As a carpenter, you are in constant exposure to loud whines of routers, table saws, whirring planers, banging hammers, and many other tools. Due to the constant exposure to the noises, it’s paramount that you wear hearing protection. The cool thing is that there are plenty of options when it comes to the best hearing protection for woodworking that you can use.
What should you consider when buying hearing protection?
For you to buy the right hearing protection for woodworking you need to consider a number of factors. Some of these factors include:
Decibel is the amount of noise that the human ear can perceive. A decibel level of zero is the faintest noise that the ear can perceive. The levels extend upwards of 180 decibels which is extremely loud.
You should note that the sound doubles every time the decibel level increases by 10. For example, 20dB is half as loud as 30 dB.
When you are buying the hearing protection, you need to think about the machines that you use in your workshop. For example, jigsaws, routers, and belt sanders produce between 100 and 110 decibels; therefore, if you are constantly exposed to these, you need earplugs or earmuffs that will provide enough protection.
Nail gun and chainsaws produce up to 120 decibels of noise. If you aren’t sure of the right units that need, there are plenty of research studies done that you can look into before you take the plunge. You also should consider asking a professional in the store where you are making the purchase.
Do you need to communicate with the other handymen? You should choose a hearing protection device that you can integrate with the communication devices and any other equipment you might need in your work.
If on the other hand, you don’t need to communicate, you should go for the regular devices and you will be alright.
Regardless of the amount of hearing protection that you are looking for, ensure that you can hear a little bit of the outside. This is crucial if you are working in an industry where risks are high. When you can hear the outside world, you are able to hear alarms and other warnings.
As a woodworker, chances are that you will be up on your feet for a long time. This means that you will be wearing earmuffs and earplugs for a long time. Since this is the case, the last thing you want are units that are uncomfortable.
When making the purchase, you should pay attention to the size of earplugs and earmuffs that you are buying. As rule of thumb, you should try out the units before you make the purchase. If buying online, pay attention to the description of the pieces.
If you are like me and suffer from tinnitus or any other condition that compromises your hearing, you should buy hearing protection devices that will cater to your needs. If you are having issues, you should go for units with higher or lower NRR.
You can go for single or even double protection. For you to be on the safe side, always get the input of your doctor who will guide you on the right pieces that you should go for.
Are you a style-conscious person? You should pay attention to the style of ear protection devices that you are buying. Both earmuffs and earplugs come in different designs and colors for you to choose from. It’s up to you to choose the ones that are ideal for you.
When choosing the style, don’t simply consider how they look, also consider your working environment. You don’t want to buy beautiful pieces that will make it hard for you to work on your project.
Lastly, you need to consider how easy it is to put on and remove the hearing protection devices. As a carpenter, you are a busy person hence the last thing you want are pieces that take a lot of time to put on or remove.
When making the purchase, also consider how convenient the units are to store after you have removed them. You don’t want units that will make your life hard. Some of the best pieces that you should go for are those with folding design.
Our recommendation Of The Best Hearing Protection For Woodworking
While they are designed to be used in shooting, there is no reason you shouldn’t use them in your woodworking project:
How is their hearing protection?
Since they are designed to protect the firearm users, they provide high noise protection (between 140 dB and 175 dB). This range is high enough that it will protect you from most of the machines that you are using in your project.
In addition to protecting you from the noise, they have one unique feature that you won’t find in most hearing protection devices: they amplify the low-level sound. Howard Leight earmuffs are able to amplify low-level sounds up to four times.
This allows you to hold conversations with your coworkers. If you are working in a factory, you are able to hear the alarm.
Do you love music when you are working? I personally don’t like distractions when working, but if you love it, you are on the lucky side as the units come with an external jack that allows you to plug in your MP3 player.
You can also connect the earmuffs to a scanner, iPod, and other devices you are using.
Are they comfortable?
When you choose the right size of earmuffs for your ears, they are highly comfortable. I have been wearing my Howard Leights for the past few months and they are very comfortable. Even when I’m wearing a hat and glasses, the earmuffs don’t leave my head at all.
Even if you have a large head and you choose tight-fitting earmuffs, you don’t have to worry about discomfort as the units feature a padded headband that is soft and prevents too much pressure on your head.
What about convenience?
An attractive feature I have noticed about the earmuffs is their ability to fold up fast into a nice tight package and fit neatly into my carpenter’s bag. Once I’m done with work, I take off the earmuffs fast and pack them in my bag within seconds.
