Repairing a glove is a an art, a science and a crapshoot all rolled into one. What started as something I learned to do to keep my own glove in the game has turned into a very enjoyable part time job. I usually do a glove or two every week and have learned a lot about how gloves are built. Over the past year I have even had gloves shipped to me from some far away places to have them repaired. Pretty exciting to have someone have that kind of faith. Some repairs are very simple and take just a few minutes. Others, well, let’s just say they are a test of my patience and creativity.
So what does it take to repair a broken glove?
Tools – you have to use the right tools for the job and unfortunately the universal tool they sell you when you buy a glove repair kit isn’t, in my opinion, the best option. I use a variety of different tools and techniques which I have learned over the years. The best and most versatile tool is a surgical clamp. You can order these on line but have to be sure you get the appropriate size. Another option is a piece of wire that you can use very much like you would use a needle and thread to sew. And of course you need a needle nosed pliers and some sort of cutting tools. Whatever tools you use can be a personal preference but you do need to have the right tools or you will do more harm than good.
Knowledge – the more gloves you do the more you learn. Experience is a valuable asset when it comes to glove repair work. There is one very simple rule to keep in mind. A picture is worth a thousand words and taking a few pictures before you start cutting out old lacing is a really good idea. Another great option is to replace the lace as you remove the old lace. This will take longer but it serves as the perfect road map to guide you to where the new lace is supposed to go. If you just start cutting out the old laces without knowing how it all goes back together you will be in for some real heartache.
Confidence – sometimes you just need to jump right into the project and have faith that you can get it done. It’s not uncommon for me to get a glove that is in serious need of repair and the reason that the glove is in such bad shape is the efforts of dads/coaches/friends who tried to do a repair without either the tools or knowledge. I have been handed gloves that were such a mess of zip ties, shoelaces, duct tape and other temporary fixes that the idea of following the old laces as a guide to how to repair the glove is long gone. When I get a glove in this bad of shape I know, no matter what I try, that it will be an improvement, so my confidence soars.
Common Sense – when someone asks you to repair their glove they are entrusting you with something they really do care about. I still have my Cesar Cedeno signature model glove that I played with in 1979 so I know how much a glove means to the player who uses it. I always treat a glove I am asked to repair with the same care I have invested in my own glove (which has been re-laced three times). If you follow this golden rule you will always do a good job and see a smile when you return that glove to it’s owner.
Supplies – you can order lace from many of the glove manufacturers, which I think is your best bet, and will allow you to choose from many color options. Some sporting good stores sell replacement leather lacing, but usually only black or tan. If push comes to shove you can buy a glove repair kit, at most big box sports stores, which usually includes one piece of black lacing. But no matter how you put your hands on it, you need to get real glove lace if you want to do a good job. Leather shoe laces are a good emergency option but, only in an emergency.
Almost every glove can be repaired but every once in a while I will have to explain to someone that the cost of repairing a glove might be greater than the value of the glove itself. Some gloves have been used so long or been treated so poorly that they are on life support. Now, my opinion is that as long as the glove is still breathing everything needs to be done to keep it in the game.
If you love your glove, please treat it well! And when needed, find the right person to bring it back to life!
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?