The Best Dust Mask for Woodworking in 2018

woman wood working project using a dust mask for saw

When you are completing your woodworking tasks, there are a variety of times a dust mask will come in handy. It can protect you from sawdust particles as you cut and VOCs as you varnish and stain.

Making sure you have the best dust mask for ​woodworking can ensure you invest in a model that will provide the right level of protection while also being comfortable to wear. Consider one of these mask types to protect you from the dangers of sawdust and wood dust.

​The Best Dust Masks For Woodworking

When we were looking for the best dust mask or best respirator for woodworking, we found these five models. In our opinion, we think they provide the best options for protection against fumes and particulates.

We reviewed them here to make your decision that much easier. Read on to find out a little more about these dust masks and which one we thought was the best.

​PonKing Dust Mask

The air mesh design of the ​PonKing Dust Mask provides a breathable fabric that you’ll feel comfortable wearing for extended periods of time.

This mask is also ergonomic in its development, allowing a proper fit and good protection with a lightweight 0.13 lb. structure.

It is ideal for woodworking applications and includes an activated carbon filter. The dust mask is moisture proof and resistant to dust, bacteria, wood grains, and fog. It is rated for the removal of particles that are 2.5 microns. It is also NIOSH N95 approved.


​The PonKing dus​t mask also comes with an extra filter for replacement, giving you extended wear of the mask. Plus, PonKing offers a money back satisfaction guarantee. If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the dust mask, you can return it for a full refund.

While we were impressed with the design and capabilities of the PonKing dust mask, we did find some drawbacks you might want to consider. The dust mask cannot be washed as it will reduce the effectiveness of the product. You can change the filters. We also found that at the current time, PonKing does not offer replacement filters for the mask. However, it does come with an extra one so you will get plenty of life out of the mask.

​RooRuns Dust Mask

The ​RooRuns Dustproof Mask is a very capable product. It eliminates as much as 95 percent of dust, chemicals, fumes, and particulates, making it perfect for a woodworking application.

Because the dust mask has an active carbon filter, it traps these pollutants and isolates them from reaching your nose and mouth.

The dust mask incorporates a lightweight fabric that is soft to the touch and quick drying. You’ll have no trouble breathing with this mask on, and it is also very comfortable to wear. ​

RooRuns has used an ergonomic design to provide a proper fit, which is complemented by an adjustable Velcro strap.


​This dust mask stays put all the while you work as it has an adjustable aluminum sheet within its design around the bridge of the nose. The mask, itself, weighs a total of 52 g and can be washed.

Filters are replaceable, and it is recommended by the manufacturer that this occurs every three months.

We were pleased with the overall design of the RooRuns dust mask, but did find a drawback we wanted to make sure you were aware of. Some consumers found the mask did not perform well with sawdust.

Some dust particles were able to penetrate the mask, but other consumers found the mask worked without this issue. This may depend on your sensitivity to dust particles. Overall, we found this dust mask performed as intended.

​Elipse P100 Dust Mask Respirator

​The ​GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator provides even more protection as you perform your woodworking projects.

This mask is made from thermoplastic elastomer and weights in at only 6.4 ounces. It has a compact footprint and uses a flexible design that is comfortable to wear.

​​You’ll appreciate that this dust mask fits well on the face while still providing a good line of sight.

You can wear this dust mask respirator with eye or ear protection without feeling cumbersome.


​It also features a non-return valve that helps adjust your breathing resistance, so you are never struggling for breath or allowing moisture inside the mask.

A non-slip strap keeps the mask in place and can be adjusted to four different positions to ensure a tight fit. The mask comes in two sizes and is NIOSH 42 CFR 84 P100 certified. It also meets many other worldwide standards. It has an integral filter and also comes with two extra filters as replacement parts

The only drawback we saw on the Elipse P100 dust mask is the filters on the mask are not carbon activated. This may limit its effectiveness in some applications. We found for woodworking projects the ​GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator was a very functional dust mask.

​3M Reusable 6501QL/49488 Dust Mask Respirator

​Also, on our list of dust masks is the ​3M Reusable Respirator 6501QL/49488. This respirator allows for use in a variety of applications including woodworking.

The mask has a silicone face seal. This provides a comfortable fit around the mouth and nose to offer plenty of protection as you work.

Fit is also aided by the quick latch mechanism that allows you to drop the mask off your face without having to completely remove it from your head.

​Heat and moisture build up in the dust mask are managed by a Cool Flow valve. This allows you to breathe easier and is more comfortable as you wear the mask. The design of the dust mask respirator incorporates a low-profile design that provides plenty of viewing capabilities. You can easily wear this mask with a grinding or welding shield without discomfort.

The 3M Reusable 6501QL/49488 dust mask respirator also has a 3.2-ounce weight and provides protection against airborne contaminants. It has an integrated filtration system that uses both filters and cartridges for cleaning. It is designed to protect up to 10 times allowable permissible exposure limits. It is NIOSH approved.

This dust mask respirator offers plenty of protection against fumes and particulates. But, it doesn’t come with the actual filters you need to use the device. You need to order the filters and cartridges separately. This does allow you to customize your dust mask respirator to the application you will be working in most frequently.

