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Cleaning Rubberized Tool Handles & Restoring Vise Grips

Discussion in 'The Antiquated' started by Carl Hungness, Aug 2, 2022.

  1. Carl Hungness
    Joined: Jul 16, 2018
    Posts: 111

    Carl Hungness

    I just acquired a nice pair of water pump style pliers and they have what I'll call rubberized handles that have years of grime in the pores. Any suggestions on cleaning? Left to my own devices I'd probably spritz with, whatever was handy and hope I'd find
    something that would really clean them up.
    The second photo is one of an old pair of Vise-Grips and I don't think there's much I can do in restoration other than cleaning with a wire wheel on a die-grinder.
    I've recently become more interested in the old Vise-Grips (before Irwin bought them) as I just watched a video comparing all manner of vise-grips to one another on a fabulous YouTube site named Project Farm. The presenter utilizes some pretty scientific methods to test literally any tool you can imagine. The old needle nose Vise-Grips out-performed every other brand by a country mile. Most surprising was just how far down the list the Snap-On brand fared.
    I personally like the 'lever' the old Vise-Grips used to release tension and we all know just how good the steel in the jaws were. If memory serves correctly I think it was Soligen, from Sweden. The new Vise-Grips are excellent of course, but I'm opting for old school.

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  2. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,763

    from Berry, AL

    Some solvents will make those rubberized handles sticky. I’d try something like Gojo or Goop hand cleaner to start with.
    Carl Hungness likes this.
  3. AngleDrive
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 1,061

    from Florida

    Buy a gallon of food grade vinegar and submerse the visegrips for 3 or four days
    Carl Hungness likes this.
  4. Soak the vice grips in citric acid , vinegar, or store bought rust remover and then spray with wd 40 .the rubber handles I would soak in dove liquid soap and vegetable oil mix , works great on greasy hands !!!
    Carl Hungness likes this.

  5. nickleone
    Joined: Jun 14, 2007
    Posts: 379


    Carl Hungness and jimmy six like this.
  6. lemondana
    Joined: Feb 21, 2009
    Posts: 176

    from Lincoln NE

    CRC Brake Cleaner works well to clean the rubber handles.
  7. pigIRON63
    Joined: Nov 25, 2019
    Posts: 552


    Put the rubber handles in full strength Purple Power or similar degreaser for thirty minutes, take out and scrub with a soft brush. You may have to repeat the process a couple times. Soak the metal pliers in a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 7oz. powdered citric acid over nite. Clean the pliers with a soft brush, soak and repeat. The citric acid can be bought at your local grocery store in the spices or food prep aisle, or Hobby Lobby.
    Carl Hungness likes this.
  8. Bert Kollar
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,135

    Bert Kollar

    I have been cleaning my tools for 60 years with lacquer thinner. Buy a 5 gallon pail at a swap meet every two or three years
  9. Carl Hungness
    Joined: Jul 16, 2018
    Posts: 111

    Carl Hungness

    I had forgotten about the citric acid, which I've never used. I've never tried vinegar either, so I'll experiment with both. I mentioned Project Farm and the presenter tested rust removers. A solution of 50% acetone an 50% auto transmission fluid worked as well as any over the counter product. Thanks for all the great replies.
  10. Carl Hungness
    Joined: Jul 16, 2018
    Posts: 111

    Carl Hungness

    When I was a violin maker apprentice we'd spend hours, days, learning how to sharpen and make knives and chisels. I greased the end of a few chisels, dipped it in the plastic dip and let it hang over the can 'til dry. Then I was able to pop off the plastic and still have many of the nifty covers on protecting my hard earned labor.
    rod1 and jimmy six like this.

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