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Pwk5017

3M Ultimate FX Full Facepiece

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I have worn a respirator for 7/8ths of my time in the hobby, and wouldnt go without one now that i know the dangers of long term exposure to wood dust. I started with the 3M half mask respiratory that marc suggests for around $15 plus the P100 pink filters. Worked pretty well, but i noticed some seepage here and there evidenced by the slight hint of burning wood/fine sanding dust. For whatever reason I would smell things with the drum sander going, or if the table saw blade burned a cut. If you can smell things, that means there are particles in the air you are breathing, so i knew the seal wasnt perfect. I upgraded to the 7500 series mask, which is worth the extra $10 over the 6000 series, in my opinion. Simultaneously, I went through several iterations of eye protection that always fogged up after a few minutes of wearing them. After the 3rd or 4th set, i gave up and never wore eye protection. I know, not a good idea. Sometime this spring, I was at the table saw and a small splinter blew off the back of the rip cut and struck my upper bicep. The projectile left a pretty good cut in my arm, and it was enough of a wake-up call to revisit eye protection. Finally, enough blabbing and on to the pros and cons of the mask!

 

Pros:

  • The absolute finest eye protection material ive ever seen. It does not fog up--at all, not never. Im astounded by how much I have sweat under high humidity conditions this summer and still that plastic shield is clear as a whistle. I honestly forget i have the shield in front of my face at times, because of the clarity. It protect your entire face and not just your eyes like typical safety glasses. This means you are protected well at the lathe without layering a face shield and respirator.
  • The seal is fantastic. I do not smell a thing when i used to smell occasional burning/sanding dust. You essentially get a double seal with this mask around the outside of your face and the typical half mask seal. 
  • Very comfortable. Just like the shield's clarity, you forget you have the thing on in comfortable temps. It has six points of adjustment with all straps connecting to a rubber pad to spread the pressure distribution over the back of your head. The straps on the half mask respirator have a tendency to dig in. 
  • Plays nicely with the filters from the other 3M masks, so you can switch through organic vapor protection to particle protection easily. I can see this mask being awesome for spraying.

Cons:

  • $200 something just for the mask, no filters. It certainly isnt cheap.
  • The rubber straps, while extremely high quality, are thick enough to affect the seal of my over-ear protection. This means things are slightly louder with this mask on, and i need to think about alternative hearing protection.
  • It is like a catcher's mask to get on. It is easier now, but the first few times were awkward and uncomfortable to get it on my face. 
  • If you work in an unconditioned space, get ready to die. This is beyond hot for your face. My shop is in a basement, so it is usually 70-72 and low humidity during the summer. I was soaked with this thing on while milling a stack of boards the other weekend. jointing and planing 8-10' 8/4 boards that are 8-15" wide is no joke, and my face was under water in this mask. I eventually took it off and wore the 7500 series half mask for the rest of the session. What happened? a small knot/chip blew out at the jointer and hit me right in the eye. Thankfully God designed eyelids for a reason, but still.

 

I do like the mask. Im 28 and i take my health pretty seriously. I didnt like my eyes are unprotected, and i want 100% protection from harmful dust particles. I think this mask delivers on both items very well with the minor setback that your face cannot breathe/evaporate sweat. Im looking forward to using this in the cooler months to come when my basement is 55-60°. Also, if anyone has other ear protection suggestions that would seal better around the 1/8" thick rubber straps, im all ears. I currently use the red and black 3M peltors. 

 

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Nothing in my shop is super loud, so i use reusable ear plugs that have a 20 db reduction The one exception is the planer, i piggy back the ear plugs and over ear when i run that thing.

https://www.amazon.com/Etymotic-Research-ER20XS-SMF-P-High-Fidelity-Earplugs/dp/B00RM6Q9XW/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1474910992&sr=8-2&keywords=ety+ear+plugs

These are the plugs i use. Yes they are expensive but they are all day wearable and often that's just what i do with them. The big benefit is they don't change how things sound so i wear them to music event and have even been guilty of wearing them at bars when i can't stand the noise.

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This is a great, really thoughtful review - thanks for sharing.

I wonder what the alternative is for the sweaty face problem... one of those masks that has positive pressure from a fan blowing in?  Like @davestanton wears...?

 

 

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54 minutes ago, -MattK- said:

This is a great, really thoughtful review - thanks for sharing.

I wonder what the alternative is for the sweaty face problem... one of those masks that has positive pressure from a fan blowing in?  Like @davestanton wears...?

 

 

i dont know about dave, but trend air is out there and i think 3M makes a powered respirator. I think they are all $400-500, which is a bit rich for my blood. Unfortunately, the thing that makes this mask so good turns out to be a double-edged sword. The seal is too good! It really is only a problem when im under a lot of physical exertion. If you are doing normal operations, then the mask is great. Just so happens that i joint, plane, and rip a lot of 10"+wide 8/4, which gets heavy in a hurry.

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Great info.   In your search for alternate hearing protection, I find that these seal well around glasses frames and the occasional forgotten pencil behind the ear.  Not expensive either.

I have ear / sinus trouble from inadequate dust collection early on.  This means in-the-ear noise solutions aren't for me.  I still wear a respirator in the shop for many functions, especially things like hand sanding.

My machines have good collection at the source although I still stay alert for signs that too much spoil is hitting my breathing air ;-)

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On 9/27/2016 at 5:28 AM, Pwk5017 said:

i dont know about dave, but trend air is out there and i think 3M makes a powered respirator. I think they are all $400-500, which is a bit rich for my blood. Unfortunately, the thing that makes this mask so good turns out to be a double-edged sword. The seal is too good! It really is only a problem when im under a lot of physical exertion. If you are doing normal operations, then the mask is great. Just so happens that i joint, plane, and rip a lot of 10"+wide 8/4, which gets heavy in a hurry.

Hi guys, my ears were burning! I use my airlite/trend mask a lot. I chose it because I have a hairy face so none of the masks that relied on a seal were an option. Believe it or not, it is cooler inside the mask when I sweat due to the evaporation, clean air blows over my face from my forehead down and expels under my chin. Yes, expensive but a whole lot cheaper than a new set of lungs. I also have the paftec which is another powered respirator that works like a sleep apnea machine, when you start to breath it turns on, saves the batteries. I use it when I am sanding and don't need face/eye protection. To be honest, I prefer the airlite/ trend air shield but need a new visor as the old one is scratched. You can buy peel offs as well.

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Good review and thanks for sharing.

I'm with Dave though as I also have the Trend Airshield Pro. As it works on positive air pressure within the helmet the loose elasticated seal under your chin has holes to let excess air out. As Dave said the cool air blowing past your face keeps you cool. I know it is expensive but it really is great for bearded individuals like Dave and me.

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