gloves for welding best welding gloves
Where and How to Find the Best Gloves for Welding and Welding Sleeves
In any kind of welding be it MIG, Stick or TIG welding, it is always necessary that you are fully protected against any risk that may come from your work.
For instance, wearing an auto-darkening welding helmet is a requirement to protect your eyes against welding flash and radiation.
But what about your hands and arms which are also exposed to UV light, infrared and hot metal sparks? This is where the welding gloves and welding sleeves play their roles.
Safety is the most important aspect in welding and your welding gloves should always be one of the most significant parts of your safety accessories.
As you will be dealing with hot equipment and getting your hands near the blazing arc, your arms and hands get exposed to many kinds of hazardous elements such as spatters from melting electrode, UV and infrared radiation, electrical shock, and extreme heat.
This is why you’re gloves for welding must completely protect them from these hazards.
But what are the necessary features that you should look for in welding gloves to ensure that your hands are fully protected? As a welder for many years, here is the best advice I can give to you.
How to Choose the Best gloves for welding
Welding gloves are typically made of leather or fire-resistant fabrics or a combination of both. Depending on the level of safety you want to have you have the option to how thick, how flexible and how light your welding gloves should be.
Leather welding gloves which are made of animal hides are available in many different varieties and each has its safety features for specific types of welding.
Pros and Cons of Leather Welding Gloves
Elk skin gloves.
These gloves are heat, abrasion and flame resistant and also thick and light to wear on hands. They can be the best choice for the stick welding but not perfect as MIG welding gloves since MIG welding requires that your hands should be nimble in holding the torch and tools.
Cowhide leather gloves.
Cowhide is thick, durable, heat and flame resistant, very versatile and can offer better balance and dexterity. They are also light on the hands so comfort is not sacrificed. These are the ideal choice for MIG welding.
Goatskin leather gloves.
Welding gloves made of goatskin are very comfortable to wear and light. They also offer better resistant against oil and would not easily disintegrate even when exposed to harsh weather conditions.
These are better as TIG welding gloves since you may need to pick up and hold the thin filler metal rods with your other hand when welding. Unfortunately, goatskin gloves are not as thick as required for MIG welding.
Deerskin leather gloves.
These gloves as many people say are the most comfortable to wear because they will let you move your hands without feeling them constrained. They can also resist high heat and they can hug your hands better. Nice as TIG welding gloves but not ideal as MIG welding gloves.
Yes, even the skin of the hogs can be turned into leather and can give your hands the best protection against oil though it is not very resistant to heat. Soft and supple and comfortable to wear, they can also be a good choice for TIG welding but not for MIG welding.
Special Features to Look for
Since you now know the best option for leather gloves, you must also look for special features that welding gloves should have to better protect your hands.
Choose gloves that are easy to wear – not very tight but not too loose. Velcro strap, when used as tightening strap for welding gloves, will let you remove them quickly like when they become hot and uncomfortable during welding.
They should be resistant to heat. Because your hands will be much closer to hot tools and the arc, they should protect your hands from these things and remain cool.
They should be the toughest welding gloves you can find. For example, welding leather gloves with a combination of Kevlar materials can protect your hands from almost anything that could harm your hands – heat, metal spills, electric shock, oil, and grease.
Should be easily washable. Leather gloves can also get hot and make your hands sweat during long hours of welding so they get dirty and stinky inside.
But not all leather gloves are easy to wash because of their bulk. So know the gloves well before buying and consider how you can clean them.
On the other hand, many welders suggest that MIG welding gloves can be the best welding gloves especially if it’s made of pure cowhide leather. But what special about the MIG welding gloves?
MIG Welding Gloves Best Features
MIG welding involves the use of welding torch equipped with MIG consumables and uses a wire electrode as filler materials to join the metal together.
Since the electrode needs to be melted to cover up space and join metals, a high-frequency current is needed for the electrode to melt. This process produces an intense heat build-up in the form of an electric arc.
The arc is produced by burning of the metal electrode while the shielding gas which can also turn very hot once exposed to the arc is used to provide a cover to the weld puddle.
In this case, there are a lot of hazards that will be near your hands while doing MIG welding. There’s the spatters from the melting electrode, the UV and infrared rays from the arc, the spark that comes out from the arc and the hot metal you need to hold if necessary.
As we have said, cowhide for MIG welding gloves can provide the utmost protection for MIG welding. But goatskin or deerskin will also do though they must have a heat-resistant lining to protect your hands from the hazards you do with MIG welding.
can TIG Welding Gloves Be Used for MIG Welding?
This is the question that we frequently get on our website. Our answer is Yes and No.
Yes because if you don’t use your MIG welder much but do more TIG welding, then there’s no problem using MIG welding gloves.
Also, a low powered MIG welding can appropriately be handled by MIG welding gloves because the arc won’t be as intense compared to high amperage setting.
However, it’s also a No because the TIG welding gloves are not specifically designed to handle much of the MIG welders work as we have mentioned earlier.
Basically, the difference between MIG and TIG welding gloves are very distinct.
