DIY Powered Respirator

If you like to freak out your neighbors, you’ll love this one. [jake] had a run-in with allergies in his wood shop, so he built his own positive air pressure respirator. He used a surplus gas mask, scsi squirrel cage fan, and an automotive air filter. My old TDI VW Beetle used an activated charcoal filter for the cabin – I’d suggest one of those for more effective air filtration.

18 thoughts on “DIY Powered Respirator

  1. I really like this design, simple but effective. The rest of his site(s) are awesome too; I can’t imagine how much planning it took to convert that bus to a RV.

  2. I doubt it was a true allergic reaction, far more likely to be due to a chemical in the wood. For example, if it was allergic why wasn’t his hands, mouth, and eyes problematic. I know Abietic acid can cause problems. Bah who cares it’s fixed now.

  3. Probably the best hack I have been referred to by hackaday. Solves a real world problem and the construction was immaculate. BTW; the respirator does have an activated charcoal element. The auto air filter is in the correct place protecting the reminder of the pack from particulate matter.

  4. if it comes to the point that i need 1 of thease i rather buy a store bought one (well i jest dont trust diy stuff for saving my life (like the mythbusters diy refibulater))

  5. Ironlizard, Allergies tend to cause runny nose itchy eyes skin etc, Cedar causes this. But this guy doesn’t get this. Just saying, it doesn’t have to be an allergy, like alcohol gives a hang over to some people, that has a headache but it’s not allergy. It might be caused by the pine wood, but it’s not an allergy.

  6. @bird603568
    Last time I checked headaches weren’t fatal; it’s not like he’s working with nerve gas, it’s just wood. For such a purpose a DIY mask fills the niche nicely.

  7. Hey guys,

    Just to clarify – the headaches were sinus related. Sinus inflammation can cause all manner of in-specific pain, from temperature sensitive teeth to the headaches like I got.

    Note that some woods generate genuinely poisonous dust, the automotive air filter I used is not suitable for protecting against those particles.


  8. I like how he used pine wood to make a frame for the filter… to protect him from the pine wood.

    The school bus conversion was nicely done and everything this guy does is very well documented.

  9. Allergies certainly can be fatal. After the first reaction, the second is usually stronger. Look up “anaphylaxis”, it’s no laughing matter.

    Anyway, for a particle that’s fairly large, this is a great solution. As he says, it’s not for painting, but the paper filter element is probably fine for sawdust.

  10. I must commend you on your creativity and interest in protecting yourself from workshop chemical hazards. In fact, many of the hazards found in industrial workplaces are equally found and just as dangerous in the home workshop.

    However, as a Certified Industrial Hygienist I must tell you that it is not a good idea to jury-rig your own respiratory protection equipment (RPE). YOUR health depends on it working properly each and every time to a high level of performance.

    You can purchase NIOSH certified powered air purifying RPE from many sources at reasonable cost today.

    Your mind and heart are in the right place. I urge you and others who might want to emulate this to make sure that your lungs are in the right place as well, namely in professionally designed RPE.

    BTW, you can develop respiratory allergies without developing skin allergies. Pinenes in pine sap can cause respiratory allergies. If truly sensitized, chances are that you will remain sensitized for life and perhaps susceptible to other allergens as well. One can develop allergic asthma to western red cedar and to many hardwoods as well.

    Take care

    Greg N.

  11. I built a fairly smple system which provides outside air to hepa filtered air to a face shield in my basement shop doing wood work including wood turning on a lathe. I wore a dust mask under the face shield to see if there would be any build-up on the dust mask after several hours of use: it was pristinely clean even under magnification. Niosh approved gear is great, but is it always essential? Use your own best judgement. Now if there are chemical fumes etc? Whole different subject. Just my two cents.

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