A lot of audiologists agree that continuous exposure to the noise produced by the power tools used in woodworking is extremely hazardous to one’s hearing. This is the main reason why most of them began recommending the use of the best hearing protection for woodworking for those who are involved in this job.
A good woodworking ear protection is necessary since being a woodworker, whether for fun or as an actual job, causes you to constantly get exposed to noisy environments. In such a case, it is advisable to do something to keep your hearing fully protected and safe.
The problem is that with the wide range of choices available for those who need woodworking workshop ear protection, making a sound choice can be quite confusing and difficult. You can find a lot of choices out there – from simply designed earplugs to the fancier and more expensive Bluetooth headphones.
One thing to keep in mind when shopping for good hearing protection is that not all of those introduced to you can provide you with equal amounts of protection. Some are capable of giving you full protection while the others might fall short and unable to fulfill what they promise.
To prevent you from ending up with a product that does not provide ample protection, I compiled ten of those hearing protection gears that continue to earn high user satisfaction ratings.
Table of Contents
- Most Trusted Hearing Protection for Woodworking Reviews of 2023
- 1. 3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
- 2. Neiko 53925A Safety Earmuff
- 3. 3M Peltor X-Series Earmuff
- 4. Honeywell Howard Leight Quiet Band Earplug
- 5. 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuff
- 6. 3M 1100 Foam Earplug
- 7. Honeywell Howard Leight Earplug (Disposable)
- 8. 3M Peltor X-Series CapMount Earmuff
- 9. Pro For Sho Safety Ear Protection
- 10. Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Earmuff
- What is a Hearing Protection for Woodworking
- How Does It Work
- Types of Hearing Protection for Woodworking
- Why Do You Need a Hearing Protection for Woodworking
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Most Trusted Hearing Protection for Woodworking Reviews of 2023
1. 3M WorkTunes Hearing Protector
I am sure that the WorkTunes Connect + AM/FM Hearing Protector provided by the famous 3M brand is also one of those that can give you the ultimate satisfaction in the industry. This is perfect for prospective users who are interested in a kind of hearing protection that appears in an earmuff form or style.
I am greatly satisfied with its 24-decibel noise reduction rating (NRR). It also has the WorkTunes feature, which offers extreme comfort with the help of its vented design. You will find this design completely comfortable since it helps in releasing heat while also having enough space for the optional padding.
Aside from being highly effective in offering protection, I am also happy that this 3M item is capable of giving a form of entertainment to its users. It is because of the AM/FM radio built along with it. What is even better about this AM/FM radio is that it is made to save a max of 50 stations.
The radio function performs well, especially in giving you clear and entertaining sounds once you start working. I am also satisfied with this hearing protector’s audio assist technology as I find it useful when it comes to adjusting settings even if you no longer have to remove it.
You do not have to worry about this technology being harmful, though, because the earmuff is also designed in a way that its radio’s sound level adjustments automatically in case the environment gets extremely loud. This can keep your ears as safe and fully protected as possible.
Furthermore, it allows the use of Bluetooth technology, giving you the chance to stream entertainment effortlessly from any device enabled by Bluetooth, including your smartphone.
- Keeps your ears and hearing safe and fully protected from dangerous sounds
- Supports the streaming of entertainment through Bluetooth
- Equipped with an AM/FM radio
- Comes with an audio assist technology
- Can release heat, preventing it from building up
- High price tag
2. Neiko 53925A Safety Earmuff
The Neiko 53925A Safety Earmuff is also another of the most dependable hearing protection for woodworking that you can invest in. I discovered that it is an inexpensive and convenient solution to guarding you against harmful and loud sound levels, especially from certain types of machinery and other tools used in woodworking and construction sites.
It is also meant to protect you from dangerously loud sounds produced around your home. I like the noise reduction rating offered by this earmuff because it is around 26 decibels, which is more than enough to give you sufficient protection. The flexibility of its headband is also one of its most prominent qualities.
The headband is adjustable, giving you the chance to adjust it based on what you feel is the most comfortable fit for you. The built-in ear cups are also soft enough. They can gently clamp on your head while still being firm that they do not move around that easily. Once clamped, expect the item to do a great job in blocking sounds.
