8 Best Cut Proof Gloves | March 2017
- gloves are very inexpensive
- good for use with ceramic knives
- the finger holes are a bit large
- cuff adds wrist protection
- material is stretchable and breathable
- good for chefs with larger hands
- gloves are machine washable
- sleek and stylish design
- great gift for a chef or family member
- heat-resistant up to 932 degrees
- withstand cuts from sharpest knives
- ideal for professional use
- reversible right or left hand use
- made in the united states
- side slit makes it easy to take off
Clear From The Cuts
Nobody wants to lose a finger. I worked a job for about five years that required constant interaction with knives and food, and in five years on the job I only cut myself twice.
How did I go so long without losing a digit? Well, I didn't have a good knife technique, if that's what your thinking. I didn't learn the claw method until long after I left that job. I didn't have very good knives either. It's much harder to accidentally cut yourself with a good, sharp knife, but I was using dollar store knives.
My secret was a good cut-proof glove, what we called cut gloves in the business. I was fortunate enough to meet the cut glove just days after my second finger slice on the job. I was doing an impression of those fancy chefs at Japanese steakhouses who throw their knives through the air and catch them. Please note, unless your chef's knife is well-balanced enough to fly through the air with any degree of predictability, you're more or less guaranteed to cut yourself trying to catch it.
The glove my coworker handed me didn't look like it could stop a knife, so I took a a long carrot and fitted it to one of the finger holes, then proceeded to try my best to cut through it and into the carrot. I could not. My coworker explained that the gloves we made of a material akin to bite-proof wet suits, or the armor divers wear when they go swimming among sharks.
It turns out shark teeth operate on a principal quite similar to that of a good chef's knife. Along the edge of a good knife are tiny, microscopic peaks and valleys, almost what you might consider serrations. These peaks and valleys catch on the surfaces of whatever you drag them across, breaking the surface of a given food with a combination of friction, tension, and pressure. The more friction and tension you have, the less pressure you need, which is why dull knives are so dangerous; they require you to add unsafe amounts of pressure to your cut.
Cut gloves combine a few possible materials to resist the cutting potential of a given knife. More recently, polyethylene fibers have been among the most popular materials, though you'll see cut gloves combining cotton, spandex, glass fiber, Kevlar, and stainless steel to keep the cuts at bay. Some companies will interweave several different materials to maximize the benefits of each while reducing costs, while others prefer to use a single material.
In addition to being tremendously resistant to the swipe of a blade, the great thing about most polyethylene fabrics is that they're very inexpensive. Once you reach outside the polyethylene models, however, you'll see a modest uptick in the prices available, but these reflect potential increases in versatility and durability, as well.
Take the glove that touts fire-resistant qualities right up there with its cut resistance, for example. This glove uses a lot of Kevlar fibers in its construction, and Kevlar is famously flame-resistant. It's a little impractical for firefighters to deck themselves out head-to-toe with the stuff, since it's heavy and doesn't breathe very well, but it makes for a very versatile glove.
With a Kevlar cut glove, you can go from slicing up something tasty on your cutting board to taking a hot pan out of the oven without even thinking about it. The downside to Kevlar is that it doesn't grip very well, which is why you see that added bit of rubberized traction material on the glove.
Other materials, like the stainless steel that makes up the entirety of our number one glove, tend to be a little pricier. In the case of the stainless steel glove, specifically, you can expect a little more durability than you would out of a polyethylene glove. Steel fibers will hold up much better to unexpected heat or years of non-use in a way that the synthetic stuff will not.
Finally, different materials will move and fit very differently. Depending on what you're cutting and how precisely you need to cut it, you can get away with differing degrees of flexibility and comfort. Steel and Kevlar materials tend to be a little less flexible, and are better for less nuanced work, where polyethylene and cotton-based gloves will give you the most articulation.
Revolutions In Protection
Long before chefs or factory workers had to concern themselves with the dangers of their professions, it was the fighters of the warrior class who sought to reduce the impact of swords and knives on their bodies. The history of battle armor is long and storied, and evidence of scale armor–a predecessor to chain mail–exists in a book of ancient Chinese poetry that's at least 3,000 years old.
Chain mail itself, which is remarkably similar in construction to the stainless steel cut gloves on our list, came about around the 4th or 5th century BCE, depending on whether you credit the Persians of modern day Iran, the Celts of modern day Ireland, or the Dacians of Romania with its invention.
The first cut gloves were produced with a capitalist's bottom line in mind, not just the safety of his workers. Throughout the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers looked for ways to keep turnover down in their labor forces, which forced them to find innovative ways to reduce downtime caused by injury.
As materials research developed on through the 20th century, particularly ballistics research intended to protect our military servicemen and police officers, more cut-resistant materials made their way onto the market.