One of the less pleasant side-products of woodworking, particularly with power tools, is the generation of sawdust. Some of these particles get down to rather nasty sizes, and can remain airborne for surprisingly long periods of time.
There are three sources of dust control for the workshop. The first is obvious (well they are all obvious really): controlling dust at the point of creation. Using dust collection equipment, whether it is a vacuum connected to the machine, or a 4″ hose to a dust extractor, a down-draught table, whatever. Collect and extract as much dust as possible.
The second is dealing with the finer particles that have escaped, and become fully airborne. This is where some form of air filtration comes in. It could be something like the MC1000 that pumps 1000 cubic metres through a 0.6 micron filter every hour, or even a simple extraction fan that pumps ‘dirty’ air outside, allowing clean air to be drawn in.
Finally, stage three is the “when all else fails” – the final backstop – PPE (RPE). Personal protection equipment (respiratory protection equipment).
Let’s face it – we are talking about face masks.
Now that is a pleasant thought isn’t it? Damned uncomfortable, hot, and you can’t wait to get it off as soon as the dusty job is over (despite the air still being laden with fine dust particles you can still see). On top of that, so many times you find your vision being compromised as your safety glasses fog, and there is enough reasons mounting why you’d feel justified in abandoning any thought of continuing to use one. In hot weather, I’ve had to regularly pour out my normal P2 filtered mask – boy that really makes using one fun.
So what do you do? Get a better mask, that’s what.
Medical / surgical staff have to wear masks for long periods of time, and they certainly can’t afford to have their vision impaired by fogging, so it is quite fortunate that one happens to have a passion for woodturning, and has come up with a dust mask that is based on the surgical mask design.
Called the Dust Bee Gone (DBG), it is designed to be particularly comfortable, is guaranteed not to fog your glasses, and will save you a lot of money on decent disposable masks because this one is washable. If used 6 to 8 hours a day, it should last 3-5 years. Based on that, the one I have will last the rest of my life!
It is not designed for toxic dusts, so I’d still use a P2 filter when working with MDF. The DBG filters down to 3 micron. It works well with beards too (although I don’t have a full length woodworkers one (yet!)
So the next time you are in your workshop, creating clouds of fine dust and pretending it doesn’t exist, and choosing not to use a mask because of all the excuses (and I know – I’ve used a lot of them!), consider trying a different type of mask.