Should I wear gloves when using a bandsaw?


A: I think that in most cases the answer is "no." I argue that with gloves you get a false sense of security, you do not know where you hands really are, and that if you do accidentally touch a moving bandsaw blade that gloves can cause you hand to be pulled into the blade.

The first reason not to wear gloves when working around a vertical or horizontal bandsaw is they will give you a false sense of security. If you know your hands are exposed and vulnerable you are going to be more careful than if you think your hands are protected. Gloves don't really do all that much to protect your hands anyway. Put an old glove around a board and run the glove and board through the bandsaw. You'll quickly see the glove did not protect the board. Likewise the glove will not protect your hand. Only good work habits can protect your hands.

Can you touch you index finger to your nose with your eyes closed? Of course you can. You can also reach around and touch your ear with your finger going straight to your ear with no thought. You can probably also touch your two index fingers together behind your head on the first try. You know where your hands and fingers are. Now try the same thing with typical bulky work gloves on. When you go to touch your nose with your eyes closed your gloved finger crashes into your nose. With gloves on you do not know where your hands are. You touch things you did not mean to touch. Around a bandsaw this can obviously be a very bad thing.

The bad news is skin cuts easily. But this is also the good news. If all your precautions fail and your hand does accidentally touch the blade it is going to cut you. In most instances you will get anything from a nick to a bad cut. The blade is probably not going to grab your hand and pull it down. Gloves are tougher than skin. A bandsaw is more likely to grab a hold of a glove, and the hand within it, and pull it down instead of just cutting your hand. This can cause your hand to get trapped against the work table with the bandsaw blade sawing away at your hand and you unable to pull away because the glove keeps getting pulled into the blade. Remember also that you don't really know where your gloved hand is. It is closer to the blade than your brain thinks, making it more likely that you will touch the blade.

There are times when despite these reasons you will want to wear gloves anyway. For example, when working with a very abrasive material such as cellular glass, if you do not wear gloves by the end of the day your hands will likely be bleeding from the material wearing through your skin. If you must wear gloves I recommend the snug fitting ones such as Mechanix gloves. Just don't let the gloves take the place of good safety habits. Another time you will definitely want to wear gloves is when changing the blade on your bandsaw. In this case you are touching the blade, and even though it is not moving it is probably still sharp and capable of giving you a cut. You will still want to use fitted gloves that give you a good sense of touch when dealing with the blade as handling the blade and getting it into position requires some delicate work.

My suggestion to you is to use safe procedures when working with a bandsaw and don't rely on gloves. With a false sense of security, not knowing where you hands are, and the risk of your gloved hand being pulled into the blade you are probably safer without the gloves.

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