In A Hurry?If you needwoodshop hearing protection - best hearing protection for woodworking and do not have the time to read the article, then below are my recommendations! Carry on reading to find out why these choices were made
|Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector, NRR 30 dB, Ear...||214 Reviews||Check Price|
|WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth...||4,912 Reviews||Check Price|
|Titus 2 Series - 34 NRR Slim-Line Hearing Protection & G26...||17 Reviews||Check Price|
|DeWalt DPG82-21 Concealer SAFETY Goggle - Smoke Anti-Fog...||87 Reviews||Check Price|
|FIGHTECH Dust Mask | Mouth Mask Respirator with 2 Carbon...||276 Reviews||Check Price|
|Disposable Dust Masks for face - NIOSH Certified - Safety...||543 Reviews||Check Price|
When working with wood, and using powered tools to saw, drill, plane, or whatever process is being carried out, then you are going to make noise and a lot of noise at that!
Safety when using these tools has to be a primary concern, as one misstep, and a finger is gone. Protecting your hearing when working with wood is often overlooked, however, but protecting your hearing when working with wood is a necessity.
Loud noises made by your woodworking tools (or any loud noises for that matter) will damage your hearing. You probably will not notice it immediately, but over the course of time the damage will accumulate, leaving you hard of hearing. Wearing ear protection is inexpensive, and will stop any damage to your sensitive hearing.
In the article, I will tell you exactly what to look for when choosing ear defenders for woodshop, as well as recommending the best ear defenders for this kind of work
Effectiveness of Ear protection – Noise Reduction Rating (NNR)
When wearing earmuffs or plugs, they block out some of the sounds, but not all of it. So how do you know if they block out enough noise? Or if they are even needed at all?
When working with wood, hammering nails or cutting it with a power saw, the noise is going to be loud. Just try hammering a nail in quietly! In America is it recommended that you wear ear protection if the noise levels are going to be over 85 decibels (dB). This advice is given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). To get some idea of how loud 85dB is, as well as other familiar sounds, see the Infographic below.
To get a rough idea of when you should be using some form of ear protection, you can use this rule: When talking to someone at arm’s length, you should be able to communicate without raising your voice. If you have raise your voice, the sounds around you are too loud. You can also get sound meter apps for your smartphones. These are not 100% accurate but do provide you with a good idea of the background noise volumes. I can tell you that there are very few woodworking tools that are under 85dB, so it is always a good idea to be wearing hearing protection
Earplugs, muffs, etc., have an NNR (Noise Reduction Rating) associated with them. This figure lets you know exactly how much noise they block. Each point of NNR given to ear defenders reduces the number of decibels by one. 1NNR=1decibel
So if you are in a noisy workshop with a background noise of 110dB and you are wearing earmuffs with an NNR rating of 30. Then your ears will actually only be exposed to 110dB-30NNR=80 decibels of sound. This is well within the safe limits. Good ear defenders will have an NNR in the range 15-30.
What To Look For In-Ear woodworking Defenders
When choosing ear defenders for your woodshop or home, the main feature is how well they block noise. There are also a lot of other things that can be considered. Some of them are essential features, e.g. comfort, and others are just “nice to have. E.g. Bluetooth.
Below is a list of some of the features you should consider when you are buying your woodworking ear defenders
- Noise Blocking – This is the main feature and cannot be ignored. How much sound do these block? Ideally, you want muffs with an NNR of at least 20
- Comfortable – If you are going to be working with wood and tools for long periods of time, then you do not want your ears to start to feel sore. You want a well-padded headband and ear cups
- Hardhat – If these ear defenders need to be used in conjunction with a hardhat, any headband must not get in the way. It must be able to go under, or behind the hardhat.