I am also pleased to say that sliding the ear cups up and down is easy and quick. It promotes a universal and comfortable fit, regardless of the size of your head. The fact that the earmuff is constructed using lightweight materials also offers a great advantage as this means that you can wear it the entire day with extreme comfort.
The earmuff also has an outward bend on its headband, which makes it possible for you to wear it together with safety goggles or glasses, ball cap, or any other head cover with a form-fitting nature. I am also pleased to announce that you can use this hearing protection for several uses, including grinding, mowing, shooting, and drilling.
- Universal and comfortable fit guaranteed
- Made of lightweight materials, promoting comfort even when worn for long periods
- Can be worn together with safety goggles or glasses and other head covers
- Soft and comfortable ear cups
- Adjustable headband
- Quite tight initially
3. 3M Peltor X-Series Earmuff
One of the top-tier choices for high-quality woodworking hearing protection today is the 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuff. This earmuff is an amazing choice for moderate to high-noise industrial environments and situations as it provides up to 31-decibel noise reduction rating.
It is an earmuff of top-notch quality designed for those who work at construction and woodworking sites every day. I find this 3M earmuff versatile, too, because users can bring it in any other place where hearing protection is necessary. This 3M hearing protector is also built with a comfortable twin headband.
I am pleased with this headband as it is created in a way that it can lessen the buildup of heat, thereby ensuring that you can wear it even during hot and warm seasons without worrying about discomfort.
I also notice that this woodworking hearing protection has the right amount of balance, providing more comfort, as it tends to spread over the biggest area of the user’s head. I am also very satisfied with the electrical insulated added to the headband as it aids in preventing electrical hazard exposure.
Another remarkable advantage is the fact that it offers all-day comfort and high-level sound insulation with the help of its soft foam cushioning. I like the internal wires made of stainless steel that also boasts of a plastic coating that forms part of this earmuff as I noticed how this structure further increases its strength and durability.
Furthermore, it has tilting and pivoting ear cups that you can use in adjusting the earmuff to further enhance your comfort.
- Works perfectly for industrial environments with moderate to high noises
- Equipped with a soft foam cushioning for comfort and sound insulation
- Strong and durable, thanks to its stainless steel internal wires
- Features tilting and pivoting ear cups that you can adjust for comfort
- Capable of lessening the buildup of heat
- A little bulky
4. Honeywell Howard Leight Quiet Band Earplug
The last but surely not the least suggestion I would like to highlight in this article is the Howard Leight Quiet Band Earplug offered by Honeywell. Built mainly to provide amazing hearing protection for those who love shooting and hunting, this earplug with a 25-decibel noise reduction rating is also compatible with other uses.
You can use it if your job constantly exposes you to hazardous sounds that might end up damaging your hearing ability. For instance, if you are involved in woodworking then I am sure that this earplug will serve its purpose of protecting your ears from potential damage.
I like how portable and lightweight the overall structure and design this earplug is made to be. With such qualities, it is hassle-free to bring it anywhere you need hearing protection, like in a workplace. It is appropriate for use in environments that have intermittent noise risks and hazards.
Wearing it for a long period is not also a problem if you choose this Honeywell earplug. It is because it features soft, smooth, and ergonomically designed foam pads that offer the right balance between safety and comfort by resting comfortably and partially in each ear.
The headband of this earplug has a special design that can also be expected to rest around your neck conveniently and comfortably. This can prevent the earplugs from accumulating dirt, especially if you are out on the field. I am sure you will also love how convenient, fast, and easy it is to insert this earplug to your ear.
This means that you will not also experience problems putting it on then taking it off.
- Portable and lightweight, promoting a hassle-free experience when bringing it at work
- Ergonomically designed and smooth foam pads, promoting comfort
- The earplugs are designed to prevent dirt from building up
- Easy and quick to insert into your ears
- Ideal for use in environments with intermittent noise risks and hazards
- Some sharp edges on the band at first
5. 3M Peltor X-Series Over-the-Head Earmuff
Another top-seller from the trusted 3M brand is the Peltor X-Series Earmuff with over-the-head design. I think that this earmuff truly does what it promises in terms of giving your hearing and ears maximum protection from damaging sounds because of its highly advanced and high noise reduction rating (24 decibels, to be exact).
I am happy to announce that it is capable of giving protection to moderate and high noise exposures. The twin headband design of this earmuff also caught my attention because it showcases good balance and fit while preventing the buildup of heat, giving you as much comfort as possible.
The headband is also created in a way that it can offer a convenient pressure, giving users comfort when used for prolonged periods. This one-size accessory is also impressive as it tends to fit a wide range of sizes and shapes of heads. I also find its yellow and black finish stylish and striking while promoting visibility.
With such colors, you will not have problems easing into your location no matter how dark it is. Expect to enjoy optimal comfort when wearing this hearing protection for woodworking offered by 3M, too. It is because this features a couple of ear cups with an ergonomic design and a comfortable foam padding.
The properly insulated electrical parts of this item also work in lowering your risk of dealing with electrical hazards. It is stylish and truly performs well as far as blocking unwanted and damaging noise is concerned.
- Nice and attractive yellow and black finish, promoting visibility
- Equipped with ergonomically designed ear cups, making the item all the more comfortable
- Prevents electrical hazards, thanks to its properly insulated electrical parts
- Can block noise well with the aid of its high NRR
- Good balance and fit provided by its headband
- Does not work that well for users who have small sizes of heads
6. 3M 1100 Foam Earplug
Another fascinating product that you can use to give as much protection to your ears as possible if you are constantly exposed to damaging and harmful sounds is the 3M 1100 Foam Earplug. It comes in a box with 200 pairs of earplugs, which makes it a cost-effective investment.
One of the many things that drew me closer to this 3M 1100 Foam Earplug is its comfortable and soft construction. It is because of the soft polyurethane foam material used in creating it. This specific material is also famous for being hypoallergenic, making it a lot safer to use.
This un-corded foam earplug also boasts of a tapered design, which promotes a more comfortable and natural fit on your ear canal. It is available in a single size but you can rest assured that it fits appropriately to most of its prospective users. I also noticed that it is created in such a way that inserting it into your ears is quick and easy.
It also tends to follow or conform to your ears’ unique and natural shape. With such capability, I am quite sure that it will not disappoint as far as giving you comfort and maximum hearing protection is concerned. You can also easily roll down the earplugs, further promoting easy and rapid fitting.
I like the dirt-resistant and smooth surface of this earplug, too, because it promotes good hygiene.
- Offers 200 pairs of earplugs in just one box
- Boasts of a tapered design, promoting a natural and comfortable fit on your ear canal
- Quick and easy to insert into the ears
- Takes pride in its dirt-resistant surface
- Comfortable and soft polyurethane foam construction
- Can’t be used more than once in most cases
7. Honeywell Howard Leight Earplug (Disposable)
If you are in search of disposable hearing protection for woodworking then the Howard Leight MAX Corded Foam Earplug from Honeywell will not disappoint you in any way. I am greatly impressed with its high noise reduction rating of 33 decibels. Some even say that it has the highest NRR out of the various disposable earplugs currently offered in the market.
I can also say that Honeywell truly cares for its customers because it prioritizes their comfort. It is because I discovered how comfortable the earplug is as it is made of soft PE foam material that promotes extreme comfort even when worn for long and extended periods.
The fact that this hearing protection has a corded design also makes it all the more comfortable because this means that you will experience comfort when carrying it around your neck. It can serve several industries, not just those who work in the woodworking industry.
Among the industries where loud and dangerous noises can be heard are construction, military, transportation, metal, mining, law enforcement, and farming and you can expect this Honeywell earplug to be compatible with such mentioned industries. I am also impressed with the bell shape used by this earplug.
It is because this shape makes it possible for the earplug to match the shape and contour of your inner ear naturally. With that, expect it to be able to maximize its ability to offer incredible hearing protection and noise reduction.
It is also created in a way that the buildup of dirt can be prevented, that is all thanks to its soil-resistant, smooth, and soft closed-cell foam skin.
- Appropriate for use in various industries, not just woodworking and construction
- Can prevent dirt buildup, thanks to its soil-resistant skin
- Compatible with the natural shape and contour of your ears
- Incredible hearing protection and noise reduction guaranteed
- Comfortable to wear and use even for prolonged periods
- Stiff at first
8. 3M Peltor X-Series CapMount Earmuff
You will not also feel disappointed in case you decide to pick the Peltor X-Series CapMount Earmuff offered by 3M. It is built with a good noise reduction rating, up to 25 decibels, which, I think is one reason why it delivers an incredible job in protecting the users’ ears.
