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Glove Terminology

Glove-making is an old art and has some terms that may be unfamiliar even to workers who have been wearing work gloves and disposable gloves for years. Not all gloves are made the same or for the same purpose. Knowing the terms and functions of the different parts of a glove will help you determine which options are right for your workers. 

When your industry demands precision handwork, a good glove is indispensable. Understanding the parts of a glove and how they contribute to the overall design is key to choosing hand protection that lasts and allows your employees to do their best work. To help, we've compiled all the glove information you need, including relevant terms and features of glove anatomy.

Glove Terms

Check out our list of glove terms below:

Abrasion Resistance: When a glove constantly rubs against another surface, its ability to resist wear is referred to as abrasion resistance. If you want your gloves to last longer, choose those made with materials that offer a higher level of abrasion resistance.

Airprene: Similar to Neoprene, this material combines breathability and cool comfort with wrist support, flexibility and impact protection to knuckles.

ANSI: This abbreviation stands for the American National Standards Institute, a non-profit organization that oversees the standards of many products, services, systems and processes throughout America's workplaces. Products like protective gear receive rigorous testing by the institution's experts to ensure they are at competitive safety levels. Products are then issued an ANSI rating.

Impact: Impact gloves have extra padding and protective features on the back of the fingers and hands for additional safety. These gloves can resist crushing and help prevent injuries.

Buckskin: Leather from deer and elk skin is used for shoes, gloves and clothing. Only the outer cut of the skin from which the surface grain has been removed may be correctly defined as "genuine buckskin." Leather finished from the split or under cut of deerskin must be described as "split buckskin."

Calf Leather: Leather made from the skins of young cattle from a few days up to a few months old, the skins weighing up to 15 lbs. Calf leather is finer grained, lighter in weight and more supple than cowhide.

Calfskin: Leather from young cows. Calf leather is finer grained, lighter in weight and more supple than cowhide. 

Camel Skin: Leather from camels has a high wear resistance and is soft.

Clarino: The highest quality synthetic leather in the world. Clarino fibers are thousands of times finer than silk, making it extremely tough yet supple, dexterous, lightweight, breathable and comfortable to wear all day long. Unlike typical leather, Clarino Amara is breathable and washable, and will not shrink, stretch or harden. Clarino repels wind, water, stains and mildew, and can be machine washed. 

Color Coding: The glove trade color codes are:

  • Yellow | Extra Small | 7
  • Red | Small | 8
  • Green | Medium | 9
  • Brown | Large | 10
  • Blue | Extra Large | 11
  • Black | XXL | 12

Corrected Grain: Corrected grain is grain leather that has had an abrasive used on the finish for more uniform appearance. (to hide scratches etc.). Also used to give a soft feeling on grain, then called buffed, snuffed or fluffed.

Cotton: Cotton gloves are made from a natural fiber at an economical price. Cotton is soft, breathable, absorbent, lightweight and durable. Cotton gloves are used for basic abrasion protection.

Cowhide: Leather from full-grown cows. Cowhide is the most popular leather because of its availability. It strikes a good balance of durability, dexterity, abrasion resistance and comfort. It can have a smooth or rough finish. 

Clute Cut: A glove style with a one-piece palm and no seam at the base of the finger. There are seams along the fingers on the inside. Its design is flexible and good for cotton, synthetic and economical, lightweight leather gloves. Clute Cut is not recommended for heavy gloves.

Cuff: The cuff is the material extending beyond the palm of the hand to give extra protection to the wrist and forearm. See Knit Wrist, Safety Cuff, Gauntlet, and Rolled Cuff. 

Cut Resistance: Cut resistant gloves are made of high-quality materials such as Dyneema, Kevlar and HPPE to eliminate the risk of puncturing, abrasions and cuts on the job. They come in a range of ANSI cut levels, including 2 through 7, to designate the strength of protection.

Deerskin: Deerskin has high flexibility and is soft, but strong. It is regarded as the best leather for gloves.

Dyneema: Dyneema® is the world's strongest fiber. It offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and up to 40% stronger than other man-made fibers. Dyneema® is extremely durable and is resistant to moisture and chemicals. It provides the best cut protection.

Elk: Elkskin is supple yet tough. It dries soft.

Fiber: A fiber is the smallest visible piece of tanned skin (smallest visible by the eye). The skin is no more than thousands of fibers, three dimensional, woven together, in the grain almost vertical (80%-85%), in the lowest part of the skin almost horizontal (30%). The degrees of the fiber play a very important role in the wear and tear resistance. 

Flock Lined: A glove lined with fine cotton fibers for moisture absorption and easy donning.

Full Grain: Full grain leather has the original grain surface of the skin. It is the finest raw material for gloves as the clean natural hides have not been sanded to remove imperfections. Only the hair has been removed. The grain remains in its natural state which allows the best fiber strength, resulting in greater durability. The natural grain also has natural breathability, resulting in greater comfort. The natural Full-Grain surface will wear better than other leather. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a natural rich texture and grow more beautiful over time. The finest gloves, furniture and footwear are made from Full Grain leather.

Gauntlet: A very long cuff to protect the forearm.

Gemsbok: From the deer family. Economical and soft.

Goatskin: Goatskin is more hard wearing than other leathers and is both durable and supple because of the natural lanolin produced by goats. Mostly available in thin cuts, it gives a pleasing tactile finish with an interesting grain. This leather is highly recommended for applications requiring tactile sensitivity with light to medium protective needs.

Grain: The outer, smooth surface of the hide. provides a superior wear resistance compared to split leather. (Grain is also known as Epidermis). 

Gunn Cut: This durable design provides better wear and comfort, especially for heavier gloves. This is the standard construction for leather gloves, featuring the benefits of a single piece seamless back and the finer seams set further away from the working area of the palm. It is also characterized by the two middle fingers sewn separately onto the palm piece.

Gusset: The piece of leather sewn between the fingers, very often used in dress gloves. Also called side wall or fourchette. 

Heatlok: Heatlok is a blend of hollow and microfibers that create a very effective, yet economical insulating material. 

Hem: The edge of the cuff finished with a textile, plasticized material or leather.

HPPE: This abbreviation stands for High Performance Polyethylene, a strong, flexible and lightweight material knitted together by machines. Gloves made of knitted HPPE provide comfort for extended wear and advanced cut resistance due to their durable fiber construction.

Impregnated: The plastic (PVC) does not merely coat the material, but actually penetrates the textile. Used where improved grip and dexterity or low level cut protection is required.

Interlock Lining: The inner glove is made of lightweight cotton interlock knit fabric.

Jersey Lined: The glove is lined with brushed cotton fabric.

Kevlar: Kevlar® is 5 times stronger than steel, yet, at the same time, is lightweight, flexible and comfortable. Its resistance to chemicals, heat, flames, cuts and breaking makes it one of the best protective materials for gloves.

Keystone Thumb: This classic ergonomic design of the thumb results in superior movement and comfort. Found mostly driver's gloves.

Knit Wrist: A knit wrist is a stretch knitted material, mostly from cotton, to protect the wrist. Also excellent protection against particles falling into the glove. Length is usually 2 - 2.5 inches.

Latex: Latex is a natural rubber product that offers barrier protection to guard against contaminants and chemicals. Because it stretches, it is comfortable. Synthetic materials are frequently stiffer than latex, and less comfortable to wear. Latex gloves are usually less expensive than synthetic rubber gloves that provide chemical resistance at an economical price.

Leather: Excellent protection for abrasion and cuts, breathable and comfortable at an economical price.

Lining: The material on the inside of the glove that increases warmth and comfort.

Lock Stitch: The lockstitch is the mechanical stitch most commonly made by sewing machines. Lockstitch is so named because the two threads, upper and lower, "lock" together in the hole in the fabric through which they pass. Unlike chain stitch, lockstitch does not unravel easily and is usually used on higher quality garments. 

Neoprene: A synthetic rubber with a high chemical and heat resistance. Famous for its use in wetsuits, Neoprene has proven its superiority for decades with support, flexibility, warmth and impact protection in water sports and medical applications

Nitrile: Nitrile gloves are manufactured using synthetic latex, contain no latex proteins, and are three times more puncture resistant than natural rubber. They offer superior resistance to punctures and abrasions and are also used for protection against a variety of chemicals. Nitrile material also has a naturally low coefficient of friction, making these gloves easy to put on.

Nylon: Nylon is a synthetic fiber that is lightweight, exceptionally strong, resilient and abrasion-resistant. It is easy to wash, fast drying and resists shrinkage, wrinkling and damage from oil and many chemicals.

Pattern: The design of the glove. Most common patterns are Gunn cut and Clute cut.

Pigskin: Pigskin is known for resilience, holding up well against abrasion, staying pliable with wear and better withstanding stiffening after exposure to moisture. Pigskin offers the greatest breathability due to the porous texture of this hide. Pigskin is economical and becomes softer with use. 

Polypropylene: Polypropylene is an economical tough, heat-resistant, material that offers high tensile strength (tear resistance). Polypropylene possesses excellent resistance to organic solvents, degreasing agents, acids and alkalies. It is light in weight, non-toxic, resistant to staining, retains flex and has a low moisture absorption rate. 

