Introduction: Protective Skull Face Shield With Filter

Picture of Protective Skull Face Shield With Filter

I've gotten a few requests, asking about my skull face shield, so I thought I'd put out a short instructable for anyone who wanted to make their own. As my old safety glasses were getting pretty scratched, I wanted to install a new pair, and thought it'd be a good occasion to show how I did it.

About 15 years ago, I was badly injured when a piece of wood, I was cutting flew up and hit me in the face, breaking my nose. I had taken appropriate safety measures like using push sticks but the blade bucked, causing a piece of the board I was cutting to break off, straight at my face flying at sub sonic speeds. My safety glasses saved my eyes, but I realized, in hindsight of course, that a full face shield would have been much better.

The problem with full face shields is they can be unwieldy and annoying to use. When I'm working, I often wear a hat to keep dust and debris out of my hair, which can conflict with the ratchet strap on a shield, or elastic band on a dust mask. It can get especially inconvenient when you're holding your work in one hand and trying to put on your safety gear with the other, in a bid to try and prevent things from slipping. More than that, it's a choice between using a dust mask Or a face shield as I've yet to find an inexpensive alternative that offers both in one. Having that, as an option can be pretty useful when you're grinding steel, for long periods and all you can taste is burnt metal.

How many times have we been working on something small, like cutting off a bolt and said, "I don't really need it, I'm not cutting a big piece..." all because organizing the straps on your safety gear are a pain to set properly? That's usually when Murphy's law comes knocking and we end up in hospital having our nose set, or teeth repaired.

This simple little mod can go a long way to saving your face, and lungs from damage that can occur in the shop when you're on a project and free your hands up so that you can keep your creative flow going unhindered. The shield uses an, off the shelf, pair of safety goggles, and a plastic skull mask that I purchased from the Dollar Store. The filtration isn't on the level of a high end dust mask, but it does work to keep the larger amount of particles out of your sinuses.

**Note** I've been asked by a few people how they hold on, and trust me when I say, you can be looking straight down, shaking your head and they won't fall off. Safety glasses are designed to hold well and even with the extra weight of the mask, there is almost zero chance of them falling off.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Picture of Tools and Supplies


  • Wire Cutters
  • utility knife
  • Drill and 1/64 bit
  • Sharpie
  • Hot Glue Gun


  • Folding Safety glasses
  • Dollar Store Half Face Skull Mask (another mask will do if you can't find one)
  • Galvanized wire
  • Foam Rubber Gasket Material
  • Stanley dustmask Filter
  • Sandpaper

Step 2: Prepping Your Mask

Picture of Prepping Your Mask

Test fit your glasses to the mask and mark 5 contact locations where you will be wiring them together. One over the bridge of the nose, one directly under each eye and one on each end, where you safety glasses bend inward to protect your eyes from debris flying in at angle.

Use your sharpie and mark one spot on the lens of your glasses, and one in the the mask where the wire will pass through.

Your mask may be a little longer on the sides as this is where the elastic that originally held it to your face attaches. You can cut this off to lighten it up a bit, and make it more streamlined, or you can leave this piece on for extra protection. Your choice.

Once you've marked out your wire spots, use your 1/64" drill bit and drill out both the holes in the glasses and in the mask. Work slowly as you don't want to melt the plastic, or crack the glasses.

Step 3: Adding Filtration

Picture of Adding Filtration

The skull mask I've used is pretty common, and I've seen it sold at the dollar store every year. If you plan on using the same one, it should come with a nice dense foam nose guard, which you can leave in place. If you've opted for another model, you'll need to install one. Another feature of this mask is that the nose, and teeth are open, allowing for the flow of air. Again, if your mask doesn't have this you'll need to drill some holes for air flow.

Start by setting your filter in place and make note of how much foam you'll need to surround it. Remove the filter and trace it over the foam to create a shape. Next, measure 1/2" and retrace around it. When you cut along these two lines, you should have the outline for the filter to create the seal for your face.

Now set the seal into the mask, ensuring good adhesion with the plastic. Test fit it against your face to ensure proper seal. You can add thickness by adding more foam if necessary.