​​​​​Krisvie Activated Carbon Dustpr​​​​oof Dust Mask

​The ​Krisvie Activated Carbon Dustproof Dust Mask utilizes an innovative design that uses a variety of holes to make it as breathable as possible.

This is further aided by an adjustable double air-breathing valve to prevent resistance as you breathe. It makes for smooth breathing all the while you are wearing the mask.

Fortunately, this dust mask respirator can be washed if it were to get dirty. Two filters provide plenty of filtration. These filters are carbon-activated for added protection against your work elements. They can also be replaced over time when they are past their usable life.

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​This dust mask offers an adjustable elastic strap. A fitted nose bridge clip prevents slippage. It can also be molded to your facial features for a custom fit. Plus, it comes in four colors. Krisvie offers a 100 percent money back guarantee of the product. You can return it if for any reason you are unhappy with its performance.

The Krisvie Activated Carbon Dustproof dust mask is compact as well as lightweight. It is rated for protection against dust, bacteria, fog, and wood grain all the way down to 2.5 microns. It also features moisture resistance, so you never have to worry about wetness, heat, or fogging.

We found the Krisvie Activated Carbon Dustproof dust mask to be a very versatile mask. There is one drawback we wanted to inform you about. This dust mask is not necessarily designed to fit all face types. A large face may find this mask difficult to wear, but it can be custom molded as needed to fit.

Our Top Woodworking Dust Mask

In the end, it was a tough decision for us to pick between the Elipse and 3M, but we give our vote to the ​GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator as the best dust mask for woodworking.

One of the main reasons is how comfortable the mask is. Typically, these types of masks are uncomfortable and annoying, and Elipse solves that.

It is NIOSH certified and comes with everything you need, including replacement parts.

Important Considerations for the Best Dust Mask

When you are choosing the best dust mask for woodworking, there are several things you need to consider before you buy. A simple dust mask just won’t provide you the level of protection you are looking for. You need some durability from the waste products you are producing, so you can ensure you are safe while you work. Keep these factors in mind when you are looking for a woodworking dust mask or woodworking respirator.

Breathability

The material of your dust mask should be breathable. You should not struggle to breathe or have laborious breathing with the mask on. Mesh is a popular choice for dust masks that works well as a breathable option. It can provide the comfort and security you need to ensure you don’t gasp for air or become incapacitated in any way when wearing the dust mask.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the most important factors that a dust mask for woodworking can provide. Because you will be wearing this dust mask for extended periods of times, you want it to feel lightweight and comfortable on your face.

It shouldn’t be tight or pinch in any way. You need a good seal around your nose and mouth, and it should not be restrictive on your face.

woman wood working project using a dust mask for saw

Fit

Like comfort, how a dust mask fits can determine if is it is the right one for you. You need to protect both your nose and mouth from woodworking byproducts. If your dust mask does not securely protect both your nose and mouth, it may not be the right size or fit.

It should securely fasten around your head and not slip or gap as you move. It should also not slide off your face, and it should provide easy viewing capabilities.

Weight

Some ​of these come as a dust mask respirator with additional protective features. These masks weigh more than a traditional dust mask. But, they offer additional features, such as filtration, that can provide more protection from fumes and exhaust.

Even though these masks tend to weigh more, you can find one that is lightweight and comfortable on your face.

Washable

The material that some dust masks are made of can be washed. This offers you the ability to ensure you have a clean mask each time you wear it. You’ll also be able to remove dirt and grime that can build up over time, giving you a clean and fresh mask to wear at all times.

Filtration

Some masks such as an asbestos dust mask come with filters that can be changed out as they get full of dirt, dust, and debris. These filters typically have carbon that reduces the penetration of particles as you breathe through the mask.

Filtration is probably the #1 reason you're picking up a dust mask for woodworking. Sawdust, drywall dust... these fine particles can work their way through even some poorly constructed masks. Pay attention of how the mask filters, because it is the most important item. 

Certification

It is also best to choose a dust mask that is NIOSH approved. This will give you an added level of security. You are assured it is rated to the standards of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

While some dust masks may claim to remove particles to certain levels, without the proper certification and approval, there is no way to be sure. Always check that your dust mask is certified by NIOSH.

           

The same way that dust accumulates in a certain unattended corner of your house, it can also make a home out of your lungs and clog it up. If you're constantly exposed to dust, specifically in woodworking, excessive inhalation of the particles can be extremely hazardous to your health in the long run. If there's a simple way to prevent unwanted future ailments, it's dust masks.

How a Dust Mask Works

Wikipedia describes dust masks as “a flexible pad held over the nose and mouth by elastic or rubber straps to protect against dusts encountered during construction or cleaning activities.”

If other words are omitted or changed, the same description can be used for other types of masks such as paint masks, surgical masks, gas masks, and even respirators.

How All Masks Work

Though all are worn the same way, each of them serve a different function and prevents different types of pollutants from being ingested. It's important to distinguish between them to really understand the purpose of a dust mask.

Some masks, like the surgical mask, don't protect against dust or anything at all. Its function is about catching any bacteria in the form of liquid or aerosol from the health professionals' mouth and nose during a surgical procedure.

