Introduction: Win-Win-Win-Win: Enjoy Woodworking, Look Manly, Save Money, AND Continue to Enjoy Functioning Lungs!

Picture of Win-Win-Win-Win: Enjoy Woodworking, Look Manly, Save Money, AND Continue to Enjoy Functioning Lungs!

Remember that old riddle of the farmer that needs to paddle his bag of grain, chicken and fox across the river?  No one ever questions why this farmer is raising foxes (you know, that classic staple of barnyard livestock?). Not to mention the fact that he's simultaneously raising a bunch of things that naturally want to eat each other. This is the farmer who invented "vertical segregation." One assumes his farm failed spectacularly, and that this is a cautionary tale as much as anything.  But I digress.  Here's a much more convoluted version of that riddle:

I really enjoy woodworking. I also really like my beard (it fools all you suckers into thinking I have something resembling a chin and jawline). I also enjoy not being broke. And finally, I enjoy being able to oxygenate all the tissues in my body so that I can do stuff and continue not dying.  And thus, our predicament: you participate in woodworking, which creates microscopic airborne dust that over time causes permanent damage to your lung tissue. So you get a reasonably-priced respirator. And then you realize that your thick, lustrous curtain of masculinity is betraying you, breaking the seal on your respirator and allowing dust in around the sides. And your pink, dainty lungs can't grow a beard to hide their fragility, so something must be done. So you research full-face respirators, only to find that they're an order of magnitude pricier than your current respirator. 

Luckily, my instinct to be a cheapskate is strong enough to warrant a half-assed attempt at creating my own safety equipment instead of shelling out the big bucks, so here's this instructable.

**Let it be known that I am in no way qualified to manufacture or give advice on safety equipment, and that even though I feel like what follows is a workable solution, this instructable is just as likely to be submitted as future evidence to deny my family a life insurance payout when they find me stuffed full of inhaled sawdust, a "taxidermidaddy," if you will. So don't go out and use this method on my advice.  In fact, you should probably forget you ever saw this. Close this browser window and hunt down a box set of The Wire and watch it instead. Seriously, why haven't you watched that yet? It's incredible! What was I talking about? Oh yeah, disclaimer, disclaimer, blah blah.**

Step 1: Materials Needed

Picture of Materials Needed

-Shower Cap

Step 2: Test Fit Your Shower Cap/Respirator

Picture of Test Fit Your Shower Cap/Respirator

Pull the shower cap over the bottom half of your face. Hook around both ears, across the bridge of your nose, and all the way under your chin.  Then place the respirator on and hold it tightly against your face.  Try to take a breath or two.  If drawing a breath is very difficult or impossible, you should be good to go.

Step 3: Cut Breathing Hole in Shower Cap

Picture of Cut Breathing Hole in Shower Cap

This is the only marginally tricky part, since you need to get the breathing hole in the right place so that the plastic's not covering your mouth, but you also don't want it to be too big, as it may not get covered by the respirator.

I achieved this by simply sucking in the shower cap while test fitting, then holding my mouth closed as I doffed the respirator, then tightly grabbing the shower cap right where it exited my mouth, then cutting off what remained.

Step 4: Do Another Test Fitting

Picture of Do Another Test Fitting

Again, put the respirator over the shower cap and try breathing normally. Wet the back of your hand and move it around the borders of the cap while you're breathing to check for air escaping.  It's actually not a huge deal if some does escape, but air escaping would be a sign that some air could possibly get in, which would negate the purpose.

The reality is that this won't be totally air-tight, but by my estimation that shouldn't be a problem.  It's going to be much, much easier for air to come in through the filter cartridges, since the shower cap should be acting as a kind of one way valve (i.e. when you inhale, it sucks to your face to form a tighter seal).  The idea is that air will take the path of least resistance when you're inhaling, so none should be coming in around the sides.

Step 5: Success!

Picture of Success!