In other cases, I don’t use my bag and I’m able to easily carry the earmuffs to and from work without issues.
- Battery life of up 350 hours
- Air flow control technology
- Water resistant
- Automatic 4 hour shut off
- Single knob to control on/off and volume
- 2 additional comfort ear cushions
- Include 2 AAA batteries and a cloth bag
What I like
- They are very comfortable to wear. I could wear them for hours without any form of soreness.
- Highly effective at suppressing loud noise
- You can hold normal conversations while still wearing the earmuffs
- Their foldable nature makes them easy to store
- You can adjust the headband to your size
- You can use them with an MP3 player
What I don’t like
- After a few uses, the earmuffs don’t seal the ears as well as they should, especially if you have a large head.
The great features and reasonable price point makes Howard Leight earmuffs one of the most competitive ear protection devices for woodworking that you can go for.
If you don’t like having earmuffs covering your ears, you should try out these in-ear hearing protection devices.
How is noise protection?
The earplugs have excellent noise reduction (NRR 32). This rating is enough to keep you safe at your work site. After wearing them, you need to give them time to expand so that they can create a secure seal around your ears. If you feel that the seal isn’t tight enough, you can always adjust it to achieve your desired seal.
For you to get ideal noise protection, you should ensure that you use the right earplugs. If you have small ears, go for small earplugs and vice versa. When worn properly, the low-pressure foam expands fitting your ear canal which gives your ears the seal it deserves.
Are the pieces comfortable?
The earplugs are smooth which makes them very comfortable to wear as they don’t injure your ears. A good number of earplugs I have used over the years are uncomfortable to wear. Not these ones. These pieces have a contoured T-shape that makes it extremely easy for you to wear and remove them.
Unlike other earplugs that are tough and don’t compress down easily, these compress down to practically nothing. This comes in handy at keeping your ears comfortable.
How do you take care of them?
The earplugs aren’t designed to be reused—you should use them once then toss them. You might feel that you are wasting your money, but when you buy the pieces, they come in a box with 200 pairs. If you do the calculations, you will find that you won’t be spending much on the pieces.
For you to protect your ears from ear infections, you should avoid wearing the pieces for more than one time. Wearing new pieces when you are handling a project also ensures that you achieve a tight seal all the time which comes in handy at protecting your ears from noise.
Additional features of Howard Leight earplugs
- Promote hygiene by having closed-cell foam skin
- The bright colors make it easy to find the earplugs when they get lost
- Easy to insert and use
- Work excellently at reducing broadband sound levels
- Ideal for small and large ears
How to wear the earplugs
For you to achieve ideal results, you need to properly wear the earplugs. Using clean hands, roll the entire earplug into a narrow crease-free cylinder then insert it inside your ear canal. You should hold the earplug in place for at least 30 seconds. This is to give the earplug enough time to expand thus filling up your ear for a tight seal.
If you have properly worn the earplug, the end of the earplug shouldn’t be visible to someone looking at you from the front. If you feel that the earplug is uncomfortable or someone can still see it, you should remove and reinsert it.
What I like about the earplugs
- They are very comfortable
- They are easy to insert
- They have a high NRR which keeps off most of the annoying noise
- You can use them for both large and small ears
What I don’t like
- I don’t like heading to the stores to buy earplugs every now and then so I don’t like that I have to use these earplugs once then discard them. I wish I could use them a few times which retaining their awesome noise reduction feature.
Earmuffs can be tiring especially when you have worn them for a long time. For ear relief and change, you should try out these earplugs. While they are disposable (you use them once), they come in a box containing 200 pairs which you can use for a long time. The beauty of it is that the entire box goes for just a few bucks.
I can clearly remember the day I got these earmuffs. Every woodworker I knew was using these Peltor earmuffs so when my older earmuffs wore out, I knew I had to give these a try.
How is noise protection?
One of the things that got my attention are the wordings, “recommended for extremely loud conditions.” By the time I was getting these, I had moved to a relatively loud workshop and these protection devices came in handy.
The earmuffs have a noise reduction rating of 30dB which is high enough to keep off most of the noise coming from the woodworking machines.
The noise protection is based on a technology with double casting. This minimizes resonance in the holder casting. As a result of this, you have a maximum high-frequency muffling.
The cool thing is that in addition to the hearing protection devices blocking most of the noise, they also allow you to hear some of the sounds from outside; therefore, you can communicate with your coworkers.