When the seal is in place, install the filter and ensure that there are no gaps for dust to get in. When you're satisfied, apply a few drops of hot glue to hold the filter in place. This will make it easy to change it later on as the filter wears out.

Step 4: Attaching the Glasses

Picture of Attaching the Glasses

Cut 5 pieces of wire approximately 3" long and bend them into a 'U' shape. Insert one end through the hole in the mask and the other through the hole in the glasses lens. Repeat this process for the other four connections.

Now twist the ends together using a pair of pliers to ensure that the wire is taut. Use a pair of side cutters to snip off the excess wire.

Finally, bend the edges of the twisted wire down flush with the curve of the mask, and apply a small bead of hot glue to protect you from any sharp edges.

**Note** You can twist them on the outside of the mask, but it doesn't look as clean. This is the third incarnation of the same mask and I have yet to have it scratch me, so as long as you bend the wire under the lip of the mask, you should be fine. It's your choice, however.

Step 5: Finished

Picture of Finished

That's it. Trust me when I tell you, once you start using your new mask, you'll never go back to store bought face shields or dust masks again, (unless your work calls for it of course). If your like me, stopping to put a mask on is a nuisance and a reason to make the mistake to scrimp on my own safety. With this mask, that should no longer be a problem.

As usual, I hope you enjoyed the instructable and thanks for following.


Zaacharia (author)2017-11-07

I really like your idea; I work with powders more so I have repurposed an old CPAP as my lung protection (I use a full-face mask that covers both mouth and nose). My problem is being able to wear protective goggles with the mask (I really hate either or protection). I think I am ready to cut the goggles down to fit and try to adapt your lower skull face to the CPAP. I really hope I can work it out - will post a pic if I do.

acheide (author)2016-07-22

Safety glasses that distort vision. Ear muffs that are uncomfortable.
"Paper" dust masks that fog up the distorted glasses and leak dust. Saw
guards that don’t let the saw be used to the full potential. All duly certified
by some far away agencies. All of the above “certified” gear discourages the
use of important safety equipment.

Until now, I have not found suitable and adequate personal dust
protection for the table saw.

I will be building something like this mask.

Thanks for a great idea and a nice Instructable.

switts made it! (author)2016-01-15

Fab instrucable! I changed the type of specs used so i could keep wearing my glasses and needed way more foam as the mask is too big for my face :) have to to test it out but it looks awesome and is really comfy!

antagonizer (author)switts2016-01-21

Looks comfortable, like a paintball mask...but with lung protection. lol. Awesome.

killerjackalope (author)2015-09-04

This is pretty cool - I saw the safety argument below, I do a variety of jobs and grinding comes in to it sometimes, I'd be ok with goggles for that, however I've got to agree on the minimum safety specs - while running a brush cutter I've had a near miss where a rock hit my safety glasses on the outside and knocked the leg/part of lens off while giving me a good scare, straight on, could've been serious.

A lot of gear meets the minimum but rotating machinery can impart a hell of lot of momentum to small objects, this mask wouldn't stop really high velocity projectiles but at the very least it would take some of the energy out of the impact before it happened.

I've never found the perfect combination of safety for everything but I've found mesh, like a forestry/chainsaw mask good for projectiles, goggles good for directed spray and clear masks good for vision overall - the mesh does nothing for particles but nothing's ever hit me through it, even violent impacts, goggles, I don't like, that brittle nature - the clear masks are weird, they're not for this, I mean positive pressure breathers, they're not for impacts or protection as such but I've found them to be fairly resistant and good with all round visibility.

On the breathing - for an upgrade, higher particulate level masks, as in small - ugh, logic, are more likely to have a comfy fit, replaceable filters and an actual structure to work with - also the fancy ones are much nicer to breathe through.

DavidWHeath74 (author)2015-09-04

I'm always guilty of not wearing a face shield, mostly because mine fogs up to much. I think for light work yours is great - comfortable (I'm guessing), safe, convenient and just looks bad-ass. To all the safety experts, wearing this is certainly better than wearing nothing, which I believe was part of the motivation for this.