- Easy To Adjust – Everyone is a different size, and our heads are different too. The cups must fit precisely over the ears to get the maximum noise blockage. So they must be adjustable
- Built-in speakers – Earmuffs with built-in speakers will allow you to listen to music, make phone calls, etc. when you are wearing them
- Built-in microphone – when you have a microphone built-in as well, then you can answer and make phone calls, hands-free, and still hear well if other people are working. You can also issue voice commands to the headset
- Bluetooth compatible – This will allow you to connect with your smartphone. This will allow you to stream music, hear alarms, and answer phone calls
- Ariel – This will enable you to get better radio reception if you want to listen while you are working
Power Tool Average Volumes
All power tools and hammering is loud! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that hearing protection should be worn if the level of noise in your environment is going to be at 85dB for any length of time. Suitable ear protectors will bring all of these sounds down to a safe level. (I realise that these are not all woodworking tools, but they are the only reliable figures I have. From these values you should be able to get a good idea of the volume of any tools you use regularly)
- Muffler 90dB
- Screw Driver 91dB
- Orbital Sander 92dB
- Drill 93dB
- Jig Saw 98dB
- Grinder 100dB
- Miter Saw 104dB
- Hammer Drill 105dB
- Circular Saw 106dB
- Reciprocating Saw 105dB
- Impact Wrench 107dB
- A hammer pounding a nail 120-140dB ref here ( volume over 110dB can cause instant hearing damage)
How Woodworking Tools Damage Hearing
It may not seem to be the case, but your hearing is a fragile sense. The hearing works by sensing vibrations in the air, as they hit the eardrum. This then vibrates small hairs in the inner ear, and the brain can sense these vibrations and converts them into what you know as sounds.
When you are born, all the parts of your hearing are in excellent condition (for most people). But as we get older, we are exposed to loud sounds, which can cause some of these hairs in the ear to break off. Each time this happens, your hearing is irreparably damaged, and this cannot easily be fixed. So not protecting your ears from loud sounds will make your hearing a lot worse over time. (These hairs can also be broken off by other physical factors, like a blow to the head)
Each piece of damage to your hearing is unnoticeable at the time it happens. But as more and more damage is done to the hearing, it starts to become more noticeable, and the damage accumulates. This is why your children can hear the TV fine, but some older people are always turning the volume up and down!
Anyone who is exposed to loud noise regularly will have worse hearing. For instance, hunters, and of course, people who use noisy woodworking tools!
You may already know, but other than hearing aids, there is not much that can be done to help people who’s hearing has been severely damaged over time. And should you be one of these people who has become hard of hearing, then it may reduce your job opportunities. Some jobs cannot be done by people who are hard of hearing for safety reasons. Also, when two similar applicants are interviewed for a job, and one of them cannot hear well, this will put them at a significant disadvantage!
Hearing need not be a problem. If you wear ear protection when using woodworking tools, it will keep your hearing working well. Looking after your ears is not difficult to do and is relatively inexpensive.
Recommended Woodworking Earmuffs 3M WorkTunes
- Noise Reduction Rating 24 to help protect your hearing
- Integrated Microphone Make and take phone calls without having to re-move the headset.
- Hi-Fi Sound 40 mm high-fidelity speakers for premium sound quality
- Bluetooth Technology stream music from mobile phones or other Blue-tooth devices.
People Also Ask
Should you wear a mask when working with wood?
Yes! In reality, you should always use a mask or respirator when working with wood. This reduces the chances of you developing respiratory problems and types of cancer later in your life.
The various types of masks offer protection ranging from nearly 100% down to almost none whatsoever. Cheap paper masks provide next to no protection from small airborne particles. To full-face respirators with P100 filters, which can remove over 99.9% of particles as small as 3 microns.
What is the difference between a dust mask and a respirator?
Dust masks can be worn for filtering out nob-toxic dust and particles when carrying out tasks like mowing, gardening, and anything that kicks up a lot of dust particles. These are not approved by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the U. S. Department of Health) approved and offered little protection against gases, vapours, and hazardous dust.
Respirators are NIOSH approved and will give a lot more protection against these hazardous particles.
Both can appear very similar. The respirator should have a NOISH logo printed on the box and/or mask.
How does wood dust cause cancer?
When wood is cut, drilled, sawn, etc. sawdust – small particles of wood are released into the air. These can be breathed in and lodge in your lungs. This causes health issues, and the wood may have been treated with chemicals or have mold, fungi or bacteria when it enters your lungs.
Wood dust is considered carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). IARC states
“That wood dust causes cancer of the nasal cavity (nose area) and paranasal sinuses (spaces in and around the nasal cavity) and the nasopharynx (upper part of the throat, behind the nose).
Conclusions - woodshop hearing protection - best hearing protection for woodworking
In conclusion, working with wood is going to be loud, and some woodworking tools make enough noise to damage your hearing very quickly.
Your ears have not evolved to cope with loud noises, as in nature, it is quite rare to be exposed to deafening sounds. This means that you have to protect your hearing.
You do not want to end up with hearing like mine in a few years’ time, where you need to raise the TV’s volume because you cannot hear what the actors are saying, only to have to turn it down again when music comes on because it seems to be too loud.
Wearing good ear muffs when working with wood is not difficult! Anybody can take this action. Earmuffs are not expensive and a good pair should last you many years.
