goggles and shavings

Safety Goggles & Safety Glasses Run Short as Coronavirus Spreads!

Our eyes are delicate and protecting them is very important after all we only get one pair. Today we have a few different options of protective eyewear or face shields and in this blog, I will go through the equipment available to you for the task you are planning to undertake. but we have a problem!

COVID-19 has effected PPE supply

My website is predominately about woodwork but this Coronavirus has triggered big changes. I can’t get materials for customer projects but also Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is in high demand and there is major shortages.

PPE manufacturing is up

The manufacture of safety glasses is higher in 2020 than 2019 but the demand has increased to levels never known before. But these are not normal times and the increased PPE manufacturing is sucked up by first line of defense such as medical workers dealing with Coronavirus symptoms. In the UK the NHS are crying out for PPE and are even making their own face masks and protective face shields.

DIY PPE tutorial how-to videos have popped up on youtube

Some clever individuals are making videos of face PPE such as face shields using common materials. The use of 3D printers and repurposed snorkelling equipment. They are very clever but are not tested to any real official standard.

Why is Safety goggles hard to buy?

Safety Eyewear is one of the necessary tools to protect people from the risk of contracting Coronavirus. Keyworkers are in need of PPE and as a result, many are buying their own equipment while health organisations fail them. The influx of PPE being bought by individuals have caused a shortage of Face masks, Face Shields, Goggles, Safety Goggles ETC.

Why are Safety goggles easier to find than face masks?

It is true that it is much easier to find safety goggles than dust masks or face masks of any type. The reason for this is that goggles and safety glasses, in general, are not disposable. Safety eye protection is designed to be worn again and again with the help of a little cleaning. Because of this many work professionals already have eye protection so no need to stock up like toilet rolls!

Why is it hard to buy face masks?

Face masks are generally disposal so the demand for face masks is high.

The stock of safety glasses is low

If you are looking for protective eyewear you might find that suppliers keep running out of this PPE and it can be frustrating. I have recently been looking for head PPE and sometimes they run out of stock before I can press BUY.

Coronavirus is a serious and worrying situation. The CDC recommends the wearing of eye protection goggles for personal safety. The virus COVID-19 is carried on water droplets or aerosol moisture. A route to entry into the human body is via the mouth but also the eyes. This is why we must wear our safety goggles when giving aid to a person suffering from Coronavirus or it seems now, even in public if your not in lockdown.

Woodworkers need Eye Safety

Like any creative work, woodworkers need to ensure they never work without wearing safety spectacles or goggles. As a regular woodworker, I have a good store of safety glasses and goggles during this time when it is hard to buy protective eyewear.

Just a bit of Fun when everything seems so stressful

2020 is a serious time

COVID-19 has turned the world on its head. As a UK citizen, I am fully aware of the situation in the UK and that our Prime minister has also succumbed to Coronavirus. I am not Tory but have no ill will to Boris Johnson at this time in 2020. No One is shielded from COVID-19!

Where should I buy Safety Glasses and Goggles?

I have been buying safety equipment for years. My personal protective equipment purchases (PPE) are based on that experience. I bought safety glasses on eBay and found them to be useless in that they were not perfectly clear. The experience was similar to smearing one’s eyes with petroleum jelly just like Jack Black in the film Shallow Hal!

Buying PPE online?

There is nothing wrong with buying your personal protective equipment online but you need to know what you are buying. Be careful of unknown brands masquerading as a bargain as they are not. I tend to stick with makes such as Oakley, Dewalt, UVEX and 3M but they are not the only reputable safety glasses or goggles.

Buy PPE via recommendation

Vouching for products because the person vouching for it has had a real experience of the product is obviously a good idea. This is where blog like this one can help. I have either had direct experience with these items or my creative friends such as other woodworkers and metalworkers have shared with me their experience.

Home Depot DIY stores

I have on many occasions bought safety glasses and other PPE in home improvement stores with different outcomes. Today, when time is a commodity I value the speed of buying all my PPE online. Buying in-store is something I did in the past and when I lived closer to a city.

Specialist Health and safety stores

When I worked and lived in the UK I had an account with a distributor of PPE and it was easy to pop into their warehouse store and buy what I need for me and my employees. If you have a local PPE store it may be good to build up a relationship with them as you can get some great deals. I often was allowed to try before I bought as we were a good customer but today we buy online it is the modern way.

Kids need PPE too

I don’t suggest for a minute you should send your offspring up the chimney but if your kids like to get involved you should get them some PPE too.  

Forms of eye protection may include

  • Goggles
  • Safety Glasses
  • Face shields


A good pair of goggles can provide some of the best protection. This is because goggles provide protection against direct trauma to the eyes and from side entry. Not all goggles are the same and they can vary hugely in levels of quality and comfort.

