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Tools for Hand gripping problems


#1

I have been experiencing problems with my hands when making
jewellery a little lately. My doctor has said it is due to
hyper-mobility in the joints (basically they are too bendy and over
extend) so are liable to dislocation.

It is mostly a problem with tightly gripping things, so not great for
a jeweller! I have bought a ‘piercers pleasure’ from Rio Grande which
is great but does anyone have any suggestions for tools that can
help. Quick release stuff would be good so my making time isn’t
extended too much. I am based in the UK, but will happily order from
USA as the selection of tools the re is greater. Please help!

Thanks
Laila Smith
www.crossstreetworkshop.co.uk


#2

One fairly inexpensive modification that may offer you some relief
is to use a thermoplastic like “jett-set” or friendly plastic to
customise the tools you already own. The products are activated by
placing the granules or sheets in hot water, then applying to the
tool handles until the handles are as wide as gives you relief. Often
something larger to grip is the answer. After you customize the
handle as the thermoplastics are quite rigid/hard, you may elect to
wrap a foam tape like is available at sporting goods stores for
tennis racquet’s or bat handles, etc. or in the first aid section of
the druggists (nex- care brand foam tape is waterproof too) a single
wrap would suffice, more may undo your customization as the
thermoplastic conforms to your grip. My mum has carpal tunnel
syndrome and essential tremors in her right arm and hand. Recently I
customized her knives, kitchen tools etc. with thermoplastics and
thus far she has reported (quite frequently!) far less pain. A wrist
brace also helps some people. They are available at many gen.
merchandise stores and are inexpensive (I sell them for 4 dollars and
that’s perhaps the high end!), most are washable ( though not good in
a gas dryer as the temperatures exceed the elastics tolerances) and
will last a few years if kept out of direct sunlight or chlorine
exposure. If you are interested in thermoplastics and can’t find them
in your area, contact me off list and I will send you some sources.
Many craft sellers sell “friendly plastic” in sheets, which can then
be cut to bits to make them applicable other than being limited to
"sheet style" wrapping of tools etc. As for the piercers pleasure
bench pin, if the spring is too hard to lift you can adjust the
tension- though it’s effectiveness will decrease a bit. Not at all to
sound condescending but using a wooden clothespin as a fulcrum to
lift it may make it easier to use as the tension is then distributed
throughout the clothespin’s shaft as opposed to your finger’s joints.
Hope this helps ! RER


#3

One simple thing I did when I was doing a lot of piercing work was to
wrap a cloth around the handle of my jewelers saw and then tape that
in a couple of places - it provided a cushioned, larger surface to
hold and help keep me from squeezing the handle as tightly as
otherwise. Also requires less movement to turn the saw while in
motion
because of the larger handle. I’ve also tried slipping a foam bicycle
handle tube on one of my saw handles, it helps but it’s not as large
or soft as the cloth.

Miche


#4

I do a lot of wax carving under the microscope, and had to make my
own carving tools to get them small enough.

The traditional tool to start with and modify is a dental scraper, I
found that gripping these for long periods made my hand ache. I first
tried an orange rubber sleeve on the handle, just a length of rubber
tube that I had in the workshop, this went very shiny and was nearly
as hard to grip.

The solution was clear silicone tube, 5mm ID and 8mm OD, it will
push over 5-6mm rods and has a lasting ‘tackiness’. It also does not
get grubby off your hands. I haven’t tried it on larger tools but I
am sure it would be just as good.

I am in the UK so I don’t know about a US supplier, the type I got
was a food grade silicone with a matt surface and cost me about
UKP1.00/metre

regards Tim Blades.


#5

You would be very suprized how far a pair of gloves goes. Im talking
about construction workers gloves, they are mostly leather, well
padded and fit the hand very well. I use them all the time now when
Im on the foredom and engraving setup for any length of time. It has
really helped with keeping my hands pretty free of soreness. The
gloves are not bulky by any means and it does take a little while to
get used to them, but they really help.

Good Luck,
P@
www.patpruitt.com


#6

Hi,

this is a thread in which I will be very interested.

I have used Polymorph (UK) to help me with my saw frame.I have
trouble with arthritis and my thumbs hurt when I do the pincer
movement to tighten the saw blades.

I still prefer the bog standard saw frame and so have made a 2 1/2
ins long, flat sausage shape with a slit to fit over the wing nuts.
This gives me a very large wing nut to work with and it works very
well. I have also made these a permanent feature on anything which
requires tightening.

Polymorph has made a good handle into which fits the key for my
pendant drill. It gives me more to hold onto if you see what I mean.
I too find it very hard and I like the idea of using cushioned tape,
thanks for that one.

PS. Using the same design wing nut shape makes very good soda bottle
top openers. More leverage, less pain to finger and thumb.

Keep the ideas coming, cheers, Ruth.


#7

I had that problem with my hands. I mentioned it to my dentist and
she said "Because my hands are so important to my profession, I have
learned to wear hand braces at night. The braces hold your wrist in
a relaxed position so I don’t do any other damage while sleeping."
Viola! Not only do I stress my hands all day, but I ball them up at
night pulling my wrist down. Went to the drug store and bought one
for each hand. It changed my life. Knowing that letting your hands
drop causes stress on them is something to look out for during the
day. When riding in a car or sitting watching TV, be aware that your
hands are drooping over your knee or arm chair. Just train yourself
to turn your hands over. It is a small investment of less then $30
that will make a big difference.


#8

Hi laila smith

I have been experiencing problems with my hands when making
jewellery a little lately. My doctor has said it is due to
hyper-mobility in the joints 

Rio carries a product called “Jett Sett” (p 296 in the 2008 catalog)
– No afiliation Basically, the compound molds around tool handles
for a custom fit. Maybe making your tool handles chunkier will help.
The compound looks like it is pretty versatile for other applications
in your studio.

Holly


#9
You would be very suprized how far a pair of gloves goes. Im
talking about construction workers gloves, they are mostly leather,
well padded and fit the hand very well. I use them all the time now
when Im on the foredom and engraving setup for any length of time. 

You might also consider bicyclist gloves (padded palms and finger
tips removed).


#10

Just in case this helps anyone else with thumb pain…

I saw my pain management doctor on an unrelated issue, and mentioned
my thumb pain as an aside. I thought it was from gripping tools too
tightly, especially practicing my brand-new repousse skills, and that
a few weeks of not using my “death grip” would help, but as it turns
out, it’s tennis elbow! I’ve done my thumb in by too much rotating of
the forearm.

So now I’m trying to figure out how to do any of my “stuff” without
rotating my left arm, and trying to find the right spot for my brand
new “tennis elbow strap” that goes around the forearm just below the
elbow, pressing on the tendon, without cutting off circulation to the
fingers. :wink:


#11
I thought it was from gripping tools too tightly, especially
practicing my brand-new repousse skills, and that a few weeks of
not using my "death grip" would help, but as it turns out, it's
tennis elbow! 

I used to play 10 hours of tennis a week, string rackets and teach
enameling. It was the enameling that gave me tennis elbow, sawing the
tendon over the elbow with a heavy enamel plaque on a grid balanced
on a firing fork. Then I couldn’t play tennis, so I did some therapy
and exercises to build up the muscles in my forearm. Something else I
learned is that it helps if the grip on your racket (or tools) is as
large as you can comfortably hold. I made those changes and never had
tennis elbow again.

Donna in VA


#12

As somone who’s had the syndrome I have a couple of pieces of
advice.

First, get a brace that prevents you from over-rotating the wrist.
Most drug stores carry them.

Second, quit using the hand until the arm stops hurting. You cannot
work through tennis elbow.

I did both and after a couple of weeks I could resume normal
activity without problems.

RC