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Old 09-05-2015, 07:09 AM
Beartooth Regular
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Remote Idaho
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Hand care--

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After 55 years of hand polishing guns, I've found two products that gunsmiths need to know about.

Solvents, oils, stock finishes and strippers and bore cleaners are detrimental to hands and fingers. Abrasives, hammers and sharp things are too, but the solvents cause misery in the form of split finger 'corners', especially in the winter-time and especially in dry climates. There were times after moving West that I had more tape than fingers showing and the tape delayed healing.
Ted Blackburn's fingers looked like horse hoofs from polishing bottom metal 30 years ago and I asked him how he developed callouses instead of raw crevasses that hurt to look at...Paul Harvey's favorite hand lotion, Norwegian formula "Neutrogena". The smallest dab is plenty and please remember that an 'empty' tube is only half empty. Cut the bottom off and keep on using for weeks. Neutrogena is a magic lotion to CURE the split fingers, too. Twenty four hours is all it takes. It's pure magic.

I was one time snowed into a remote property for four months. I was 'rescued' by a friend with a plane. He dropped tire chains, ketchup and Neutrogena. The tire chains and hand lotion made it but the ketchup marked the snow covered canyon side they landed on.

The other product has several trade names, but it's 'liquid glove' of one kind or other. It's some kind of magic wax that is only water soluble. Paint stores have it. It dries slightly tacky on your hands but soon 'disappears' in grime, grease, abrasive goo or stock finish. I totally forget I have it on until its time to pee (the difference between dentist and gunsmiths is when they wash their hands...and income.) and the warm water rinses the dirtiest of hands without soap. Its magic!!

Carpal tunnel syndrome used to be a typist condition. It's also very common in machinist and gunsmiths. When your arm goes to sleep in the middle of the night and only responds to shaking it awake....congratulations, your hands have taken the first steps to surgery and surgery is the only cure, but braces will help (sometimes for years) in delaying it. Braces makes sleep possible by keeping the hand bent slightly backwards. Curling inwards causes the 'asleep' arm and eventually too much pain to sleep.
Surgery will give you your hands back. I had both done at the same time nearly two years ago. Piece a cake!!

Keep your digits out of the equipment!!
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Last edited by JBelk; 09-05-2015 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:27 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 6,009
Different trade, but same trouble. Thumbs and fingers would split so bad I carried pliers to get my zipper down. This stuff is real good IMO. Is not greasy, so you can really go back to work using it. I have no financial interest. Is pure pain management.


Working Hands | O'Keeffe's Company
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:39 AM
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Location: Mesa, Washington
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Pure lanolin, or pure jojoba saved months of hand issues for me.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:41 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Old Town, Florida
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Originally Posted by Cheezywan View Post
Different trade, but same trouble. Thumbs and fingers would split so bad I carried pliers to get my zipper down. This stuff is real good IMO. Is not greasy, so you can really go back to work using it. I have no financial interest. Is pure pain management.


Working Hands | O'Keeffe's Company
Be careful what you grab with them pliers, Bubba!
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Old 09-05-2015, 11:42 AM
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That's what I love about this board. Safety is always a top priority! Bong Son Buck's addition right there might just earn this thread qualification as a "sticky"?

Thanks for watching my back, err what ever.

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Old 09-07-2015, 12:20 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Near Ft. Benning, Ga.
Posts: 126
J B:

Back in the '80s, as a carpenter, working with treated wood caused the same condition as yours.
I saw some BAG BALM in W. M. one day....tried it...and it healed them up forthwith....Well, within a day or two. Been using it ever since. Quit the construction trade as a side-job and went into State Corrections but kept the BB and started using it for case lube. Best lube ever....Never had a stuck case since I started using it. Dual-purpose...So to speak.


Life's too short to worry about the Small Stuff.
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:06 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 10,063
My hands have more issues now than when I was younger. Parts cleaning solvent, oil and cutting fluid all wreck havoc on my hands. Lubriderm helps a bunch. I use the cream not the lotion.
Still Learnin' as I go!

