lung & eye protection from fine wood dust

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Forum topic by fbeck posted 01-21-2010 08:06 PM 5069 views 2 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3317 days

01-21-2010 08:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: eyes lungs safety respirators breathing devices dust protection question

Hi, I’m a first timer here, so hope this is proper format. Am starting to get a little desperate and need help. I started working with wood about two years ago and do a lot of power and hand sanding. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to develop asmatic breathing symptoms, which I’m about 99% certain is coming from fine wood dust. The doc gives me two choices; give up my wood working or get 100% protection from the dust. I started out with the usual strap on masks, but they didn’t seem to work. I upgraded, money wise to a Triton power unit, which seemed to work better, but died after a few months. I then bought a Trend power unit, but can’t say that it really does the job. Last attempt was a snorkel type device, which actually seems to work the best, but not to the extent I need. The problem, in my mind, is that the filters in all these devices don’t really get the small, micron sized particles and the don’t keep the dust out of my eyes…..I really, really, don’t want to give up my wood working, so I’m going to make one more attempt at finding a breathing device that works. I’m guessing that someone out there has the answer…and I thank you for sharing it with me…

6 replies so far

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3429 days

#1 posted 01-21-2010 08:16 PM

Hey fbeck. Welcome to LJ.

I had similar issue with dust when I first started, then I saw a video by The Wood Whisperer. I now use the same mask as he does, with a OSHA 100 (99%) filter for fine dust. The mask itself has a silicon seal to fit snugly without allowing any other source of air in besides through the filters. And the exhaled air goes downwards instead of into your glasses. It can also be fitted with an air supply instead of filters. The link I have here is one level up from the mask I have (3M), but this link will provide you with full face masks as well:

Here is a direct link for the one that I have as recommended by Marc (aka the wood whisperer). it works great!!!

If your eyes are bothering you, you may want to look into getting chemistry type goggles that seal around the sides as well.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3962 days

#2 posted 01-21-2010 08:20 PM

you probably need to switch to a complete dust collection system. I dust collector to pick up fine particles at the source, an air filter to clean the air circulating around your workspace, and continue wearing a mask like the ones you have. My suspicion is that your masks are quickly becoming overwhelmed by the large quantities of dust you are generating. I don’t think they are meant to be the sole solution for any extended period of time.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3429 days

#3 posted 01-21-2010 08:31 PM

Yeah, as Hokie says, you’ll need a complete dust collection system as well. Since I can’t afford an air filter right now, I have a normal box fan with a very good furnace air filter taped to the intake side.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3723 days

#4 posted 01-21-2010 08:31 PM

I would suggest a four to five way approach: You need a dust collector, this is the one I use. Then you need a dust filter, and thirdly, a dust mask like Eric_S suggests. That is a good one. Fourthly, for the power and hand sanding I would suggest either making or buying a downdraft table.

Lastly, you can also consider an Airshield or similar type full face covering. They are cool, don’t weigh too much and have a positive air flow to keep out the dust.

If you are developing asthmatic conditions, then you need to be very careful and very thorough. Good luck.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View fbeck's profile


3 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 01-22-2010 06:54 PM

Wow! Quick and great replys. Thanks…I have a dust extractor connected to worse offenders, belt/disc sander, router and planer and I have a 20” box fan, installed on wall of shop, about 24” away from belt sander, that sucks air and vents outside, but will definitely install additional ceiling filtration system, of some kind. Will also look into downdraft table. I think a major problem comes after I finish working on something, take off respirator, turn off equipment and then see “one more little area that just needs a bit of touch-up sanding”. The downdraft table would be a plus there. One more question; how do you deal with your planer, with regards to the excessive wood it spits out? I’ve got a small 12” and it seems to overpower my dust collector, do you set it up on a seperate collection system?

View JimmyNate's profile


124 posts in 3584 days

#6 posted 01-22-2010 08:21 PM

Most accounts I’ve read indicate that the most dangerous dust (the super fine stuff) is so small you can’t see it and it will hang in the air for quite awhile after you are done working. Given your situation, I would keep the respirator outside the shop where it can stay clean, put it on before you go in, and keep it on until you are back outside. Err on the side of caution.

A cyclone may be something to look into as a way of improving your dust collection—-might help with the planer, too.

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

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