Safety Equipment for Finishing
Most finishing materials contain hazardous chemicals, so it’s important to protect your skin, eyes, and lungs.
Use good, chemical-resistant gloves when working with solvents and finishes. Thin vinyl and latex-type gloves won’t protect your skin for long, so use heavy-duty gloves instead. For general finishing, I’ve found nitrile gloves to be excellent, especially the flock-lined versions that absorb sweat from your hands. For prolonged use of harsh chemicals like those in furniture strippers, thick neoprene gloves are best. A cotton glove worn underneath these thick, bulky gloves makes them much more comfortable.
Finishing requires eyewear with side splash protection. Typical safety glasses used when you’re operating woodworking machinery aren’t suitable when you’re working with finishes and solvents. In my shop, we also have an emergency saline solution eye-rinse station next to a first-aid kit.
A mask for finish work needs to protect against sanding dust as well as dry-finish overspray and solvent vapors. For sanding, use a NIOSH-approved respirator that’s rated for wood dust. For solvent vapors, a cartridge-style respirator rated for organic vapors, mists, and paints should suffice. I use a comfortable cartridge-style respirator with prefilters that protect against dust. That way I always have dust and vapor protection hanging around my neck whenever I need it.