Hand tools and dust masks/respirators

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Forum topic by stroml posted 05-06-2012 04:02 PM 1215 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 2495 days

05-06-2012 04:02 PM

I got a respirator for myself because I don’t like shelling out money for dust masks that don’t fit my face. When do you hand tool users use a dust mask or respirator?

I’d assume for chiseling and planing you don’t need it. I know for sure I’ll be using it for sanding and finishing.

What about sawing with hand saws? Sharpening your tools (metal particles)?

I made the mistake as a kid of sanding aluminum without a mask in an enclosed area. Had black particles all up in my nose and that freaked me out, so I don’t really want to risk it.

-- Strom

2 replies so far

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2877 days

#1 posted 05-06-2012 07:49 PM

I wouldn’t worry about any of the above to wear a dust mask. Chisels and planes produce large chucks that will never really get into the air. Handsaws chips are so large that if they are in the air they will get caught in your nose before entering your lungs, meaning there is no reason to worry. Unless if you are grinding a bunch of metal, the small amount of particles shouldn’t be a concern. Biggest concern is sanding and using power tools. They produce particles small enough to pass through your nose and into your lungs. If they are small enough, they don’t get exhaled and deposit in your lungs. Those are the ones to worry about.

View AndyDuframe's profile


48 posts in 3831 days

#2 posted 05-06-2012 09:40 PM

I’ve found that products in the simple “dust mask” category can vary quite a bit in quality. Like you’ve already discovered, the cheapest masks are almost worthless for doing any kind of woodworking, since they don’t conform to your face at all. However, if you go up in price by a few dollars, there are some other masks (not respirators) that do a much nicer job of that. Look for the thicker masks, most of which also include a small valve to release air.

As far as some jobs not requiring a mask, my shop tends to stir up dust no matter what I’m doing—which means I put on a mask anytime I need to spend more than 5 minutes in there.


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