Review: 3M P2 Half Face Respirator Kit
Review and photos: Raf Nathan
We work in an industry where dust is inevitable, which is why every woodworker needs good dust protection. Machine sawing, sanding, routing or lathe turning will produce hazardous dust levels that we need to avoid.
You can use a quality valved paper mask (which is acceptable), or go to the next level and use something like this 3M 6500QL series half face mask with filter cartridges. The benefit of the latter is much greater protection, as this sort of mask will give a better seal around your face, and the filter cartridges are far superior to paper style masks for filtering air.
This particular mask is supplied as a kit that includes two sets of P2 filter cartridges which are rated for wood dust, masonry dust and even lead paint type fumes. I appreciated the fact it comes with a plastic container to store the unit and keep it clean.
The latch mechanism makes the mask easy to put on and take off, and I found it comfortable to wear. I found I was able to breathe freely while machining.
For polishing jobs where you are using lacquers, French polish or the new hardwax oils (which all give off fumes), I suggest you purchase organic vapour filter cartridges which will also fit this mask.
From my experience though, only get good quality cartridges and beware of fakes! I once bought vapour cartridges from eBay which worked well, however the fit on the mask was not quite perfect to the point of them falling off half-way through a polishing job. Bona fide 3M replacement cartridges are available for particles at around $25 a pair, and $30 for nuisance level organic vapours.
I recommend you consider buying a mask kit like this one, keep it clean and sealed in a container when not in use, and have spare cartridges on hand to suit your type of work.
Raf Nathan is a wood designer maker based in Australia.
Review mask supplied by Carbatec, www.carbatec.com.au