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Old 09-10-2015, 02:26 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SEast, Pa.
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I work in a paint factory. Needless to say, the hands take a beating from solvents, epoxies, etc. I agree with others about what works best. For nasty splitting & raw spots I use O'Keefe's Working Hands. I try to use Nitrile & latex gloves (I double glove because of sensitivity to latex) as much as I can but then my hands sweat so much which also causes problems. For this I use Eucerin Intensive Repair.
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Old 09-10-2015, 02:42 AM
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I have used one called barrier cream that worked allright.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:18 AM
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My hands get extremely dirty during certain duties at work. Grease mixed with metal oxides soaks into the skin and is almost like a tattoo if you have dry calloused hands. I use WORX powdered hand soap, and it is easily the most effective hand cleaner I have ever used. It does not crack and dry your skin like the liquid and paste hand cleaners. It also will remove oil stains from your clothing if you rub it into the spot with a little water and launder it before it dries. A side benefit is that you don't have to wash your hands again, to get the hand cleaner off.
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:29 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Remote Idaho
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unclepaddy-- I'll get some of the hand soap. I can no longer find Boraxo which was my favorite for years but very drying.

Try Liquid Glove before work and skip the hand soap at first. I've been making a stock for a Superposed shotgun. In the final shaping and sanding stage my hand turn purple from the walnut dust mixed with sweat. It rinses off with water!!

When I was hollow grinding knife blades every day, the edges of my trigger fingers were my 'steady rests'. Callouses eventually allowed grinding until the smoke started, then a quench of blade and fingers. It took a year or more to get the stainless steel dust out of my hide! I wish I'd known about the liquid stuff then!

PS-- With the exception of the O'Keefe's which I'm trying now, all the other products, lotions, salves, ointments and unguents are to my hands and my experiments inferior to Neutrogena to heal and prevent cracks, splits and dry hands. Channeling old man Herter, 'Its tried, tested and proven effective in the high, cold Rocky Mountains by elk guides and gunmakers.'

Remember, when the tube is 'empty' it's actually half full. That's an optimist's hand cream!

Last edited by JBelk; 09-14-2015 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 01-13-2017, 05:00 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 164
Back when I worked for the State of Montana, we firefighters would occasionally have to help the Foresters, spray noxious weeds on the State owned property when the fire season was slow. Anyhow to legally spray weeds with certain chemicals, we had to attend classes to get certified. Of course, since you're working with toxic chemicles, you had to know routes of ingestion/exposure to keep yourself safe from unknowingly ingesting the poisons. It turns out, the skin on the face, hands, feet, and testicles readily absorbs and allows toxins to quickly enter the bloodstream. The instructer also said, people in the automotive repair industry, regularly get high levels of chemical exposure from things like you all mentioned. Oils, grease, parts cleaners, etc. etc. naturally have harmful toxins in them, that over time can build up in a persons system, and lead to all sorts of poisoning from mild to near deadly and some are also cancer causing as many of you already know. So keep those body parts protected when you can, and ESP THOSE......LOL !!!
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Old 01-13-2017, 06:47 PM
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I like both your suggestions and have used them for years. Finger tips started cracking last week so my daughter whipped out her tube of Neutrogena. Started using liquid gloves when we were installing Gill liner, a fiberglass sheet, in cargo aircraft, at the advice of my boss. Use it on hands and forearms.
Good shooting...
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Old 01-13-2017, 07:35 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Missouri
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Very glad to hear about your Carpal Tunnel results JBelk. I am a semi-pro guitarist and have it in both wrists to some extent, but worse in the left. The right is not badat all. I have had three cortizone shots in the left wrist over the last three years and the doc says the most she will give is four. She is a surgeon that specializes in this. This is a down time of the year for playing music so I decided to get the left done in a couple weeks. The only problem I am having with it is that I am in a rather long stretch (going on two months) of not having much problems with it. It's still there, just hasn't been acute of late. Heck I used a chain saw for over an hour today and it didn't bother it much. The vibration normally does. Makes me have second thoughts. I almost wish it would get real bad again (as it has gotten a few times in the past) to ease my mind as to this being the right time. I make good money and have a lot of fun with these hands playing music and hate to have them cut on if I don't need to. I know if I don't though, about mid summer when I'm on stage at the lake in front of 400 people and it goes numb, I'd regret not getting it taken care of.
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Old 01-14-2017, 04:33 AM
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Location: Remote Idaho
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BD-II- My hands went through periods of 'less problems' and would suddenly get worse than ever. For nearly 30 years, I played the guitar every night but had to finally quit when it just hurt too bad. It's been two years now since surgery, my hands are great but I've never picked up a guitar again to even try it.

