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Surgical gloves

  Am I alone on this one?  Has anyone else encountered the
"surgical gloves are okay" attitude? 

Yes. Usually in folks who’ve picked it up in some non-standard
fashion, and usually not from a decently trained jeweler. Gloves of
various forms do clearly have their place. All are usually designed
for specific types of use, and for similar uses, gloves are good.
Thus, in handling flask tongs while removing flasks from the burnout
for casting, I often wear simple leather gloves to protect my hands
from the radiant heat of the oven. And in handling chemicals and
acids, I may use proper rubber gloves to protect my hands from those
agents, just as the gloves were designed to do. I find surgical
gloves sometimes of use when I’m doing work with resins, as they fit
closely, and preserve most of my ability to work delicately, while
also protecting my hands from the resins. But gloves use for
purposes where they’re not designed to work, are often a mistake.
I’ve had coworkers who liked surgical gloves for polishing. He
claimed that they were weak enough that if they caught on something,
they’d just tear, so he wouldn’t get injured, and I must say, in the
couple years he worked with me, that seemed to be the case. But on
the other hand, I’ve never quite forgotten my other experience with
gloves and polishing, which I related in an earlier post, where a
young man lost and entire finger, in part due to using gloves
(cotton ones, not surgical) to polish.

To a certain extent, much of shop safety is a matter of common sense
and care, not a series of hard and fast rules. gloves are just
another tool. If one uses that tool in ways it was not designed for,
but uses them with a full understanding of the tool, then it may be
possible to do so safely, and with some benefit from the tool. But
gaining the proper knowledge of the tool’s behavior can be tricky,
so someone who just starts polishing with surgical gloves will have
to teach themselves the limits of what they can do, and the dangers
they may present. I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with that…
But each of us is responsible for our own safety. By far, most of the
injuries we’ve shared in this thread are the result of carelessness,
or inattention, or forgetting some proper method of working safely.
Instructions on proper use can only go so far. The real, and best,
method to avoid injuries and problems in our work is a good clear
mind, thinking about what we’re doing and being sure we have
anticipated what might go wrong. Too much speed, cut corners,
inattention, an assumption that since things worked right the last
time they will again this time, and various distractions are usually
the root causes of accidents. Gloves, like almost anything else,
CAN be used safely if one is able to think through just how that
needs to happen. But personally, I see little benefit to surgical
gloves when polishing. Washing ones hands is easy to do, and the more
direct feel of the work seems safer to me. Most of the time when I
need to hold something in polishing, it’s because the darn thing is
getting too hot. A surgical glove won’t help with that…


I use surgical gloves for polishing in the winter, because repeated
scrub brush washings take a toll in the dry season and I end up with
little splits that really hurt. There are thin, kid leather fingers
that can be helpfull too. Jan

   I use surgical gloves for polishing in the winter, because
repeated scrub brush washings take a toll in the dry season and I
end up with little splits that really hurt.   

The compromise we use where I teach is latex “finger cots”. These
are just finger tips, disposable. They look like mini condoms. You
can buy them by the bagfull-- mine came from American Science &
Surplus. I can’t swear they can’t catch, but at least the damage
would be more limited.


Little splits that really hurt can be “healed” with super glue.
Sometimes I have to sandpaper the area.

The most effective finger protection I’ve found (and the cheapest)
is “alligator skin”…a tape that sticks to itself but not to your
skin. Just wrap it on your finger as you would a bandage, and the
treated gauzy stuff protects your fingers while letting them
’breathe’. Rio carries it. It comes in 90-foot rolls for around
three dollars each. You can re-use the finger cots you have made,
too. Dee

The most effective finger protection I've found (and the cheapest)
is "alligator skin"...a tape that sticks to itself but not to your

Hello all, my name is Thackeray Taylor and I work at Rio Grande in
the technical support department. My apologies for not introducing
myself on my first posting. What a wonderful group and resource this
forum is! I’m constantly learning form it.

I’d like to put in my 2 cents here regarding Dees response on the
Alligator skin. She is absolutely right on the money. I have worked
in lapidary and silversmithing all my adult life, about 19 years.
Alligator skin was a life saver for me. When I worked for a small
company doing lapidary work, mostly inlay I would have to wet grind
100’s of inlayed bronze and sterling pieces a day on a wet grinder.
I have many experiences where I have literally ground my fingers raw
(insert shop injuries here). It’s a very nasty nagging injury to
have your finger tips ground raw and still have to continue to wet
grind THEN buff, yuck/ouch! So in short, I’ve never experienced
anything negative regarding alligator skin, it was and still is a
blessing for my very valuable digits.

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical support
1-800-545-6566 ex 13903

Hi everybody, Several years ago, someone on the Orchid list suggested
using masking tape to protect your fingers from heat while buffing.
I tried it and it works great. I also wrap it around my fingers to
protect them from blisters when using a file or other tool. I
can’t remember who suggest this tip, but Thank You. I use it all
the time. David Luck