Lathe Shower Curtains

Lathe Shower Curtains

A “Lathe Curtains” tip in the December 2014 issue of the AAW Journal magazine inspired me. I decided to replace the dirty old painters tarps I used in my studio to control wood shavings with some nice new shower curtains. The new curtains work great and look great.

People say I have never seen an idea, I can’t improve. They may be right. I liked the “use cloth shower curtains” idea but the track, hooks and string shown in the article were to wimpy and expensive for me. I decided to make my own long and cheap hooks and hang them from cheap EMT pipe.

Here is how I did it.

Photo: Shower Curtains In Use Shower Curtains In Use

Two white linen shower curtains in use.

My VB36 lathe is behind the curtains.

Note the pile of wood shavings on the floor. The shavings stop where the curtains stop.

The curtains do not go all the way to the floor because it is not necessary. Curtains that drag on the floor get dirty and are a pain to deal with when you want to clean up the shavings. Or, store the curtains out of the way, etc.

The curtains, also do not go all the way to the ceiling because it is not necessary. Throwing the shavings over the curtains while turning is not likely.
Photo: Shavings Behind the Curtains Shavings Behind the Curtains

This photos shows what was beind the curtains. My VB36 lathe and a few shavings. 🙂

The curtains did their job. They stopped a lot of shavings from being spread all over the studio.

I like linen (aka cloth) curtains rather than plastic! You DO NOT need plastic to deal with green (aka wet) wood! Water just runs down the linen curtains. That's why they call them "Shower" curtains!

Plastic curtains suck. They smell bad. The hook holes tear out. To much weight and bulk. They are a pain to deal with. Hard to slide around and hard to store up out of the way (see last photo).

Plastic curtains make your studio ugly and dark. White linen curtains reflect light and make your studio a nice place to work.
Photo: My VB36 Lathe & Shavings My VB36 Lathe & Shavings

A made a few shavings here. 2 to 3 bowls worth.

The ash logs were green and wet. Lots of water came flying out when I ran the lathe around 700 to 1000 rpm.

The water made a mess on my faceshield but was handled by the linen curtains, no problem. You don't need plastic curtains.
Photo: Shavings On The Floor Shavings On The Floor

This photo was taken, looking out, from inside of the curtains. You can see that the shavings stop were the curtains stop. You DO NOT need curtains that go all the way to the floor.

Bfore the shower curtains, I used a painters tarp. The tarp was to long. It dragged on the floor. It got dirty and looked ugly. It was a pain to deal with. To heavy. To much bulk. Cleaning up the shavings was difficult because I had to move the tarp out of the way or hold it up, etc.

Now I can just push the curtains out of the way with my broom or shovel when cleaning up the shavings because the curtains stop 6" above the floor.
Photo: Hanging The Curtains Hanging The Curtains

I hang the shower curtains from home made hooks that hang on a pipe that is hung from the ceiling.

I make my own hooks from welding rod (see next photo).

I adjust the lenght of the hooks so the curtains hang 6" from the floor. The hook end that goes over the pipe is big and open so I can easily slide the curtains along or quickly remove them.

The pipe is 3/4" EMT Electrical Conduit (aka thin wall galvanized steel pipe) from local big box hardware store. It is cheap and comes in 10 foot lengths. I like to be able to slide my cutains the entire lenght of the 10 ft pipe so I just hang it from the ends. With light weight linen shower curtains, and 3/4" EMT, sag is not a problem. 1/2" EMT would sag to much.

I hang the pipe from ceiling using #12 SOLID THHN copper wire (see later photo).
Photo: Hooks Made From Gas Welding Rod Hooks Made From Gas Welding Rod

I make my own hooks out of 1/8" RG45 Gas Welding Rod. The rod is copper coated steel. It is sold in 36" lengths by the pound.

The rod use to be available at any local welding supply store. But, it has gone out of fashion and is now hard to find. I get mine #7972A123, $7 for 1 pound on 3/26/2015.

I cut and bend the rod with 9" Linemen's Plyers from local big box hardware store. You need a full size (9") set of Linemen's Plyers to deal with 1/8" steel wire. Not the cheaper mini ones they try to sell you these days. Or you can make due with a vise and hacksaw.
Photo: Close the Hook Close the Hook

I use a vise to close the hook on the curtain.

I don't want the hooks to come off and get lost when I take down the curtains to get them out of the way or move them to a different location in my studio.

I only put a hook in every other eye in the curtain. This allows the curtain to fold nicer and take up less space when you slide it out of the way (see last 2 photos).
Photo: Removable Curtains Removable Curtains

I like to be able to easily install and remove the curtains.

Remove them to keep them clean. Or move them to another location in my studio.

I use a green twist tie to keep the hooks organized when I remove the curtains. The twist tie is semi permently attached to one of the hooks so it does not get lost when I spread the curtains out (see green tie in next photo).

I can easily slide or remove the curtains because my hooks are just big enough to fit losely over the pipe.
Photo: Cross Pipe Cross Pipe

In my first photo you may have noticed that my curtains cut across the room at a 45 degree angle.

This photo shows how the cross pipe intersects the main pipe at a 45 degree angle and is just hung from the main pipe with a fancy locked hook I made out of RG45 welding rod.

The other end of the pipe is hung from another pipe on the other side of room with a similar hook. Thus I can easily move the cross pipe by sliding it along the main pipes. Or, I can easily remove it by just sliding the end out of fancy hook.

Notice the blue filter in the background. This is the output from my dust collector. It is mounted in the middle of my studio. It can shoot its output over my curtains. That's good, because the air is clean and I use the dust collector to distribute the heat and AC in my studio.
Photo: Pipe Hanger Pipe Hanger

Here is how I hang the pipe form the ceiling. I use #12 THHN solid copper electrical wire from local hardware store. It must be SOLID wire rather than stranded.

I attach the wire to the ceiling using a long dry wall screw and fender washers. I have found that dry wall screws are simpler and cheaper than screw hooks.

Note: This is a bad photo angle. The silver screw hook in the background is attached to the black wire that is holding up my air cleaner. It has nothing to do with the pipe. I hang the air cleaner so fan vibration is not transmitted thru the ceiling to the rest of my house.

The pipe is electrical EMT. I put an EMT coupling on the end of the pipe or pass the wire thru the pipe to keep it from slipping off.

I only support the pipe at each end so I can slide my curtains the entire 10 ft length of the pipe.
Photo: Vertical Storage Vertical Storage

Here is what the curtains look like when they are slide over to be stored out of the way.

There are 2 curtains here. Each of them is 6 ft by 6 ft. The nice light weight linen shower curtains don't take up much space.
Photo: Horizontal Storage Horizontal Storage

Here is what the curtains look like when I loop them over a big red hook to really get them up and out of the way.

The big red hook is from local hardware store. They sell them for hanging up ladders and bikes.
Photo: Shower Curtains from Amazon Shower Curtains from Amazon

The shower curtains I use are: "Croscill Fabric Shower Curtain Liner, 70-inch by 72-inch, White" by Croscill. $11 each from Amazon on 3/26/2015.

You are probably going to need 2 or more 6 ft wide curtains.
Photo: Lathe Shower Curtains 1 Workshop Blower for Cleanup

Updated: 1/22/2021. A little blower is great for quick clean up. See my Workshop Blower for Cleanup blog entry.