Saturday, September 21, 2013

Washing Welding Gloves


About once each year I gather up all the grimy welding gloves and give them to my wife so she can run them through the washing machine. It seems like as time goes by the insides of the gloves collect the grime which quickly transfers to skin and the washing greatly reduces that nuisance.

The first time washing the cowhide gloves occurred to me I did it as an experiment with rather low expectations.  I had noticed, however, that if they were accidentally left out in the rain they didn’t seem to have any long term damage after drying.

This has worked out just fine.  After washing we hang the gloves overnight then finish them by tumbling in the dryer on "air tumble" without heat.  She also put in some dryer balls.  They look like tennis balls with bumps on the surface.  I made one pair a control without the tumbling and they were much stiffer initially but they soon sofened up when they were put into use.  I have no idea if fabric softener whould help.  I don’t think they make cowhide softener.

Only one glove had the liner work out of the fingers and had to be worked back in place with a small handled ball tool locked in the vise.  When the liner was starting to get back in place I put in my hand and pushed the web area between each finger over the shaft of the tool to finish the job.

I only wear a glove on my left hand most of the time so I have a collection of worn left gloves and “like new” right hand gloves.  I should try to find some left-handed smiths who could use my extras.

I have been using 13” cowhide gloves which is great for welding as it protects the forearm area from MIG splatter burns but it is excessive for general forge work.  I watch for sales and for big lot deals where I can get ten pair or so inexpensively.  I’m looking for some shorter cowhide gloves now.

These gloves aren’t very expensive.  I’d estimate I’ve purchased them for about $3 a pair but I don’t see a reason to discard them until they develop a fatal defect such an an unrepairable hole or shrinkage and hardening from excessive heat.  I grew up in a home where “waste not want not” and “a penny saved is a penny earned” were often repeated phrases.  On the other hand, it’s better to throw away a damaged glove than to get burned.


 First, I push the glove onto the ball to get the lining started down the finger.


Then it's easy to put the glove on and push on the shaft in each web space.


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