Q: I am new to the art and pleasures of woodturning and recently wondered about the safety of using leather gloves while working on a lathe. This thought came to me after my bowl gouge got a catch on a walnut blank. The blank shattered and a rather large splinter sliced right through the underside of my hand. Afterwards, as I wondered about what I could have done differently to protect myself, I realized that I’ve never seen anyone marketing gloves for this purpose or seen anyone who uses gloves while turning on a lathe. Is it a safe practice to use leather gloves while roughing out or turning a blank, or am I being too much of a wuss?
A: Your concern is well-founded. Hazards abound when combining a swiftly moving piece of wood with a turning tool and your hands so close to the action. Before I start, however, I’m wondering if you wear a faceshield when you are turning? Safety goggles are not sufficient when turning wood. I always wear a faceshield!
As for gloves, yes, there are woodturners who wear a glove while turning; however, the glove is modified to remove the fingers, covering just the palm and knuckles. These gloves look like golf gloves, and in fact, if you golf, try one of your old gloves. Whatever glove you wear, make sure it fits snugly on your hand.
Any item of loose clothing can become tangled in a spinning piece of wood, so make sure that what you wear is not in jeopardy of contacting the wood. There are specialty smocks for woodturners. Not only are they safe, they are designed to keep sawdust from your clothing. Additional turning information can be found at www.woodturner.org.