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Taking the gloves off

I’m always taken aback when someone online offers a safety suggestion that is anything but safe.

Continuing my thoughts on woodworking safety from last time, there’s something that bothers me a lot. As a woodworking writer, I naturally check out a lot of woodworking and how-to articles on the Internet. And while most of the safety tips are quite valid, some just aren’t.

One in particular is doubly wrong, and that’s wearing gloves while operating woodworking machinery. Gloves don’t offer additional safety on machinery, and they can make some operations more dangerous – particularly when the main mechanical force is spinning.

Wear gloves while operating, say, a lathe or drill press, and there’s an extreme risk of the glove catching on the spinning object. If that happens and you’re extremely lucky, the glove will pull off your hand and go flapping in a circle. More than likely, however, the glove will NOT come off and will instead pull your hand into the spin so fast you won’t know what happened until what’s left of your hand – and maybe your lower arm – is wrapped around the object.

Gloves are fine for lots of woodworking-related activities. I have a cut-proof glove I wear on my left hand when using a chisel to cut mortises. (I don’t wear one on my right hand as it compromises my grip on the chisel.) I’ll wear gloves when using stains, cleaning or reorganizing my lumber rack, and sometimes when doing framing. Note that none of these activities involve powered machinery.

If you’ve been woodworking long enough, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to the potential danger of gloves. But, I worry sometimes about new woodworkers learning the craft online, and wish that some of these online writers wouldn’t be so “helpful.”

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