Fumes escaping from lacquer drums

      Options for sealing 55-gallon drums of lacquer to prevent fumes from escaping. 1998.

by Rick Hill

Q.
We use a highly toxic Sherwin Williams lacquer to finish furniture. The lacquer comes in 55-gallon drums. A lid was specially made for these containers.

The problem is that these lids have an agitator built into them. The lid has two holes -- one four inches in diameter, one 2-5/8, from which toxic fumes escape. I have not been able to find bung plugs for these holes. Could you point me in the right direction to purchase off-size plugs, or suggestions to remedy the problem?

A.
Lots of options here. Most drum lids have a screw thread that will accept a threaded valve stem for pouring off the finish. (It looks like a tap.) If your lid is not able to accept these common industrial supply taps, then it is up to your SW rep to find a solution. The finish manufacturers do not make drums, so there is a little extra work your rep will have to do to find a solution. You could look in your yellow pages for a drum supplier near you. Would it be feasible to try closed-head drums?

Rick Hill is an independent representative and consultant for industrial wood finishes. He has been involved in the woodworking industry for 12 years, and has been known to actually hold, shoot, and clean a spray gun.

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