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.
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.
*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.
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.