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Lately, while cleaning rusty old tools I bought from a local market, I've inhaled steel wool dust and possibly gotten a tiny bit in my eyes. And while sanding wooden projects, I've only coughed maybe once. But as I do more cleaning, sanding, staining, and possibly moulding plastics, I'll want more safety. A long-time carpenter recommended a $130 full-face mask setup with replaceable filters, if I was to train with him. But I know some people on Router Forums recommend air filtration of some sort. Are both needed? Is one more important than the other?

We're on a budget. I'm fine with $130 for an intense mask I will use for any longer projects. But there needs to be a little more airflow in general - will a fan near the project be sufficient?

Our woodworking workshop (our garage,) has a few windows and of course the large door we can open. But I will not always want to work with that door open, especially in winter. Which brings us to heating - but that's another topic entirely. I can use a coat for now.

I don't want to ruin my health - eyes, fingers, lungs - but I'm not building a bunker and I don't need to cycle enough air for an army. What's the middle ground?

Thanks so much for any advice! Health is so important.
 

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Your a smart man as dust is no joke . I bought a mask that has paper pre filters before it goes to the filtration canisters. It was like 50 bucks I believe .
I wear safety glasses also that have cheaters built in . This most disagree with , but I wear a hard hat with the ear muffs to suppress noise also . I'm used to wearing hard hats , so it doesn't bother me at all.
Used to have a full face shield on it to protect my eyes , but the dust masks canisters got in the way of the shield , so it was back to safety glasses .

At some point I'm going to install a filtration system on the ceiling also , as you can't have to many contingency plans to remove dust IMO .

I also have dust collection on my router , table saw , miter saw etc


My gear . Dust mask is rated for h2s

 

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Dust mask, definitely. Full mask doesn't work for me, wear glasses. Hmmm, wait, I just remembered, had cataract eye surgery last year, and now 20/20. Could wear a full mask now, but don't care for them. I like a full shield over safety glasses. I would imagine you can get a mask for considerably less than $130 that will be completely adequate, I'm thinking they all have replaceable filters now too. I think my half mask ran me around $30, and had two replaceable filters. Have a bit different style now, but still two replaceable filters. My shop is quite small, so have a fan in the window to blow thru and out, but definitely wear the mask when doing anything except some hand sanding. I never coughed before I started using a mask, but did tend to cough up sawdust.
 

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Doug
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A mask is more important than an ambient air filter

The hard part is finding one you will use and fits well. I use a Triton papr that has the filter on the belt because the flow of air keeps my glasses from fogging when it gets humid.
 

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Lately, while cleaning rusty old tools I bought from a local market, I've inhaled steel wool dust
go w/ non-woven pads instead of steel wool..
in fact don't use steel wool for anything... use the pads...
if you want to use a rust solvent mix 1:1 ratio of ATF and acetone... won't take much...
a fan will make for good ventilation...

and possibly gotten a tiny bit in my eyes.
goggle/ski type safety glasses...
(examples) https://www.conney.com/category/eye-protection-safety-goggles

And while sanding wooden projects,
build your own down draft table and hook up a DC to the sander...
10 Downdraft Table Plans and Build Notes for Wood Shops |

possibly molding plastics, I'll want more safety.
positive pressure hood/full face respirator.. but the price of these jst make your brain hurt...
way too many hydrocarbons and noxious gasses to deal w/...

A long-time carpenter recommended a $130 full-face mask setup with replaceable filters, if I was to train with him.
goggles and filtered half face respirator w/ replaceable filters...
(example) 3M® 6000 Series Half Facepiece Reusable Respirators | Seton

But I know some people on Router Forums recommend air filtration of some sort. Are both needed? Is one more important than the other?
Shop air filtration???

- will a fan near the project be sufficient?
no, but add a box fan w/ an AC filter mounted to it to the arsenal... a positive plus that will not hurt...
Box Fan Filter

heating - but that's another topic entirely.
please....

I don't want to ruin my health - eyes, fingers, lungs - but I'm not building a bunker and I don't need to cycle enough air for an army. What's the middle ground?
dust collection (DC) system and eye/hearing protection...
use the search function here on DC as there are a lot of threads on the subject...
VOE says.. get more unit than you think you'll ever need.. ''no get bys'' is to your advantage...