For you to protect your hearing you only need to put on the earmuffs and just like that, you will have muffled most of the loud noise. When you are wearing the pieces, you can only hear sounds that are in soft to moderate volumes.
Are they durable?
If you are like me, you don’t like having to keep on buying the ear protection devices too often—you want durable units. These Peltor earmuffs are made from tough plastic; therefore, you can have peace of mind that they will last for a long time.
While this is case, you should note that you need to play your role and take care of the pieces. This calls for you to clean them regularly. You also should prevent them from banging on hard surfaces hence damaging them.
How about comfort levels?
You need comfortable pieces that won’t make your ears sore after wearing them for a short time. These units have high quality cushioning that keeps your ears protected and comfortable.
While I find them very comfortable, I have come across some people citing that the earmuffs are too tight for them. These are often people with jaw conditions such as TMJ. The cool thing is that the tension comes from the wires that you can easily reshape.
When buying the Peltor earmuffs, I went through the reviews and found some people citing that the earmuffs are non-adjustable. While they don’t have the standard adjustable feature like the other units in the market, you can totally adjust them to your desired fitting.
When putting them on, you should put them on in such a way that the headband is centered on your head. You should then apply slight pressure and hold down the headband with one hand while pulling slowly and adjusting the length of the earmuff with the other hand.
For the earmuffs to fit your comfortably, ensure that the earpieces have the same distance to the headband.
- Twin-cup design
- Provide maximum low and high-frequency attenuation
- Soft padded headband that distributes the weight
- Very comfortable
- Soft, foam-filled ear cushions for extra comfort
- Made from polymer and metal
What I like about the earmuffs
- Very comfortable
- 100% adjustable
- High noise reduction rating which keeps my ears safe
What I don’t like
- It can be a challenge getting them to fit your ears especially if you have a small head or medical condition.
Despite their minor flaws, these earmuffs are highly effective in their working and come at an extremely affordable price. As a woodworker, there is no reason you shouldn’t give them a try.
“Protect it or lose it” is the catch phrase for these earmuffs. According to the manufacturers, the earmuffs were designed to provide the lowest profile possible, without compromising on hearing protection and amplification properties of the units.
Do they protect your hearing?
The earmuffs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 23dB; therefore, you can be sure that they will provide you with enough protection.
While the units are designed to provide you with maximum ear protection, they are also designed to help you communicate with your workmates. I often work alone; therefore, I don’t need pieces with the feature.
I was working with them on the other day and with the mics on, you can clearly hear amplified sounds that you can’t normally hear. I was cutting a piece of wood with a circular saw and noticed that the earmuffs mute most of the noise, and yet I could hear the dog nails as he walked around the workshop. How impressive is that?
What about comfort?
The earmuffs have a number of features that make them one of the most comfortable pieces in the market. The most obvious one is the comfort headband that has a soft padded design aimed at ensuring that you are comfortable the entire day.
The headband is also adjustable; therefore, whether you have a large or small head, you will definitely be able to comfortably wear the units and protect your hearing.
Are they convenient?
As woodworkers, we want pieces that you can easily put on with minimal effort and take them off fast. These earmuffs provide you with this. All you need to do is to put them on your head and you will block most of the noise.
I sometimes like listening to the radio when working. Unlike other pieces I have used before, the on/off volume control is easy to use. This is made possible by the raised ridges that allow for tactile use even when you are wearing gloves.
For you to connect your phone, iPod, or MP3, the pieces have a 3.5 mm jack that makes it possible.
The compact folding design makes the earmuffs easy to carry when you are going to and from the workshop. If you don’t have a carpenter’s bag, you don’t have to worry about carrying around a bulky unit.
Will they last for a long time?
These earmuffs aren’t as cheap as the Howard Leight; therefore, the last thing you need are units that will come apart after a few uses. The earmuffs are made from neoprene-like material that is tough and guaranteed to last for a long time.
Just like when you are using the other hearing protection devices, you need to take good of these earmuffs for them to last for a long time. You need to regularly clean the pieces. You also should protect them from falling thus putting them at the risk of developing cracks and other imperfections.
