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 wimp 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.
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
Shavings Behind the Curtains
This photos shows what was beind the curtains. My VB36 lathe and a few
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.
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.
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.
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
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 fromwww.mcmaster.com
#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.
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).
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
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
I can easily slide or remove the curtains because my hooks are just
big enough to fit losely over the 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
You are probably going to need 2 or more 6 ft wide curtains.