Don't wait too long. My left hand is not 100% and the thumb 'different' in the joint from being pulled out of place for so long.

Be SURE to get a surgeon that uses the minimal invasive process. The scar is only half inch long and runs crossways the wrist instead of two inches up the center of the hand. I've got a doctor here locally that uses my rifle range that can fix you right up but hurry. He's going to Africa soon.
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:17 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: West coast central Florida
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Dry/chapped/cracked fingers

LANOLIN is a great help & can be found in many forms. The best I found that was at my disposal (five finger discount) was the breast cream nursing woman use on their nipples, hold the jokes. Dry climates & solvents, etc, don't help. If you know you are going to be doing dirty work there is a barrier product you put on first that helps remove the dirt later, solvents are another story. dry/cracked hands are an occupational hazard for those that have to hand wash a few hundred times a day.

Last edited by nachogrande; 01-14-2017 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:26 AM
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned Corn Huskers Lotion yet. Many farmers swear by it.
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Old 01-14-2017, 07:38 AM
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I've never tried "Corn Huskers Lotion", but Bag Balm, O'Keefe's, Liquid Glove and of all things White's Boot Grease have done well for me.

"Carpul tunnel" (my young son called it "carpet tunnel") is a nasty thing. Even though it only affects your thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of your ring finger, it's effects can be permanent if not treated. Another culprit for hand numbness is radial nerve impingement or entrapment which can be just a big a pain the keester as Carpul Tunnel as it affects the other half of your ring finger and your pinky. Having both at the same time is a ROYAL P.I.T.A.

Wrist or thumb pain (and/or numbness) is not always the result of "carpet tunnel" or radial nerve damage, it can also be caused be cartilage deterioration in the wrist joint primarily between the ulna and lunate bones (outer wrist pain) or the radius and the scaphoid bones (thumb pain) Years of operating 1 inch impact wrenches without vibration reducing gloves has "removed" for all practical purposes, 90% of the cartilage in both of my wrists.

The surgeon who's had the pleasure of cutting on me is an artist. I given him plenty of money, time and opportunities to practice. His incision sites in my palms and wrists have left no visible scars, just pieces of stainless steel resembling erector set and those we took out after a year or so

Not that I'm worried about scars anyway.

Keep your powder dry and when you go afield take the kids and please..........wear your seat belts.
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Old 01-14-2017, 08:19 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Remote Idaho
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ANYTHING is bad if it affects sleep/rest. Carpal Tunnel won't allow sleep for more than an hour or so. Braces can extend the time some but not forever.

I've used Bag Balm and Corn Huskers and most of the hand lotions in years past but for my money, Neutrogena beats them all and by a wide margin. Another benefit is that its "Fragrance free" so you don't have the hooker/eu de goat odor drifting around you all day from hand lotions. I suspect they're all just different mixtures of lanolin and other sterates with glycerine and a thinner.
There is no safe direction to point an unsafe gun.

Last edited by JBelk; 01-14-2017 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 02-07-2017, 04:50 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: West Centeral Wisconsin
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When I was a kid my dad ran the local feed mill. They also bought wool during the shearing season. The farmers would roll the wool up and tie the bundles up with twine. We would stack the bundles up on the scale and weight the wool. Handling those bales of wool with that lanolin and a little sheep crap mixed in kept our hands baby soft. Any one for a couple sheep.
Lots of luck from Western Wisconsin.
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