Additional features of the earmuffs
- Operates on 2 AAA batteries
- Two Omnidirectional microphones
- Ultra-thin rubberized cups
- Activated hearing protection over 89 dB at 0.02 reaction time
What I like about the earmuffs
- Fantastic hearing protection
- Distinct and easy to hear conversations
- The standard jack brings about a lot of convenience
What I don’t like
- They aren’t omnidirectional. You can’t tell where the sound is coming from
- They don’t fit well under the standard helmet
They are a little bit highly-priced than most of the earmuffs in the market, but this shouldn’t deter you from going for them. while they are a little expensive, they come with plenty of attractive features.
Are you tired of buying disposable earplugs that you have to discard after one use? You should try these ones out. I went for these after my disposable earplugs stash went and I couldn’t find them in my local store. Glad I went for these. I couldn’t be happier.
The pieces provide a noise reduction rating of 24 dB which is enough to provide you with hearing protection without interfering with your ability to hear routine sounds and conversations.
Sounds that are within the safe level are allowed to pass through while the potentially harmful noises (those above 85 dB) are reduced via a feature that incorporates a special noise-reducing filter.
If you are looking for addition noise protection, the pieces come with an attached filter cap that you can insert for optimum noise blockage.
What about comfort levels?
These earplugs are one of the most comfortable I have used in my woodworking career. The only reason you might be having uncomfortable pieces is if you choose the wrong size for your ear canal. Surefire defenders come in different sizes for you to choose from. It’s up to you to choose the ones that are ideal for you.
It can be challenging to choose the right ones for the first time. For you to increase the chances of buying the right pieces, ask your doctor to help you out.
The earplugs are made from a soft but durable hypoallergenic polymer that provides your ears with maximum comfort while at the same time extending the life of the pieces.
The patented ear lock retention rings lock the earplugs in place, providing a secure seal in the ear canals.
One of the drawbacks of wearing earmuffs is that you can’t wear them comfortably with a helmet, hat, or mask. The low profile design makes the pieces easy and comfortable to wear even when you are using a phone or headset.
Do they provide convenience?
On average, earplugs take longer to wear than earmuffs. This is because you need to be cautious that you don’t damage your ear canal during the insertion. While they are easy to put on and remove, they need a learning curve so that you can wear them fast enough.
I have been using mine for close to a month now and I take longer to wear them than I have taken with any other earplugs I have owned.
How to maintain the earplugs
Since the earplugs are reusable, you need to clean them regularly to ward off ear infections. Cleaning them regularly also contributes to their long life. When you are cleaning the pieces, avoid using chemicals that can damage the pieces.
- Low profile design keeps the pieces in place
- Patented Earlock retention rings ensure the earplugs fit the same way every time
- Made in the USA
- Triple-flanged stems provide secure seals in the ear canals
What I like about the earplugs
- Performs as advertised
- Come in many sizes and designs to choose from
- Very comfortable
What I don’t like
- While they are easy to wear, they take a long time. I have been having mine for almost a month and I’m still experiencing issues wearing them.
Ear protection options
As a woodworker, you have two primary ways in which you can protect your hearing: using in-ear and over the ear protection devices.
From their name, these are hearing protection devices that you put inside your ear to protect yourself from the damaging noise coming from the power tools and constant hammering.
The most popular in-ear devices that you can go for are earplugs. There are plenty of earplugs in the market that you can go for with the most common ones being:
Foam earplugs: They are cheap and you can easily buy them from your local store. For you to protect yourself from the harsh noises you should insert the units in your ear canal. When you use them properly, they are comfortable and provide you with the ear protection you are looking for.
Most of the pieces are small; therefore, you can easily store them in your carpenter’s bag or any other unit that you use.
While the ear protection devices are great, their main flaw is that they can irritate your ear canal especially if you suffer from allergies. You also might not receive the right hearing protection if you don’t wear them properly.
For you to keep them in good working condition for long and also protect yourself from infections, you need to observe good ear hygiene.
Since they are small, you need to take good care of them to avoid losing them.
The right way of wearing the pieces is holding the earplug between your fingers then roll the entire plug into a long, crease-free cylinder. Using your free hand, pull up your ear in order to open up the canal. You should insert the earplug then hold it for at least 20 seconds. This is to allow it to expand hence filling the canal.
Once you are done with your work, you only need to slowly twist the earplug in order to break the seal. You should avoid removing the earplug too quickly with the seal in place as you can easily damage your eardrum.
Silicon plugs: They are similar to foam earplugs but they are less irritating to the skin. This makes them an ideal choice for those suffering from allergies. Unlike foam earplugs that you insert into the ear, these you simply place in the auditory canal and they will protect you from the noise.