MIG welding gloves
are designed to be a bit loose from your fingers and they are made this way to allow you to easily take them off quickly when they get very hot.
They also have a wider mouth so you can quickly wear them and to let your hands breath. The long sleeves of the MIG welding gloves can also protect your arm from hot spatters from the arc which could fly in the direction of your hands.
Loosened fingers of MIG welding gloves may restrict the movements of your fingers but MIG welding relies on using your wrist to manipulate the torch rather than using your fingers.
TIG welding gloves
commonly have softer and thinner materials and their fingers fit snugly on the fingers to allow you to have better control of the torch and can securely hold the filler with your other hand. The most concern you have to think about TIG welding is not the spatters but the UV light emanating from the arc and this why you must have an efficient welding helmet for your eyes.
But how about your protection for your arms? This is where the welding sleeves do their best part.
Advantages of Using Welding Sleeves
To complete your safety accessories for your welding, we now suggest that you must have a welding jacket, especially for MIG welding. A welding jacket should also be made of leather because leather doesn’t burn easily and highly resistant to heat.
On the downside, leather can be hot to wear inside your home workshop except in winter. So the best alternatives are the welding sleeves.
Welding sleeves can also offer full protection from the shoulder down to the wrist. It also allows you to have unrestricted movements with your hands while letting your body remain cool and light.
If you are worried you get spattered on your chest and body with hot glowing debris, you can also wear heat and fire-resistant welding apron which you can buy online. Welding aprons are also available in leather and canvas forms.
Criteria for Choosing The Best Welding Sleeves
Just like choosing the best welding gloves, you also have to have criteria in choosing the best welding sleeves. The variety of welding sleeves is vast.
There the goatskin, cowhide, Kevlar, and cotton or a combination of these materials which we call the hybrid welding sleeves.
Your choice of welding sleeves depends on your needs. But overall, these must protect you from the hazards of TIG, MIG and stick welding.
To get totally safe welding sleeves, consider these questions:
What materials do you need for your welding sleeves?
If you are doing heavy MIG and stick welding and you have to weld under metal assemblies in which sparks can fall on your arms, better choose the cowhide or the hybrid welding sleeves.
Cowhide can prevent heat and hot spatters from touching your skin.
How thick the welding sleeves should be?
Your answer depends on the type of welding you do. MIG welding in your home workshop you might prefer the cowhide or Kevlar welding sleeves which are thick, heat and puncture resistant.
Do you need a more breathable pair?
If you are not into heavy welding, you don’t have to wear heavy and thick leather welding sleeves so that your skin can breathe and can wear the sleeves for an extended period. Sweating can hinder your welding process if you wear uncomfortable welding sleeves.
Cotton welding sleeves are the coolest and the hybrids are better but these must be coated with fire-resistant elements.
Is the pair you want to buy big enough and long enough for your arms and wrists?
The standard length of most of today’s welding sleeves is 21 inches. If you have long arms, this length won’t be able to cover the full length of your arm. Check the gloves first if there are the longer versions or ask the seller to find you a product with longer sleeves.
If you find it difficult to find long welding sleeves, then your welding gloves should be long enough so that you can adjust your welding sleeves to cover your upper arm.
All welding sleeves have garters on both ends but the upper part must be wide enough to accommodate your biceps if you are muscular.
How durable the welding sleeves are?
You don’t want your welding sleeves getting ripped apart while wearing them.
So don’t buy those that are thin and cheaply made because they get torn easily and will expose your skin to danger.
Check also the thread used in sewing the sleeves. The thread should be thick but made of non-flammable material and the sleeves should have double-stitched linings inside the sleeves.
What is the combination of the hybrid sleeves you need?
Since leather can provide the utmost protection but heavy and hot while the cotton fabric is cool and thinner, you could also consider buying a hybrid welding sleeve. A good combination would be 75% leather on the lower and middle portion of the sleeves and 25% cotton on the upper arm. This is just an example but the ratio of combination is still based on your preference.
Can you afford to sacrifice quality and durability over the cost?
Welding sleeves are not very expensive. A pair of cowhide welding sleeves would not even cost you more than $40. The cotton varieties are even less than $20.
So if you need a durable, high-quality and flame and heat resistant pair of welding sleeves, choose the best even though it may cost you more. Anyway, you can use these for years if you know how to take care of your welding sleeves.
Good quality welding gloves can always ensure that your hands will be protected from the many hazards of welding. Moreover, not all types of welding style require that you use thick leather welding gloves. Sometimes using only the generic welding gloves would be enough as long as these are heat and flame-resistant.
But if you are into hardcore welding and doing all kinds of welding, you should be armed with MIG welding gloves and high-quality welding sleeves that would not only protect your hands and arms but makes you feel light and comfortable using them. So it’s your choice to buy what style and combination with these two accessories.
For those who are into plasma cutting, we can advise you to use the TIG welding gloves or even the lighter types that are made of thick cotton but these must closely fit into your hands and fingers. Unless you are touching hot metals when checking on the cut, then better use the leather type of gloves.