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Best Respirator for sawdust

14305 Views 27 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  DavidHenry
I am getting to the point that I am tired of using those $4 white masks with the 'cool vent' in the front from home depot.

I want to look into Respirator masks. But I don't know what's important aspects to look for in them. I saw some all purpose masks. Is that what I get? I didn't see anything for saw dust… are they out there? Do you recommend those masks? Or are they not worth it because of the filter replacements?

All thoughts are welcome

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Hi! I'm a new member of this forum. Hope to get help from all of you! Thanks!
Its an air quality issue, not just a mask & dust collection. Most dangerous are fine dust producers like sanders, bandsaws, table saws. Routers are the absolute worst.

Let's think about it - you don a mask, you do the task, and you immediately remove the mask and hearing protection. But you're breathing in all the unseen dust floating in the air.

I bring this up because if you don't have air quality control such as ventilation and air filtration, a mask is not going to totally protect you. Unless, of course you plan to wear a mask the entire time you're in the shop. Which may not be an issue since masks seem to be permanent attachments to our faces :-(

This is especially important in to closed, climate controlled shop, or a shop that needs heating in the winter.

Just something to think about.
I give a thumbs up to the 3M 7500 series with either 2097 or 2297 filters. I like the 2297 a bit more because they have "P100, nuisance organic vapor relief particulate filter". For light exposure to finishes, the extra vapor protection is nice.
- SignWave
+1 thumb up

Both 2097 and 2297 have nuisance vapor protection.

The vapor protection works well. I have a weak stomach, and found that 2097 filters let me clean up rather foul organic situations without nausea. The number of filter options and longevity of 3Ms commitment to continue to make filters for the series make it a winner in my book.
Find something that is comfortable, you will not mind wearing it and use it more often. Also a comfortable one will help limit other mishaps because it's not a distraction.

Also having a mask that has replaceable filter will be cheaper in the long run. Also being able to use filters that limit your exposure to chemical vapors will be help when applying finishes.

yeah you may never have a problems down the road from inhaling dust and chemical vapors, but then again you might. A $100 now could save thousands in medical bills and lots of pain and suffering.
I have used the 3m 7500 for years. And I still have it. But switched to a RZ M2 mask a year or so back.
I switched to RZ because I liked the single strap vs the head gear on my 3m mask. And filter changes,, and options were good.. But in the summer when its so hot. The cloth on the RZ gets soaked with sweat rather quickly. So I tend to go back to the 3m mask.
I have never liked the head gear on the 3m.
Dust mask, ear protection, and eye glasses all tangled up. And its the mask that I would need to remove. So it all has to come off.
So before I bought the RZ, I considered another 3m product. I think its a 6500 series. Has a clip at the nose that allows you to drop the mask down below your chin without taking off the head gear.
Great to answer the phone, take a drink of water and such. Simple clip and keep working.
The mask model is about fit and comfort. The filter cartridges are probably the most important thing to pay attention to. There are different cartridges for different applications: particulate filters for sawdust, organic vapor cartridges for finishing, etc. If you use the wrong cartridge, it won t protect you.

They make combination cartridges that protect against multiple hazards. Be aware, however, that the useful life of a cartridge varies considerably depending on its type. An organic vapor cartridge is good for something like 8-10 hours of use (not sure what the exact time is), but a particulate filter might be good for months (if you are a hobbyist like me). The combination cartridges will have different useful lifespans for different types of hazards-so don t think you can use a combo cartridge for finishing after you have used it for 30 hours to protect against sawdust.

- Vindex
Awesome info all. I would add the acid test is if a cartridge filer is harder to breathe through after use, it's time to swap out. Depending on substance many cartridges are only good for one exposure, not to exceed 15 minutes. Any folks around Ammonia know this, or should. Wood products are probably going to be seeing an increase in respiratory effort to suggest a swap is needed. Not having been around ALL finishing products I don't know if there are some that are filter killers. Believe me you will know.

I already have COPD, smoking 42 years, so I take no prisoners in the shop, and I wear a 3M 6800, which in LARGE they don't talk about anymore, (some kind of model number changes) but it's like this one. Brands I would suggest are 3M, North, and well, that's about it.

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It's full face, so you are in it. Not perched on yer nose. It will safeguard your airway, and your eyes both. If you are vision impaired and need to wear glasses, all of the full face respirators can be "bridged" to accept a lens plate, that hold the corrective lens the correct distance from your eyes, and vision with them is awesome. The total killer here is if you suffer claustrophobia, you will not be comfy in one of these. Not being comfy ion any respirator is not using that respirator, human nature there.

Pricier up front than P or N 95's or 100's, but as you know many of them are hard to get due to Covid. With the full face respirators they are what industry uses, so filters have been available all through this. Plus unlike a formed piece of paper they allow you to spin on filters for many applications, and for wood the pink powder puffs will meet or exceed anything you can get from a P or N 95, or 100's provided you buy P 100 filters.

Whatever you choose get P either 95's or 100's. The N's are just not worth swiss cheese snot for longer term wear, and after a while many of the cheaper ones will just fall apart from your constant exchange of moister that you expel on EVERY breath you take. That puff of steam you see in the winter cold, is moisture from your lungs, happens whenever you breathe, you just see it when it's cold. The P's are for use with OIL, and DO NOT fall apart from the normal exchange of gasses you do while breathing.

If the 100's are close in price, they do offer better protection. Usually the difference between N's and P's is little $$$$.


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I love the 3M Full face respirator mask. Great product with high quality. However, the price is not cheap but it worth
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