5 Steps to Choosing the Best Leather Work Gloves for the Job

Worker wearing leather gloves

Choosing the Right Leather Work Glove for the Job

When it comes to choosing the right work gloves, leather is a popular choice due to its durability, comfort, and versatility. However, not all leather work gloves are created equal. Depending on the job at hand, you'll need to consider factors such as the type of leather, pattern, thumb design, cuff style, and lining.

Here's a guide to help you choose the right leather work glove for your needs.

1. Choose a Type of Leather

There are several types of leather commonly used in work gloves, each with its own strengths and weaknesses:

  • Cowhide: A popular choice due to its durability and abrasion resistance. Cowhide leather gloves are ideal for heavy-duty tasks such as construction or welding.
  • Pigskin: A softer and more flexible leather that is also highly durable. Pigskin leather gloves are a good choice for tasks that require dexterity, such as gardening or landscaping.
  • Deerskin: A lightweight and breathable leather that is highly resistant to water and oil. Deerskin leather gloves are ideal for outdoor activities such as hunting or fishing.
  • Goatskin: A thinner and more lightweight leather that is highly flexible and resistant to abrasions. Goatskin leather gloves are a good choice for tasks that require precision, such as mechanics or assembly work.

2. Choose a Pattern

The pattern of a work glove refers to the way the leather pieces are sewn together. The two most common patterns are:

  • Gunn Cut: This pattern features a seam on the back of the hand and a curved construction that follows the natural curve of the hand. Gunn cut gloves are comfortable and flexible, making them a good choice for tasks that require dexterity.
  • Clute Cut: This pattern features a seam on the palm side of the glove and multiple smaller pieces of leather sewn together. Clute cut gloves are highly durable and provide good protection against abrasions.

3. Choose a Thumb Design

The thumb design refers to the shape and style of the thumb on the glove. There are three common types:

  • Straight Thumbs: These have a simple, straight design and are a good choice for general use gloves.
  • Winged Thumbs: These have a curved, angled design that allows for greater flexibility and range of motion.
  • Keystone Thumbs: Gloves with keystone thumbs have a unique shape that allows for more natural movement and less strain on the hand.

4. Choose A Cuff Style

The cuff style refers to the length and design of the cuff on the glove. There are several options to choose from:

  • Knit: These gloves have a snug, stretchy cuff made of knit material.
  • Slip-on: These gloves have a short, elasticized cuff that slips easily over the hand.
  • Safety: These gloves have a longer cuff that extends past the wrist for added protection.
  • Gauntlet: These gloves have a very long cuff that extends up the forearm for maximum protection.
  • Shirred Wrist: These gloves have a gathered, elasticized cuff that provides a snug fit and keeps out debris.

5. Choose the Lining

The lining refers to the material on the inside of the glove that provides insulation and/or moisture management. There are three common types:

  • Cotton and Jersey: These linings are lightweight and breathable, making them a good choice for warmer weather.
  • Wool and Pile: These linings are warm and cozy, making them a good choice for cold weather.
  • Thermal: These linings are designed to retain body heat and keep hands warm in very cold temperatures.

Common Industries that Use Leather Work Gloves

Leather work gloves are utilized by many industries, including:

  • Construction: Workers in construction often use leather work gloves to protect their hands from hazards such as rough materials, sharp edges, and power tools.
  • Welding: Welders use leather work gloves to protect their hands from the high temperatures and sparks involved in the welding process.
  • Gardening: People who work in gardening may use leather work gloves to protect their hands from thorns, dirt, and chemicals.
  • Landscaping: Landscapers use leather work gloves to protect their hands while handling heavy equipment, sharp objects, and abrasive materials like gravel.
  • Farming: Farmers use leather work gloves to protect their hands while handling tools, animals, and crops, as well as to protect their hands from rough materials like bales of hay.

Leather work gloves are commonly used in jobs and activities that involve physical labor and potential hazards that can harm the hands.

5 Ways to Care and Maintain Leather Work Gloves

  • Clean them regularly: Dirt, grease, and sweat can damage leather work gloves over time. To avoid this, clean them regularly. First, remove any loose dirt or debris with a dry cloth or soft-bristled brush. Then, use a mild soap solution and a damp cloth to clean the gloves. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly and let them dry naturally, away from direct heat sources.
  • Condition the leather: Leather work gloves can dry out and become stiff over time. To keep them soft and supple, apply a leather conditioner after cleaning them. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and apply a thin, even layer of conditioner to the gloves. Allow the gloves to absorb the conditioner before wiping off any excess with a soft cloth.
  • Store them properly: When not in use, store leather work gloves in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in a damp area or airtight container, as this can cause mold or mildew to form.
  • Avoid water damage: Leather work gloves can become damaged when exposed to water. To prevent this, avoid wearing them in wet conditions or protect them with a waterproof cover. If your gloves become wet, let them dry naturally and avoid using direct heat sources like a hair dryer.
  • Inspect them regularly: Check your leather work gloves regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as holes, tears, or loose stitching. Replace them when necessary to ensure that they continue to provide the necessary protection for your hands.

Choosing the right leather work glove for the job is crucial for your safety and comfort. By considering factors such as the type of leather, pattern, thumb design, cuff style, and lining, you can find the perfect glove for your needs.


  • Can leather work gloves be machine washed?: It is not recommended to machine wash leather work gloves as it can damage the leather. Instead, clean them by hand using a mild soap solution and a damp cloth.
  • How often should I clean and condition my leather work gloves?: It is recommended to clean and condition leather work gloves after every use to keep them in top condition.
  • Can leather work gloves be used for welding?: Yes, leather work gloves can be used for welding as they provide protection against heat and flames. However, be sure to choose gloves specifically designed for welding, as they have additional features like reinforced palms and longer cuffs.
  • Can I wear leather work gloves in cold weather?: Yes, leather work gloves can provide some insulation against cold weather. Look for gloves with a wool or thermal lining for extra warmth.
  • How do I know when it's time to replace my leather work gloves?: Replace your leather work gloves when they become damaged, show signs of wear and tear, or no longer provide adequate protection for your hands.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.