The paint mask or gas mask protect from certain air-borne chemicals or vapors that might be poisonous to a person.

How Dust Masks Specifically Work

A respirator is probably the closest thing to a dust mask in terms of function, only more extensive. It can act as a filtering device that prevents any airborne pollutants and contaminants from being inhaled.

The latter is also a kind of respirator – particulate respirator – though it offers protection only against some particles. They're made with a filtering material that resemble the composition of cloth.

Dust masks fall under the category of “airpurifying respirators” because they function as a filter, cleaning out the air and blocking small particles from passing through the cloth-like material. It makes breathing safer in an area where woodworking is done.

The flexible pad of dust masks are usually curved to cover all around the wearer's mouth and nose, at least half of the face where they can unconsciously inhale or ingest small particles.

How to Wear a Dust Mask

Like other masks, a dust mask is worn around the head with an elastic strap that goes to the back of the head. Not all masks are made the same though. Some disposable ones will have only one strap. Others have two, one on the upper part of the head and the other on the lower.

Other advanced features in some dust masks are the aluminum strip on the exterior on top of the bridge of the nose. Under it, a strip of foam rubber usually sits inside right on the skin.

The aluminum strip can be bent to match the face of the wearer more. It helps to achieve a more accurate fit. Even if it ends up not fitting so well, the foam rubber strip inside is a kind of seal that sticks the mask to your nose.

Dust masks pose a bigger possibility of an improper fit, so it's important to know how to wear it correctly for it to perform its purpose well. The way you know it's put on correctly is when you can see the aluminum strip on either sides of the nose.

NIOSH Respiratory Protection Requirements

It's the first of three key factors posed by NIOSH for effective respiratory protection within the workplace or personal use. The other two are that a dust mask is to be worn during the entirety of the exposure to non poisonous particles, and that it should filter out at least 95 percent of particles that comes across the material.

The use of dust mask use at work must follow the guidelines and protocols imposed in OSHA's 1910.134 respiratory protection standard. If possible, the safest dust masks to use are the ones approved by NIOSH. All NIOSH-approved masks are labeled as such. If not that, there should be a large N95 label on the mask itself.

In the professional landscape, employers are tasked to train their employees on how and when to use the dust mask. Proper use and wear are also usually administrated by a safety professional.

For the general public, the same kind of dust mask as for professionals are recommended. Other apparatus used for this purpose like bandanas or t-shirts put over the nose and mouth don't work the same way as these NIOSH-approved dust masks.

If for personal woodworking projects, fit testing and the application of NIOSH's best practices for the use and care of dust masks are the main guidelines for how to make them work.

Why You Need a Dust Mask

Eric Meier says, “the biggest threat to a woodworker comes not in the form of bodily injury from a power tool, but from wood dust.” Invisible fine dust or “coarse inhalable particles”, which are only between 2 to 10 microns, continue to be suspended in the air even after the work has been done.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there should only be a maximum of 1 milligram per cubic meter for hardwoods and 5 milligram per cubic meter for softwoods in a wood shop. That amount is almost impossible especially when tools like routers, band saws, and sanding are used.

When inhaled, the particles can wound and scar the lungs, which accumulates to lung issues and other health problems over time. Here are just some of the ways wood dust work to inflict internal dangers:

Irritant

The most immediate effects of wood dust is because they are naturally irritants. People who come in contact with it are usually met with some problems in the eyes, nose, and skin. Sneezing, itching, rashes, and breathing problems are some of the common reactions, especially to those who are not used to it.

Sensitizer

Some wood workers may be more sensitized to it from frequent exposure to it. However, the lack of immediate physical reactions isn't always a good sign because it's usually building up a much severe problem. Eventually, it might result to boils or inflammation of the lungs.

Toxin

When you look through the Wood Allergen and Toxicity database, you can see that a few species of wood are considered toxic. Though these are few and rare, the toxic quality of some types of wood can possibly cause fatal effects.

Carcinogen

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) have identified some types of dust like saw dust as a group A carcinogen.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database, which follows the same rating system as IARC in identifying the harming degree of a substance, identifies group A substances as carcinogenic, or could cause cancer, to humans.

This confirms that some wood species can cause nasopharyngeal carcinoma or nasopharyngeal cancer. It's all the more reason to require dust masks every time you work with wood.

Government regulations should be enough reason to wear dust masks and wear them properly when necessary. However, health risks for your own sake are a greater motivation to do so, and there are many as enumerated.

You don't normally detect the effects of frequent and excessive exposure to dust, especially when working with wood, until years later but it doesn't mean it's not damaging your insides now. Dust masks are not the surest type of masks but its effectivity is unquestionable when worn as intended.

​Conclusion

After reviewing these dust masks, we found the ​GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Half Mask Respirator dust mask respirator was the perfect choice for woodworking projects. We liked that it came with a filtration system as well as extra filters.

We found this was the best dust mask to protect you from sawdust and VOC fumes. We liked that it was NIOSH approved. You won’t go wrong buying the Elipse P100 dust mask respirator. It protects and fits like it should, making it our top choice for dust masks.

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