get tacky. if you go this route take some screen and put it over the intakes for the fan. They will pick up a piece of small leather and suck it in. I had to go out in the yard a few times to find pieces of my project. As for fumes, I smell nothing when using them. I'm using Seaflo 4". $30 each and they are specifically made for venting explosive fumes before starting a boat engine so the motors are completely sealed so the fumes can't detonate. They have a 4" PVC flange on each end so you can hook up a cheap dryer vent hose and run it anyhow you want....my 2cents.

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To put cfm in perspective; my work room is about 12 x 12 x 7ft, allowing for stuff on shelving units etcetera. there is air volume of about 504 cf. So an extractor working at 80cfm takes 6.5 minutes to change the air. At 270 cfm it takes 1 minute 52 seconds. 

Obviously the faster the change the less anyone will smell the glue vapours, but if you have the fan running from the time you open the tin of glue and its right near the fan then a lower cfm will be adequate

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2 minutes ago, fredk said:

To put cfm in perspective; my work room is about 12 x 12 x 7ft, allowing for stuff on shelving units etcetera. there is air volume of about 504 cf. So an extractor working at 80cfm takes 6.5 minutes to change the air. At 270 cfm it takes 1 minute 52 seconds. 

Obviously the faster the change the less anyone will smell the glue vapours, but if you have the fan running from the time you open the tin of glue and its right near the fan then a lower cfm will be adequate

And I'm betting using a airbrushing booth or similar 3 sided hooded work area would make it disperse even faster...

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Tom, that is best explaination. It is always about the concentration. Hard for a leather worker, working on projects that can be done in apartment end up with those concentrations. 

But for comfort, I would move the work area closer to a window and use a regular box fan.

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1 hour ago, Geary said:

But for comfort, I would move the work area closer to a window and use a regular box fan.

That's a good solution as long as your work space fits.  I have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) so am more concerned about keeping the vapours out of my space.  "Comfort"

Tom

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If it was me the long term health implications to my families and myself would take preference over every thing else this kind of thing may come back and haunt you and your family in later life. I know you have have said you have tried other adhesives i would for sure would for look something a lot less toxic and work out a way to a make it work. To be honest i don't glue much of my work and if i do always open my workshop door and leave it to set and then go back to work,  most of my work in lightly tacked together prior to stitching.

Hope this helps

JCUK 

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I have two problems with glue in the shop in the house.  One my wife complains

about the smell and two I worry about the fumes. My solution is small

tubes of contact cement (limited exposure) Seal All at the Dollar Store

great stuff. 2oz for $2.99 (1-2 minute setup) I also use Elaines leather

glue filled in a Grout Sealer Applicator Roller (Home Depot etc.)

Modge Podge outdoor is good stuff and waterproof when it dries

I use it on wallets it can be washed off surface. (can be a problem

with contact cement.)  Please note Seal All sets up fast the other

needs to be clamped.

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I am aware you've said you've tried many other adhesives, but have you tried Tandy's EcoWeld contact cement? If you use it correctly, it will tear the leather before it'll come apart at the glue line. The issue is that I see almost no leatherworkers using it correctly. It's MUCH more picky about being actually dry before you stick the two pieces together than Barge is. Almost everyone I work around coats both pieces, gives it about 30 seconds, slaps the pieces together, and then complains about the lack of holding power. I coat both sides, pay attention to something else "for a minute", totally forget that I just coating some work, and come back 20 minutes later cussing up a storm to find completely dry pieces that stick like a SOB.

 

Also, thanks for the tip on the bilge fans! I do wet plate collodion photography, which uses a lot of ether, alcohol, and nitrocellulose, so I need a better basement venting fan. You saved me a fortune!

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Hi guys - Have you tried Renia yet? It is 100% odorless and carried in the U.S. by Lisa Sorrell Notions. I was getting headaches from barge so I switched and it is very comparable. I like the Aquilim 315 and use to glue plonge & devine leather liners into leather handbags. Also soak edges with it prior to clamping up gussets and  it sets up quickly. Just press edges with your fingers prior to clamping and it holds well enough to pull clamps off and sew.  

 

https://sorrellnotionsandfindings.com/product-category/glues-and-adhesives/

 

Lynn

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I also just tried the Renia.  I got an email from Montana Leather, they were running a special on both the contact cement and rubber cement. I ordered both and they seem great. The rubber cement is much stronger than the regular stuff I have been using and the contact cement was easy to use, odorless and grabs quickly and securely. 

Todd

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