Choosing The Right Welding Glove For The Right Welding Job

Most amateur welders will probably use the same set of general purpose gloves for all the jobs they do around the house and car. However, if you're looking at working with more advanced welding equipment or techniques, it may be prudent to invest in more varied range of welding gloves. Different types of welding give off different levels of heat and create different amounts of spark and spatter, so it's important to have gloves that provide the right trade-off between protection and dexterity.

Gloves for MIG welding

MIG welding is valued for its speed and versatility, but anyone who works with MIG welders regularly will tell you that it can give off a substantial amount of sparks and spattering. Since MIG welding also produces a moderate amount of heat, and requires less precision than some other welding processes, you should choose a glove with a thick outer layer of leather with a thin internal lining. This will provide excellent shielding against heat and metal, while still allowing you sufficient feel and dexterity to complete intricate welding jobs. Cowhide or goatskin leather are ideal materials, with cowhide providing more heat protection and goatskin giving a more lightweight, flexible feel.

Gloves for TIG welding

TIG welding requires precision and dexterity, and the process of feeding the filler rod into the weld requires a certain amount of tactile sensation, so a TIG welder's gloves should naturally be as thin as possible -- however, TIG welding also produces substantial heat, so gloves also have to be capable of protecting your hands from burns.

This problem presents two solutions - thin gloves with heat-resistant linings, or split-material gloves with a thin, flexible palm and thick, insulating material on the backs of the hands. TIG gloves should ideally leave you with enough flexibility to pick up a coin, so you may want to invest in high end materials such as kevlar and cotton-foam linings, to provide maximum heat protection with a minimum of material. Regular TIG welders may also want to purchase one or more finger protectors, to protect fingers and knuckles from accidental burns while working the filler rod.

Gloves for SMAW welding

SMAW or stick welding is almost certainly the most dangerous form of welding when it comes to the amount of heat, sparks and metal spatter that it generates, so anyone wanting to fire up their electrode should be packing some heavy duty gloves. Thick, heat-resistant gloves with thick linings are the order of the day, but it is important to retain a reasonable amount of dexterity through all the protection.

Cowhide, pigskin and, if you can find it, elkskin are all good candidates when it comes to glove materials for stick welding, but you should make sure you invest in top-quality leather. Cheaper leathers will not wear in as quickly or as well, and leave you with significantly less dexterity. You should also try to find gloves that have heat-resistant stitching, perhaps made of wool or kevlar thread, to stop spatters catching in seams and burning out the threads.

If you are working with large stick welding projects, or have chosen slightly thinner gloves to provide more dexterity, you may still not have enough heat protection to work comfortably. If this is the case, consider picking up a heat shield, a small, reflective metal shield that slots over the hand while working and protects against heat radiation and errant blobs of hot metal.