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Background
I first saw the Resp-O-Rator Jr. a few years ago while reading my tool site feeds. The fact that it was only available at Hartville Tool and not at someplace I normally shop, like Amazon, relegated it to my list of tools I’d like to buy someday.

What interested me was that it looked like an interesting solution to many of my issues with paper masks:

  • They steam up glasses, both safety and prescription
  • They don’t feel very comfortable
  • They are a pain to take on and off, especially while wearing a hat
  • They really don’t fit well enough to stop all the dust

At a higher price, a paper mask with a valve helps with fogging somewhat by directing your hot, moist breath out the valve rather than letting it leak out the edges, but it’s still a pain to wear. A full-blown respirator works better still, but is expensive and somewhat heavier.

So, rather than fitting over your mouth and nose, the Resp-O-Rator Jr. goes in your mouth somewhat like a snorkel. This is a much smaller area to seal — plus it’s air and water tight. They provide a coated wire nose piece that pinches your nostrils shut so you don’t accidentally breath in through your nose.

In Use
Recently, I needed to buy a tool that I could only find reasonably priced at Hartville Tools. As I was checking out, I looked at my list and remembered the Resp-O-Rator Jr., so I thew it into the cart. After using it for a few hours in the shop I’d like to share my observations.

First, this is not a product you really want to share. While the mouthpiece is washable with mild soap and water, I’d still have a few paper masks in reserve for guests. Do you really want to touch something that’s been in somebody else’s mouth?

Since it doesn’t have straps that wrap around your head, it is very easy to take off and put back on. I found myself grabbing for it when I was going to perform a short operation on the table saw or router, whereas I’d only ever use the paper mask when I was doing machine sanding or prolonged routing.

It took me a few days to get used to it. The fact that it pinches your nose closed and forces you to breathe through your mouth doesn’t feel natural. Also, my mouth tends to start watering after wearing it for a while; I found that I had to take it out and spit about every five minutes, which again isn’t that much of a problem because it’s so easy to take off and put back on.

Perhaps my hardest test on the Resp-O-Rator Jr. was when I was routing 3/4″ slots into some MDF.  MDF produces a lot of sawdust and a lot of fine dust that suspends in the air. The air in my shop was noticeably hazy after I performed the operation, and every surface was covered in a layer of dust. My first thought was that I really need to figure out some way to setup dust collection for my plunge router. My second thought after wiping off my glasses was that I was glad I had taken the time to put on the Resp-O-Rator Jr. Even with a paper mask, I usually have to leave my shop for a few minutes to let my “air filters” (box fans with furnaces filters) clean the air, but I was able to stay comfortably and clean up some of the dust from the skating rink my floor had become.

The box top and filter were clean before routing the MDF

*Note: I didn’t think to take a picture of my floor at the time, but the box top and fan filter weren’t dirty before I started routing the MDF.

Summary

So how does the Resp-O-Rator Jr. compare with a paper mask?

  • It doesn’t fog up saftey glasses or prescription glasses (which in my case are also safety glasses; I just don’t wear the side shields.)
  • It feels pretty comfortable once you get used to it and until saliva glands start kicking in.
  • It is easy to take on and off, so at least I’m more likely to use it for short operations
  • It pretty much blocked the worst I could throw at it.

The Resp-O-Rator Jr. sells for about $10. You can pick up a two-pack of replacement filters for $8. I think I’ll pick up a pack of replacement filters next time I have an order.

Resp-O-Rator Jr. [Corporate Site]
Resp-O-Rator Jr. [Hartville Tool]
Replacement Filters [Hartville Tool]

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20 Responses to Using The Resp-O-Rator Jr.

  1. Benjamen Johnson says:

    One more small point:

    Today I was buffing a small piece of wood with some 000 steel wool. Normally when I use fine steel wool, I leave the shop with a metallic taste in my mouth, presumably from breathing steel wool dust. Every time I get that, the thought of breathing little chunks of metal makes me swear I’ll but on a mask next time. This time I put on the Resp-O-Rator Jr. and I didn’t get the taste of metal in my mouth.

  2. Jerry says:

    Looks like something I need to acquire. I don’t know anyone who is as bad as I am about masks and respirators. Fogging up the glasses sucks. The real respirator is cumbersome and heavy and my brain always says, “It’s okay. You won’t be making “that much” dust.
    The Resp-O-Rator looks like the solution. Maybe I’ll get 3 or 4 and just keep one next to each work station.
    Thanks for the great tip and the equally great review!

  3. David says:

    I think the idea has merit, but I see a few holes in the concept.

    First, I can only imaging what this think will be like after taking the wet mouthpiece out in a dusty environment then putting it back in. Kinda like dropping your mouth guard playing football. I know that with paper masks I keep them on a shelf in my workshop, not sealed away in a ziplock bag or something. With that, I can just slap it on my thigh and go to work.

