A glove box is a piece of equipment that lets you perform work on a subject while keeping it in isolation. A glove box is most commonly used to protect operators working with hazardous materials, but it can also be used to protect sensitive materials from the outside atmosphere.
In this project, I am going to show you how to make a DIY glove box. Since different applications require different degrees of isolation, I am going to demonstrate a variety of design features and how to implement them. You can then choose which features you want to use in your glove box.
Step 1: Unsealed Glove Box
The most basic kind of glove box is just a clear container with holes in the side that you can reach through with gloved hands. This design is suitable for containing large particles that quickly settle to the bottom of the box such as wood chips or metal shavings.
To make this, you will need a pair of gloves and a clear plastic storage tub. Try to find a tub that is at least mostly transparent. You need to be able to clearly see what you are doing when you are working in the glove box. Start by deciding where the arm ports will be located. You want them to be spaced out enough so that your arms will be in a comfortable position while working. Trace a 4 inch diameter circle for each arm port. Then cut out each circle with a knife or rotary tool.
Step 2: Seal the Arm Ports With Pipe and Sealant
If you want to keep fine particles or chemical fumes contained, then you need to seal the openings on the glove box. The first step in doing this is to seal the arm ports. To do this you will need a few additional materials. To make the arm ports, you will need two pieces of 4 inch diameter PCV pipe that are each 2-3 inches long. To seal the edges of the pipe, you will need a tube of sealant. The type of sealant that you should use will depend on how you will be using the glove box but for most applications, regular silicone caulking is fine. For the gloves, I recommend using elbow length waterproof gloves. To attach the gloves to the PVC pipe you can use hose clamps, zip ties, or even strong rubber bands.
Begin by inserting the PVC pipe into the cut holes. You may need to widen the holes a little if they don't fit. Position the pipes so that there is about 1/2 inch of pipe sticking out of the side of the box. Then apply the sealant all around the pipe on both sides of the wall and let it dry overnight. Then fit the gloves over the PVC pipe inside the box. Be sure to mount the right glove on the right side and the left glove on the left side with the palms down. Slide your hands into the gloves to verify that they are in a good working position. Lastly secure the gloves in place with hose clamps, zip ties or strong rubber bands.
Sealed arm ports like these are much better at keeping fine particles, dust, and powder contained within the box. This feature makes a glove box well suited for applications that involve grinding or cutting with a rotary tool since these tasks often kick up a lot of fine particles that can be hazardous to breathe.
Step 3: Seal the Base With Foam
To create a more complete seal at the base of the glove box, you can add foam between the edges of the tub and the lid. The easiest way to do this is to apply weather stripping all alone the lip of the tub. It is possible that the foam will be too thick for the lid to snap on like it normally would. If this is the case, you can get an extra tight seal by either clamping the lid on or by placing weights on top of the box.
Step 4: Create Negative Pressure in the Chamber With a Ventilation Fan
Another way to ensure that no gases in the chamber escape is to add a ventilation fan. The fan draws air out of the glove box so that the pressure inside is slightly lower than the pressure outside. This means that if there are any gaps, air will always move from the surroundings into the box and not out of the box. You can then set up the vent fan and hose to blow the air outside.
To add this feature, you will need an air hose and some kind of fan. For a low level of suction you could use a small fan such as a computer cooling fan. For greater suction, you could hook up your vacuum or shop vac. Start by cutting a hole in the back side of the glove box (opposite the gloves) that is the same size as your air hose. Then insert the hose through the hole. If you want the ventilation fan to be removable, you can apply weather stripping around the hose to help make a better temporary seal. If you want to permanently attach the air hose, you can apply sealant around the edges.
Step 5: Add a Port for Corded Power Tools
If you want to be able to use corded power tools in the glove box, you will need a hole in the side of the box for the power cord. You can use the vent hose hole or you can drill a new one. Then feed the power cord through the hole. You can cover up the opening around the cord with either foam or tape to help maintain the seal.
Step 6: Finished Glove Box
Now you have a simple DIY glove box. You can use it when working on messy or smelly projects. Or you can have a sealed environment for your home science projects.
Step 7: Other Glove Box Designs
Here are a several other instructables that show how to make glove boxes for various applications.