Norm's Notebook: Work Gloves
Master carpenter Norm Abram's techniques for work gloves
Sometimes I'll only wear one glove, usually on my left hand, so I have full control with my right. To bend
this metal strap, for instance, I'm wearing a single cloth glove dotted with rubbery plastic for a secure grip. It also protects me from the metal's sharp edges.
Frankly, I always feel I have better control over my tools without gloves, so most of the time I work bare-handed. Even when I was a contractor, I rarely bothered with them because they got in the way of picking up or holding little things like nails and screws. Besides, I had such calluses on my hands back then that it didn't seem to matter. There were a few exceptions. Come winter, I wore waterproof work gloves to scrape ice off lumber and insulated gloves to handle metal—power tools, aluminum gutters, flashing, ladders—which just sucks the heat right out of bare fingers. At any time of year, I'd put on medium-weight cloth gloves when doing demolition, especially when dealing with sharp-edged metal lath or fiberglass insulation. I still don't feel comfortable tearing a wall apart unless I have gloves on both hands.
When I'm applying stain, I wear a pair of disposable latex gloves to keep my skin from turning color along with the wood. I'll also slip on a pair of nitrile rubber gloves—or latex, in a pinch—when I'm working with grease or oil on my car, the boat engine, or the lawn mower. That way, my hands stay clean and I don't come inside smelling like a gas station. While I appreciate the dexterity these thin gloves provide, I still feel that I lose a degree of control. Frankly, I don't know how surgeons do it.
Latex is great for stopping stain, polyurethane glues, and epoxies from reaching the skin. But it doesn't offer much protection against harsher chemicals. For those toxic substances, these are the gloves to wear.
Methylene-chloride paint strippers: Fluoroelastomer or polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gloves
Liquid fertilizers or pesticides: Nitrile gloves
Acetone: Butyl gloves
Hydrochloric-acid masonry cleaners and concrete etchers: Nitrile or Neoprene gloves