As a woodworker, you are constantly exposed to noise from power tools, from the smaller hand drills and hammers to the larger table and miter saws. This noise is indeed harmful to your hearing health. And while some woodworkers may refuse the idea of working with ear protection, it’s always a good idea to be on the safe side.
Constant exposure to this noise without proper ear protection will slowly impair your hearing or deteriorate some ear conditions. Fortunately, this piece reviews some of the best ear protection for woodworking to help retain your hearing health.
Here they are:
Peltor Optime 105
Our top pick for the best ear protection is these earmuffs from Peltor Optime. They come in different designs, so depending on your preferences, you can go for the helmet removable earmuffs, over-the-head design, behind-the-head, or foldable, flexible earmuffs.
The Optime 105 comes with an NRR of 30 decibels in terms of sound measurement. This means that they can reduce the noise of 100 decibels to a safer 70 decibels. These earmuffs are not only engineered to be functional but comfortable as well.
Peltor Optime 105 Prons and Cons
The twin-cup construction is purposely incorporated to form around your ears. Again, for additional comfort, there is thick padding surrounding the cups.
Howard Leight R01902
The R01902 by Honeywell Impact are electronic earmuffs that provide great hearing protection for outdoor activities like hunting and shooting, though this doesn’t necessarily mean that a woodworker can’t use them.
It shields your ears by reducing the noise by 30db and sports simple ear cups. The headbands have padding for maximum comfort, and the multi-directional mics offer proper communication and a reliable listening experience.
Another thing to love about R01902 is that they feature a flexible headband and a foldable design for convenient storage. Again, they have an AUX input a 3.5 linking cord for MP3 players and scanners.
Howard Leight R01902 Prons and Cons
The package includes a pair of triple-A batteries. The automated shut-off feature helps shut it down after four hours of use and allows you to surge the battery life up to 350 hours.
Again, they have AM/FM radio with over 30 stations allowing you to listen to your preferred station. The safe volume regulation lets you listen without damaging your hearing. All the same, these magnificent earmuffs do come with one drawback; their weight. They are quite heavy for earmuffs as they weigh 20 ounces. Hence, if you don’t want heavy muffs, avoid the 3M worktunes.
3M Worktunes Prons and Cons
These ear protection gadgets have Bluetooth, which lets you connect to gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity. This way, you get to listen to your favorite tunes or podcast as you continue with your project.
How to choose the right ear protection for woodworking
There are multiple factors to consider when choosing the right ear protection, including;
When working on a project, you'll regularly require to focus on the project completely to avoid injury or damage to the workpiece. Thus, comfortable hearing protection gadgets. If your ear protection devices don't offer comfort, you may end up not concentrating on the task at hand.
Therefore, it is essential to consider comfort when purchasing ear protection devices. They shouldn’t inconvenience your ears and neck. Again, it shouldn’t feel unpleasant in the ear canal. So, your pick should feature thick padding or a comfy band, making it easy to wear around the neck when not in use.
On the other hand, if you're not comfortable with the foam featured in earphones, go for a semi-insert gadget. Usually, they have headbands, and they don't apply a lot of pressure on the head. Similarly, they're convenient to have and light on the neck.
Another option is the over-the-ears version, but they might feel somewhat unpleasant. All the same, they're ideal for woodworkers with sensitive ears. Eventually, whichever version you choose, ensure you're comfortable wearing them.
If you wear PPE when working, it would be best to choose ear protection gadgets compatible with Personal Protective Equipment. Earplugs are the ideal option in this situation. Semi-insert devices are relatively tricky to wear with PPE due to the neck-straps and harness.
What's more, you'll want to place the safety glasses properly beneath the hearing protection device. So, it would be best if you picked ear protection that's compatible with your safety glasses and PPEs.
Noise Reduction Level
Noise Reduction Rating, NRR is the number of decibels a given ear protection device can lower. For instance, if a device has 30 NRR, it can lessen the noise by 30db. In terms of the best NRR, earplugs are the best, as they offer up to 33db.
However, earmuffs only provide 3db NRR. Similarly, if you utilize both over-the-ear muffs and plugs simultaneously, you'll get a maximum of 36db NRR.
Design & style
If you’re searching for something trendy, go for colorful ear protection and the design you prefer the most. However, ensure not to sacrifice functionality for style.
While ear protection is designed to reduce noise, it shouldn't ultimately leave you unaware of the exterior noises, as it would be rather risky to wear them when working. For instance, if you're working with other people, it would help if you maintain communication.
Go for something that blocks the harmful noise, and at the same time, amplifies normal communication. If you're not on a tight budget, you can choose electronic plugs.
Even though woodworking is an excellent hobby, it would be best to have safety equipment to make sure you remain safe as you do what you love. Nevertheless, remember to have fun!