Protective Skull Face Shield With Filter




About: 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 night. I have an unhealthy obsession with making things and believe, firmly, in sharing what I ...

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


  • 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

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

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

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

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.

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48 Discussions


1 year ago

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.


2 years ago

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.

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.


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.


3 years ago on Introduction

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?

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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.


3 years ago

that's pretty awesome


3 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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 :)


Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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.

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.

2 replies

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


3 years ago on Step 5

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.


3 years ago on Introduction

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


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.