Scrunchers vs Punchers

As many of you may know, I love my glovebox. If you haven’t been able to experience the magic of doing a dump-and-stir Grignard reaction (with quantitatively pure arylmagnesium bromide, weighed out as a lovely crystalline material), you should absolutely consider borrowing your nearest metal-friendly neighbor’s box and having a go. You might never go back to the Schlenck line again.

Intentional hyperbole aside, when I was training my newest undergraduate researcher, we came upon the most intriguing of trends. You see, when I go into the glovebox, I “punch” my way in; that is, I use an uppercutting motion and put my entire arm in at once (barring a glove that is sticking for some reason, usually a result of the gloves having been used by a person with smaller hands earlier in the day). I taught this method to my undergraduate, who agreed that it was an effective way to get into the glove.

Later, though, a coworker took notice and told him, “You know, it’s way easier to just put each arm in a little bit, scrunch it down over the rest of your arm, and then go the rest of the way.” Later, in confidence, the undergraduate confided in me that, though he tried it for our coworker’s sake, it wasn’t an especially comfortable way to get into the box.

I got to thinking about it more and more, and noticed that there was a mix of methods in our lab for entering the glovebox; there were the Scrunchers, who go in a little, adjust the glove, and then continue, and there were the Punchers, who, like me, go in all at once like Heihachi from Tekken. Moreover, there was a distinct correlation with how long one’s arms are and one’s propensity to punch or scrunch. I am on the lower end of the puncher spread, with an arm length of 27.5″ from shoulder to fingertip, and a brief survey of my lab members and some random members of other groups in the department revealed that everyone surveyed with an arm length qualitatively less than that (I didn’t bring a ruler, just my arms) would scrunch instead.

I am interested in whether or not this is a general phenomenon. Readers, are you #TeamScruncher or #TeamPuncher? Share in the comments or on Twitter, and share your arm length if you feel so inclined!

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9 comments on “Scrunchers vs Punchers

  1. excimer says:

    Depends. If my arms are schwetty, scrunch. If they’re dry, I punch right in.

    Also, fisting.

  2. Chemdiary says:

    I have used glovebox several times. But, I think I still don’t have a typical technique. The place where I am going soon requires me to do EVERYTHING in glovebox. So, I will come back and leave a comment after a few months 🙂

  3. Bend says:

    I think my pressure is too high. There’s no way anyone’s punching into my glovebox. And we’ve all got arms like orangutans.

  4. I guess I can’t really imagine what either method looks like. I put my finger tips in the gloves for both hands and then slowly push in. Once in, I make any adjustments needed. Which method is that?

    • MB says:

      If you only get it over the fingers and then go in a single motion, that’s punching. Scrunching is getting your fingers in and then pulling the glove over your arm before going in the rest of the way.

      tl;dr, if you use your other hand to get your arm in for anything other than the fingertips, you’re a scruncher.

  5. bluekirby says:

    I’m in a synthetic inorganic group and we have 2 MBraun gloveboxes that run at 4 mbar pressure. To my knowledge none of the 5 of us scrunch in, we are exclusively punchers and all have arms that will completely fill the gloves. I myself and over 6 ft and have long arms, so it’s easy to just keep putting my arm in until my hand has fully filled the glove. I do try to line up my fingers when the glove is pushed back out, perhaps stick them in all the way, but all that does is make it easier to punch in. It might also have to do with the gloves themselves. We have 2 different thickness of gloves, and it’s much easier to punch into the thin gloves (but still possible to punch into the thick ones).

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