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Forum topic by CharlesA posted 11-30-2014 08:57 PM 1833 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3329 posts in 1821 days

11-30-2014 08:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question hygiene glue stain

The title of this post should be taken with a grain, perhaps a pound, of salt.

I was watching a Charles Neil video the other day and there was a closeup of his fingers—all kinds of stains on his fingers, etc. That got me to thinking.

I am in the type of work where having calluses on my hands, stain marks on the tips of my fingers, is not a plus. I used to wear framer’s fingerless gloves when woodworking, until I read how dangerous that was. Now my hands have a fair number of built-up calluses. I wear nitrile gloves when staining (when I remember); however, I usually don’t when doing glue-ups. Yesterday I had yellow glue and epoxy that I needed to scrub off.

Any tricks by those of you, whether by work issues or otherwise, who need to keep your hands looking gentlemanly?

And, yes, I don’t myself really care about keeping my hands this way.


-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

35 replies so far

View Rayne's profile


910 posts in 1563 days

#1 posted 11-30-2014 09:05 PM

I’m curious about this…how did you get the calluses? I’m an amateur woodworker who has been working in the garage for most of the year and I don’t see any signs of calluses yet. I use the Grripper and hand power tools a lot to avoid using my hands on the typical screw drivers when possible, so maybe that’s the case?

View CharlesA's profile


3329 posts in 1821 days

#2 posted 11-30-2014 09:10 PM

I don’t have huge calluses, but the two most prominent are on the inside of my thumb, right at the joint, and on my palm, between the first two fingers, about an inch down from the finger joints. I don’t do anything to avoid calluses—I use power tools when they’re handy. My wife tells me my hands are just getting generally rough.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1360 days

#3 posted 11-30-2014 10:12 PM

Mani pedis. ;)

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2340 days

#4 posted 11-30-2014 10:26 PM

Despite handling rough lumber constantly and woodworking 5-6 days a week, I don’t have major callouses. Most roughness comes from frequent hand-washing and neglect to use any sort of lotion. What does work is to rub a drop or two of glycerin on the hands after washing them – especially in the dry, Midwest, winter months.

Of course I always forget to do that until my hands get to the point where the glycerin stings.

-- See my work at and

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1618 days

#5 posted 11-30-2014 10:32 PM

View ChuckV's profile


3123 posts in 3550 days

#6 posted 11-30-2014 10:51 PM

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

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Dave Rutan

1711 posts in 2212 days

#7 posted 11-30-2014 11:08 PM

Have you ever taken a good look at Roy Underhill’s hands? Wow!

Just working around the house, I usually get what I call ‘handyman nicks’ on my fingers or hands.

If I get oil based paint or stain on my hands and I’m going somewhere public, I use mineral spirits to get the majority of it off, then spray WD-40 on them and rub, then wash copiously with soap and water. I don’t usually use gloves, but I think I’m going to start.

I worked for 13 years in a small print shop using inks, solvents and chemicals. I used to keep a sandwich bag handy to put my hand in for the really dirty work.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1360 days

#8 posted 11-30-2014 11:37 PM

Ok. Seriously now. I use gloves when finishing including stains and sealers and solvents like mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Not with lacquer because it melts the darned gloves. I keep a can of bag balm in the bathroom and I rub it in after shop time. If I do something stupid like get stain on my hands I use goo be gone followed by soap and bag balm.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View summerfi's profile


3953 posts in 1711 days

#9 posted 11-30-2014 11:47 PM

This is a good topic. My hands are stained most of the time from wood stain, varnish, and glues. It’s a pain when I go out in public. A partial solution is to use the stuff that comes in an orange jug that auto mechanics use to get grease off. I mix it with hand soap, scrub with a little hand brush and it helps, somewhat. I used to use paint thinner, lacquer thinner, or acetone, but I don’t anymore due to health concerns. As for callouses, I don’t seem to get them much. What I do get though is drying out and cracking of my finger and thumb tips. Then they become extremely sore. An antibiotic ointment and a couple days time is all I’ve found to help that. I use a lot of hand lotion, and that helps some too.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

View mahdee's profile


3888 posts in 1791 days

#10 posted 11-30-2014 11:58 PM

I have had calluses on my hands ever since I was 23 and most folks in the south respect that. I shake hands with people a lot older than me whose hands are so rough you want to give them a hug. There is nothing like feeling one’s hand, in a handshake that says this person uses his hands to make things come through; farmers, ranchers, woodworkers, roofers, construction folks; not body builders!


