Handscrew Repair

My Father has recently decided he is too old to do workshop type work anymore.  At 83 I’ll let him use that excuse.  As a result of his decision he has started unloading some of his tools on me.  Many have seen better days.  Florida’s salt air is hard enough on tools, and much of what he liked to work on were boats, so his tools had a hard life.  I’ve decided a few are worth rescuing.

This handscrew clamp had was one of the first in need.  For the most part it was still operational, but some of  its wood was burned, damaged and worst of all, polyurethaned {GASP}.  The polyurethane made it look bad and made the jaws slippery… not a good attribute for a clamp.  Please, for safety’s sake, never put a film finish on a handscrew’s jaws.  Boiled linseed oil works fine, or just leave them natural and they will grip just fine.

polyurethaned handscrew clamp

Getting started removing the polyurethane with a card scraper.

Removing polyurethane with a card scraper is a pretty easy job.  Fortunately this handscrew only had a couple of coats on it.  As it came off along with a wee bit of patina (grime and grunge) a stamp emerged.  “Jorgensen”  brought a smile to my face.  It had a few siblings to hang on the rack with.

Cleaning the jaws of a handscrew clamp.

Removing the polyurethane from the jaws of the handscrew.

The jaws needed some work.  They were badly damaged, rounded and even had burns at the hands of someone clearly using the wrong tool for the job.  The tips of the jaws were especially bad.

Damaged handscrew jaws.

Holes, breaks, burns, and rounded edges on the business end of this handscrew.

The cleanest repair for this seemed to be amputation of the tips of the jaws.  There was plenty of length to them so it seemed they should remain usable even if they lose 3/8″.

Handscrew clamp jaw repair.

With the tips cut off, the jaws become more usable.

After a bit more scraping and cleaning, hear was the end result.  One of the handles had some surface damage that made it uncomfortable to use, so in cleaning that up, I turned it into an octagon.  I found that the octagon handle made it much more effective than the other, so later turned the other handle into an octagon.  The change i s pretty quick with a block plane.

Old Jorgenson handscrew clamp.

Handscrew repaired and fully usable.

Whether recovered from a polyurethane shell or purchased new, handscrews in a variety of sizes can be of tremendous value in the shop.  I use them all the time.  I am partial to the Jorgensen as they are well made and made in the USA. I do understand that the Pinnacle brand and Dubuque clamp works brand are also made in the USA but I have no firsthand experience with either of them.

Handscrew Clamps

If you are new to using handscrews, here is some information and  inspiration on using them.

Where to find them: