Model Citizen – IKEA Spraybooth

Perhaps I'm experiencing the Benjamin Button effect. Back in my teens I was an avid airplane modeller, building many of the old Airfix 1/24th scale kits: the Spitfire, Hurricane, ME109 and a Harrier among others. This past winter, looking for a distraction, I started looking at models again and was amazed at the progress the hobby has made. There's now a whole cottage issue of after-market part manufacturers refining and augmenting state-of-the-art kits. Tiny details etched in metal, cast in resin and turned in brass.

I was hooked again but the first order of business in a house full of mischievous cats was to set up a proper workspace in the garage amid the bike paraphernalia. That meant building paint and tool racks from an old curved IKEA wall unit and then tackling the construction of a small spray booth by kit bashing two inexpensive pieces of IKEA kitchen furniture. Here's the result.

Model Spray booth from IKEA parts Model Spray booth from IKEA parts

The downdraft design offers plenty of airflow from a generous Dayton 485 cfm sealed-motor blower through intake and exhaust filters and plenum. As is often the case the project grew in scope, detail and expense as I solved problems along the way but it was a perfect means to reconnect with the methodical patience that modeling requires. I'm happy with the result and look forward to getting that first model into paint without offending my wife's sensitive nose fumes. Kudos to Klaus Raddatz for his extremely helpful airflow explanations.

For those of you interested here are a few photos and some instructions. The booth exhaust fan can be timed to shut off at intervals up to 2 hours and the front of the booth sealed to ensure all airflow is filtered during unattended drying. The lazy susan ring design allows airflow directly beneath the model while painting (the center hole is now covered by screen mesh).


IKEA Cabinet + IKEA kitchen cart + Dayton 485 cfm blower + (2) acrylic tubes from Tapp plastics + (2) 20 watt mini fluorescents + timer switch + 3M 10 x 20 x 1 intake filter + 3M 16 x 25 x 1 exhaust filter + (4) wooden desktop grommets + optional and removable 28 x 12 glass front panel.

Assembly & Construction

  1. Flip cabinet on its 31.25" side (39" width cabinet shell is also available if you want a larger booth)
  2. Replace flimsy hardboard side panels with 1/2" plywood (in booth orientation the plywood panels close bottom and back)
  3. Use jigsaw to cut rectangular hole in booth top for 10 x 20 x 1 intake filter, secure filter with underside "ledge" strips. Use only the four IKEA cam fasteners to allow for the easy removal of the booth top during construction and optional front glass panel.
  4. Using jigsaw rough cut centered 5.25" hole in cabinet/cart top (1.5" total thickness)
  5. Use circular pot light trim piece and template bit with router to clean exhaust hole. Cover hole with fine metal screen for safety, secure with the pot light trim piece and four screws.
  6. Mount blower unit to underside of cart top. I did this with a combination of recessed standoffs for positioning and a super framework of wooden supports beneath the blower. Contact points where framework met blower damped with silicon bushings. Blower to cabinet interface sealed with clear silicon caulk. Route slot to recess blower flange.
  7. Cut away side panel of the Bekvam cart where it will interfere with blower exhaust. Add horizontal support lower down between cart legs instead.
  8. Use 2" Forstener bit to cut holes in the sides of the cabinet to house pass through acrylic tubes (each 31.25"). The tubes will contain 20 watt fluorescents. Because of concern about the development of static charge on the surface of the acrylic tubes directly in the downdraft airstream I grounded the tubes with a copper foil tape (with conductive adhesive). Lights were secured within the tubes with foam pipe insulation. Spray a little window cleaner on the foam to let you slide it into the end of the acrylic tubes.

  9. Cap holes with wooden desktop grommets whose 1.75" diameter ends fit the ID of the acrylic tubes.
  10. Build a holding frame for the exhaust filter sandwiched between two 1/2" deep pieces of plastic egg crate above a 2" plenum. To provide support for the filter sandwich add additional pieces of wood to the interior of the frame and add four dowel standoffs screwed to the cabinet base to provide additional support in the center of the filter.
  11. Cover back plywood panel with white adhesive vinyl shelf paper.
  12. Line the lower portion of the booth with scrap art board for the inevitable overspray
  13. Optional… add hardwood supports to secure a removable glass panel (a tempered glass shelf I had from another project)
  14. Trim IKEA front panel to match height of internal filter frame
  15. Secure a shallow front shelf to the booth with very rigid foundation (base aluminum plate from a server rack) and two IKEA Capita floating shelf struts (again from a previous project). The shelf should be wide enough to provide a comfortable platform for your forearms when airbrushing but not too wide so as to have you stretching from afar. Added a small stacked paint tray to the left side (3 paint bottles and a few brushes)
  16. Secured a second server rack base plate as a foot rest, covered with rubber stair treading
  17. Wire Dayton fan to timer switch. Wire lights and airbrush compressor via double switch tied to switched outlets.
  18. Link grounded acrylic tubes to ground wires on electrical connections.
  19. Attach adapter to blower flange and run duct work to outside port.
  20. Tune airflow by the routing and length of your ductwork. Booth can be rolled on caster wheels and there's just a single electrical connection for an extension cord to power the blower, lights and airbrush compressor.
Angle 1 - Frame to create plenum and hold egg crate/filter sandwich Angle 2 - Frame to create plenum and hold egg crate/filter sandwich Complete filter frame and egg crate sandwich Cabinet base exhaust port and 4 dowel standoffs for extra filter/eggcrate support Filter Frame in booth with open center lazy susan platform

And the first kit... a Spitfire of course. Tamiya's 1/32nd scale MK IX. I also have (2) 1/72nd Spits and a 1/48th MK IX to practice on, as I bring my building and airbrushing skills up to spec.

4 Responses to Model Citizen – IKEA Spraybooth

  1. Tim Cox says:

    Glad to hear the trusty Spitfire will be your first project. It might have been my first-ever Airfix modelling project. And I no doubt botched it up by getting cement on the clear plastic cockpit canopy.

    • Even the glue has changed. Those gummy tubes of Testors we struggled with are long gone. Clear parts are dipped in Future floorwax, which is often also applied before decals. Progress.

  2. BR says:

    “the project grew in scope, detail and expense as I solved problems along the way”

    Gee that never happens with your adventures……;-)