5 Best Hearing Protection for Woodworking

Exposure to noise from the power tools used by carpenters daily is undoubtedly very hazardous to hearing health. Some pros may resist the idea of uncomfortable earplugs or feel that they have worked for so long without hearing protection, that it’s probably too late to matter.

Best Hearing Protection for Woodworking

However, continued exposure without adequate protection will not only continue to impair your hearing but may worsen conditions like tinnitus.

We invited a group of seasoned professionals to discuss with us their views on hearing protection and test several products while on the job to help us select some great products for your consideration.

Our top overall choice is the 3M Pelter Earmuff Protectors because of all the various options in styles available and because it boasts a great NRR of 30 DB. Whether you want over-the-head, behind-the-head, or compact foldable, the 3M Pelter has something for you. And if you wear a PPE helmet, they can be attached as well.

Ear ProtectorStyleNRRMaterialExtras
3M Peltor Earmuff ProtectorsEarmuffs30 dBFoam ear cushionsVarious styles, Vented headband
3M Worktunes Ear ProtectorsEarmuffs24 dBGel cushionsBluetooth, AM/FM radio, Rechargeable battery
SensGard SG-2G Hearing Protection HeadbandHeadband with Protection, Similar to earbuds26 dBFoam ear cuffsVersatile style for wearing, Noise cancellation without batteries
ISOtunes Xtra Bluetooth Connectivity Earplug HeadphonesEarplug headphones27 dBSilicone & foam ear tipsRechargeable battery, ANSI certified, Bluetooth
Howard Leight Disposable EarplugsEarplugs32 dBFoamDisposable, Sold in bulk

How to Find Right Hearing Protector for Wood Work?

As a professional carpenter, you need to protect your hearing, but not all hearing protection available is equal! Hearing protection for professionals is not optional.

Noise is measured in decibels (dB) with hearing beginning at 0 and 140 representing the level where you will feel actual physical pain. However, you can sustain hearing loss at 90 dB, especially if the noise is for extended periods and repeated daily.

Let’s talk about decibel levels. A dB is the unit used to measure the intensity of sound. Human ears perceive sound at various intensities, so linear measurements are not used. Decibel measurement uses a log scale. About every 3dB, the sound intensity doubles and that’s a lot of intensity.

If the bushes in your backyard rustle, that’s about 10 decibels. 90 decibels is better represented by a tractor rolling or a power drill in use. You’ll hear 130 to 140 dB when a plane takes off. Fireworks or gunshots can measure even higher. Routers, benchtop planers, and drills will sound off at anywhere from 95 to 115 dB. This means there is a hazard in the workplace. 

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends hearing protection from 85 dB on up, so carpenters need hearing protection. Consider this chart regarding acoustic safety levels:

Decibels How long it is safe to listen without any ear protection Type or source of the Noise
130 0 Jet lift off
120 0 Amplified musical event
115 Under one minute Sporting event
109 Under two minutes Use of auto horn
106 Under four minutes Personal music source set at the maximum volume
100 Fifteen minutes Industrial machinery
97 Half hour Motorcycle noise
94 One hour Electric drill
91 Two hours Lawnmower noise
85 Eight hours Vacuum cleaner noise
55 Always safe Normal conversation without shouting

Now let’s think about what you need to know when selecting the best ear protectors for your profession.


Our Top Choice

1. 3M Peltor Earmuff Protectors

The 3M Peltor series of ear protectors offer different options in-ear protection choices. You can find over-the-head earmuffs, behind-the-ear earmuffs, earmuffs that can be attached to a helmet, and compact folding earmuffs.

These earmuffs offer an NRR of 30 dB. This will reduce the noise from your power router from 115 dB to 85 dB. They are designed to be comfortable for all-day wear.

The twin cups hug your ears with added thick padding providing a nice effective acoustic seal while maximizing comfort also thanks to a cut-out headband design for those hot days. Ear cups are in durable ABS and ear cushions are replaceable.