AlanJ11 (author)2015-09-03

I could see this for sanding, sand/bead blasting, and other such cold work, but question how it stands up to the hot sparks of grinding or machining without coolant. Would I be correct in assuming that choosing the right mask for this project is pretty important?

antagonizer (author)AlanJ112015-09-04

Absolutely. If you google 'skull mask half' it'll show you exactly what I used. In fact it's the most common Halloween skull mask, often sold at Walmart or the Dollar Store. I do use it primarily for angle grinding if that helps.

cboynton (author)2015-09-03

that's pretty awesome

IDThoris (author)2015-09-03

As a chronic worrier, I wouldn't assume this would take a direct broken flying piece of circular saw blade to the face and stay in one piece. Maybe my welding helmet...

As a person who does fall into that "oh, it's just one little cut, I'm good with my glasses..." category, I like that it's simple and quick dust protection that won't make my face sweat. I would grab these. I would use them. That's the point of this.

And I NEVER assume any safety gear is going to withstand a flying blade. That stuff I take care of by using tools properly, engaging my big safety tool: my BRAIN

charmar97 (author)2015-08-30

Pop rivets instead of wire?

srilyk (author)charmar972015-09-01

I was actually worried when I read that he was drilling into the glasses - but is much safer than pop rivets in this case, which force outwards and could add stress to the glasses making them more brittle. That's the last thing the author wants, I'm sure :)

antagonizer (author)charmar972015-08-30

They'd work, but the glasses and mask don't overlap so you'd have to create small brackets to bridge the gap and rivet to.

glen.ryerson.1 (author)2015-08-30

The nanny state safety gestapo is all over you right now, but I think this a great idea. I'm definitely going to make a pair for myself. Especially since I see an application for this as a zombie blood spatter protective mask.

Ya, and if you'll notice, they are generally users with no ibles, or even a profile pic, or they've literally just signed up to post their armchair safety inspector comments. Real creators look at it and go, "Meh, he knows what he's doing." because they've likely ripped off the safety guards on all their high speed tools as well. lol

my wookie (author)antagonizer2015-08-31

mine didnt even come with one

dollarseed (author)2015-08-31

I've been using a full face shield for doing my glass blasting, and have been looking for a better answer. Even with a full shield, the blasting media finds a way behind the lens, which is very annoying. As well, adding a filter simply makes a lot of sense, as I hate using the paper ones, dawning my backwards skull cap, then adding the shield, and lastly wearing gloves. This would make it all so much easier. I may even try to incorporate the hat so it is all a one piece rig. Thanks for the great instructions, it gives me lots of new ideas I wouldn't have thought of.

t800 (author)2015-08-31

Brilliant idea: I just ordered a mask to make one....Voted for you Tom.

nihipac (author)2015-08-30


argos090 (author)2015-08-30

Gloves with an angle grinder? You evidently don't value your hand.

antagonizer (author)argos0902015-08-30

I was wearing crocs, and had a few glasses of scotch in my system as well.

daisey cutter (author)2015-08-30

Very nice. I agree with your statement about commercial masks,
I made a similar device to use at work. I made it out of an empty HDPE 10
litre drum and moulded it with a butane torch, the visor was a piece
of clear perspex, it worked lovely and was robust. The OSHA inspector
that I gave it to when I left that job said it looked like crap but
was safe, if a little overkill for the job. Your version looks
awesome! I will have to make a nice one now.

That's what it is. It's thicker than the OSHA or CSA require, but it's not 'certified'. On an insured job site, that's all they care about and not if it's actually safer.

dewey302 (author)2015-08-30

Clever AND fun. Incorporates a dusk mask which most plastic face shields do not. I wear a full face mask for most grinding/sanding chores but dislike the ratchet style head band which holds (or tries to hold) it in place. Can't wait to head to the dollar store so I can start making one for myself. Thanks for sharing this.

antagonizer (author)dewey3022015-08-30

That's why I broke my nose the first time by wearing the glasses instead of the face shield. Perfect example of Murphy's law.

DejayRezme (author)2015-08-30

Thanks! This is awesome because I was thinking about the exact same thing. Putting on safety glasses and a dust mask is such a hassle and I was thinking about making my own. This looks exactly like what I need!