Types of Goggles

  • Cover Goggles
  • Eyecup Goggles

Cover Goggles

Cover goggles completely cover the eye area and have vented sides. Cover goggles give good protection against air-born particles and water droplets. Cover goggles give the best protection against micro water droplet transmission of COVID-19 or other viruses.

Great for heavy work

As a woodworker, I wear my cover goggles when performing heavy work. Because the cover googles cover the whole eye area they provide the best protection. 

Goggles are not sexy!

Generally, these cover goggles are not too flattering and safety is the only reason to wear them. I personally don’t like wearing cover goggles so I tend to invest in better quality examples.

Cover googles provide high levels of protection by being held close to the face. The larger body of the cover goggles is worn with the help of a strap or elastic.

Don’t hang up your goggles by their strap.

All too often I see goggles hung next to a machine by their elastic. What happens then is that the elastic deteriorated due to exposure to light and makes the goggles unuseable.

Avoid cheap goggles

This might be obvious but I see too many people attempting to go about their work with those rubbish goggles that are normally supplied with new equipment. These are just a token offering and should not be taken seriously.

Goggles do not need to be unwieldy

Compact goggles are available and I have to admit my Stanley goggles are very efficient. Good compact googles often have soft foam padding which is much more comfortable than the pliable plastic found on standard goggles.

Eyecup Goggles

Eyecup Goggles individually cover each eye. These come in a variety forms from the more modern to the older eyecup goggles such as the stereotype ‘Mad Max’ style Steam punk fashion goggles or welding goggles. 

Types of Eyecup Goggles

  • Swimming goggles
  • Sunbed goggles (as worn by Donald Trump)
  • Welding Goggles

The design of eyecup goggles is important as they cause air pressure when worn for a long time. So if you are considering eyecup goggles for woodworking look for vented or foam-lined. This prevents the vacuum effect on the eye itself.

Swimming goggles are no good for woodworkers!

Swimming goggles, for instance, have no venting but generally, they are worn for a short period of time and removed after each swim. Sunbed goggle is not for the protection of flying debris but to prevent radiation damage from sunbed tubes. These are worn fairly loose so no vacuum is built up because there is not real seal. Be careful not to spend too long on the sunbed as you are at risk of looking like a Panda!

Safety Glasses

Now there are so many different types of safety glasses available, from the ones we had to wear in chemistry classes to the compact and comfortable offerings from Dewalt. 

Choose the right Safety Glasses for you

As far as deciding on which safety glasses you would like to wear is a bit of a mine field. There are so many to choose from and a pair tat is good for my nugget might be bad for you. For instance I have e a big head but my son has a skinny one!

Some Safety glasses are bad

Yes, this is true as we are stormed with loads of bad PPE that are frankly dangerous. I did buy a box set of safety specs which were awful and never got used so now I am more careful. If it is stupid cheap it is probably bad.

Comfort is important

When I look at safety specs I have some basic needs that must be catered for. Comfort is so important as a pair of specs that are squeezing our temples are probably not going to be worn. And what is the worst kind of PPE? the kind you don’t wear!

Parts of Safety Glasses. Temples, Bridge and Lens

Comfort is important

When I look at safety specs I have some basic needs that must be catered for. Comfort is so important as a pair of specs that is squeezing our temples are probably not going to be worn. And what is the worst kind of PPE? the kind you don’t wear!

If you find yourself in a PPE store or other market which you are fortunate enough to try on the specs then try on a few. You will be surprised the difference between them and how the most expensive is not necessarily the best for your head.

Mould those safety glasses for your head

Most safety specs are may from plastic such as polycarbonate and can be manipulated. I often find that some safety specs just won’t stay put on my nugget! Use a small blow torch or heat gun to soften the plastic and reshape the Temples.

A fitting for safety specs

Not the same as getting a bra fitting but something you can do yourself. When I get a new pair of safety spectacles I place them on my head and move. A good plan is to see if there is excessive movement or if you look down do they fall off? This is a tell tell sign that the temples are too long to the ear hooks are too shallow. Using a small blow torch you can warm the plastic until it is pliable then bend the ear hooks or temples to until the desired fit is achieved.

Are they on the wonk?

If you look in the mirror and the safety specs are not level it is because either your ears are not at the same height which is common or the temples are not correctly aligned for your head. Adjust the temples using the method above.

Some Safety spectacles are adjustable

Many safety glasses are adjustable and can be adjusted to suit your head. I personally like to make my safety specs a good fit for me whether I use the heat method of bending the plastic temples or by using superglue (cyanoacrylate) on the adjustable parts to freeze them.

Keep your safety glasses for yourself

sharing safety glasses is a bad idea as others will not respect them. Also if you have to adjust your specs then they are unlikely to fit other properly. I say this from my 32 years of experience.

I have quite a collection of bad safety glasses that are relegated for tasks where I am not so worried is they get scratched like working on the moto car.

Corrected Safety Glasses

Protective eyewear is available for use by glass wearer where their sight is substandard.

Corrective lens for Safety Glasses

  • Bifocal
  • Varifocal
  • 100% corrected (Reading glasses)
  • Prescription

100% Corrected Safety glasses or goggles

Fully corrected safety eyewear which has the whole lens corrected to a specific dioptre

Bifocal Safety Glasses or Goggles

Bifocal is a cheaper alternative to varifocal or prescription protective eyewear. A small magnified area at the lower portion of the lens provides close focusing for deteriorated eyesight because of age. Both lenses have the same correction

I have a pair of these and I must say they are great.

Varifocal protective eyewear

Varifocal lens was a revelation for glasses wearers years back.  People with deteriorated eye sight used to have to carry a second pair of glass for long and short sighted use. Varifocal has changed all that as we tend to look down for close focus needs but unlike bifocal the magnification change in the lense is graduated. There is no obvious transition between close and far focus. My Varionet safety glasses are Variofocal and have a crystal clear lense.

Prescription Safety Glasses

A visit to the optician will be able to guide you after you have had an eye exam. If you already have your eyesight test results you might me able to get a pair ordered online for you particular eyesight. Many eye doctors offer suitable safety glasses for the construction industry but also woodwork

Varionet Corrected Safety Glasses

As in the featured images with me wearing my Varionet glasses and a couple of Stanley N07 plane shavings! Corrected glasses come in 4 types

Face Shield

The Full Face Shield gives us good protection from direct impact, dry or wet. Covering the whole face the wearer is safe from flying wood chips from a lathe or blood emitted from an artery. In 2020 these face shields are in low stock because of the Pandemic COVID-19. If you are living it now or from the future then you will be aware of how this virus froze the world economy in 2020. And you will know how PPE was something which became a luxury due to high demand. 

Who would benefit from Face Shields

  • Woodworkers
  • Welders
  • Wet meat market workers
  • Medical workers
  • Crisis support workers

Woodworkers need face shields

I am a woodworker and I use a face shield when turning wood on the lathe. A face shield is also good when working with arbortech cutters on rough wood.


Full face shields or masks for welders are a little unique. Welding masks have to do two jobs 

  • Protect the eyes and face from weld splatter
  • Prevent Arc-Eye (welders flash) caused by Ultraviolet radiation burn to the cornea.

Medical workers need face shields more

All over the world, medical workers are having to improvise and use DIY face shield made from plastic bottles and 3D printed parts. Hopefully, the shortage will recede and proprietary face shields will be readily available again.

Gardeners need face masks too

Not quite the same as you expect to see used by medical professionals! The type of face mask used by gardeners operating a brushcutter or chainsaw is made of mesh instead of polycarbonate. These are great when the debris being cut fly at your face and is easily brushed away unlike clear plastic which will scratch easily and become smeared.

TR Industrial TR88011 Hard Hat Forestry Safety Helmet & Ear Muffs


How To care for Safety Glasses

Knowing how to look after your safety eyewear is imperative if you are to keep them in good condition for a long while.

Bad Safety Glasses practices

  • Using fingers to clean away dirt
  • Cleaning lenses with items of clothing
  • Laying down protective eyewear lens down
  • Wearing the wrong safety glasses for the job in hand
  • Hanging goggles by the strap
  • Not wearing them!

How to clean safety Eyewear

Using the right methods of cleaning your safety glasses or goggles will be the difference of scratching or not scratching the lenses.

Cleaning excessively dirty eye protection

Some tasks that we do that require the wearing of the PPE eye protection will produce more dirt than others. As a woodworker, I wear my specs when sanding and they get a good coating of dust. 

How to Clean Safety Glasses or Goggles

  1. Use soapy water to clean very dirty glasses will carry the particles away. 
  2. Allow drying naturally
  3. Polish if required with a soft lens cloth
  4. Store in a soft pouch

How to Clean Face Shields

Face splash shields are prone to scratching as the thin polycarbonate is not as scratch resistant as safety spectacles or even safety goggles.

How do I Clean a Medical Face Shield?

Working in areas of high viral or bacterial risk. Remember face shields are for yours and others protection from splashes and viruses carried via water droplets. 

  • Use soapy water if using face shield in low-risk environment 
  • Disinfectant if to destroy possible biohazards in COVID-19 zone
  • Disposing of face shield after each use will depend on your working protocols
  • Dry the splash face shield naturally

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