Pros

        • Vented adjustable headband
        • Lightweight
        • Foam Ear cushions
        • NRR 30 dB
        • Various style options

Cons

        • Some problems when worn with prescription eyewear
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Other Great Choices

2. 3M Worktunes

If you prefer a great pair of ear protectors with Bluetooth connectivity, these 3M Worktunes Wireless earmuffs are an attractive solution. The NRR is 24dB and these muffs are vented for warmer climates. Once earbuds for music had to be worn underneath earmuffs.

Now the 3M Worktunes have Bluetooth technology that allows you to connect to any device with Bluetooth connectivity. You can listen to your favorite playlist or podcast and they also feature an AM/FM radio that saves up to 50 stations meaning you can opt for your favorite radio program or broadcasted sporting event.

They also boast a safe volume control allowing you to listen without overdoing it and you won’t have to remove the muffs. The only drawback for some may be the weight. This is a heavier set of earmuffs weighing in at 20 ounces. If you don’t like heavy muffs, avoid these.

Pros

        • Two options for listening
        • Easy wireless connectivity
        • Easy-to-use controls
        • Great for listening to music or programs while working
        • Safe volume management

Cons

        • Expensive
        • Heavy
        • NRR is not among the highest at 24dB
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. SensGard SG-2G Hearing Protection Headband

If you want to avoid bulky earmuffs and maybe are in the market for something lightweight, the SenGard Hearing Protection Headband is a great alternative. They fit more like earbuds inside the ear.

They can easily be worn around your neck if you don’t need them and then just slip them on when you do. Their design with a revolutionary ear chamber device keeps them securely fixed in the ear cavity with no slipping. You won’t be constantly adjusting them as you try to work. 

Even though they are not earmuffs, they do protect with an NRR of 26 dB. While they assist in blocking harmful noise, they do allow you to hear the conversation with colleagues.

Pros

        • Lightweight
        • Versatile style for over or behind-the-head wear
        • Don’t interfere with other PPE
        • Hygienic
        • Durable
        • Noise cancellation without battery use
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. ISOtunes Xtra Bluetooth Connectivity Earplug Headphones

For woodworkers who want a radio or Bluetooth connection but don’t want to wear earmuffs, the ISOtunes Pro Bluetooth Earplugs may just be what you are looking for. These headphones block noise and boast an NRR of 27 dB, you can also choose between foam or silicone ear tips.

Thanks to Bluetooth wireless connectivity, you can listen to your favorite podcast, playlist, or take phone calls while on the job and your device can stay out of harm’s way at a distance of up to 30 feet.

Pros

        • NRR of 27 dB
        • Bluetooth wireless connectivity
        • 4 pairs of ear tips
        • Rechargeable Battery life up to 8 hours
        • Sweat, water, dust resistant
        • 1-year limited warranty

Cons

        • Some concerns about connectivity distance
        • More expensive
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Howard Leight Disposable Earplugs

If you really don’t want earmuffs, music, or phone calls and just want to block out noise, earplugs are always an option. An earplug will rest entirely within your ear so there is nothing on the outside to connect to.

No headbands or clips to worry about. These earplugs by Howard Leight are disposable and are sold in bulk. For earplugs, they boast an incredible NRR of 32 dB offering top-notch protection for your hearing. Soft and malleable, they form to fit any ear.

With this type of protection, it is not easy to hear the conversation around you. If you have hygienic concerns of any type, these are great because you can just toss them at the end of the day.

Pros

        • NRR of 32 dB
        • Comfortable, soft, and malleable
        • Hygienic
        • Disposable
        • Can be purchased in bulk

Cons

        • Difficult to hear others conversing when wearing 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

The Bottom Line

If you are a professional carpenter or just like dabbling in woodworking as a hobby, you need protection for your hearing.

See also: Best Work Pants for Carpenters

Hand drills, saws, planers, and many hand-held power tools have high noise production, so good ear protectors will defend your hearing from the hazards of your work. We hope this article has offered you a selection of what the marketplace has to offer.

Thank you for reading and happy woodworking!