Ideally I'd also like a helmet and ear protection attached.

antagonizer (author)DejayRezme2015-08-30

I'd like to see that incorporated. My Bosch grinder is jet engine loud, so ear protection is a must in my shop.

Lone Ninja (author)2015-08-30

Awesome! Thanks for sharing. I'll post mine when I build it. I wish that I could "Like" all of your responses. The world needs more Free Thinkers and less Sheeple!

antagonizer (author)Lone Ninja2015-08-30

Thank you. I jokingly call them 'armchair safety inspectors' but I don't think it's their fault. In an age where everything is machine made, we doubt our abilities to create items that are comparable, if not better. If that was really true, then why would be bother being creators in the first place? We should lock up our garages and tool shops and let machines do all the work for us.

thegreat58 (author)2015-08-30

Great idea

pjensen (author)2015-08-24

Cool project, great for holding dust masks, but I'd be worried about the impact protection. If you were to take that same piece of wood in the face, I'm guessing it would crack the plastic and still break your nose! Your safety glasses should be rated for ANSI Standards (Z87.1, look for a Z87+ marking on the glasses), which are made of impact resistant plastics. (Personally, I wouldn't call this "protective", there is a reason why companies make face masks professionally...) This would work great for holding dusk masks though!

And nothing beats the safety rule of keeping anything you wouldn't want damaged out of the plane of the blade whenever possible. I understand that sometimes odd cuts have to occur, but keeping your face out of the plane goes a long way for safety. I always stand to the side of my work when using a table saw, so if anything is kicked out, it flies past me, rather than into my face or stomach. Especially with angle grinders... If a blade shatters in an angle grinder, you don't want to be in it's path...

antagonizer (author)pjensen2015-08-24

Did you know that once upon a time baby cribs were all made by hand? That was, of course before parents were guilted into buying assembly line produced...lowest grade material to save checked every hundred unit...absurdly frequently recalled...models that were supposed to be considered "safer"? After all, who wants to be responsible for harm coming to their own child. Better to have someone to sue, right?

To suggest that an average person can't produce a piece of safety equipment comparable to a 'contract given to the lowest bidder' company is patently absurd. Taking your own safety into your own hands makes profoundly more sense than hoping that some assembly line worker performed his job properly, and didn't have a bit to much to drink the night before, coming in hung over.

In fact, the original incarnation of this mask happened 5 years ago, with this being the third pair of glasses attached to it. It's been struck dozens of times by wood, metal, even walking into a 2x4" and they thrived. Only the lenses need replacing when they get overly scratched.

In 30 years of welding/woodworking etc, I've had multiple pairs of face shields and ALL of them have broken. That should tell you something. I don't mean to be so hard on you, but remember, you are every bit as capable as these "professionals" making this gear. Especially when you consider they're doing it with the cheapest parts, materials and processes available and only attempting to make it, at the very minimum, 'passable'.

pjensen (author)antagonizer2015-08-24

I understand that they can take a small piece of metal flying at your face that would cause minor discomfort, but I doubt that the piece of wood that broke your nose would be stopped by a dollar store mask... which is built from cheap plastic which was mass produced...
I take my safety seriously, and I use quality face masks from quality vendors, inspecting them before I purchase. Costs more than a cheap set, but will save my face someday, and last a long time with proper care. If I had the proper equipment to handle the moulding of the impact resistant polycarb that I would use for this kind of project, I would definitely make my own.

antagonizer (author)pjensen2015-08-24

"built from cheap plastic which was mass produced..."

You could also be talking about any face shield on the market today.

And here's where ANSI certified face shields fail. It's, literally, just a piece of PETE plastic that's only as thick as the industry requires it to be. Bare minimum. The 'cheap' novelty mask is made out of HD plastic, which is not only more flexible, it's far less brittle and thicker than the expensive shield. The only drawback? You can't see through HD plastic, and it's heavier.

Guess what else is made out of this exact same plastic...welding masks...hard hats etc.

