Finishing in a Canuck climate

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Forum topic by Jeff posted 1301 days ago 933 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jeff's profile


114 posts in 1499 days

1301 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: finishing cold weather

Or any cold climate for that matter…

How do you deal with the fumes of finishing, if proper ventilation means losing all of the heat in your shop (which means the finish doesn’t cure properly)??

I’m curious what other peoples’ solutions are. I crack a couple windows about 1” to try to introduce some clean air but it doesn’t really do much and the garage reeks of solvent for days.

-- Jeff

16 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1380 posts in 2712 days

#1 posted 1301 days ago

Like your Canuckistan weather, it gets too cold here in my part of Kentucky for open-window finishing in the Winter months. I switch to water-based products until the temperature rebounds. Shellac will also work, with a minimum of alcohol fumes that can be cleared quickly through an open window. Shellac doesn’t cure, it just dries.

-- 温故知新

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


322 posts in 2017 days

#2 posted 1301 days ago

Ironic you should post this I have 590 sqft if floor with Sherwin Williams stain on it as we speak.

I don’t think there is a silver bullet or get out of the fumes free card.

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 1910 days

#3 posted 1301 days ago

The jobs I do are not that big, but nevertheless I do the same – open the window then grin and bear it.

View Jeff's profile


114 posts in 1499 days

#4 posted 1300 days ago

hobomonk, I actually like the smell of the shellac products that I have used, but I was curious if the fumes are still harmful. The can says contains ethanol, which I think is better than if it contained methanol, but i’m not a chemist. I don’t know if alcohol fumes are harmful or not.

Do water based products actually hurt you less or just smell better, so you don’t realize it is cooking your brain? Maybe i’ll give that a try although I already have a shelf full of finishing products that I don’t want to waste.

“grin and bear it” sounds like it may be the way to go (plus a respirator)

-- Jeff

View Cantputjamontoast's profile


322 posts in 2017 days

#5 posted 1299 days ago

Stain fumes are horrible.

Water based minwax poly is not so bad

-- "Not skilled enough to wipe jam on toast!"

View Mark's profile


1787 posts in 1859 days

#6 posted 1299 days ago

the smell never bothers me too much…i dont mind the smell of stain nor the finish though the finish doesnt have much of a smell…. but I have a heater in my workshop that warms it up to about 55 degrees (15 celcius) which definately helps the process. I also have respiratory masks for when it gets outta hand like sanding.

-- My purpose in life: Making sawdust

View racerglen's profile


2232 posts in 1365 days

#7 posted 1299 days ago

For small (ish) sruff I sneak it out the basement door regardless of the weather, and spray or wipe or whatever there..count to ten or so and scoot it back inside..One of these days I AM going to hook up the end of the range hood fan vent in the shop so it actualy vents outside without having to open the door….


-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

View DrDirt's profile


2338 posts in 2327 days

#8 posted 1299 days ago

I put on a respirator and crack the garage door about a foot.
The toes get cold while spraying but I find that the area about from the waist up stays relatively warm.

So I Spray, give it 10 minutes or so then close the door.
I do still have the problem of the shop stinking for days, but it seems to work for the amount of work I need to do.
Once the finish is dry (not fully cured) I open the door – lose the heat- but get some real fresh air in without blowing crud onto my surfaces.

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View Knothead62's profile


2332 posts in 1546 days

#9 posted 1299 days ago

How long can you hold your breath? ;) It’s hard to decide- vent outside and lose heat or put up with the fumes. hobomonk has a good suggestion- use water-based products. You might give it a try.

View racerglen's profile


2232 posts in 1365 days

#10 posted 1298 days ago

I’ve only tried water based Varathane spray.. Very little odor, gone soon, but the end result hasn’t been the quality I’ve had with the
regular stuff ?


-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

View Jeff's profile


114 posts in 1499 days

#11 posted 1298 days ago

I like hearing how you all deal with similar issues. I think I’ll just be strict about wearing a respirator and stick to cracking the windows open a couple of inches. Eventually it will clear the fumes.

Of course when I open the double garage door to take the snow-blower out it brings in some fresh air (but lets hope I don’t need to do that for a while yet).

Happy Holidays folks.

-- Jeff

View Don's profile


488 posts in 1827 days

#12 posted 1297 days ago

Well, I have to do my finishing in the house so I will move my work to either my basement or into my den and suffer through the fumes.

My neighbour has his shop in the basement and has the luxury of having a seperate room for finishing.

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View Bernie's profile


414 posts in 1422 days

#13 posted 1295 days ago

Like Mark, I keep my shop at about 50 – 55 with a gas wall mounted and vented space heater. Like some I grin and bear it with a fan to circulate the air (I keep the shop very clean for a shop). I also have the fan close to my sanding and have a square furnace filter taped on the front which catches a large part of the dust. Every couple of hrs, I take it off and clean it. It really does catch a lot of dust. Back to the fumes… it’s mind over matter and when you have a little mind like me… nothing matters. I hope I don’t offend anybody, but since I don’t do holidays, just Christmas, Merry Christmas everyone.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View GaryL's profile


1074 posts in 1415 days

#14 posted 1295 days ago

I’ve installed these in my paint filtration system to recirculate some of the heat back into the shop and to knock down on some of the fumes being exausted outside. I can adjust the amount of ventilation from inside to outside. It does not kill all the fumes by no means, but it seams to help. Maybe these could be rigged up on a simple box fan. I use the four inch deep ones.
Charcoal filters

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View bobkberg's profile


350 posts in 1658 days

#15 posted 1295 days ago

This is perhaps some help:

This will allow you to exhaust inside air to the outside, and recover about half the difference in warming up the outside air. Not ideal, but it should help.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

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