Universal earplugs: They are the most popular pieces of hearing protection. When you wear them properly, you are able to block almost all of the noise while at the same time enabling some sense of hearing.
Wax balls: They are another in-ear hearing protection pieces that you can use, but they are rarely used by many people. When you are wearing the wax balls, you maintain some sense of hearing, but you can manipulate them to completely close off your ability to hear.
Just like foam earplugs, wax balls are cheap and you can easily dispose them when they get dirty or lose their protection feature.
Over the ear
You place these over your ear thus protecting yourself from the harmful noises without interfering with the insides of your ear. The most popular over the ear hearing protection for woodworking that you can go for are ear muffs.
Since you don’t place them inside your ear canal, they tend to be very comfortable. Their downside is that they often have lower noise reduction rating (NRR) compared to the in-ear options.
Just like with the earplugs and the other in-ear hearing protection devices, you need to maintain excellent ear hygiene for you to protect yourself from infections when you are wearing these pieces.
For optimum hearing protection, you should wear the earmuffs properly. Adjust the cups on the earmuffs to fit comfortably over the crown of your head. For ideal results, ensure that the cushion of the earmuffs forms a tight seal over your ears.
Due to the regular use of the pieces, it’s common for them to wear and tear. For you to ensure that the units are providing you with the right amount of hearing protection, regularly inspect them for any defects. If you can fix the defects, you should go ahead and fix them, but if you can’t, you don’t have any way out, other than to replace the units.
Customized hearing protection
If you have tried the in-ear and over-the-ear pieces and none is working for you, you should try the customized pieces. These units are molded to fit your ears exactly, ensuring that no noise penetrates through. Since they are designed using a mold of your unique ear canal, they provide the perfect seal thus providing maximum hearing protection.
In addition to the pieces being comfortable and providing you with maximum protection, they tend to last for many years. They are also reusable and you can wear them with other accessories.
While they are great, their downside is that they require an ear mold impression to make them. You also need to regularly clean them in order to avoid ear infection.
Care and maintenance of hearing protection devices
Do you want your earmuffs and earplugs to last for a long time and provide you with maximum hearing protection? You need to take good care of them. Different ear protection devices have different maintenance methods:
Before you wear them to work, you need to inspect them for any issues they might be having. Examine the pieces for dirt, damage or extreme hardness they might be having. If they are compromised, discard them.
After wearing the pieces to work, you should remember that they are designed for single use; therefore, you should discard them. Avoid wearing the earplugs again as you risk ear infection. The pieces also won’t provide you with the hearing protection that you are looking for.
When you are wearing the pieces for the first time, you need to inspect them for damage, deformation, extreme hardness, or presence of dirt. If compromised, discard them immediately.
Since you can use the pieces a number of times, you should make it a habit to inspect them every time you are wearing them.
You need to keep the units clean; therefore, you should wash them before you wear them. The best way of going about it is washing them with mild soap and warm water. You should then pat them dry with a towel and store them in a case.
You should note that the pieces degrade when you use chemicals or any other harmful substances; therefore, you shouldn’t treat the pieces with any substances.
While you can use the earplugs multiple times, you should avoid using them for more than 4 weeks. This is because you will infect your ears.
Just like the other units, you need to inspect the earplugs before you wear them. Inspect the ear pods for dirt, damage, and excessive hardness. If compromised, discard them.
When you are done with work, wash the pods and bands with mild soap and warm water. Don’t use any chemicals that can damage the units. After cleaning them, pat the pieces with a towel.
Just like with the multiple-use earplugs, don’t use these earplugs for more than 4 weeks. This is to protect yourself from suffering from an ear infection. Worn out pieces also don’t provide optimal ear protection.
If you are using earmuffs for woodworking, you need to inspect the ear cups and ear cushions for any leaks or cracks that might be there. Are the ear cups visibly damaged or compromised? Discard them. If the ear cushions are too damaged, consider replacing them.
Since you can wear the earmuffs a number of times, you should clean them to keep them looking good and also protect yourself from suffering from ear infections. You need to clean the ear cups and ear cushions with mild soap and water. When cleaning, don’t dip the earmuffs in water as you will damage them.
While earmuffs are designed to last for a long time, it will come a time when you will have to replace them. If you wear the pieces normally, you should consider replacing them every 6-8 months. If you are a heavy user and you use the pieces in extreme weather, replace them every 3-4 months.
When buying new pieces, always go for modern, high-quality units that are ideal for your situation.