Shop Saftey - Dust Masks #1: Why did I not wear one.

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Blog entry by jerrells posted 05-29-2015 02:56 PM 1925 reads 2 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Saftey - Dust Masks series Part 2: First dusk mask tryout »

I, as a retired person, generally fall into woodworking, scroll saw, as my past time activity. YES, I know, or should have, that shop dust and wearing some type of masks is important. But they are hot, limit breathing and are a pain. Well as someone with ironical asthma I have now landed in ER and the hospital twice this year. At this point I am still not cleared to be back in the shop.

Well, now I have done a lot of reading on dust masks and respirators. Your first line of defense is to limit your overall exposure to dust. The large type vacuum systems, properly installed and maintained, are a very good start. A clean shop is second and that means a thorough clean up after every session. Also, if your tools have the ability or can be adapted to a vacuum – do so.

Finally, and most important is a good quality dust masks. This is the major decision issue in this whole conversation. There are many on the market, like the white paper ones, and a lot of them do not help very well. The general problems, as reported in literature, is that they do not fit well around the face, they do not provide adequate protection ( as a measured rating), and they do not last very long. Now some of the high are much better and are rated at N95 or N100. This means that they protect you from 95% to 100% of your airborne dust. The next level of masks are the respirators. The are the larger generally rubber masks with one or two filters on them. Some even have a pre filter before the main filter. These fit the face better and provide better sealing around the cheeks and chin. Now I am talking about us clean shaven of face as breads are another issue. These filters on these larger one are replaceable and you should have a good schedule of doing that. Make sure that the one you select is rated for your type of work. That would mean spraying, type of wood and overall environment. All reports say these work very well. The last type are the powered respirators where a small fan blows air through the filter system to provide fresh, and perhaps cooler, air to breath. These two are reported to work very well.

Damage to your lungs can not be fixed. Once done it is done. I am at the stage where I have gone a little to far but still have some ability left to get in the shop and do some work. You can be that I will have my vacs running, my filters on and a good quality dust masks on. I have not chosen which masks I will purchase yet but I have some real good ideas.

My Doctor and my wife have allowed me on more chance to get this right. My health is too important to screw this up.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

9 comments so far

View Al Breit's profile

Al Breit

88 posts in 2703 days

#1 posted 05-29-2015 07:17 PM

Very good article on dust, I find myself all to often not using a vac. on my sanders and other tools. Great suggestion on the face masks also.

-- Al Breit "A day without sawdust is like a day without sunshine"

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3569 posts in 4522 days

#2 posted 05-30-2015 04:11 AM

I had given up on dust masks because I had tried dozens of different ones and they not only fogged my glasses, but also kept out very little dust because, as you said, they never fit right. I purchased a respirator years ago but gave it to my husband to use because I could not manage to breathe enough air through it to keep from feeling like I would pass out. Last year I bought a dust mask (actually more like a respirator) which I feel works for me. I can breathe through it; it doesn’t fog my glasses; I can wear it under my face shield; and it seems to keep the dust out. You might want to consider it.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View djg's profile


160 posts in 2972 days

#3 posted 05-30-2015 08:43 AM

Don’t roll dice on your health. With dust in the shop, the dust will win every time. I got scared when I read Bill Pentz’ site and decided I needed full on dust collection for everything including combinations of dust collector and vacuum shrouds around/over the cutting blades of my tools. I have a home made air scrubber with a merv 17 filter running all the time when I am in the shop and I also purchased a Dylos particle counter to monitor air quality in my shop. That particle counter was probably the best purchase of all. Tells me when I can take off my mask, and provides feedback on the condition of my dust filtering equipment.

A sure sign of a bad fitting mask is fogging glasses. Keep a clean shaven face is the best solution. Most home stores have decent masks sold under a variety of names but often made by companies like sperian. Which I believe is Honeywell now. Go for a p100 minimum on the filters. It gives the benefit of hepa filtration with the ability to filter oil particulate. If you find that the mask doesn’t fit, go to your local safety supply/hazard control shop. They usually carry out fit testing and will find the best mask for you using a series of tests which include atomizing bad tasting stuff to see it gets inside your mask under normal breathing conditions. A good mask is well worth the cost. For 199$. The dylos meter is also well worth the investment. Mine is running in the shop 24/7. Good luck and be careful.

-- DJG

View popsshop's profile


42 posts in 3785 days

#4 posted 05-30-2015 07:44 PM

I believe I can speak for many others when I say ‘thanks for the reminder’. Airborne dust of most any kind is something our lungs do not like. It is easy for me to feel that I don’t need to put on a mask when I’m in the shop for what I think will be a short time, but better habits can be developed, and my intention is to use one whenever a machine is running. Sometimes we may feel that the shop air is fairly clear until a shaft of light shines through a window/door and allows us to see what it is actually there. Here’s hoping your condition improves so that you can get back to enjoying your hobby.

-- Drilling holes in wood is a boring job

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3614 days

#5 posted 06-01-2015 12:00 AM

Dust is a killer. Believe it. We should all do what we can to prevent the intake of that nasty stuff. One step at a time jerrels. Feel better soon. When you do, suit up and cut some wood. :)

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 2771 days

#6 posted 06-05-2015 05:28 PM

Good reminder, sorry you’ve had so many issues, hope you can get things worked out enough to be in the shop. Good tips in the comments too, thanks everyone.

View Ged39's profile


14 posts in 1629 days

#7 posted 03-15-2016 08:24 PM

you have made a good and thoughtful post.

As you have said preventing dust in the workshop is the first priority, so cleaning and vacuuming any dust after working will mean there is less to be inhaled.

Some people also use a fan if the weather is warm enough and they can work with a door open, and position their work so that saw dust is blown straight out of the workshop.

If you wear a dust mask a good fitting one will give you most protection.

There is a good one here that fits well and avoids fogging of goggles if you wear them as it has a valve:

Good dust mask with valve

Hope this helps

-- Ged

View Ged39's profile


14 posts in 1629 days

#8 posted 07-22-2016 05:58 PM


I thought I would add that there is a dust mask comparison table here members might find useful:

Dust Mask Comparison Table

Best Regards

-- Ged

View robscastle's profile


7238 posts in 3014 days

#9 posted 10-31-2016 07:55 PM

The Half face 6200 3M masks fitted with P100 filters appear to be the most effective and value for money going from my experience.
I also have a Moldex 8002 with A1 filters but sourcing the cartridges is harder than the 3M type.

-- Regards Rob

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