Should You Wear Gloves When Using a Table Saw?

Finding yourself staring at the furious teeth of a table saw, you may be a bit intimidated.

After all, this machine can rip through some of the hardest woods on earth without a second of hesitation.

This must mean you should wear gloves to protect your hands during operation, right?

Although it may seem only natural to protect your hands with gloves while operating a table saw, this can create a large opportunity for serious injury. Wearing gloves diminishes your hands’ natural tactile senses, can cause you to lose your grip, and the gloves can get easily hooked into the saw. 

When you are woodworking, you are using your hands for every single job.

Because of this, your hands become your biggest asset and are something you want to protect.

Even though it may seem like the right call to wear gloves when using a table saw, this is a big “no-no” in the woodworking safety world.

Continue reading to discover the 3 reasons why you should not wear gloves when operating a table saw. 

3 Reasons Why You Should Not Wear Gloves While Using a Table Saw 

Gloves are great for so many reasons: they keep your hands nice and toasty on the most brutal of winter days, they protect the transfer of germs, they keep your hands free of any knicks or scratches when completing a DIY project that is way more involved than you anticipated, and they keep the wind off your knuckles when breezing down the highway on your Harley.

However, there is no room for them when it comes to table saw operations. Specifically, wearing gloves while using a table saw can lead to diminished tactile sense, lost grip, fabric getting caught in the saw, and an overall unsafe use of your machinery.

Of course, wearing gloves can be an appropriate safety measure when using other types of woodworking tools or even just when handling the raw wood from the beginning stages.

However, using gloves when operating a table saw is not only a bad idea but is unsafe for the user (and, consequently, the table saw as well). 

Let’s take a closer look at the 3 main reasons why you should not wear gloves while using a table saw.

1. Diminished Tactile Sense 

Have you ever stuck your finger into a small pool of hot wax?

Think of back to when you were a kid and your mom had a candle burning in the living room.

Right below the wick of the candle, there was always a pool of wax that was just begging to be messed with.

If this was not your experience, then you are either not human, or I have some seriously singular memories.

Either way, once you stuck your finger into the wax, it hardened on your fingertip. 

Now, if you are like me, you then proceeded to touch anything and everything with those wax-covered fingertips.

However, when you went to touch something, you could not feel the surface the way you would if it were simply your bare hand.

You could feel pressure, you could feel the hardness or softness of the surface, but you could not feel the intricate detail to it.

Was it soft, was it splintery, was it smooth? The wax prevented your tactile senses. 

The same scenario can be said for your hands when you use gloves while working with a table saw.

The gloves cover not just your finger, but the entirety of your hand.

Although you may feel more protected, you are no longer able to feel every single inch of the wood you are working with.

Even more, you lose the sense of where your hands are when you are feeding the piece into the table saw. 

This makes a huge difference in safety when it comes to your ability to dictate where your hands are on the wood.

Gloves can cause you to think that your hand is further from the blade than it actually is, can decrease pressure if you are feeding the board into the blade, and can cause you to think that your hands are only sliding on the board when you are, in fact, still feeding it into the table saw. 

Consequently, you could lose control of the wood you are working with, could apply too much pressure unnecessarily, or you could accidentally slip and cause your gloved finger (hand) to slide under the blade of the table saw- a much greater risk than if you had more tactile sense.

2. Lost Grip 

When you think about losing the ability to feel exactly where your hands are on the board you are feeding into a table saw, you can understand how gloves can also play a part in making you lose your grip.

If you look at a long-time woodworker’s hands, you are going to see areas that do not exist on someones that are used to clicking away at a computer.

They are calloused, they are scared, they are rough, and they are strong. 

This does not come through hoping and praying for rough and tough hands, but through the raw use of the tools that are at the very ends of their wrists.

This also does not come about through the use of gloves in the woodshop.

For those of you that are beginners, it may be tempting to grab a pair of gloves to slide on in order to protect your hands.

No fault of your own, they are certainly more sensitive than the hands of those that have years of experience. 

However, this is a move that could eventually cost you.

Although gloves may seem like the right idea for protection, many people even reach for them in order to get a better grip on difficult pieces.

Although this may feel right at the moment, one wrong slip could cause some serious damage to your hands if you move just the right way.

Gloves can help to grip, but they are not fool-proof due to how they take away sensation from your hands and fingers. 

If you have a glove covering some of the most sensitive areas of your body (aka your fingertips) you are bound to be mistaken in a quick moment when you think you have a hold of something, but in reality, your grip isn’t tight enough.

Gloves may stabilize your hand every now and then, but overall, they are going to take away sensation from your hands which can lead to a poor grip and thus, an accident that you certainly do not want to be a part of. 

3. Fabric Can Get Caught in the Saw 

Have you ever really looked at the feed rate of your table saw before?

This sounds like an ignorant question, but I am serious here.

Whether it is going at a slow rate or spinning like the world is on fire, it is still fast in comparison to how quickly your hands can move.

This is why it is so important to know the power of this tool but to also know how to operate it in a way that respects its power and adheres to its safety requirements. 

That’s right, you have to respect the machine.

Otherwise, you will be one sorry woodworker.

Beyond speed though, a table saw has teeth and lots of them.

These are not your average human tooth either.

These are man-eating great white shark teeth that can rip through material so fast you did not even know the piece ever started out whole.

The teeth on these saws are grabby and they show absolutely no mercy. 

The teeth on a table saws blade however are not picky about what they sink themselves into.

For you, this means there is no stopping them if you shove a glove too closely to its reign of fury.

If you have gloves on and get too close to the blade, there is a very high chance that the teeth will grip straight into your glove and pull your hand right in with the wood it is feeding through. 

Having that extra material on your hands means that there is more room for an accident to occur near the blade.

You already have a decreased sense of feeling with the gloves on, your grip may not be as accurate, and when you add loose fabric to the equation, it can be a recipe for disaster and serious injury. 

Gloves are good for the winter, but when it comes to wearing them when using your table saw, it is an absolute “do not attempt” tale of caution.

To protect yourself and your woodworking equipment, do not wear gloves when using a table saw.

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