How to Pick the Best Respirator for Wood Finishing

  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Join the Facebook Group Here!

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

This is How to pick the best respirator for wood finishing, plus the one major tip you need to remember that will have the biggest impact on that decision. I’ll show you everything you need to know. Enjoy.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

Picking the Best Respirator

How-to-Pick-the-Best-Respirator-for-Wood-FinishingWe all know that you need a respirator for a lot of different reasons, and picking out the right respirator is really important. There’s also something to be said about picking out the best respirator for your particular situation.

Since every woodworker is different, and your unique situation needs to be considered, I’m going to offer several guidelines to help you make that decision. These will all help you get the best respirator you can buy in the beginning.

The last thing you want is to go through several different units on your way to discovering which one you like. These are not like paper masks that are cheap and replaceable. A respirator is meant to be with you for a while.

Read through these different things to look for before you make your decision, and it will help you get a respirator that you’re very happy to use.

See Also: 19 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Woodworking

Free Woodworking Tips Every Monday

Add Me to the List!

Choose Based on the Intended Use

Above all else, the intended use of your respirator is easily the most important decision that you can make. After all, the point of the unit is to protect you from different things in the air, so you need to know what those things are.

Woodworkers are fortunate enough to have to deal with all kinds of different dangerous things floating through the air. There are several different types of dust and debris, as well as different chemicals and fumes.

I can be a lot to ask a respirator to keep up with a woodworker, but it’s really important that you invest the time in figuring it out. Your health is the most valuable thing that you have, and it directly affects how much time you’ll have to enjoy life.

Before you start shopping, write a list of the different things that you need to be protected from, and make sure that you look for a respirator that can do that. The best breathing system will address everything on your list.

See Also: 13 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking

Pick a Name Brand Respirator You Trust

Another really good thing to watch out for is knock offs or no-name respirators. Typically, these will not have any type of certification stamp on them. These are absolute junk, and will probably not protect you very well.

Safety is a big business, so unfortunately that also attracts some more unscrupulous business owners. Seeing an opportunity to make money by selling something that looks like a safety product for less money, they do a lot of damage to the industry.

Don’t fall for this, and don’t let a few dollars prevent you from making a healthy decision. It’s very important that you objectively look at what the respirator does and not necessarily cost.

Free Woodworking Tips Every Monday

Add Me to the List!

Also, by picking a name brand that you can trust you are tying their reputation to that product. Trusted brands like being trusted, so they do things to ensure that they won’t lose your trust, like putting out a crappy respirator.

See Also: 13 Woodworking Ideas to Help Any Beginner

Go High End With Lots of Features

This is an option if you don’t mind spending a couple extra bucks and getting something that’s a little bit higher end. Some of the better breathing systems out there offer a lot more than just filtration.

Some systems even offer on board fresh air, and a face mask. There are also other features, and they make the respirator more of the multi-function unit. If this is your style, you can find a lot of different options.

Something that’s cool about a respirator like this is you get all of the other protections, plus you get a very nice piece of equipment. When you have a high end piece, you tend to take care of it and enjoy it more than a cheap unit.

If that’s what it takes to get you to where the darn thing, then by all means buy a really nice one.

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

See Also: 9 Unbelievable Wood Finishing Myths for Beginners

Avoid Cheesy Looking Products

If you’re looking at respirators and you see one that just makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable based on how it looks, be very cautious. When your gut starts telling you that something looks cheesy, it’s probably right.

I’ve fallen for this before with a couple of particle masks that had a really cool look to them. I thought I was going to get a good mask with a cool look, but they were so small and hard to use that they didn’t protect me at all.

The whole time I felt like it was a little too good to be true for the price, and the pictures just didn’t sit quite right with me. However, I proceeded to buy it without listening to my gut. It was junk, and I should’ve known better.

See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing

Check the Prices on Replacement Filters

It’s important when you buy a respirator to take a look at the price of replacement cartridges and filters, as these will need to be replaced over time. Make sure that you are comfortable paying that price, because your respirator won’t work at all without them.

If you look at the filters and you gasp at the price, it’s going to prevent you from going and getting filters when you need them. It can also make you use your existing filters for too long, and at that point you are breathing dirty air anyway.

It’s not worth your health to over extend your old filters. Make sure that you’re comfortable buying a replacement set every single time you need them. You should probably even pick up a set when you buy your respirator so you have them in the shop.

Free Woodworking Tips Every Monday

Add Me to the List!

That way, you have no excuse when it comes time to change them, and you can order a new set at the end of the day when you leave the shop. By the time you need that set, it’ll already be there.

See Also: 20 Easy DIY Woodworking Projects With Tutorials

Read Reviews and Watch Videos

If you know absolutely nothing about respirators or breathing systems, and then it’s a good idea to read some reviews and watch some YouTube videos. These are two huge resources where you can spend a little time researching and learning quite a bit.

Lots of people like to write reviews. People that enjoy a good product like to talk about it, and they’re not afraid to tell you the good the bad and the ugly. If you don’t mind reading a little bit, you can find out a lot about a respirator.

YouTube videos are another good source for finding the best respirator. Start searching and see if there is someone that you recognize or respect. If they are happy with their respirator, odds are it might be good for you too.

Pay attention to their recommendations, and see if anything resonates with you both positively or negatively. If you hit on the right type of respirator on the recommendation, you might end up with a product that makes you happy for the rest of your life.

See Also: The Best Time to Learn About Wood Finishing as a Beginner

The One Huge Thing to Remember

On top of all of my other recommendations, the one major thing to consider is that the respirator is comfortable. The best respirator is the one that you wear, and typically that’s the one that’s most comfortable.

It doesn’t matter if you have the industries gift to respirators that costs $10,000 and is the absolute best money can buy. If it’s uncomfortable, you won’t wear it. When you don’t wear it, you don’t get any of the protection.

Once you decide on a respirator, do a really nice test fit when you get the product. Make sure to follow directions and do the adjustments really well, and make sure it’s something that you can wear on your face for a long time.

Make it easy for yourself to make the right decision, which is to wear your respirator when you need it. If you do that, you’ll wear it more often, and be protected.

See Also: The Secret to Wood Finishing

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

See My Woodworking Books Here

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know several different ways to pick out the best respirator, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action. Start creating a list of all the different airborne irritants that you need to control for.

Then, start taking a look at different respirators and what they protect you from. Pay attention to their features, and look at a lot of the different systems that are offered. Safety is a huge deal, so there are always a lot of options.

Once you find one you like, order it and make sure it fits well. Take the time to do the right type of fitting, and make sure that it’s something you don’t dread wearing. This way, when the time comes you’ll actually wear it.

If you have any questions on how to pick the best respirator, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.

Post Author-

  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
Buy My Books on Amazon

I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post. Join My Woodworking Facebook Group


You Can Find My Books on Amazon!

woodworking and guitar making books

An Exclusive Member of Mediavine Home

Westfarthing Woodworks LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.