Safety is always a primary concern while welding. Gloves are an essential component for protecting your hands from hot equipment, sparks, rough or sharp surfaces, and other hazards that are present in welding work. However, there is a wide variety of gear available to welders, so before making a purchase, welders should know what they need in their welding equipment.
Comparing Types of Welding Gloves
The largest differences in welding gloves are the distinctions between gloves used for MIG and TIG welding. MIG gloves tend to fit looser and have extra padding on the back of the hand. For MIG welders, who will rest one hand on the work surface while bracing the dominant hand during a weld, this padding further protects the non-dominant hand while working. The design also allows you to easily throw off a glove if it becomes too hot. These features may reduce maneuverability for the fingers, but this is not often a concern as MIG welding techniques rely on wrist rather than fine finger movements. Overall, MIG gloves offer outstanding protection for your whole hand.
TIG gloves are made of much thinner, softer material. The gloves fit snugly to allow for more precise manipulation of the torch and filler. As you’ll learn in your TIG welding classes, the bigger danger in TIG welding comes from light, not sparks, so there’s not as much need for thicker glove material.
Welding Glove Materials
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In general, welding gloves are made from leather or a combination of fire-resistant fabrics and leather. Each material exhibits different levels of weight, flexibility, toughness, and breathability, and MIG and TIG gloves often employ different materials to take advantage of these qualities. For instance, MIG gloves will more often be made from cowhide or pigskin for their higher durability. On the other hand, TIG gloves will more often use deerskin, goatskin, or fire-resistant fabric for a lighter, more fitted glove.
Interchangeability of MIG and TIG Gloves
In certain circumstances it is possible to safely switch the type of glove you use. For instance, when performing a high-powered TIG weld, it may be appropriate to use MIG gloves to better protect against sparks. For low-power MIG welding or MIG welds on small parts that require greater precision, it may be appropriate to use TIG gloves. When choosing a pair of gloves, welders should be aware that MIG gloves may hinder finger movement and high heat and constant sparking may damage TIG gloves.