High-speed power tools and splinters are two realities of woodworking that are not going to change any time soon. Safety is always a concern when working on projects, and keeping your hands safe is right up there with eye, ear and lung protection.
So what makes a good pair of gloves for woodworking jobs? You might be surprised to learn that not just any old set from the local hardware store is a good idea. Not all gloves are created equal. Here are some things to look for when picking up some hand protection for your woodworking hobby or job.
A Choice of Materials
If you’ve had some exposure to different woodworking shops, you’ve probably seen that gloves can be made using several different materials. Your choice of gloves might be informed as much by personal preference as it is by the performance you need from them. If, for example, you prize high dexterity over abrasion-resistance, you might prefer a set of latex-dipped gloves for the grip they offer. If you work in a very warm environment, it might be best to use lighter-weight gloves that don’t cause you to sweat.
The most common materials in shop gloves are leather and its synthetic counterpart, canvas, and metal mesh. You’ll find various offerings that combine these and other less common elements. Ultimately, the true test of a woodworking glove should be its ability to protect you from cuts.
You should know enough to keep yourself out of harm’s way while working. No glove in the world is going to make you invincible, but a good set might keep an accident from putting you out of work for a few days or even save you a trip to the ER.
Handy Features and Perks
In addition to saving your hide from a splinter, blade or sharp tool, some characteristics might make you value one set of gloves over another for your specific application. This is why you see so many different types of gloves on the market. There are even those few woodworkers who choose not to use gloves at all. We recommend not going that route.
Typically, when people choose not to use gloves, it’s because the extra layer of material between hands and the project can impact dexterity. A pair of rubber or latex-dipped gloves can help add grip, and even bring it to levels you wouldn’t have with skin against smooth, sanded wood. For low-light situations, high-visibility yellow or day-glow green gloves can be a good choice.
For working in colder climates, insulated gloves help keep your hands warm so you don’t sacrifice that essential dexterity. Conversely, there are ventilated gloves available for those who work in warmer settings. However, it’s often a trade-off between the level of protection offered and the ventilation provided in a glove.
What’s the best set of woodworking gloves you’ve found? Tell us why you like them and how you use them in the comments below.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington