By Noah Zavolas
Repairing a broken or worn out baseball or softball glove may seem daunting, but more often than not, it requires little more than a commonsense understanding of how gloves are put together.
Amidst the tangle of lace criss-crossing the glove, looping lazily along in one place and then quickly disappearing and popping up in quite a different place, there exists a sensibility, a delicate order amongst chaos. The technical knowledge and set of tools required to replace one lace, or many, is relatively minimal, and you will find that the more gloves you take apart and put back together, the more the foundational patterns will emerge. Relacing and reconditioning gloves is an art form, and hopefully this guide will establish key features of lacing and lacing well.
- Leather lace needle – These needles have threads in the rear end, allowing a lace to be cut to a taper and screwed securely into the needle. The PermaLok needles are durable, and the flat head helps keep track of the smooth and rough sides. http://www.buyfastpitchgloves.com/f/Using_the_Perma-Lok_Needles.pdf
- Needlenose pliers (smooth jaw) – Long, thin jaws will help tighten or loosen lace in tough to reach areas and in very tight knots. The smooth jaws prevent marring the smooth side of the lace.
- Wire Snips – Wire snips make quick work of disassembly. Scissors are cumbersome you’ll likely mar the glove leather itself.
- The smooth side of the lace always faces up/is visible. The only exception is on the back of the fingertips.
- Slightly thinner lace should be used for the heel and palm laces. Thinner laces allow for an easier break-in and a more natural feel. It’s nearly impossible to buy laces thin enough for this application, but the desired effect can be achieved with a leather skiver, or more commonly a spindle sander.
- Almost every knot you’ll tie on a glove is a square knot. These knots look very nice when tied correctly and quite ugly when done poorly. The best way to get good-looking, tight knots is to grasp an end of the lace in each hand with the smooth side facing up, and go left over right and then right over left.
- One of the worst feelings when lacing a glove is running out of lace mid-stitch. Experience will teach you how much lace to alot for each stitch. Generally laces come in 72” lengths, and you’ll usually want five laces for a normal glove and six for a Trapeze web or 1st baseman or catcher’s mitt.
Rough estimate of the length of lace needed for each stitch:
- Palm lace: ½ lace
- Heel lace: ½ lace
- Thumb lace: ¼ lace
- Pinky lace: ¼ lace
- Web lace: 1 lace (varies greatly depending on type of web)
- Finger lace: ¾ lace
- Wrist closure: 8”
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