Dry slippery hands – any cures?

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    Flemming Aaberg

    I’ve put this under ‘Tools’ because my hands are my most important ones.
    I have very dry hands to the point that when I pick up tools, wood or whatever I have to grip extra hard for them not to slip. For example: putting a smooth 1 meter length of 12mm x 100mm of pine in the vice really needs me to grip hard and even then it usually slips – and I do have strong hands. Even simple things like holding a pencil needs a firm grip, and picking up brads is almost impossible. If I’ve just washed my hands and they are still slightly damp then there’s no issue and if I use surgical gloves it’s also not a problem. But neither of these is a convenient solution.
    I’m looking for something that will increase the ‘stickiness’ of my fingers without the inconvenience and without affecting the wood etc.
    Anyone here had the same experience and found an answer?


    Similar experience. Use a strong moisturizer when you go to bed every night.

    It will maintain the oils in your skin, and improve grip.

    Flemming Aaberg

    Sounds promising – any idea what the key ingredients are in the moisturiser you use?

    Colin Scowen

    Doesn’t help for the wood, but it may be worth putting some material on the tools to help with the grip. Strip plaster, or paper / electrical / grip tape maybe. Or if they have wooden handles, maybe abrade them with sandpaper? Or a pair of fingerless gloves, that would help to increase the grip in the palm, but leave your finger tips free? (Buy a pair of chap welding gloves and cut them up to try maybe.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    Roberto Fischer

    I’d find a dermatologist. You could have dermatitis, eczema, who knows. In general, they might just recommend moisturizing like Darren said, but if it’s bad enough, they might ask you to do something else, like steroid cream + cotton gloves.

    I have eczema which mostly affects the back of my hand and my finger tips. I solved it by moving to a more humid region. Not that I moved with the intent to cure it, but it did get 10x better.


    I use a UK brand called Aveeno (I think it is J&J):

    Aveeno Skin Relief (very dry skin).

    It is fragrance-free.

    Larry Geib

    In the USA there is a product called bag balm, originally developed for cow udders.
    It’s basically petrolatum, lanolin, and a mild disinfectant. It is a little sticky, but does the job.
    It’s used a lot by sailors and others who work outdoors

    Another product is O’Keefe’s working hands which works a little less well, but isn’t as sticky.

    David Hardy

    I’m a cellist and use this product during the dry winter months: Lee Sortkwik Fingertip Moisteners. I just use it on the inside of the fingers – it’s perfect for holding the cello bow and lasts for hours. I would imagine it would work for you too. (I’ve tried Bag Balm – it’s too greasy!)


    Would a chalk ball like gymnasts use help? They are about the size of a tennis ball. I don’t know if the powder would affect finishes, but if it is just chalk, my guess is it would be fine.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Common adverse effect from a plethora of drug classes. To eliminate the reduced sudomotor function, an alternative free from the effect has to be found, and that is often difficult. Then, there are a substantial number of chronic diseases, ranging from autoimmune ones to nerve entrapment. Finally, it seems in many instances to be an idiopathic condition

    In my case it’s a consequence of medication, and with no hope of finding an alternative I’ve resorted to using thin gloves. The ones on the attached photo provide very high friction, which is really great for lifting and fixating; not only do lids come off jars a lot easier, but they are also a great aid at the shooting board and when marking out. Their drawback is that they can become warm.

    The ones linked, I use for all other woodworking. They are thinner, increase friction, don’t hamper touch very much, and they reduce injuries (very important, given my clumsiness).


    From your name, Flemming, and use of metric units, I would suspect you are in Denmark. If so, Guide gloves can be found on line and in shops. The same applies to UK.

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Flemming Aaberg

    Already roughen handles of my tools or with new handles I make I don’t smooth them off.

    Flemming Aaberg

    Thanks everyone – I will check out the hand creams suggested; I’ve just tried gymnast’s chalk – no good; Sven, I was born in Denmark but raised in Australia since 1963.
    If all fails I will indeed be visiting my doctor again.
    I’ll let you know if I have any success.

    Patrick Lundrigan

    Two (non wood working) things to try:
    SortKwik, it’s used on fingertips for handling money and paper, could probably get it in a stationary store.
    Gorilla Snot, used by guitarists to make their pick sticky and not fly out of their hands during a guitar solo.
    I do use SortKwick – I can’t turn a page of a book w/o it or licking my finger. I haven’t tried it in the shop, but I will now.
    Both might costly though, They only come in small jars. 🙂

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