Now you can have your cake, eat it, and also avoid chronic pulmonary scarring too!  


boatrocker (author)2014-01-23

I used to have a small centrifugal fan compressor/vac pump, can't rember which. it came off a scrapped ICL mainframe magnetic tape drive. it controlled the slack on the tape to avoid breakages. it was basically a 100w induction motor with aprox 9" pulley. the impellor which was vacuum cleaner type, had a 1"" pulley. fan speeds was thus bout10,000 rpm. I intended feeding fresh outside air down a narrow bore tubing into a modified full face mask. I proposed to seal the mask with foam and feed the air in by a perforated ( lots of 1mm holes) 1/4" nylon pipe clipped round the outside edge ( but on the inside of course) . never got round to finishing of course. no need for fancy scrolls to encase the impellor as the volume flow rate is low. more interested in static pressure to overcome the piping losses. don't just use a vacuum cleaner assembly as ozone (vry poisonous) is produced at the commutator (the sparky thing). A wet vacuum cleaner set up may be OK as I suspect the air does not pass over the motor.BUT PLEASE CHECK FIRST. essential for spraying any of a volatile nature. one advantage is the fresh air change prevents fogging. For full day mask could use cut up clear plastic soda bottles for the window. for . the headband I would use the larger size off pallet strapping. good luck to iblers. Wally's whacky wheezes

calebr (author)2014-01-16

Excellent instructable! Well written, clear, funny and useful. What more could you ask for?

HibbityDibbity (author)calebr2014-01-17

Probably a better-looking model?

mist42nz (author)HibbityDibbity2014-01-20

Studly handsome model has beard, what more do you want.

Oh, and it's a great idea, looking forward to testing it next time I install some fibreglass insulation

spark master (author)2014-01-19

When you work with Asbestos removal or in an area with it, a beard or mustache gets you laid off, no mask system works with facial fur.


if you are in a place with real hazards, shave or get a different job, this is a saety issue.

If it is to mow lawns and use the weed wacker or to keep out pollen misery, this could be very useful!

12much (author)2014-01-19

IMHO I'd like to see rather a guy with a beard:-D

Love your instructable, tnxx. I only have a goatee, but still annoying to see all of the dust on my face after working with my resp.

maryoverton (author)2014-01-19

Clever,....Practicle....and Totally Awesome!!!

user1044 (author)2014-01-17

great idea, thanks for sharing.

HibbityDibbity (author)user10442014-01-18


JRPCS (author)2014-01-17

Just an FYI for employers....this is not a sanctioned respirator configuration to meet OSHA requirements for respiratory protection for workers exposed to excessive exposures of regulated materials. That level of protection would need to be verified using automated analytical fit testing equipment to ensure that the face seal has not been compromised by the intermediate layer of plastic. If you are doing it to yourself for hobby purposes....go for it.

I once worked for OSHA......and this would result in a citation for employees in an over exposure environment.

HibbityDibbity (author)JRPCS2014-01-18

Agreed. But then again, any employer who saw this as an acceptable alternative probably isn't the type of employer that would stay in business very long.

davidacardona (author)2014-01-17

Hi, i would worry about a lot of heat because my covered ears, Do you have a suggestion to solve it?, probably another pair of holes?

Seems like that would allow a good bit of air in. I haven't noticed a problem with it since the mask allows air out. But then again, I haven't used this in the middle of summer either.

jbh123 (author)2014-01-17

Excellent Instructable, Mr. Dibbity: cheap, practical, and well written and photographed. Best graphics ever, too, especially Step 5. May you people the earth with your hirsute offspring.

HibbityDibbity (author)jbh1232014-01-18

Oy, I've got daughters. May they be spared my follicular genetics.

Kafukai (author)2014-01-15

Great tutorial!

It's good also for metalworking ,sanding, soda/sand blasting, dealing with some chemicals(CO2, acetone, thinner, fuel etc.) and painting.

clichej1 (author)Kafukai2014-01-18

Air purifying respirators do nothing against CO2, in fact they are not recommended in oxygen deficient atmosphere. CO2 by itself is pretty chemically inert but can cause asphyxia. Only air supplied respirator will protect you against it.