    I do like the idea of it not fogging up safety glasses, but I really do NOT like to breathe through my mouth for extended periods of time, unless I’m doing some sort of aerobic exercise.

    I guess those are just things I would have to get over and/or just find a solution to; but the is my .02.

    Thanks for the great review.

  4. vodid says:

    Nice seal on the respirator (your mouth) for those of us who have a beard…respirators with a beard are almost useless.

  5. Joe Cline says:

    What/where is the Resp-O-Rator Sr.?

  6. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @Joe Cline

    What/where is the Resp-O-Rator Sr.?

    http://www.resp-o-rator.com/ror/

  7. Steve says:

    I don’t like the idea of having to hold it in your mouth. You would also have to only breathe through your mouth. This would feel unatural for any length of time. I like the AOS Safety mask. I wrote a short review on my site the other day.

    http://shopngarage.com/2010/08/aos-safety-n95-mask/

  8. george says:

    this looks like the answer to my problems. i breath through my mouth cuz of allergies so thats not a biggy. this will let me use a filter as opposed to what i do now which is not wearing anything. thanks !

  9. rick says:

    I dont care for the little thing, looks more like an escape respirator…. I have a real one and use it all the time…..
    BUT

    I love the box fan & filter. I have been thinking about doing that for a few years now, havent gotten around to it, but I think its a great idea! Espically when the stores charge a fortune for a shop air filter, this is the way to go. great idea, How does that work, like it?

  10. browndog77 says:

    A big part of my business is a contract to replace kitchen appliances. Between the inevitable dust stirred by pulling out old units & cleaning the space prior to installing the new, and the occasional need to make adjustments in the cabinet/counter openings, there is often a need to, at the very least, hold my breath. This is a perfect solution, & there is a currently a flat, unused pocket on the side of my tool bag that would be just about right for it! Thanks, Benjamin!

  11. Coach James says:

    I’ve ben using a box fan with a furnace filter for 3 or 4 years now. I was suprised how good it works.

    Coach

  12. fred says:

    No indication on their website about NIOSH approval.

  13. shopmonger says:

    I think this would be great for short run applications, for longer runs like hours on the lathe, i prefere to use the old fashion cartridge respirator……But i think thi souwld be great fro some grinding appplications where the mask gets in the way….
    ShopMonger

  14. Adam says:

    For woodworking I highly recommend a 3M 7000 series (with downdraft). They are very comfortable. I use it with the P100 filters. Those filters really can’t be beat for filtering out the microscopic dust. Plus, when I’m staining/spraying/painting I can attached the charcoal filters and save some brain cells. I got mine on sale from Amazon for $37 and it was worth every penny.
    But, it really does come down to wearing something besides a regular old dust mask when woodworking. Save your lungs while you still can.

  15. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @David:

    There have been a few times that I’ve put the filter in my mouth and tasted sawdust, but I guess after the initial “Hmm. I taste sawdust” it didn’t really bother me. It’s not like it’s any dirtier than breathing it.

    @rick:

    I actually have two box fans and filters. One is mounted to the ceiling and wired to the lights and the other is just a standalone box fan with a filter. I thought about mounting both in the ceiling, but it’s handy to have a fan for other purposes like putting in the door to get some fresh air into the shop.

    The two fans and filters seem to clear the air pretty well. I know they do something because the filters do get dirty.

    I’m not sure how well the one pictured mounted in the ceiling actually traps dust after I turn it off. Sure the filter gets pretty dirty, but what I don’t know is how much dust just drops back off the filter when I turn the fan off. I guess it really doesn’t matter though, because I’m not in the room to breath it. It’ll just fall to the floor.

  16. Scott says:

    @Benjamen:

    For the box fan filter, I assume you have the fan sucking the air into the filter and blowing at the ceiling?

  17. Benjamen Johnson says:

    @Scott:

    Yes, I am sucking air through the filter. The fan is mounted over a 16″ center 2×12 joist bay and there’s nothing blocking the flow in the bay for at least 24″ on either side, so there’s plenty of good flow.

    It’s not the ideal setup, I’d rather have something mounted so it blows horizontally, but I doesn’t work with the materials I have. Previously I had actually built a box with the fan and filter standing up, but it hung too low unless it was in a corner where it probably wasn’t doing much good.

  18. Scott says:

    @Benjamen:

    Would it make any sense in your shop to put it on a hinged type box that you could lower to an angle of your choice then raise it back up when you were done?

  19. mike says:

    Please post a video review of you trying to talk with that thing in your mouth….

  20. Eric Hart says:

    I was also wondering about NIOSH-approval, since I can’t find it on their website either. Dust masks and respirators are ineffective over beards; technically, if any of my employees need to use a respirator, I can require them to shave (I’ve never done that). If this was NIOSH rated, I can provide it as an alternative.

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