View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 1641 days

#11 posted 12-01-2014 12:06 AM

I’ve been anal about clean hands my entire work life and I’ve done all manner of rough work.
I use in separate applications, hydrogen peroxide, thinner and even bleach depending on what I was working on.
Diesel fuel and grease are the toughest to remove but a finger nail brush does wonders.
I do wear gloves when appropriate mostly on metal work.
Just in case anyone wonders why, I was a plumber so it’s kind of life or death necessity.

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1978 days

#12 posted 12-01-2014 12:22 AM

I live in Colorado where the humidity measures “unhealthy low”. As I get older, my hands get rougher. I’ve learned the hard way that raw wood really pulls the moisture from my hands. Now I wear nitrile gloves all the time when I’m in the shop. not just when I’m staining. It traps the moisture so it can’t escape my skin. I also rub my hands with a good dose of hand cream before I put them on. Saw dust really dries my hands, so picking up sand paper is a memory trigger to “glove-up”. Can’t begin to tell you how much my wife appreciates that gesture.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1985 days

#13 posted 12-01-2014 12:24 AM

I have to keep a professional appearance for work, but I’m not really worried if my hands get rough. Some people definitely respect people that work with their hands and some look down on it, so you can’t please everyone. I use gloves if I’m doing anything that will stain or get too much grime under my fingernails. If I forget I use the orange pumice hand cleaner. Works well, but tears the skin up even more. If that doesn’t work I’ll wet a bit of a rag in mineral spirits and wipe whatever area on my hands needs it instead of rubbing the mineral spirits around. Works almost as well, and way less MS exposure. When my hands get too rough where my wife complains or they are cracking from being dry I put a good layer of her Neutrogena Hand Cream on before bed and having it on all night it usually helps a lot. Bob, I get that same thing with my thumb tips splitting sometimes, and same for me, the antibiotic ointment is the only thing that helps, besides just ignoring it long enough.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 1544 days

#14 posted 12-01-2014 05:36 AM

What’s the idea about not using gloves in the wood shop ? I have a pile of specialized gloves for each operation. I rarely go without gloves when handling rough lumber, and when using most of the machines.

Who says gloves shouldn’t be used in the shop and why, I wonder ?

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 1654 days

#15 posted 12-01-2014 08:53 AM

I only wear gloves when handling very rough lumber (which is rare) and when I am staining or lacquering, because the PVA glue I use washes off easily, I don’t get stains on my hands. I do get nicks and scrapes of all manner, but those heal quickly and I am not particularly worried about having my hands look like I’m a prince.

To answer Yonak’s question: you don’t wear gloves when handling machinery because it is incredibly dangerous, just as any other loose garment or hair is. think of ripping something on a table saw, having your glove get pulled into the blade and your clearance plate. BTW, since your glove is on your hand, you’r hand will follow the glove into the blade, router bit or whatever… that is a nasty thing indeed, I could have lost most of my fingers on my left hand last in the beginning of this year by an accident just like that. Luckily my glove didn’t get stuck, but I would have not been nicked if it weren’t for the gloves.

So since then I never wear gloves when I am handling power equipment.

I also have unwinded my grandfathers hand from a pole which is he was turning on the lathe, because his sleeve caught the rough iron pole.. after you see a grown mans hand wrapped around a 1” diameter pole 4 times, you take safety more seriously.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

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