Safety gear is one of those things that is an unassuming necessity. It’s not flashy. It won’t be the topic of your next conversation over dinner. But just like brushing your teeth, they are a must-have.
I usually break my safety gear down into what it’s protecting:
- Eye protection is your bread and butter of safety gear. You’ll end up with half a dozen pairs. A lot of this will have to do with comfort since there is a lot of options out there. These ones are the ones I have, which I really enjoy and recommend.
- A face shield is usually optional unless you are working with material with a lot of energy. The face shield I have is a broken down(duct taped) monstrosity. I’ve always wanted to get one like this to give it a try.
- My mother is an Audiologist and protecting your hearing has been drilled into me since I was an infant. My mom always suggests having a box of these. Most of the other options on Amazon will also work great. You can always get a pair of over the ear muffs as well. Just make sure to get at least 24db protection like these.
- Working gloves are another item I have a box of in the shop. I’ve tried just about every kind of glove and these are my favorite. They allow you to maintain some dexterity while still giving you some protection from slivers and wild hammer blows. To be honest, Harbor Freight also has a cheap version of these that work great as well. I two pairs of the HF ones in my car for “Just-In-Case.”
- This is not something I’ve worried about much. I do have a nice heavy welding jacket which I do use if something is going to be very dirty/dusty but mostly I rely on the washer to undo the damage. This one looks like a good cheap option that people like.
There are two main camps when it comes to safety glasses. A lot of it has to do with what kind of debris you will be creating. Ricocheting nails is different than choking sawdust. If you are really trying to protect your eyes from dust and fine particulate in the air, you may want to upgrade to something like this from Amazon.com. The pair I recommended above will give you some protection that way but is more for the direct impact protection.
The upgraded pair will filter the air before it gets to your eyes. This will keep dust out of your eyes. Depending on your pair, they do have a tendency to fog up since there isn’t much airflow to reduce the moisture.
I would categorize a face shield as a nice to have more than a necessity. Usually, safety glasses are the important thing. Consider how much sanding/grinding you do. Those activities are what create significant amounts of dust and debris.
Earplugs/muff will also be dependent on your power tool usage. I think its best to get a pair and hang it up. Then whenever you break out the chop saw or need to do two hours of sanding they are within reach. The same goes for a box of disposable plugs. Grab a box and find it a place on the shelf. You’ll have them when you need them.
If they are going to be infrequent use and you are sensitive to wearing things on your head for long periods, maybe head down to the local hardware store and try some on. Nothing beats actually testing a product before buying it.
For me, the main things that are important for gloves are the trade-off between dexterity and protection. Yeah, you could wear welding gloves all the time and be safe from just about anything, but good luck trying to handle that finishing nail.
The reason I love the linked gloves above is you maintain a lot of your fine motor functions while still getting tons of protection. My shop has a milk crate full of gloves. All shapes and sizes. You’ll build up something similar.
Again as I stated above, working aprons haven’t been my thing. I included them because of their prevalence around woodworkers on the web. Take a look at many carpentry sites and you’ll see the obligatory ‘guy standing over wood with leather apron’ picture. Give it a try if it tickles your fancy. This is much more of a nice to have than a necessity.