Cut Resistant Gloves

My brother contacted me earlier today about cut resistant kitchen gloves - I was a butcher for a short 6 month period about 10 years ago and fortunately at a relatively large small independant facility that broke down entire animals and did everything in between including full sausage machines, bowl cutters, injectors for bacon and other cured meats. So that happens to be a domain I know fairly well. My immediate reply to him was "kevlar" and to send him a few links to a few simple kevlar gloves including all mesh (courser mesh) models on up to various coated palms. Then I got curious and decided to improve my knowledge in this area and started doing some googling and reading.

I had already been thinking the last few months that I should have some good cut-resistant gloves with me for general knife and hatchet use in the back country. A well fitted pair of modern contoured gloves with a rubberized palm can actually make weilding such a tool easier and safer in other ways than just protecting your hand. It is also a good option for kids if you want to allow them to practice their knife skills in a safer manner - look at size small for them.

As it turns out there are other materials besides Kevlar that are widely used in making these types of safety gloves. From my canoeing knowledge I already knew that aramide was a generic name and "Kelvar" was a registered trade name for very similar materials. I did not know that "twaron" was yet another registered trade name for a slightly different aramide with very similar thermal and cut resistant properties. I'm sure I'd heard the term before but never realized it is just another brand-name like Kevlar. From my canoeing knowledge I already knew that aramide was a generic name for the broad range of chemical formulations that create materials with different profiles of heat, cut and puncture resistance. But the real surprise to me was that PE (polyethelene) is widely used in making some of the most cut resistant gloves on the market. In hindsight given what I know about how indestructable PE canoes are, that should have come to me more intuitively. It is important when choosing a glove to note that the various aramides provide really good heat resistance so you could in theory use a silicone coated glove as an oven mitt. Indeed if I am not mistaken "The Ove' Glove" is just such a beast. But a PE / Polyethelene glove that could potentially protect from even more severe cuts might not be the best choice for moving things around in the fire pit.

One of the most important things I learned is that there is an ANSI standard which defines cut and impact resistance, and rather than try to explain all the details to you myself I will link to this source which is a very concise overview of the system. It points out that there are parallel standars ANSI and EN 388. They are similar but not quite the same, but you are safe to look for a glove rated to either standard. The level of cut resistance goes from 1 to 9, and if it is registered to the ANSI measure just the number itself is quoted e.g. "Cut Level 4 certified". If the EN 388 standard is being referenced then an "A" is put in front of the level so "Cut Level A4 certified". The link provided again explains the two standards well and concisely.

Another thing to look out for in one of these gloves are different palm coatings, including PU (polyurethane), Nitrile, and natural rubber. Which of those 3 coatings is best is I think really up to the end user and the use case, but I do think most people would agree that of the 3, PU has the least best "stickiness" or ability to help hold a knife or other tool well and in place. And of course you can also get gloves with no coating which I happen to already have - just a single one for kitchen work. It is a thicker coarsely-woven kevlar that is extremely cut and puncture resistent. As an anside, there is also a similar standard for puncture resistence, and the better gloves have both ratings on the package.

In terms of where to source such things locally, I am in a small town in Ontario and I have at least 3 local places here in town to source cut resistent gloves. The TSC Store had 5 or 6 really good options, none of which seem to be listed on their website. They were also far at the highest end of the price range of what I found, but it is also true that the ones at TSC had much higher ratings than the others I found and that explains probably most of the higher price. I found one pair of level 2 rated Kevlar gloves on the Princess Auto website, and a level 5 rated insulated winter cut resistant glove at Canadian Tire. I may actually pick up a pair of those as well for winter use. Mark's (formerly known as Mark's Work Wearhouse) only had 2 options in store, the best of which was a two pack of PE gloves with PU palms for about $15 which is a really good price. On their website they also have a number more options that you can order online and get free shipping to any store.

Another option that you pay more for is different sorts of - for lack of a better term - exoskeleton on the back of the glove. For kitchen and general knife use this would be cumbersome, but for something like using a hatchet which is one of the things I want a good pair of gloves for, the rear exoskeleton could be very useful in saving your hand. I'm an oaf with a hatchet and have cut myself a few times usually pretty good each time.

I strongly recommend you don't buy gloves online unless you already know for sure that that product and model from that company fits you the right way. Hand gear is like foot gear in that regard which I would also never order online unless it was another pair of exactly what I already had.

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