For years, I’ve searched and searched for a better combination of dust masks and safety glasses. As avid woodworkers, we don’t want to go without either of them—right? Dust is our enemy. Our lungs and eyes are indispensable. This post will give you some pointers and recommendations for choosing the best dust mask—and without spending a lot of money.
Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize or almost eliminate the ill-effects of dust in your workshop. Dust collectors are a big help, and one day, I’ll write an article about them, but I want to talk about the first line of defense—the dust mask.
I’ve done a little research and experimenting in this area, and thought I would briefly spotlight a few products and share a tip or two.
Pictured above is a standard dust mask that I purchased from Home Depot. It’s light, inexpensive, simple to put on, but it does fog up my safety glasses. However, I recently learned about one tip to get around the fogging problem. Someone suggested I use some tape to seal the gap between the top of the dust mask and my skin. So, I purchased some Nexcare tape, normally used for bandaging. You can see the tape in the picture above. The Nexcare tape works well, but a little bit of a hassle to apply. And once I sealed that top section, I found it more difficult to breath through the mask.
The next product I tried was a Dust Bee Gone mask (pictured below). I purchased it from Woodcraft. This dust mask is simple, lightweight, and easy to breath through. It is washable and should last for a long time. But there were a couple of drawbacks for me. First, it cost $41, and second, it still fogged up my glasses.
I also purchased a household multi-purpose respirator (the 6000 Series) from Home Depot (see picture below). It’s made by 3M and costs about $30. This mask seals nicely around my mouth and nose, so I didn’t have problems with fogging. However, I did’t like the bulkiness and weight. Still, it’s a good mask.
The last mask is the one I regularly use and recommend. It’s a 3M 8511 dust mask (see picture below). I like it’s lightness, and it has a vent toward the bottom that helps direct moisture away from your safety glasses. After adjusting the metal tab around the nose area, I didn’t experience any fogging with this mask. I purchased this mask from Home Depo, for about $5.
Some final thoughts:
Always pick the appropriate mask for the work you will be doing. The masks in this post are all designed for woodworking. You will also notice in all the pictures that I used standard, inexpensive safety glasses. The type of work you perform may also dictate the most appropriate type of glasses to use. I definitely recommend safety glasses with side shields and the standard ANSI ratings. There may be more expensive glasses on the market that seal around your eyes better, and thus eliminate the fogging issue.
How about you? Do you have other recommendations on dust masks and safety glasses?