Full Face Respirators?

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Forum topic by DustyCellist posted 04-28-2014 07:17 PM 2994 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 2136 days

04-28-2014 07:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: turning sanding finishing safety respirator full face

I’ve been trying to avoid dust-producing power tools, but I’ve almost given up. I’ve noticed people work without any protection most of the time, but I have severe asthma so I’m looking for a mask. Of course I’ve seen some popular YouTube woodworkers sing praises of the 3M 7xxx series half masks with the activated carbon filters, and they say it can be worn for hours without any real discomfort.

Has anyone worn a full mask for any length of time? I’m wondering if this could double as a face shield for operating a lathe and also be better than a half mask for spray finishes. (also it would allow me to dig through attic stuff, right??)

I wanted to ask here before spending the $140 (amazon link) to find out if anyone has or uses a full face mask, and if so, do you only use it when using air gun spray finishes, and use a half mask for normal working? Or is it comfortable enough to use as the only mask I would own?


11 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9413 posts in 4040 days

#1 posted 04-28-2014 07:31 PM

There are a couple of people here on LJ’s that use those for turning on the lathe.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View chrisstef's profile


18028 posts in 3614 days

#2 posted 04-28-2014 07:45 PM

Ive never worn one personally but here, at work, in the field, the guys sometimes need to wear them for particular projects. We purchase the North brand full face respirators. With that said there is a medical clearance for proper lung function required to wear one as with all respirators. The guys seem to like them when theres abrasive work being done such as sand blasting and dry ice blasting. Im sure you could contact the manufacturer to find out what kind of force it would take to break the shield portion.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 2136 days

#3 posted 04-28-2014 07:47 PM

Great idea on contacting mfr, thanks Chris!

I don’t plan on getting a lung test, I already know my capacity is not great, but I’m hoping wearing the mask will help to remedy that… I’m sure my doctor would approve.

View chrisstef's profile


18028 posts in 3614 days

#4 posted 04-28-2014 07:49 PM

Yea, im pretty sure thats just to cover our insurance requirements and satisfy OSHA.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View TheDane's profile


5728 posts in 4270 days

#5 posted 04-28-2014 08:01 PM

I wouldn’t use one of the masks you provided the link to for turning.

Proper faceshields for woodturning have a polycarbonate lens and can withstand substantial impact.

The 3M product is intended for air filtration and may not be able to withstand the force of a piece flying off the lathe.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2653 days

#6 posted 04-28-2014 08:43 PM

I have a 3M 7xxx series respirator (I forget which model) and can attest to it’s comfort (if you get the right size). At my longest, I think I wore it for 3 hours straight and barely noticed that it was there. If you ever spot me wandering around as if I misplaced something, it’s probably me looking for my respirator (which I am probably already wearing).

-- paxorion

View Hammerthumb's profile


2992 posts in 2582 days

#7 posted 04-28-2014 08:57 PM

I have not used the full face, but depending on the wood, I use a half mask. If fitted properly, they are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. I have used mine for 8hrs at a time with 1/2hr break. I got used to mine and don’t really notice it unless someone comes in my shop to have a conversation.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4192 days

#8 posted 04-28-2014 09:03 PM

I have a full helmet type with a band worn round the waist which carries the blue air pump they of course are connected by a one inch or thereabouts hose..The main attraction is of course it does not mist up and offers good protection .I wear the one that Richard Raffan the Australian turner has on all the time.I must confess if I am just turning a quick part I just use the open full face mask.I think the full helmet type with the waistband air pump and filters is excellent and is really good for working over long periods but it is noticable when worn for a while and becomes a bit hot and uncomfortable.In which case I take a half hour break and a cup of lemon and honey tea. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 3839 days

#9 posted 04-28-2014 09:04 PM

Due to vision limitations, I can not use one of those as it would interfere with my wearing my eyeglasses.

Instead I use a 3M 7503 (Large) respirator with the down firing exhaust.

I use a basic 3M polycarbonite face shield in front of that when turning, or just safety glasses when not…

I find the respirator to be only slightly more uncomfortable to use than a CPAP mask.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View kooldecker's profile


79 posts in 2176 days

#10 posted 04-28-2014 09:25 PM

Im a concrete guy, and as such i have the occaision arise periodically where i have to where a full face resp for hours and hours. I have had a few different types, and to be honest i think all the brands are about the same. They are all expensive, and most have really thick lexan or poly face shields , usually alot thicker than some open face shields. As sombody else mentions, its all about the fit. If its fitting correctly, you should have no problem getting used to it fairly quickly, after all, thats what they were made for! I would suggest looking around your local box stores, and any other stores that you may have in your area that sell filter cartridges, and see what brands they carry. That mey play a role in which brand of resp you look at, Nothing more frustrating than not being able to do somthing because you had to order a cartridge online!!! Also look into the filter “socks” a prefilter of sorts that some brands offer. They slip or snap onto the business end of your filter, and GREATLYincrease the lifespan of your cartridges. If you have any more questions just shoot me a PM ill help in any way i can and good luck!

-- " I dont understand......I cut that board AT LEAST 4 times and its STILL too short!"

View DustyCellist's profile


71 posts in 2136 days

#11 posted 04-28-2014 09:44 PM

Thanks, all! Been super helpful!

I didn’t realize that people wore the full face for extended periods, that was my main concern. I know that it is closer to my face than a shield and could bend, so if a bowl flies off my lathe, then I’m in for a nosebleed, but that could happen with a shield anyway. I think, though, that if it could protect from small bits of concrete, then it should protect from slightly larger pieces of (softer) wood. I was looking at the 7503 half mask, but figured if I get a full mask then I don’t have to worry about forgetting to put on safety glasses before using a saw, etc. (and possibly have the added bonus of having +1 armor vs lathe waste).

I do plan on buying cartridges from Amazon since I have prime and it’s convenient for me, so as long as I get a popular brand (3M, MSA, etc) I should be ok.

One other question: do they fog up easily? It looks like the breathing apparatus is separated from the mask, so unlike an unplugged Trend, it should not get humidity on the shield, right?

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