I am so happy with the way this earmuff is built as it is meant to fit different industrial safety hard hats. It can prevent you from dealing with possible hearing damage caused by your constant exposure to moderate to extremely loud noises. I am also pleased with its use of stainless steel for constructing the band as it strengthens the product.
This material even does a decent job in resisting and preventing warps and bends, thereby providing a comfortable pressure for prolonged wearing. I also find the low-profile design of the cup remarkable as it further improves the ability of the earmuff to work appropriately with other PPE (personal protective equipment).
I would also like to highlight the fact that this earmuff’s ear cups can be tilted, making it possible for you to enjoy an adjustable fit and customized comfort. You are even allowed to put the adjustable ear cup in three comfortable positions – the usage, standby, and storage.
Furthermore, it makes use of a modernly designed spacer, advanced ear cushions, and uniquely formulated foam liners – all of which are known for improving attenuation. This is also hygienic as it gives you the chance to replace the foam liners and ear cushions anytime you want.
- Provides a decent noise reduction rating (25 decibels)
- Allows you to tilt the ear cups, promoting adjustable fit and customized comfort
- Improves attenuation with its spacer, ear cushion, and foam liners
- Features a low-profile design, making it appropriate to use together with other PPE
- Stainless steel headband for strength
9. Pro For Sho Safety Ear Protection
You will not also regret investing in the Pro For Sho Safety Ear Protection as it carries several qualities that most woodworkers and construction workers need from a hearing protector.
With its 34-decibel hearing protection rating, I can assure you that this item will not lead to disappointments as far as blocking or silencing dangerous sounds is concerned. I am so amazed by the lightweight and solid structure of this earmuff.
I even noticed that it is built in a way that it can deal with all the limitations linked to other earmuffs of conventional design. The fact that this ear protector is built using industrial-grade materials also allows it to give your ears the kind of protection required when woodworking, hunting, studying or even shooting.
With its many uses and applications, its versatility always shines through. I am also pleased about the compact nature of this earmuff from Pro For Sho. This compactness promotes ease in carrying it around and inside your bag. It will never add bulk nor weight into your bag once you put it inside and carry it around.
It has a black theme, which you will instantly notice from its appearance. It is also constructed from plastic, which is a good material because it is the scratch-resistant and solid type.
- Constructed from scratch-resistant and solid plastic
- Compact and lightweight
- Maximum hearing protection guaranteed by its 34-decibel rating
- Versatile as it is appropriate for various environments
- Easy to carry around and store
- The ear cushions of this earmuff are harder and stiffer compared to the others
10. Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Earmuff
Another way for you to keep your hearing fully protected from loud, damaging noises in the woodworking industry is to invest in the Mpow 035 Noise Reduction Earmuff. It is one of the most trusted woodworking noise-canceling headphones or earmuffs today as it gives out a decent performance in blocking or reducing the noise surrounding you.
Among the sounds and noises that this earmuff can drown are the gun and engine noises, loud machines, firework, chain saws, crowded downtown, drum, loud talkers, and mowers. I am happy that this earmuff made use of the NRR sound technology in its structure, allowing it to deliver up to 28 decibels of noise-canceling or reduction rating.
I also discovered that this earmuff is built using dual layers of noise-dampening foam, distinctive double-shell, and high sealing solid cup – all of which contribute to making this product bring out maximum hearing protection. It is made for use as a professional ear defense device when shooting within the gun range and during the hunting seasons.
However, I also found out that you can use it in other applications, especially in workplaces, like, in case, if you are a woodworker or a construction worker. The portability and compactness of this earmuff are also two of its most promising and endearing traits since this prevents any hassle when bringing it around.
It even has a foldable and lightweight design with its ear cups built in a way that you can collapse them into the item’s headband. I would also like to highlight the adjustability of this earmuff’s headband. It has retractable stainless steel, which you can adjust to fit you well.
Storing and packing this hearing protection option is also easy with the included travel drawstring bag.
- Foldable and lightweight design, making it portable and compact
- Adjustable headband, thanks to its retractable stainless steel material
- Provides maximum hearing protection
- Can drown or block different kinds of noise
- Useful for shooting and hunting seasons
- Quite too tight initially
What is a Hearing Protection for Woodworking
A woodworker’s studio is only quiet when no one is working. This means that if you are a woodworker then you will constantly be exposed to all sorts of noise. Your woodworker’s studio can even be described as a place filled with power tools that produce quite a lot of noise, enough to cause serious hearing damage.