Polyurethane (Poly): A synthetic material with high abrasion resistance. It is chemical resistant and very flexible. Polyurethane offers the elasticity of rubber combined with the toughness and durability of metal. Urethanes have better abrasion and tear resistance than rubbers while offering more strength. Polyurethane offers excellent wear properties, flexibility and elastic memory. It is resistant to oils, solvents, fats, greases and gasoline. Polyurethane will remain flexible down to -90°F and in hot water up to 175°F.

Powdered: A glove that is dusted with corn starch for moisture absorption and easy donning.

Puncture Resistant: Due to their inherent construction, conventional materials such as cotton, leather, aramids, and nylons are unable to stop sharp objects from penetrating through the material. Puncture resistant products provide superior puncture protection utilizing a variety of different technologies. 

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, known as Vinyl): PVC protects against a broad range of low hazard chemicals. PVC has high strength, good weather resistance and retains its shape. It is non-toxic and has good electrical insulating properties. 

Rawhide: Rawhide is cattle hide that has been de-haired, treated with lime, oil or grease but has not been tanned.

Rolled Cuff: This is the additional material around the cuff that is rolled and sewn, offering extra forearm protection and durability when putting on the glove.

Safety Cuff: A cuff with a slit opening on the side enabling the wearer to throw the glove off.

Shoulder Split: This comes from the shoulder area where the hide is less uniform in density and appearance. The result is a less durable, but more affordable leather.

Side Split: This comes from the back and side portions of the animal. The hide is densest here, yielding a consistently durable grade leather.

Split: When a thick piece of leather is split into two thinner pieces, the top piece will have grain (Top Grain) and the bottom piece will be suede on both sides. The bottom piece is the split.

Tanning: The process whereby the skin or hide of animals is treated to prevent decay and to impart flexibility and toughness.

Tensile Strength (Tear Resistance): In leather, tensile strength is important. You may have a beautiful looking piece of leather but it may not have any tear resistance. Leather has its tear resistance in the split portion of the hide due to the three-dimensional woven interlocking fibers. Also very important in the tear resistance is the flesh side (bottom of skin where the leather meets the meat). Other factors also play an important role such as how well tanned the leather is (not too loose), the type of animal, part of the hide (belly, shoulder, side), etc. Grain leather has a bad tear resistance due to the vertical fiber structure. 

Terry Cloth: This poly/cotton material blend is tough enough to hold up to the rigors of a work glove, yet is soft enough to wipe sweat and debris away from your face. Terry cloth can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water.

Thermal: These gloves include a lining to trap air particles and insulate the hands from the cold.

Thinsulate: The fibers of Thinsulate Insulation are fine, making them ideal for trapping insulating air and reflecting back the body's radiant heat. Tests have shown that Thinsulate insulation's ability of an insulation to keep you warm remains relatively unchanged even after repeated machine washings. When you compare equal thicknesses, Thinsulate insulation offers almost one-and-one-half times the warmth of down, providing more warmth with less bulk.

Thread: Thread can be divided into two types: cotton and synthetic. The synthetic threads are usually stronger but in certain applications (like welding gloves) cotton is preferred because a synthetic thread may melt because of the heat. In welding gloves, Kevlar might be used as well because it is very strong and heat resistant.

Top Grain: Top Grain Leather is fuzzy on one side and smooth on the other. The smooth side is the side where the hair and natural grain used to be. Top Grain leather is a lower quality material than Full Grain leather. It has less tensile strength because all the natural grain is sanded off, and an artificial grain has been applied. 

Unsupported Glove: A glove made by dipping a mold into liquid latex or plastic. The glove is created when the material dries and is removed from the mold. 

Welt: A thin piece of leather sewn into the seam to strengthen it. Often a welt is used in the seam at the crotch of the thumb and the base of the finger. 

Wing Thumb: The angled construction allows good flexibility with no seams on the palm side to obstruct work or cause fatigue. Found on welding, drivers, leather palm and ergonomic gloves. 

Wool: Wool is a natural fiber and an excellent insulator. It keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool retains its shape and resists tearing, abrasion, soiling and flames. It can easily absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp or clammy. 

Take Care of Your Hands With Our Extensive Selection of Gloves

PalmFlex offers gloves in a wide variety of materials, designs, colors and sizes to serve customers in many industries, including construction, mechanics, food service, medical, gardening, oil and gas, plumbing, pest control and warehousing. Whether you need impact protection, insulation or disposable defense against chemicals, we have a hand protection solution that will fit your industry

Ready to explore your options for work gloves and safety apparel? Contact us for assistance today. We offer free shipping over $80, huge volume discounts and quick bulk quotes so you can protect your entire crew.