3M WorkTunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection - Product Review
Recommended Products – woodshop hearing protection - best hearing protection for woodworking
You should now know enough about hearing protection and the features available to be able to make the right choice for what is needed when woodworking. Below are my recommendations for ear (and eye) protection that you should be using.
I have tried to pick items to suit everyone’s budget and for different types of projects that you may be working on. For most woodworking tasks, earmuffs and eye goggles should be enough safety equipment. However when working on a building site, or using a very powerful tool that produces a large number of wood splinters, then you may need a hard hat, or a full faceguard as well
Choose one of my recommendations below, and you will be getting an excellent, long-lasting item of safety equipment
- Peltor Sport's highest noise reducing earmuff at NRR of 30 dB
- Adjustable, vented headband design reduces heat build and improves comfort when worn with caps & hats
- Lightweight design for comfort and extended wear
- Comfortable foam ear cushions
- Contains 1-Earmuff
- NRR of 24 dB (Noise Reduction Rating)
- Bluetooth Technology Lets You Seamlessly Stream Entertainment From Your Mobile Phone and Any Other Bluetooth Enabled Device
- High Fidelity Speakers Provide Premium Sound Quality
- INTEGRATED MICROPHONE lets you make and take phone calls without removing the hearing protection
- CORD AND ANTENNA FREE design lets you move easily on the job
- Titus Range Gear Bundle - Stay Organized & Keep Your Equipment Clean And Safe!
- Silence Any Environment - Titus 2 Series Earmuffs(34db NRR) Fully Adjustable Struts (One Size Fits All) CE EN 352-1 ANSI S3.19 Approved, High Quality And Durable - Ready For Shooting and Other Loud Environments
- Protect Your Eyes – Protect Your Eyes – Sport Safety Glasses - Perfect For Riding, Shooting, and General Safety Black and Yellow Impact Resistant Frame Yellow Impact/Scratch Resistant, UV400 Shatterproof Polycarbonate Lenses, One Piece Lens With Integrated Side Sheilds Padding Material - Hypo-Allergenic Skin Safe (TPR) Thermoplastic Rubber DOT Approved for motorcycling, ANSI & CE Approved as protective safety Glasses. Exceeds ANSI Z87.1 & Z80.3 Standards
- Industrial Quality Ready For Abuse - Ready for Construction, Shooting, Hunting, Industrial Work, or even Heavy Machinery
- Includes: Earmuffs, Range Glasses, Microfiber Glasses Pouch & Fitted Dual Compartment Storage Case.
- DeWalt tough Coat hard coated lens provides tough protection against scratches
- DeWalt XtraClear anti-fog lens coating provides tough protection against fogging
- Soft, dual injected rubber conforms to the face to provide a high level protection from dust and debris
- Adjustable, elastic cloth head strap provides a comfortable fit
- Ventilation channels allow breathability and added protection against fogging
- Box of 15 Foldable Masks suitable for home and professional use, indoor or outdoor, for cleaning activities, mowing, gardening, grinding, sawing, sanding, sweeping and dusting. Certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, you can be sure of an efficient filtration of airborne particles free of oil, the best way to protect yourself.
- DESIGNED TO PROTECT against particles such as coal, iron ore, flour, wood, pet hair & dander and certain other solid substances free of oil. Convenient fold, perfect to store in a pocket, bag or even a lunch box. It will not distort or get damaged, it will be ready to use at any time.
- EASY TO BREATHE & SPEAK, due to the exhalation valve which reduces heat, moisture and fogging build-up inside. The four layers guarantee the best defense when you feel the need to guard yourself against harmful particles.
- CONTOUR FIT DESIGN FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT. Thanks to the adjustable noseband and fastening straps, the mask is comfortable and can be adapted to any face shape, even when used with other personal protective equipment, such as glasses, helmets, ear muffs or goggles.
- Total Commitment to make YOU HAPPY. If, for whatever reason, you are not satisfied with your purchase, simply contact us and we'll make it right, no questions asked.
If you require more information, please check these references
pubs.asha.org , article, “A Study of Noise Exposure and Hearing Sensitivity in a High School”, retrieved on, Tue 03-December-2019
www.sciencedirect.com , article, “Prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss”, retrieved on, Tue 03-December-2019
www.tf.llu.lv , article, “DYNAMICS OF NOISE CAUSED BY WOODWORKING MACHINERY”, retrieved on, Tue 03-December-2019
About the author
Nick is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Past clients include The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.
Nick has suffered with Tinnitus for over 25 years