Two of the most common causes of death for welding gloves are poor quality stitching and shrinkage. Shrinkage occurs when the glove, usually the fingers of the left hand, shrink and harden from coming into close proximity to a high heat source.
Typically, a right-handed welder will hold the electrode handle in their right hand. This leaves the left hand free to help hold the base metals in place until they can be tacked together.
Why do welding gloves Shrink?
Placing the left hand and glove in such close proximity to the weld will sometimes overheat the leather. The high heat will not just shrink but harden the leather. Once this occurs, the glove starts to become a hindrance to good work and protection.
In addition, high heat tends to burn through the stitching on many gloves causing them to separate at the seams. This usually happens to the outside of the forefinger and the inside of the thumb of the left hand.
This happens so frequently a few welding glove manufacturers have started to sell left-handed gloves only. A glove with open seams precisely in the areas that receive the most heat and abuse needs replacing right away.
A heat shield for your finger made of fire blanket material is available. They slide over your glove finger like a sock. This should allow you to keep your hand nearer the heat source while welding if needed.
NOTE: Finger shields can be expensive compared to the price of a pair of gloves. But, they could save you money in the long run.
Manufacturers market dozens of different styles of welding gloves. There is no single glove that suits everyone. Beginners may find the high number of choices somewhat daunting.
To begin with, a welding glove should provide you with adequate protection from heat, sparks and UV rays from the welding process.
Secondly, one should consider tactile sensation to make sure adequate grip and control for quality welding. Only then should you consider cost.
Please note, the article, Protective Equipment Essentials for the Beginner Welder, goes well with the information in this article. Click here to read it.
Which Welding Glove is most cost-effective?
It will be the glove that will:
- Perform multiple tasks safely
- Withstand a moderate amount of direct heat without shrinking
- Stay stitched together because of the stitching material used and quality of workmanship
- Fit your budget
Each of us has different work habits and varying skill levels. So, unfortunately, there is no single answer as to which is the most cost-effective glove. What may be right for you may not be right for me.
You will determine what is right for you after several pairs of well-used gloves are thrown into the dustbin.
Purchasing the lowest priced of anything will almost never get a buyer the highest quality product. In contrast, purchasing the most expensive glove may not be the best buy for your particular needs.
How do you Choose Welding Glove that is Best for You?
If money is no object then by all means, buy the best of the best. But for the rest of us, work down the list of:
- Tactile sensation
- Best style of welding glove for your type of welding
Depending on whether you weld with arc, gas, MIG or TIG, the choice for welding gloves can be different. Each form of welding is different in several ways.
Generally speaking, arc welding, MIG, and gas welding will induce more heat into the base metals than TIG welding. Therefore, a heavier insulated glove may be necessary when arc, MIG and gas welding.
The sparks generated by arc and MIG welding requires that a pair of gloves have a longer cuff to protect the wrists and forearms from burns. Some experienced TIG welders will use a slightly thinner glove with a more tactile feel and a shorter cuff.
Most of us will tend to create better welds with a glove that provides more tactile sensation. But, a glove with more, “Feel,” will necessarily be thinner and softer providing less heat resistance. That being the case, these gloves may be shorter lived.
Keep in mind that it is always better to overcompensate on protection until you are sure which glove is best for your applications.
What is the best material for welding gloves for my type of welding?
When it comes to protection from welding it is hard to beat a heavy, insulated, cowhide welding glove. Unless you never use a cutting torch and TIG weld only, you should have a pair of gloves such as Rapicca available.
As you gain experience you may find you prefer gloves made from other leathers due to their ability to withstand heat a little better or for their softness and flexibility.
If you refrain from putting your glove near the welding or cutting area or picking up metal when it is hot, any leather should work just fine for most applications and provide many hours of protection while welding.
Still, no glove is going to last forever and should be considered a consumable, right along with welding rods, wire, and soapstone.
Some of the leather choices for welding gloves are cow, goat, boar, deer, and elk. For the beginner, I recommend that you start with cowhide and experiment with others as your experience grows.
Purchase gloves that are sewn with a high heat resistant thread such as Kevlar if you can. These gloves will take more abuse and stay together much longer.
You should by now realize that there are no leather welding gloves that will not shrink under high heat. A beginner welder would be well off purchasing a middle of the road priced, cotton lined, cowhide welding glove with longer cuffs.