Thanks so much for any advice! Health is so important.
 

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I use both a face mask and air filtration. I have older tools so the DC is not prefect with these tools so adding a mask and air filtration hopefully makes up for less than prefect DC. I think it is all a balance trying reduce your dust intake.
 

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I like this one, Rockler Power air respirator, Power Air Respirator - Rockler Woodworking Tools. Glasses go over that, either goggles or a pair of safety glasses over that. Runs on 4 AA batteries, so I keep a couple of sets of rechargables on hand. Fan in mask puts in positive air pressure, and mine leaks air over my cheeks and keeps my glasses from fogging. Plenty of air flow, no dust gets through. Picture below.
 

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This is very similar to the one that I have: 3M Dustmask. It works very well for me, and there are several different filter canisters that you can get for it, all depends on what you are doing.

I used to use the paper throw away masks and thought they did an adequate job. I had to make sure I got the ones with the center exhaust valve, else my glasses would fog up. Use dust collection at the source... whatever machine you are using, make sure you are using a dust collector. You will never get all of it IMHO, but if you get most of it, it's OK. Air filtration in the shop can be as complicated as the most expensive, efficient filtration you can find... or it can be really simple. Tape a standard furnace filter to a 20" box fan and turn it on. It won't get all the real fine particles, but it will still get a lot of the particulate matter floating thru the air.

Bottom line, use a filtered mask, and a collection system. You only get one pair of lungs, protect them.
 

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BDBAILEY....
Unless you are a very lucky man, you will only ever have one set of eyes and one set of lungs.

Forget any kind of budget for safety items. Whats the use of having a workshop full of tools if your lungs are so bad you cant walk to it (try googling COPD), or you cant see to work it all.

Mask AND dust collection are vital and anyone who decides not to use both is just fooling themselves.

I have a dust collection system to my machines, and still wear a face mask to FFP3 specification, because its the very fine dust that you cant see that will eat your lungs out.

and I use safety glasses and ear defenders on anything that throws dust and chips at me.

In terms of a car, think of it as fitting a giant race engine but not upgrading the brakes. Starts off well, but disaster is just a little way down the road
 

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+1 on the 3M 6000 mask. Works for sawdust as well as fumes from finishing products. It is a half mask so it does not interfere with glasses or safety goggles. A very high level of particulate filtering. It's the very fine sawdust that will harm you. Most of the dust collectors are not very efficient removing the very fine particulates.
 

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Wear a mask and get a vacuum cleaner attached to the tool you are using (which is far more effective than the air filter units which hang from the ceiling) and make sure that your vacuum has a fine dust (HEPA?) filter and that your mask fits properly because if it doesn't you'll just be breathing-in dust round the sides of it.
 

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A mask is a must. The only reason I also have air filtration is to help minimize dust getting into the rest of the house. If my shop was in a detached garage, I probably wouldn't bother with it.
 

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@bdbailey Budget is always a problem and finding a balance between that and safety is tricky. A box fan and filter needs to be set near a wall so it creates a circulation. In a two car garage, I'd set up two fans on opposite walls, suspended from the ceiling With an attached garage, the problem will be tracking sawdust into the house, and having the fine, suspended particulates leak into the house.

Sawdust extraction at the tool is also very important. Sweeping up sawdust after you finish working is likely to only launch more fine particulates into the air. I spent a lot of money trying to put together a good home brew DC (Dust collection) setup, none of which really did the job. Finally, I got the Harbor Freight unit, on sale now and again, for $187 with a holiday weekend 25% off coupon and on sale. Still had to buy a couple of other parts and a 4 inch hose to attach to different tools. It cost me about half what I'd spent on various parts, blowers, barrels and such. I have two, one in my 12x24 shop that has a really fine additional drum type filter, and the other in my garage where I prep wood and resaw. The garage unit just has the cloth filter. The shop's canister filter lets me recirculate shop air rather than blow it out along with the heat and AC air.

A good DC system does not negate the need for a mask, eye and hearing protection. The DC units also serve to vacuum up the shop floor and shelves.

