Fits like a glove.

There are many things about our business that I don't often think about. One of these is gloves. When I work with a small crew I do the bulk of the welding. If a welding glove develops a hole or is worn out by heat or hard use I toss it into the trash bin and grab another. There are generally up to a dozen dozen new pair waiting in the cupboard. I never give it a second thought until we run low and it's time to pick up another dozen to replenish the stock.

When we work on a jobsite with a large crew it is a totally different story. There are a couple dozen pairs of welding gloves in the tool trailer. All of the crew use them as necessary to do rough tasks or when they are welding. When it is raining or they are handling wet materials the gloves get soggy in a hurry and are changed out as necessary. The theory is that the wet gloves get put in a special bin and are then put into the shop each night to dry out for the next day. The reality is that this seldom happens and the gloves get pretty beat in a hurry. If someone welds too close to their hand the finger or thumbs shrink badly and the glove becomes impossible to wear. Stitching breaks or wears out, things poke into the leather and the gloves develop holes. These gloves too are not fit for further use.

Today I went through the tool trailer finding gloves stashed in many places. The big bin of gloves was also dragged into the shop. I then tried on each glove, carefully looking for holes where sparks might fly and for fingers too distorted to comfortably wear. Some gloves were too ugly to even give a try. The left handed gloves (to the right in the picture) in good repair were in shortest supply as they take the hardest beating. The pieces to be welded are held in this hand and so they are the ones often cooked beyond use. The welding stinger is held in the right hand - away from the heat and sparks and so those (on the left in the picture) outnumbered the lefts by more than double. The pile of gloves (in the foreground) with holes, burns or worn beyond recognition was the largest and filled an entire garbage can when I was done.

Our work gloves get used hard and serve us well. With well over a dozen employees on site each day they get used up pretty quickly too. It's probably time to stock the trailer with another dozen new pairs. But you can bet I'll hide them so these older pairs get used a little more first.

-grampa dan