While purchasing a good helmet is said to be the most important thing you can do to protect yourself while welding, it is your gloves that will be the first line of defense against hazards like sweltering heat, moisture, electricity, chemicals, molten metal and sparks.
Most gloves will protect you from moisture, chemicals and electricity, but the range of movement they offer and their level of insulation will vary depending on their material.
This is generally what makes one pair of gloves suited for some but not all processes. For example, thin and flexible gloves that are perfect for TIG welding will not work for high-current jobs were you’d need more insulated and durable gloves.
To figure out what will be best for you you’ll need to decide what you’ll use them for.
Good sturdy cowhide gloves cover a wider variety of welding types and are a good choice if you practice several different welding techniques.
The level of flexibility and durability ranges in material from cowhide, the toughest and least flexible, to kidskin, which offers touch sensitivity and flexibility but is not tough enough to protect your hands in high-current jobs.
Gloves for stick welding are made of thick and durable leather, like cowhide, that covers the hands, wrists and sometimes forearms
For you TIG welders out there, you’ll need a similar level of protection but more freedom of movement. These gloves are often made of kidskin (goatskin). While still being durable, kidskin is thin enough to feel your work through the unlined finger areas.
For MIG welders, you’ll need something more durable and tough than kidskin. Most MIG gloves are made from cowhide, pigskin or deerskin. Deerskin offers more flexibility but less protection from high currents than cowhide or pigskin. Many MIG welding gloves may also be used for stick welding.
For those of you welding in extreme heat check out some high heat gloves, which offer four levels of protection including aluminized rayon, cowhide, wool and aluminized carbon Kevlar hand pads.
The stitching on welding gloves should be flame resistant. Many gloves have Kevlar stitching, the same material that is used in bulletproof vests!
So, determine what you need the gloves for, find the right flexibility, touch sensitivity and material for you, get the right fit and get welding!