If left unmanaged, this hearing damage can consequently end up in permanent hearing loss. With that in mind, it is crucial to protect your ears just as much as you would the other parts of your body. In such a case, proper hearing protection for woodworking is what you need.
When do you need hearing protection, you ask? Whenever you expose yourself to noises exceeding 85 decibels for extended periods, you are already placing your hearing at risk. To put this into perspective, a single hand drill creating a hole in a concrete wall is already 85 decibels loud.
Imagine what will happen if you use something louder, like the table saw, for hours on end without ear protection. There are different kinds of hearing protection that you can use. You can get earmuffs that almost completely block all ambient noises.
However, if you are not a fan of bulky earmuffs, you can get earplugs that you just poke into your ear canals. Although having any kind of ear protection is much better than having none, you should try to get the appropriate equipment to ensure the health of your ears.
How Does It Work
Hearing protection works simply by not allowing the loud noises, or a huge chunk of them, to reach your ears. They do this in several different ways but mainly they just block the opening of the ears so that you will not hear that much from the environment.
Earplugs (foam and flanged) are inserted inside the ear canal. They work by plugging the entrance of the ear canals so that most noises do not have any space to get through. These are good in case you just want to block a bit of the noise. It could be just enough to lower the noise to a tolerable level.
If you want to lower the noise to an almost unnoticeable level, you need to use a noise buffering headset or earmuff. This works by covering your entire ear. The foam padding will form a seal around the earlobes so that even more noise gets blocked.
This effect can be increased even further by using noise-canceling headphones. These are just like regular headphones but they have an additional driver and sensor that creates soundwaves that are inverse to those of the sounds outside, thus canceling them. These headphones, if not used to play music, will immerse you in a completely silent world.
These are only some of the many ways that hearing protection equipment work. You can choose any one of these options, as having any kind of hearing protection is better than not having anything at all. However, it is best to get the ones that you are most comfortable using so that you will not forget and feel de-motivated to use them.
Types of Hearing Protection for Woodworking
There are several types of hearing protection that you can use while you are doing your woodworking projects. Some of the most well-known ones are:
Disposable earplug – This earplug is usually made of dense foam and created for light sleepers so they can get a full night’s worth of rest. However, several manufacturers make foam earplugs that are meant for the workplace. These are often denser than the regular earplugs.
Also, each pair is connected by a string so that you can easily take it off, thereby preventing you from losing it easily. Generally, disposable earplug is meant for just single-use only. This means you cannot clean nor wash them for reuse.
You may use them one or two more times, but only during dire instances, like when you run out of earplugs unexpectedly.
Flanged rubber earplug – This earplug is made of soft silicone rubber, the same kind used in earbuds. It is shaped like an elongated earbud but with two or three rubber flanges to create several layers of seals designed to prevent most of the noise from getting through.
Unlike foam earplugs, rubber flanged earplugs are reusable and washable. However, these generally last a couple of months of continuous use only. You need to replace them when the flanges start to tear or if they lose their plasticity. Just like workplace disposable earplugs, a string connects them to keep every pair together.
Earmuff – An earmuff tends to go over the ears, also covering the earlobes and creating a soundproof seal all around the ears. It is much better at reducing the amount of noise that gets to the ear canal. However, it is also bulkier and not that comfortable to use in hot climates. It also looks like studio headphones but devoid of speakers in the cups.
Noise-canceling earphone/headphone – This refers to high-end audio devices. It does not only play music and other types of audio but it also comes with a microphone and sensor that listens for background noise. It then produces a soundwave that is inverse to that of the background noise to cancel it.
This type of hearing protection immerses you in a completely silent world. However, this headphone/earphone needs power, so you need to plug it into a music player or smartphone.
You can also access those available wireless options available. These are the ones that use Bluetooth to connect to media devices but they are a bit heavier and their batteries only last a couple of hours before you need to recharge them.