Kafukai (author)clichej12014-01-18

Of course no human can't breath through or inhaled CO2 somehow. I ment for to protect the face while using CO2 as a removal product. Suach as: paint, mold, grease, rust etc.

clichej1 (author)Kafukai2014-01-18

Did not know you could use it for this purpose, thought you listed it as something to protect from.

vladivastok (author)2014-01-18


clichej1 (author)2014-01-18

Your solution,while not osha approved, looks better than wearing a mask directly with that AWESOME beard, but you should try odor based test kits, or put on organic gas cartridge and check if you can smell the smell of an outdoor fire which is really a great and cheap test for hobby purposes.Just be sure there is a sufficient oxygen level and don't expose yourself too longly.

Since i own both a full face mask(7800) like you mentined being pricier and the same half mask (7500) , i can tell you the main difference between them, apart the fact you can buy a box of the half mask for the price of a full face, is the double seal of the first. Niosh/osha also rates the half mask for 5x PEL and the full face 50x PEL (that being with the same cartridges on both mask).

Freshly shaved and properly fit tested , i could still smell a hint of odors with an Organic Vapor/Acid Gas Cartridge/Filter 60923, P100 on the half mask but not with the full face.

The 60923 cartridge is a lot of bang for your bucks if you store them in doubled ziplock bags between uses. I used them in a cabinet shop at the job with the half mask and they were lasting months while being exposed to lots of particulate dust and fumes from other worker use of acetone for cleaning melamine and using contact glue.

I also used some 8233, N100 disposables mask with a face seal and exhaust valve, but those were lasting less than a week in the same conditions and some dust could get in by the end of the fourth day.

I worked there as a cabinet maker and they gave me formation to work on the cnc machine.They had a really good dust collection system but i still had to blow lots of dust from the Biesse table between melamine sheets with compressed air.

I am back to studies now but i still enjoy hobbies that require protection like wood and metal working.

Half face mask in my opinion are really good if you are in a paid working environment and have to remove them often to speak with coworkers. In a hot environment ,unless you compare them with the cream of full face mask they are likely to be cooler and their low weight makes them better

Full face masks on the other hand are less appropriate in some work environment where protection is often neglected but valued in other where those are mandatory (think auto body shop...). I did not wear mine at job because aside from the fact it was too hot, it would have been overkill and counter productive since it would take too long to remove to speak with coworkers. I also did not have an insert for it with my view prescription at that time, which would have been bad since i have enough Myopia that i would have had problems circulating in the work place without my glasses.

I did spend a week wearing one while stripping a cabinet in a painting chamber while i was undergoing my cabinet working formation and it was not that bad even with the withe tyvek suit because of the refreshing airflow.

The higher end mask also have speaking diaphragms that helps others understand what you say. Some even have options for radios or like the 3m 7800 could probably be fitted with the one for the military variant of it.

The best cartridge for that specific mask is the fr-64, it has a better rating than the mask itself since it is military on a civilian version mask, but it is good for almost anything and seems to have a long shelf life when stored in ziplocks bags.

People are okay with you wearing a half mask when working outside in a residential environment, but they ask lots of question or are scared when you wear a full face in a tychem suit on any day that is not halloween.(yes it is my costume)

However if you tell them the hazmat suit is just so you don't have to wash your clothes and that whatever you do is not really dangerous(otherwise you would not do that in residential zoning) but you are sensible/allergic to dust, hence the mask, which is my case it gets along.

There are pretty good deals on respirators, cartridges and spare parts on ebay.

jmrock (author)clichej12014-01-18

Good stuff! I've always used a burnt/ smoking match to test too. Good instructable too. I have had to shave ( de-beard-ify ) twice for work. Ughhg.

realife11 (author)2014-01-18

Fantastic idea!! Simple yet efficient. Thanks.

srilyk (author)2014-01-18

That, sir, is one respectable beardy beard. And entertaining instructable!

simayanan (author)2014-01-18

A bit of knowledge long known to Sikh men - who have the most magnificent beards and NEVER even trim them - is that petroleum jelly works very well as a sealant with such things as scuba gear to keep water out. Might that also work here to seal the seal, so to speak?
Petroleum jelly might be gross, but it's really cheap.

lrockwell1 (author)2014-01-17

Thankfully my beard is of such consistency that it is thick enough to preserve the seal, without being so thick as to push the silicon mask away, otherwise I would have been dying for an instructable like this...literally.

seamster (author)2014-01-15

"your pink, dainty lungs can't grow a beard to hide their fragility"

Any suggestion for us poor souls that can't grow a decent beard for this purpose? (Or head of hair, for that matter?)

