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





Introduction: 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

-Shower Cap

Step 2: 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

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

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!

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



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    49 Discussions

    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

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

    2 replies

    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

    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!

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    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?

    1 reply

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    Great tutorial!

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

    3 replies

    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.

    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.

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