Why Do You Need a Hearing Protection for Woodworking
The workshop of a woodworker is only silent when there is no one working in it. Although some woodworkers enjoy hearing the noise created by their equipment, there are several viable reasons why you need to wear hearing protection each time you need to tackle a woodworking project. These are:
It protects your hearing – The inner ear has hundreds of thousands of microscopic hair cells that help transmit the vibrations caused by sound waves. However, when the ear is subjected to continuous loud noises, these hair cells get damaged, thus minimizing their effectiveness to carry over sounds through the inner ear.
Unfortunately, these hair cells do not regenerate and if enough of them get damaged, it results in Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). If you are a woodworker, then you are probably surrounded by numerous power tools that produce noise that is way beyond the safe levels.
If you do not want to cause gradual yet permanent damage to your hearing then you need to use hearing protection.
It allows you to concentrate better – Although some people say that you will get used to the noise of your woodworking equipment over time, note that it does not mean that it will not get annoying after a while. When the noise gets too irritating, you will tend to take more breaks. These consistent breaks will affect your work efficiency.
When you wear hearing protection, the noises produced by your equipment will go down to a minimum. For instance, when you are turning a piece of wood in a lathe, wearing hearing protection will turn the roar of the machine into a monotonous hum that many find soothing.
This will make you want to concentrate more on your work. As a result, you can finish your projects faster without sacrificing quality.
It can keep you warm – This is especially true if you get a good pair of earmuffs. If you live in an area where it gets pretty cold during the winter months, you will love wearing noise buffering earmuffs. Aside from protecting your ears from excessive noise, these earmuffs can also help keep you warm when it gets too cold.
There are many kinds of hearing protection for woodworking that you can buy, but not all of them deliver on their promises at all. To help you make the most out of your purchase, here are some tips and factors to consider that will drive you to find the best hearing protection for woodworking currently available:
Fit and comfort – The hearing protection that you must buy should be easy to put on. It also needs to be comfortable enough that you can wear it for hours on end while also being easy to remove when you are finished.
This is necessary because you will only find it a hassle to use if the safety gear is complicated to wear. This will increase the likelihood of you not wanting to use it after a while. You should also think about the tasks that you will be doing. For instance, if you will be sanding quite a lot of pieces of wood, using earplugs might not be the most trusted choice.
It is because you might get wood shavings on them when you take them out and put them back on again later. For jobs like this, it is better to use earmuffs as you can easily brush off any dust that gets on them.
Amount of decibels removed – When you are out shopping for hearing protection, take note of the number of decibels that the product can suppress. You can usually find this value right in front of the packaging or in a brochure that comes with the product.
Do not expect the hearing protection gear to reduce noise by much. Usually, the earplugs and earmuffs that you can buy are only capable of reducing noise by as much as twenty to thirty decibels. You might think that they would not help that much but think again.
For instance, if you are operating a drill press, which produces around 100 decibels of noise, and you wear an earmuff that reduces noise by 35 decibels, the amount of noise that you have to withstand will only be just 65 decibels. This is way below the dangerous threshold of 85 to 90 decibels.
Weight and portability – You should get hearing protection that does not weigh too much so it will be comfortable to wear and not strain your neck. The weight also plays a part when you have to bring it with you on a house call.
Speaking of taking your hearing protection with you, it should be compact and portable. Earplugs are not a problem as you can just put a couple of them in your pocket. However, if you are using earmuffs, get a pair that can be folded into a smaller size so you can easily fit them in your work bag.
Type of hearing protection you need – Keep in mind that there are different kinds of hearing protection. You can choose anything that you like as long as it can help you with your work. For instance, you can go for earplugs that tend to work best if you will only be using hand power tools, like hand drills, orbital sanders, and other handheld devices.
You can also use the earplugs when operating noisier equipment. Just note that they will not be able to suppress as much noise. The noise will still be a bit loud but they will be in the safe range.
You might also want to check out earmuffs that tend to perform well in case you are using larger equipment like the band saw, table saw, belt sander, and other floor-mounted woodworking tools that you might have. Also, if you dabble in blacksmithing, these are the top-rated to protect your hearing.
Another advantage is that if you want to listen to music, you can wear earbuds underneath your earmuffs. This way, you can hear your music even if you do not crank up the volume.
When picking the right type of hearing protection, go for those that you think will most suit your needs. As long as your choice of hearing protection can lower the noise levels that reach your ears to a safe level then it will be enough.
Durability – Durability should not be an issue when you choose to use disposable earplugs as they are only meant for single use. However, there might be times when you will be forced to use a pair of reusable earplugs. In this case, you might want to choose those that can at least last one month, or three weeks at best, before they lose their pliability.
