Protection You'll Want to Wear

On occasion, I get my chops busted for not wearing safety gear. Eye and ear protection are things that I constantly have to think about and remember to use. However, I am happy to say that I’ve found a product that I’m OK wearing.

As a general rule, I have a difficult time with safety glasses by themselves, but to have to reach for hearing protection each time I pick up a power tool, that’s asking too much. I need protection that is both eye and ear at the same time. I have a pair of Soundvision glasses from FullPro that are eye protection and ear muffs. I reviewed these back in August 2007. I like them for extended periods of use or whenever we crank up the larger machines. The muffs provide very solid protection however, most woodworking operations , except for milling operations and extended router use, don’t require full out protection for long periods of time. Taking the glasses/muffs on and off bugs me after a while, as does searching for them when the need arises.

That’s where these new glasses come in. They are safety glasses with built-in ear plugs, changeable ear plugs. They’re Combo Glasses. No, that’s actually the name of the product – Combo Glasses. Check out the web site at comboglasses.com.

If you want to use comboglasses to the fullest, put in the ear plugs as you slip the glasses on. If not, rotate the plugs out of the way and slip the glasses on as you would with any other pair of safety glasses – the ear plugs fold back into the frames, are completely out of the way and it’s business as usual. When you’re ready for the ear protection, push the plugs out of the holder area and you’re good to go. Oh, the ear plugs are totally replaceable. Snap the old plugs off and slip a couple new ones on – it’s that easy.

Another cool thing with Combo Glasses is that you can leave the ear plugs in ready-to-use position and the glasses hang around your neck. That should keep you from searching the shop when you need them. I was surprised at how well they stayed in place as I worked.

These glasses are comfortable and easy to use – that’s the only way I would consistently return to the same product. If they were a pain to wear, or difficult to take on and off, they would just collect dust. At $13 per pair, the price is right, Bob.

— Glen D. Huey

If you would like to read the review of the FullPro Soundvision glasses, here is it. FullPro Protection.pdf

Take a look at a copy of “New Woodworker Handbook” by Tom Hintz for more information on safety in the shop, and how to spend money wisely.

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About Glen D. Huey

Glen Huey is editor of American Woodworker Magazine, and former managing editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine. He's an accomplished period furniture maker and author of numerous woodworking books and videos (as well as magazine articles).

11 thoughts on “Protection You'll Want to Wear

  1. Dustin

    I really like the combo. I think its a cool invention, and looks to be effective. I may just buy me a pair. They were not to expensive, plus they kind of have a sleek look that makes me want to buy them more. Once I get a pair Ill write back to tell you how much I like them.

    Rigid Tools

  2. Chris

    When I wear glasses, I have a pair of extra large safety glasses that fit on top – much better than goggles. Search for "over the glasses" to find something similar. When I wear contacts, I use stick-on reading lenses available for $10 that work on any safety glasses (including the ones reviewed here).

  3. Lea

    At my last vision checkup, I ordered a pair of prescription safety glasses specifically for the shop. They are blended trifocals, same prescription as my regular glasses EXCEPT I had them make the middle band extra wide, which is perfect for lathe work. The top (distance) band is still big enough that I don’t trip over things when using my chain saw outdoors. I consider them worth every penny.

  4. John Preber

    Bifocal safety glasses are easy to find. I get mine from either Safety Glasses USA or for sunglasses, Boomers in the Know, online. I put them on when I get in the shop and completely forget that I’m wearing them until I leave.

  5. Steve

    @DerekL,

    I get prescription safety glasses (bifocal) from the same place I get my prescription non-safety glasses: my optometrist. And they’re usually a bit cheaper: The lenses cost slightly more, but the frames are less (because they’re dorkier).

    I really don’t understand all the fuss with hearing protection. I use foam plugs; they’re ridiculously cheap, and they have the highest sound attenuation coefficient available. I put them in before I turn on a machine…and then I just leave them in, even after I turn the machines off. After a few minutes, I hardly notice that they’re there. No muss, no fuss. Most brands are also machine washable. Just put them into one of those mesh "delicates" bags and throw them in the washing machine with everything else. They can also be put into the dryer, as long as you don’t set it to high (we keep our dryer at medium-high for the most part, and they survive just fine), or you can let them air dry for a day.

  6. Charles Davis

    I was wondering where I could get these while watching your "Line & Berry String Inlay by Router" DVD… Nicely done by the way.

    Anytime it’s possible to speed-up the outfitting of protective wear I’m down for it… plus, in this instance, it seems like others in the shop will be less likely to borrow the glasses and scratch’em up when they see the earpieces gooped-up with someone else’s ear wax… which probably completely eliminates the need to urinate on them(I really hate scratches).

  7. DerekL

    "Why not just get a pair of prescription safety glasses?"

    Because prescription safety glasses are really only available at the serious professional (industrial) level of safety – which makes them expensive. If, like me, you really need bifocals in the shop, they become seriously expensive. If you’re in the demographic that needs a new prescription every year or two…

    Plus, if they’re not required for your job, your insurance may not cover them or will only cover them in place of a regular pair. (Which means your safety glasses may end up being a different prescription from your regular pair – a seriously bad idea.)

  8. Dreamcatcher

    I think $13 is too much for this eye and ear protection.

    I like my eye and ear protection to be CHEAP and abundant. Having more cheaper pairs of glasses in the shop allows me to distribute them to each machine and work station then I known I’ll always be able to find a pair, I won’t be afraid to use them, don’t care as much if they get knocked around and scratched up (and they will no matter what). And when they do eventually get scratched or broken I am also more likely to replace them with a fresh pair.

    As for cheap ear protection, I much prefer the muffs to plugs. While I do keep boxes of foam plugs in the shop, I generally don’t wear foam plugs for more than one day as they get NASTY very fast with dirt and ear gunk. Not to mention they are comparatively a pain to get in and out. All factors that make the user just slightly less likely to use them as often.

    As an option, I also have a pair of AOSafety work tunes muffs with built in AM/FM radio that I really like and will someday upgrade to the iPod connective version.

    I think I paid about $3 for each pair of my safety glasses and $11 for each pair of standard muffs and about $50 for the AM/FM muffs.

    DC

  9. Thomas

    That’s great – if you don’t wear glasses. Does anyone have a good solution that will fit over a pair of prescription glasses? I’ve got a pair of goggles that fit over my glasses, but they’re big, bulky, hot, and they get uncomfortable pretty quickly.

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