No single pair of gloves can be good for everything. I’ve found that I can get by with three different pairs: one for general carpentry use, one for demo and digging, and one for cold weather. Here’s what I wear.

General Carpentry
For most job site carpentry work, I like the Klein K2 Journeyman Framer gloves which leave the thumb and first two fingers exposed. I used to wear full coverage work gloves, but there were just too many times when I needed the precision of my fingertips, whether it was marking up a set of plans or fishing keys out of my pocket. Plus, with no fingertips, I can use a touch screen without having to take my gloves off. The exposed skin does risk the occasional splinter, but to me the trade-off is worth it.

The Kleins are nice and basic, which is how I like my gloves. There is some minimal padding on the back near the knuckles, but not enough to be considered too bulky or too flashy. The sides of the fingers are Lycra, so there is nice tight fit, but still good flex and movement. I also really like how the two gloved fingers have a ‘tackier’ material at the tips. This helps with traction while feeding lumber through a table saw. And even though I’m generally wary of hook and loop wrist straps, the ones on the Kleins have a tenacious grab that holds secure.

When it comes to these gloves, I can’t find anything to complain about.

Klein K2 Journeyman Gloves
Price: $27
COO: China

Digging and Demo
If I’m looking for some more protection and overall durability, I go for my leather Stone Breaker Rancher gloves. The designers of these gloves have taken cues from the high-end leather glove world and the result is a very comfortable glove with an extraordinary fit.

The Stone Breakers have an impressive 19-piece design which means that they’re shaped like an actual hand. This is in stark contrast to the four or five piece design of most other leather gloves. Because of the way the Stone Breakers fit, I don’t have to stretch or fight against the glove every time I move my hand. In fact, they hardly need any breaking in at all and once they’ve been worn for a day or two, they feel like a second skin. With such a form-fitting design, the palms don’t bunch up when you grab on to something, yet they allow the full range of hand and finger motion.

For added protection, there are additional pieces of leather at the palm and the thumb/forefinger gripping points. These are perfectly placed for when you’re pulling on a rope or using a shovel.

Again, these are simple gloves; no water proofing, no additional padding, no fuzzy interior—just a perfectly form-fitting leather shell. I think out of all the gloves I’ve ever worn, these might be my favorites.

Stone Breaker Rancher Gloves
Price: $25
COO: China

Cold Weather
One of the worst days of my construction career was years ago when I was asked to put together three levels of pipe staging in zero-degree weather. At the time I was wearing regular carpenter’s gloves and I will never forget how cold my fingers were. Now, in freezing weather, I go for Youngstown’s Waterproof Winter Plus gloves. These gloves are layered with an outer shell for durability, a middle membrane for keeping water out, and an inner layer of fleece for warmth. And on top of all this, they’re comfortable too.

Because they have the layers for water-proofing and warmth, they’re bulker than regular work gloves and there is no question that some dexterity is lost. But still, for all of the protection these provide, they’re still pretty precise. Maybe not enough to pull a specific nail out of a pouch, but enough to hold a screw in place and operate a tool. They’re also good if you draw the short straw and have to snow blow the site after a big storm.

No glove is going to keep 100% of the cold out all of the time, but these are better at it than any other glove I’ve worn.

Youngstown Waterproof Winter Plus Gloves
Price: $35
COO: China