Choosing the Right Gloves to Wear

Choosing the Right Gloves to Wear When Woodworking

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

  1. SteveSteve08-23-2019

    It depends on the work I’m doing. For most work, nitrile gloves offer a simple protection while allowing good tactile sense of the work or tool. For anything with cutting using power equipment, I’d like to get steel mesh gloves but haven’t yet. But I do use leather gloves for this to give me at least a chance to get my hands clear.

  2. MikeMike08-27-2019

    What are the right gloves for woodworking, for the most part, no gloves at all. For the same reason it is a bad idea to wear loose fitting clothes (sleeves especially) gloves can actually cause a safety hazard rather than prevent one. The only time I use gloves is when applying finishes.

    • Andy HastingsAndy Hastings11-30-2019

      If your not wearing gloves, especially when using sharp edged tools your playing Russian Roulette. If you loose bad enough you’ll not only be headed to the ER but you maybe trying to tell someone where to find your missing parts.
      With so many different types of gloves on the market this attitude went out with the Bronze Age.

  3. BogdanBogdan10-30-2019

    Actually what I really need gloves for is handling melamine plywood. I learned that lesson the hard way resulting in cuts to my hand that took a while to heal. Melamine is sharp like a razor. What I am looking for are fingerless gloves that are comfortable enough to handle melamine when I’m doing that kind of work, yet still protect my hands from the sharp edges.

  4. David PetersonDavid Peterson11-30-2019

    I agree that wearing gloves is possibly dangerous around power tools. If I wear them as in using cedar where the chances of splinters is great. I cut the fingers out of a pair and this way I get protection but still have the full feel of the wood.

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