Regarding earmuffs, the band should be flexible yet sturdy. You should select earmuffs that use metal bands instead of plastic. Usually, the first things to deteriorate in earmuffs are the foam ear pads.
These usually start to dry up and crack. After a while longer, the foam will start falling apart. When buying earmuffs, check if the foam pads are replaceable and if you can easily get a new pair in case you need to replace the old ones.
Care and Maintenance
If you want your hearing protection gear to take care of you for many years, you need to take care of them, too. Here are some ways that you can care for and maintain your hearing equipment.
For your earplugs – Disposable foam earplugs should only be used once and then disposed of properly. However, if you run out of earplugs and you do not have time to procure more, you can reuse them once or twice more. On the other hand, rubber earplugs with flanges can be reused for several times.
You just need to clean it every day after you use it. What you should do is to rinse it in some lukewarm water and brush it using an old, clean soft-bristled toothbrush. Do take note though that rubber earplugs, although reusable, should still be replaced every month.
For your earmuffs and noise-canceling headphones – You do not have to do real intensive cleaning for these items. You just need a clean, microfiber towel or soft piece of cloth moistened with some water and rubbing alcohol then wipe off all the dirt and dust accumulated all over the surface of the bands.
Make sure to do the same on the outside of the foam cups. Be careful when cleaning the foam cover, though. Do not rub too hard that you damage the cups.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I protect my ears without earplugs?
For starters, you can create makeshift earplugs to protect your hearing. To do so:
- Envelop a dime-sized cotton ball with plastic wrap and tie its end with a rubber band.
- Push the cotton ball into your ear to test it out and make adjustments if necessary.
- Discard the makeshift earplugs after use.
If you’re uncomfortable wearing earplugs because they push deep inside the canals, earmuffs and headphones are good alternatives.
To specify, the highest noise reduction rating that earmuffs can provide is around 31dB, slightly less than the earplugs. However, they are still sufficient for leaf blowers.
That said, to safeguard your ears from the roar of the jet engines and the grinding noise of the chainsaw, you’ll need the most protective ear muffs.
Noise-canceling headphones for woodworking are another popular choice. In terms of features, these devices are more advanced. Besides filtering out noises, they allow the user to adjust the reduction level to suit the environment. Not every model is designed for hearing protection, so you’ll need to be selective when purchasing one.
If possible, the CDC recommends reducing the noise in your environment. You can do this using any of these strategies:
- Keeping your equipment well-maintained
- Opt for power tools or table saws that are ‘quieter’
- Minimize your exposure by working far away from the source of the noise or taking breaks
What is the hearing protection for the woodworking price range?
Most of the ear protection devices in this review range from $10 to $70. However, there are also brands and models with more advanced features, such as Bluetooth connectivity and integrated AM/FM radio, that cost over $100.
How long does hearing protection for woodworking last?
The lifespan of hearing protection devices varies depending on the brand and type of device you choose.
For example, Honeywell’s corded and individual earplugs come in single-use and multi-use versions. As the product name implies, the former is meant to be discarded after each use. Meanwhile, the multi-use plugs can last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks with proper care.
As for its line of earmuffs, the brand recommends replacement twice a year or when the cushions start to degrade. In humid or extreme conditions, you should replace the foam thrice yearly. Overall, the earmuffs can last up to 2 years with proper maintenance and periodic part replacements.
Electronic hearing protection, meanwhile, can last up to a decade as long as they are well-maintained. Users only need to swap batteries once the juice runs out.
What are the most popular brands of hearing protection for woodworking?
If you are seriously in search of good hearing protection for woodworking that truly delivers on its promise when used on noisy work environments then make sure that you go for trusted and reputable brands. Among the most trustworthy hearing protector brands today are 3M, Honeywell, Mpow, Pro For Sho, and Neiko.
How to use hearing protection for woodworking?
A kind of hearing protection is supposed to be easy to use because it will encourage you to use it. If it is overly complicated then you might consider it as just another hassle when you can just go straight to work without it.
If you own an earplug, a foam earplug to be exact, then you will be glad to know that it is quite easy to use. You just hold one between your thumb and forefinger then squeeze it. The foam should shrink to a smaller size in a way that you can easily fit it into your ears. Do not worry if it feels loose.