HibbityDibbity (author)seamster2014-01-15

I can empathize with the head of hair part (you'll notice that I'm wearing a hat in all of my pictures). As for the beard, maybe a comb-up from your chest hair?

seamster (author)HibbityDibbity2014-01-15

Alas, I lack in that department also. I may just have to make myself a beard.

Look for my next instructable: "Hairless Men: Make a Paracord Faux-Beard to Outwardly Display Your World-Unseen Inner Manliness".

bryan3141 (author)seamster2014-01-17

Actually, according to studies (google it) at a certain point you're better off, attractiveness/masculinity wise, just shaving down clean crown to clavicle.

HibbityDibbity (author)seamster2014-01-15

You have created at least one spit take today. It was the Paracord reference that did it. Because Instructables.

spiceyweasel (author)2014-01-17

I use the old rubber grommet around the neck and fishbowl helmet approach, but this could be useful, too.

spiceyweasel (author)2014-01-17

When I read this, I could clearly see those two old fashioned fellows from the Guinness commercials exclaiming, "GENIUS!".

rjscott2005 (author)2014-01-17

Nice! I'm going to try this with my CPAP mask.

nicholas1951 (author)rjscott20052014-01-17

Absolutely! My new BPAP mask is driving me to distraction. If this modification improve things, I will be the first to nominate HibbityDibbity for sainthood!

meff00 (author)2014-01-16

Beautiful, and Brilliant! Being a man of beardly stature myself, I have often fought the microns of dustitude that have attempted to infiltrate my air sacs. I have used a NIOSH face mask with limited results. I usually come away with either a green discharge (Green Latex paint), or something similar to what most of Ikeas furniture consists of coming out of my nose. I shall try this tomorrow!

artificie (author)2014-01-16

Gostei da ideia, também uso barba!

codongolev (author)2014-01-16

make an instructable about how to grow that wicked face lettuce next. it puts my chin extrusions to shame, and I'm pretty proud of 'em.

Oh, that's easy. You just stick your thumb in your mouth and comically blow your cheeks out really hard. Study your play-doh-ology, man!

justbennett (author)2014-01-15

The step 3 pictures...especially the first one. You should win best selfie of the year.

Now that I'm interested, you should research the filtering properties of "curtains of masculinity" especially the thick, lustrous ones. It could be that any extra air that makes it all the way from your ears to your mouth would be filtered by your beard. Perhaps there is a beard treatment that will increase its filtering properties?

I actually read something recently about beards' ability to filter some particulates out of the air, but I highly doubt that they're very efficient in the 2-3 micron range.

Maybe I could smash my face into a big vat of petroleum jelly prior to putting on the respirator to make my beard extra sticky?

Jobar007 (author)HibbityDibbity2014-01-16

The vat of petroleum jelly would negate the need for the shower cap, but increase the need for a good degreasing...

BG_instructs (author)2014-01-15

Need more of these instructables, on the scale of insane you score high, now if only i had a beard...

paganwonder (author)2014-01-14

We test 'Gas Mask' seal by occluding the inhalation ports and trying to inhale- no inhalation = quality seal.
Excellent 'ible! Thanks for the laughs!

Thanks. It's worth mentioning that some tiny amount of air was getting in and out when I had the ports closed off, so if I were dealing with something really, really nasty I'd probably not trust my life to this.

jessyratfink (author)2014-01-14

Genius! Also, this:

"thick, lustrous curtain of masculinity"

is the best.

Thanks! I told all those naysayers that creative writing degree would pay off!

kenbob (author)2014-01-14

Hilarious! but seriosly useful too.

About This Instructable




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