All that seems like overkill to some, but for a grand total of about $350, you can avoid a raft of breathing problems. I am a throat cancer survivor and the carcinogens in sawdust are NOT going into my throat and lungs! Discuss this with your spouse so she's on your side on budgeting for this. After taking me through radiation and chemo, my wife had no problem with my investing in good DC.
 

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I like this one, Rockler Power air respirator, Power Air Respirator - Rockler Woodworking Tools. Glasses go over that, either goggles or a pair of safety glasses over that. Runs on 4 AA batteries, so I keep a couple of sets of rechargables on hand. Fan in mask puts in positive air pressure, and mine leaks air over my cheeks and keeps my glasses from fogging. Plenty of air flow, no dust gets through. Picture below.
This is a subject that's on my mind a lot right now. I bought the RZ industries mask, and it works really well. But it filters so well that, with me having pretty severe COPD, it's an effort to inhale through the filter. I had been thinking about coming up with a fresh air mask, with a pipeline running to outdoors to plug into wherever I'm working, but those masks are really pricey.

I hadn't seen these powered units, and it seems like a good solution for the money. You're a veritable encyclopedia here lately, Tom. Thanks for the tip.
 

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@bdbailey Almost forgot, Shop heating solutions. There was a long discussion on this recently. I have a similar problem during winter. Cold hands around spinning blades is a dangerous situation. Some solutions were using the gas outlet for a dryer to feed a closed flame heater. There are combination AC/heater units that are electric. But after all that, I realized that I had to insulate the ceiling and drywall it or any heat would simply be dissipated. The walls are already insulated, so since I'm too old to do that project, someone's coming in to do it with at least R38 batting.

That done and about R12 foam/bubble insulation in the roll up garage door--with good door seals--and I'll just run the gas dryer a few minutes and vent it into the garage. There is enough fresh air circulation from water heater venting so it will work and once heated enough, it will cool slowly. During summer (desert here), the insulation will mitigate the heat. Maybe AC some time in the future, but I'll see if it's needed. My shop has AC. Radiant space heaters near your work area is another help. Just no open flame or heater elements.

Hope this helps.
 

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@bdbailey Finally, I got the Harbor Freight unit, on sale now and again, for $187 with a holiday weekend 25% off coupon and on sale.
I just saw this post after answering your previous one. Perhaps you can guide me on that HF unit. The specs say that it runs at 20 amps. That may just be at startup, but with my wiring, I'm afraid to draw that much if the unit actually runs at that. Do you know what the specs for 20 amps are about?
 

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I just saw this post after answering your previous one. Perhaps you can guide me on that HF unit. The specs say that it runs at 20 amps. That may just be at startup, but with my wiring, I'm afraid to draw that much if the unit actually runs at that. Do you know what the specs for 20 amps are about?
I am certain it is 20 amps on startup. I've been running it on a 15 amp circuit in the garage and what turned out to be a 15 amp breaker in the shop, and both breakers have stayed on. Depending on you source of shop power, you might consider having an electrician add a 20 amp breaker and a special circuit to the shop. My wife hired one to run 3 20 amp circuits out to my shop about 50 feet back in my back yard. 1 for dc, one for the tool in use, one for the LED lights and AC/Heater
 

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I am certain it is 20 amps on startup. I've been running it on a 15 amp circuit in the garage and what turned out to be a 15 amp breaker in the shop, and both breakers have stayed on. Depending on you source of shop power, you might consider having an electrician add a 20 amp breaker and a special circuit to the shop. My wife hired one to run 3 20 amp circuits out to my shop about 50 feet back in my back yard. 1 for dc, one for the tool in use, one for the LED lights and AC/Heater
Good idea. I have a blank space for a breaker, and the breaker box is right above where I will put the DC. Thanks.
 

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I know some people on Router Forums recommend air filtration of some sort. Health is so important.
It's good to see that you're thinking about your health. :wink: I'm new to dust collection but in my research it's scary to see just how much small (and sometimes microscopic) dust particles can hurt you. Air filtration for dust collection is such a vital an important part of a lot of industries: woodworking included.

Check out the graphic I made below: these are some health effects by the WHO (World Health Organization):
 

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