After a couple of seconds, the foam will start to expand back to its original shape and size. This expansion will fill the gaps, which seals the inner ear from too much noise. Rubber flanged earplugs are even easier to use. You just lightly place them into your ear until they are held in place.
If you have an earmuff, then it helps to loosen up the band before putting it on. Try on the fit and make the necessary adjustments. The band should be tight enough that the foam cups are held securely over your ears and that you can only hear the muffled noises around you.
This is the same procedure to follow when you are using noise-canceling headphones. However, in such a case, you also need to turn on the noise-canceling mode and wait a couple of seconds before it kicks in.
How to care for and clean hearing protection for woodworking?
It does not take much to clean and maintain a hearing protection gear. First of all, disposable earplugs should be disposed of after just one use. Only use disposable earplugs if there are no other choices left for you, like when you run out of earplugs and you do not have the time to run out for more.
Then there are the reusable rubber earplugs. Unlike foam earplugs, these have three or four flanges with each one creating a tight seal in the ear canal. After every use, you just need to wash these earplugs using some warm, soapy water and a soft brush. This will be enough to get rid of almost all the dirt and grime.
However, even though these earplugs are reusable, you should replace them every month. Earmuffs are easy to clean, too. You just need to dampen a small piece of soft cloth, or a microfiber rag, with some water and rubbing alcohol.
Rub the band and the outer shell thoroughly and then use a cotton ball dipped in some alcohol. Rub the soft foam padding gently, taking care not to rip the cover. Do the same when you are using noise-canceling earphones.
Where to buy hearing protection for woodworking?
You can find hearing protection for woodworking in most hardware and woodworking specialty stores. However, do not expect a wide range of choices. Brick-and-mortar stores cannot afford to stock many brands of just hearing protection as they only have limited storage spaces.
On the other hand, when you shop online, you can quickly and easily browse through dozens of different stores and choose from various brands and models of hearing protection gear. Another advantage of buying online is that you can often find hearing protection devices that are much cheaper than the ones sold in brick-and-mortar shops.
How much noise is considered dangerous?
A brief burst of noise measuring 140 decibels is enough to cause permanent hearing damage. To put it to easily understandable terms, 14o decibels is like standing beside a jet while it is taking off.
On the other hand, an electric hand drill punching a hole through a concrete wall is around 85 decibels. If you were to expose yourself to this amount of noise for hours on end, then this will be enough to cause temporary to permanent hearing damage.
Do you need complete silence when woodworking?
Unless you will be using noise-canceling headphones, you could not eliminate all the sounds in your environment. Earplugs and earmuffs can only muffle the noises in your surroundings. This means that you can still hear them although not as loud.
When you are woodworking, you do not need complete silence. For instance, if you are turning wood on a lathe, you need to hear and feel if your gouging tool snags on the wood. Furthermore, listening to the muffled sounds of your power tools as they work their way through the grains of the wood can be relaxing in its unique way.
How much muffling is top-tier?
The obvious answer here is the highest decibel reduction that you can find. If you can locate and afford earmuffs that can reduce noise by 80 decibels then you should get it. However, specialized equipment that can go that high is usually rare and expensive.
On the other hand, if the hearing protection that you find can reduce the number of decibels to well under the safe level, then it is probably enough for your needs. Yes, you will still hear some of the noise but it will not be able to do any amount of damage to your inner ear.
If you are a woodworker or if you dabble in it as a hobby, then you know just how noisy it can be. Hand drills, power sanders, band saws, belt sanders, and many more power tools, although they make your work lighter, can produce a lot of noise. This type of noise tends to damage your hearing gradually.
However, you can do something to mitigate or completely stop excessive noise from damaging your ears, and that is by using the right and the best hearing protection for woodworking. Protect your hearing by using earplugs or earmuffs.
Make sure to use anything that you feel comfortable with. Using any kind of ear protection is better than using nothing at all. However, if you have the chance, you should at least get the top-quality hearing protector that you can afford.
Having worked in the field of personal protective equipment for over two decades, Andrew Carnegie is a specialist in the field.
At EDC, he strives to improve performance efficiency and promote workplace safety for EDC’s readers and customers. He also researches the most up-to-date equipment that has earned relevant accreditation for use in a wide range of industries and specialties.