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Woodshop Hearing Protection: Best Woodworking Ear Protectors

Woodshop Hearing Protection – Best Hearing Protection For Woodworking

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.

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In A Hurry?

If require the Best Hearing Protection for this item, and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended ear protection.

Which are the best Earplugs For Woodshop?

For Woodshop, the best ear plugs are Titus 2 Series - 34 NRR Slim-Line Hearing Protection & G26 Competition Z87.1 Safety Glasses Combos.

However, this will depend on several things. If you use them a lot, for example, if it is your principal job, or perhaps just minor use. Also, if you want to use these ear plugs for other things, like listen to music, or Answer Your Phone.

There are earplug options available, for example: Convenient Fitting, Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), Long-Lasting, Flexibility, and if you want earplugs or headphones. As you can see, there is a lot in picking the best fit.

Loud noises made by your woodworking tools (or any loud noises) will damage your hearing. You probably will not notice it immediately, but over 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, and 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 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, and other familiar sounds, see the Infographic below.

To get a rough idea of when you should use some form of ear protection, you can use this rule:

When talking to someone at arm’s length, be able to communicate without raising your voice. If you have to raise your voice, the surrounding sounds are too loud.

You can also get sound meter apps for your smartphones. These are not 100% accurate, but 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 key 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 features you should consider when you are buying your woodworking ear defenders

  • Noise Blocking – This is the key 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 feel sore. You want a well-padded headband and ear cups.
  • Hardhat – If these ear defenders need to be used 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 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)

 
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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. (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 becomes more noticeable, and the damage accumulates. Therefore, 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. 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 easy to do and is relatively inexpensive.

Woodworker ar protection0

Recommended Woodworking Earmuffs 3M WorkTunes

My recommended pick for ear muffs when using woodworking tools are the 3M WorkTunes With Bluetooth Technology. These protectors have most the required features, and the price is good as well.
  • 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.

Myths about hearing in a woodshop

If you work in a woodshop, you might like to know how real woodworkers deal with the challenge of hearing loss. This article sets out some common myths about hearing protection in a woodworking environment and suggests ways to use hearing protection more effectively.

People think that age is the major reason for experiencing hearing loss. Age is important but it's not the only factor. Here are some myths about your hearing

Myths 1 - Build Up A Resistance To Noise

If you work in a wood or metal shop for any length of time, you'll eventually experience hearing loss. It's even possible to lose your hearing overnight.

You can't build up a resistance to the loud sounds that are typical in a shop because this isn't how your body works. Your ears are delicate organs and it doesn't take much to damage them permanently.

If you've ever been exposed to a loud sound like an explosion, you may have noticed that it felt as if there was pressure inside your head for hours afterwards. This pressure is caused by the same type of rapid vibrations from the noise that can cause permanent damage to your ears.

Myths 2 - Noise Can Hurt Me Unless Its Loud

If the noise is not loud enough to cause pain, you may think that it's too low to cause damage. Unfortunately, this is not true.

Your ears are very sensitive to loud sounds that are not painful because the tiny hairs inside your ear can be permanently damaged by noise as low as 85 decibels. This is why it's important to wear hearing protection when using power tools and not just when the noises will cause pain.

Myths 3 - I Can Duck In And Out Of A Noisy Place Before It Can Effect My Ears

If you're just talking, inching your way through a door will only take a second or two. But if you're working with power tools, this is an inefficient way of protecting yourself from even mild noise levels.

This may make sense if you work from home but it's not a good idea in the shop where you need to hear what's going on around you and be constantly aware of what's happening.

Myths 4- My Hearing Will Come Back If I Avoid Noise

If you're worried about damage to your hearing, this is a very bad idea. There are some things you can do to reduce the effects of noise on your ears but those don't always work because the damage is already done.

The only way to protect yourself in the long run is to wear hearing protection all of the time when using power tools in a woodshop.

Woodshop Hearing Loss Caused By 3 Things

When you're working in your woodshop, you might think that your hearing is safe because you're not using power tools all of the time. You might even think that your hearing is safe because you can hear the noise of the machinery when it's running.

Although the noise may be loud, though, it's not always easy to tell whether it could be damaging to your ears. Here are three things that might surprise you about noise in a woodshop

Ear Damage = Volume(Decibel) * Distance * Duration

1) Decibel Level

The decibels level measures the intensity (loudness) of the sound. The higher the decibel level, the greater the intensity. The intensity of noise increases as the decibel level increases.

2) Distance

The closer you are to the sound, the greater the intensity. This is why distance is important when it comes to woodshop hearing protection. If you're on top of or right next to a noisy machine, your ears will definitely be at greater risk than if you're in a different room.

3) Duration

If you're exposed to noise for a long time, your risk also increases significantly. If you have been working on a project and your ears start ringing afterwords, that ring can actually be caused by damage to your hair cells in the inner ear. The longer the exposure time, the more likely it is that this damage will occur.

Conclusions - Woodshop Hearing Protection

In conclusion, working with wood is going to be loud, and some woodworking tools make enough noise to damage your hearing quickly.

Your ears have not developed 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 easy! Anybody can take this action. Earmuffs are not expensive and a good pair should last you many years.

Recommended Products – Woodshop Hearing Protection - Best Hearing Protection For Woodworking

You should now know enough about hearing protection and the features available 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 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 powerful tool that produces many wood splinters, then you may need a hard hat, or a full faceguard as well.

Choose one of my recommendations below, and you will get an excellent, long-lasting item of safety equipment.

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Peltor Sport Ultimate Hearing Protector, NRR 30 dB
  • 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
3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology, 24...
  • NRR of 24 dB (Noise Reduction Rating)
  • BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY lets you seamlessly stream entertainment from your mobile phone and any other Bluetooth enabled device. Communication Direction: Two-way
  • 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 Slim-line Earmuffs and Safety Glasses Combo Pack (G99)
  • Optical Grade UV400 Polycarbonate Safety Lenses are Hard-Coated, Impact Resistant & Shatterproof. Cupronnickel Frame features: Soft TPR Nose Pad, Acetate Temple Tips & integrated Side Protection. All SVHC Free
  • Silence Any Environment - Titus 2 Series Earmuffs(37db 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
  • ANSI Z87+ Certified, Embossed on left lens & frame stem. DOT Approved for Motorcycling. 100% UV Protection in over 90% light and great for poor lighting conditions.
  • Measurements: L 6.5” X H 1.8” X W 5.75” Perfect for Riding, Shooting, and all other general safety applications. Lifetime Warranty against Manufacturer’s Defects, Titus Since 2009
DEWALT - DPG82-21D DPG82-21 Concealer SAFETY Goggle - Smoke Anti-Fog...
  • 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

Last update on 2021-07-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

People Also Ask

Should you wear a mask when working with wood?

Yes! In reality, 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 masks offer protection ranging from nearly 100% down to almost none. 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 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)."

References

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

Author: Nick

Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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