Look, I'm cheating here. I've been building plastics recycling plants for the last 20 years, and have been a stationary engineer for the last 30. I doubt I'll convince you of anything, however, suffice it to say, you shouldn't be trusting that mass produced, barely passable chunk of plastic as much as you do. Ironically, I've recycled A LOT OF hardhats, glasses, etc. that didn't meet spec and were sent to my factory. That should tell you about their manufacturing process.

Trust yourself more. It's what defines the traditional craftsmen, which most of the DIY on instructables comes from, compared to the lowest bid, barely certified, mass produced junk you find on the market.

joshikins (author)antagonizer2015-08-30

First of all, you are wearing gloves while operating a grinder. OSHA makes it pretty clear that this is an excellent way to have a few fingers torn off... if you are lucky.

Moving on, You state that "The 'cheap' novelty mask is made out of HD plastic" and "Guess what else is made out of this exact same plastic...welding masks...hard hats etc." You then go on to say "Ironically, I've recycled A LOT OF hardhats, glasses, etc. that didn't meet spec and were sent to my factory."

So... you start by saying HD plastic is safe for this project because welding masts and hardhats are made from it. A few sentences later you are say hardhats are not safe because a lot of rejects show up at your recycling center. Obviously hardhats will be held to a higher manufacturing standard, most certainly higher than your dollar store mask.

Your end result is pretty neat and I am glad it has prevented injury to you thus far, but I am genuinely concerned you or somebody else will be seriously injured because they relying on a piece of dollar store plastic to prevent being maimed by flying debris. I do hope you will take at least a few moments to really re-evaluate the safety of this project.

antagonizer (author)joshikins2015-08-30

Hey thanks. I also wear sandals in 'my own' shop on occasion, and there's no spark guard on that grinder, if you notice. I also have inadequate lighting and substandard ventilation. But guess what...OSHA doesn't have jurisdiction in my shop, and I have the personal accountability to take reasonable responsibility for my own safety, as do does anyone who creates on their own terms.

As for this mask, I'm aware of my own skills, and have worn it enough to know it surpasses any minimum standard, commercial piece of kit, because it has done it's job better than effectively and because I created it. Will I send it out for certification? Not likely. Does having a certification on a piece of equipment guarantee its safety? Equally not likely since they are ONLY designed to meet minimum spec, and straddle that line so closely that enough of them end up in my grinders to be shipped off to China.

More importantly, does your inference that it's not safe, based on a set of images on an instructables, make it true? Especially not likely, and unless you create one and put it through the rigors of testing to meet those 'minimum requirements', you'll never know for sure and are simply stating, what you 'believe' without any real evidence.

Consider it "reevaluated" and your assessment deemed invalid.

pjensen (author)pjensen2015-08-24

Also, safety companies are under a different standard of manufacturing than cheapo cribs and other mass manufactured products. That's why we have OSHA and ANSI standards for safety products...

qboid (author)2015-08-30

Nice. :) It looks like a paintball mask.

chefranger (author)2015-08-30


cbrock6 (author)2015-08-30

There sick cheers buddy

lime3D (author)2015-08-27

Nice. Voted. Now I just need to find a cool mask!

Raccoon77 (author)2015-08-25

Looks like something from Mad Max: fury road.

bugsinstruct (author)2015-08-25

what a great idea. this past weekend I learned how important this would be for my weekend DIYing.
I plan on making one today. Thank you for the detailed instructions.

chrisjlionel (author)2015-08-25

Artistic. voted!

maniacse (author)2015-08-25

Great idea! Thanks mate, safety can look cool, too.

SteveS46 (author)2015-08-24

good stuff thanks

ziggybass (author)2015-08-24

Well I read the comments and come away thinking what a great idea. I could do with this when I spray my guitars! 5*****

rwilliams8 (author)2015-08-24

This is awesome. I might tweak it to use a different pair of glasses/goggles for a cool halloween mask.

antagonizer (author)rwilliams82015-08-24

Post it up when you're done. I'd love to see it.

Antzy Carmasaic (author)2015-08-23

That's awesome. Mixing safety and coolness in one neat product.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm the kind of person who's mind doesn't stop. Literally, I take medication to fix that just so I can sleep at ... More »
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