How To Choose Welding Gloves
Table of Contents
When it comes to welding safety, the eyes are not the only part of the body that needs protection. Similarly to those who work in the construction industry, there are several risks that one faces when it comes to welding. ANSI standard Z49.1 requires that all cutters and welders wear protective gloves
Electric shock, injuries, and skin burns are but a few mishaps that welders experience when they lack hand protection. Others include the hand getting smashed, being crushed between two objects or getting cut accidentally. Sparks, hot metal, hot flying objects, dust, grime, grease and chemicals are dangers that welders get to face too. Risks like these are why it is important to ensure protective hand gloves are used at all times during welding operations.
When you know what your hands need, then you can finally provide the much-needed protection. Here is why hand protection is vital if you are planning to perform any welding job.
Why Use Welding Gloves
Welders get to handle the arc when welding. During this process, sparks, molten metal spatters and hot metal gets to fly around. If they were to come into contact with the skin around the hands, it would result in severe burns.
There are several types of gloves designed with the right thickness that would prevent burns. Furthermore, they will not shrivel when heat comes into contact with the glove material and will not burn through or wear out quickly. Leather is said to be one such material. Another material that can provide protection to the hands is aluminized gloves which provide reflective and insulating protection.
Scratch and Cut Prevention
When handling metal pieces, there are high chances of being cut and getting scratches. While the cuts may not seem deep, the area may get infected leading to further damage to the hands. This is why it is paramount to wear hand protection.
The one thing you need to know is that the right welding gloves can make a huge difference, especially how you work. It affects your welding speed, ability, and safety. To prevent scratches and cuts, gloves made of leather are highly advantageous.
How Welding Gloves are Made
In the market, you can find a wide variety of leather gloves perfect for welding. Designs use many layers of material which assure the user of safety at all times when at work. Top grain leather is of high quality and many welders have been found to prefer this. It enables one to have better control and movement when working. Split leather is also available which is much thicker and provides better protection without sacrificing flexibility.
Here are the different types of leather, suitable for welder’s gloves:
- Cowhide (known for durability, flame/heat resistant, when dry good electrical resistance)
- Calfskin (more dexterity than cowhide, but cowhide is tougher)
- Deerskin (very good touch dexterity)
- Pigskin (very flexible, resists oil, drys faster than other types)
- Goatskin (light, best dexterity, durable, very comfortable)
Gloves can also be made with treated cotton (flexible, light, absorbent) or are aluminized (reflects heat radiation, heat resistant)
Important Glove Requirements
All welding gloves should have the following features:
- Thermal and electrical insulation that meet the requirements of the project
- Flame resistance
- Comfortable (do they fit)
- No tears or holes, generally in good condition
- Moisture resistant and dry
- Materials do not negatively impact the safety of the user such as edges and seams
- Puncture resistant (as well as tears, scrapes and cuts)
How Much Do Welding Gloves Cost?
Welding gloves range in price from just under $10 to $25 for the very popular Miller Arc Armor gloves that have patches on the back and palm for extended life. The best selling glove on Amazon is the US Forge 400 lined leather.
Shown: US Forge Gloves
Welding Gloves by Process Type
Gloves come in several styles:
- Protection for only the palms and fingers
- Protection for the entire hand
- Entire hand, wrist and forearm protection
Material Combination (e.g; pigskin back with cowhide palm)
Some gloves are better for specific processes as described below.
How to Pick the Best Gloves
- Match the process
- Know the job requirements
- Prepare for hazards
- Ask the glove supplier for advice
If you are undertaking MIG welding jobs, then you need to use high-quality goatskin MIG welding gloves with heat resistant lining. Goatskin is preferred for protection from the high amounts of heat and spatter that occur during the MIG process. MIG gloves are made to be thicker with many layers. Other leather materials suitable for making MIG protective hand gloves include top grain cowhide, goatskin or deerskin. The way leather molds around the hand offers the much-needed protection during work.
Shown: Steiner Mega MIG Gloves
TIG welders prefer goatskin or any other thin and pliable material. The gloves provide the much-needed movement which allows for precise welds made with TIG torches. Because the TIG process creates fewer spatters, TIG gloves will not provide protection against hot process like MIG which creates a lot of spatter.
TIG gloves are designed with extra padding around the palm area and even outside of the hand. The extra padding helps the fingers to rest alongside hot surfaces. The TIG gloves are designed to be easily removed when they become too hot. The one thing you need to know ahead of time is that gloves with Velcro straps can be impossible to remove. Velcro gloves are disadvantageous when you want to remove the gloves quickly because of too much heat. Also, consider heat resistant Kevlar or wool foam lining for added protection.
Shown: Tillman Truefit
When it comes to stick welding, a thicker cut of leather is needed. The split grains of elk skin, goatskin and pigskin, are the best candidates for stick welding gloves. Since stick welding processes are simple, the user will not need a flexible glove. The glove needs to be thick and protective since the process gives off a lot of heat and sparks when compared to other welding processes.
How to Clean Welding Gloves
Welding gloves that are meant to be cleaned should have a cleaning label. In general here are a few suggestions for how to clean welding gloves.
For gloves that are labeled that they can be machine washed, machine wash in cold water. Do not run through the dryer (air dry). If
you have cold weather gloves that are wind resistant or fleece, hand
wash gloves and air dry.
DO NOT WASH leather gloves unless approved and labeled washable by the manufacturer. Washing could ruin the leather if not labeled.
How to Clean Leather Welding Gloves
Check the label to determine if the gloves can be cleaned or washed. If they can, here are a few suggestions:
- Rub the gloves with a cloth to remove any loose dirt or dust.
- Put gloves on hands for easier cleaning.
- For finished leather, apply some natural moisturizing soap until it lathers. For unfinished leather, use saddle soap. Apply soap to a cloth first and then apply from cloth to glove. Do not rub in soap but blot it in.
- For any spots, use a soft brush. Test in an out of the way area first to ensure that you do not damage the leather in a visible spot.
- After blotting in soap and gloves look clean, remove gloves from hands.
- Wet a cloth with luke warm water. Use the cloth to wipe off any soap or suds.
- Allow gloves to air dry.
- After gloves dry, if needed for gloves that are finished used a leather conditioner such as Leather Honey. For finished gloves us a conditioner such as mink oil.
For Additional Reading
Author: American Welding Society
Page Author: Jeff Grill