Every modern guitar is sprayed with some type of finish. Some guitar companies use Nitrocellulose lacquer while other companies use polyurethane finish. As you know, finish wears. It chips and it cracks. Many people accidently break their guitars by dropping them. After you have repaired the cracked wood, you have to refinish the guitar. Most guitar finish is not only hazardous while in its liquid state, it's downright dangerous. The thinning chemicals that are added to the already hazardous lacquers are harmful to inhale or ingest. It is important that you take every precaution when you are finishing or refinishing a guitar. Here is a bunch of protective gear that you should think about getting if you are going to finish guitars.
The first piece of protective equipment you should get is a respirator mask. This mask has filter cartridges that purify the air before it gets to your lungs. If you are going to buy any protective gear, this should be it. A respirator is by far the most important piece of protective gear because it saves your body from breathing in toxic fumes. There are many different styles and kinds of respirators. When you buy one, it is important to verify that it is NIOSH approved. This means the filters actually filter the air and make it safe for you to breathe. You can get one that covers just your mouth and nose or one that covers your entire face. The face covering respirators are great if you wear glasses. You don't have to worry about lacquer and finish sticking to the glass of your glasses. Believe me; this does happen. You either have to take off your glasses or get a full faced respirator.
The second piece of protective equipment you should get is a box of Nitrile gloves. These rubber gloves help protect your hands from overspray when you are finishing your guitars. If you do a lot of finish work, lacquer can actually build up on the skin of your hands. It dries and hardens just like it does on a guitar if you let it. It's important just to keep this from happening. You will notice the lacquer build up on your gloves if you use the same pair more than once.
The third piece of protective equipment you should get is an apron. You may think that this sounds kind of over kill, but it is actually important. The finish will build up on your clothes just as much as it does on your skin. Unless you want to have a designated finishing outfit, I suggest you protect your clothes from the guitar finish as well. Plus, you can also use the apron while you are at your guitar repair bench working on guitars.
There are tons of different kinds of protective products out there, but I think these are the core essentials that you must have. These products aren't limited to your guitar spray booth either. I use my respirator while I am hand sawing pearl inlay pieces, as pearl dust can crystalize in your lungs and cause health problems. Also, gloves and an apron are good to keep around your guitar repair bench when you are working with messy glues. All of this protective gear is essential for your guitar repair shop. Make sure to protect yourself while you are working on guitars. If you would like more information about how to finishing guitars, please see my how to finish a guitar article.