Stinky Screwdrivers ... any cure ?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by ExTex, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. ExTex

    ExTex Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Arkansas
    I recently bought some used Craftsman screwdrivers at a moving sale. They are the clear plastic handles with red and blue bands... the usual ones from 1970's I would guess. Anyway, the handles had started to age and turn white on the surface. The only problem is that the plastic handles emit an unpleasant odor. It is sufficient so as to contaminate the other tools in the toolbox. I am not sure that Sears would exchange them since they are still functional.

    I wonder if anyone has found a cure for the odor ?

    I washed them in diesel and will air them out for the winter.

    Too bad they had been stored in an air-tight toolbox.
    #1
  2. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Location:
    tacoma warshington
    sure do!!! handles stinking?..reason enough to take 'em back. exchange 'em for new at...ta dah SEARs! the craftsman logo still carrys a lifetime guarantee. and handles should not smell! if some sales person wants to give you a hard time, just tell 'em you work in hospitals- that should smooth things out......mediocre tools but exchanging screwdrivers has put me miles ahead on my org. purchase, 35years ago!!!
    #2
  3. concours

    concours WFO for 41 years

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,456
    Location:
    Kensington, NH USA
    Got the same thing in my toolbox. Be interested to see the answer..
    #3
  4. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,671
    Location:
    El Segundo, CA
    It's an ongoing joke between my brothers and I to enjoy that Craftsman screw-driver smell. Hold one up to your nose, take a big long whiff.. Ah...

    :lol3
    #4
  5. MrBob

    MrBob Out there

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,660
    Location:
    The West, etc.
    Must be pretty bad if diesel fuel is an improvement. :eek1
    You could hit Sears tool department and hope for a sympathetic sales person who will warrant them. You could break them one at a time and exchange them over time, or you could dip the handles in some of that plastic coating stuff they sell at HF and seal them.
    #5
  6. buickid

    buickid Lets ride!

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Oahu, HI
    Yeah, could always try some plasti-dip over the handles...
    #6
  7. troidus

    troidus Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    16,846
    The last time I turned screwdriver tool handles white was when they were accidentally dunked in gasoline for a few days.

    I'd try scrubbing with Dawn. If that doesn't work, try a little mineral spirits. As a last resort, you could chuck up a sanding drum in the Dremel and take a few thousandths off, then repolish them.
    #7
  8. beemerjim

    beemerjim Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    449
    Location:
    w mass
    I just went & found one, and by God-you're right, it's a stinky little bugger. Never noticed it before, but I don't keep them all together in a drawer. Mine are allowed to range free, and are sometimes hard to round up, so the smell isn't as concentrated.


    Jim



    .
    #8
  9. Iwantabikesobad

    Iwantabikesobad Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,085
    Location:
    Bakersfield Ca. USA
    Break the tips off. Yep it goes against everything an honest tool turner knows, It only hurts until you have the new tools in your garage at home. It took me almost a week to sack up and break some Snap-0n stuff.
    Round off the tips of the + drivers and snap off the - drivers. Sears will change them out.
    Do you have the full set? They will question you if you want to exchange 4 drivers for a set of 8. Either take in a full set or take in a few singles at a time.
    My buddy snapped a craftsman level in half, took a half each to seperate sears and came out with 2 levels.
    #9
  10. troidus

    troidus Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    16,846
    Not cool. That's what makes tool suppliers stop giving free no-questions-asked replacements.
    #10
  11. ozmoses

    ozmoses Ride On

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,993
    Location:
    USA


    wtf?!
    #11
  12. HighTechCoonass

    HighTechCoonass Living the Dream....

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,509
    Location:
    land of the swamps!, Cajun Country LA
    Sears will replace them....

    It is the plastic in the handles breaking down, and is characteristic of the plastic, cellulose acetate butyrate.

    High temperatures make it worse, but it will show up at room temperature given time.


    Butyric acid. Spoiled butter smell. Puke, especially baby puke. Butyric acid is common in butter, only it is combined with glycerol in triglycerides. When it decomposes, the butric acid is released. Same in the handles.



    Butyric acid is a component of vomit. Its unpleasant smell has made it a useful stink bomb for non-lethal political attacks. It has been used to attack whaling boats and taint the whale meat, so that it cannot be consumed. It has also been used in a large number of attacks on abortion clinics.

    I have a few older Craftsman screwdrivers, where the handles are getting a waxy like coating on them over time. It can be scraped off with my fingernail but it looks like crap. It's a white-ish waxy substance, I can't seem to get it off with a wet rag or mild chemicals, I'm sure a wire brush will get it to come off but ruin the plastic handle in the process.

    What is this? And any idea how to get rid of the stuff?

    It's the plastic polymer breaking down. There's nothing you can do to get rid of it, short of replacing the tool or the handle. All you can do is try to slow down the process.

    Here's some information from a previous thread about plastic handles:

    http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2449384&postcount=18

    I'd guess your screwdriver handles look similar to the one I showed in the photo. I'd further bet that your waxy screwdriver handles have a slight vinegar odor, even though you didn't mention such.

    The waxy substance is a form of acetic acid. It's a skin irritant, so it would be best to wear gloves while handling the tools covered with it. The best way to remove it from the handles would be with a fine Scotchbrite pad, or a brass or fiber brush (by hand, not power). Then just wipe with a dry cloth.

    The waxy, chalky, cloudy substance will ultimately return--there's no stopping it once it starts--but you can slow the process by storing the affected items in open air, not closed up in a tool box, and in as cool, dry, and dark a location as possible.


    #12
  13. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    35,154
    Location:
    OAK
    The transparent Craftsman screwdriver handles smell like barf. Even brand new. That's the way it will always be. Don't fuck with tradition.
    #13
  14. rufus

    rufus We're burning daylight...

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,304
    Location:
    Coweta Oklahoma
    #14
  15. Beezer

    Beezer Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,065
    Location:
    Anchorage, formerly Spenard (hub of the universe)
    do NOT trade them in.... the new Craftsman Phillips drivers are total crap. they look ok but will only work on the easy screws. any screw that is "in there" will not come out with the C-man drivers,,,, they just cam out of the slots, where a Snap On or even an old style C-man will do the work.

    if the stink bothers you, cut off the plastic an make a new handle. the new Craftsman drivers are a waste of money to buy and a severe downgrade on a trade in.
    #15
  16. hayasakiman

    hayasakiman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    WPB, FL, USA
    I would replace them with new from Craftsman, turn around and sell them on eBay for Craigslist for profit,which is going to be used on better brand tools. Craftsman hand tools are guarantied for life and shall be replaced with no question asked.
    #16
  17. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    11,592
    Location:
    New(er) Mexico
    I wouldn't. The new screwdrivers are probably worse quality than the old ones, and possibly made overseas. I'd rather have smelly screwdrivers with solid, hard, functional tips than new ones with cheese tips.
    #17
  18. hayasakiman

    hayasakiman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    WPB, FL, USA
    Please don't cut up my post. And read it again in it's entirety.

    What I meant with "Better brand" is to get something other than Craftsman brand, which may have lesser quality tips nowadays, as mentioned earlier.

    If you like THAT brand to be your home county brand, so, let it be.
    #18
  19. bergermeister

    bergermeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,099
    Location:
    CA
    I bought a 'vintage' bubble face shield off ebay that has that vomit odor. I haven't seen any suggestions on how to neutralize it, so if anyone has done it, I'm interested to hear it.
    #19
  20. Mgbgt89

    Mgbgt89 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,716
    Location:
    Maryville, TN
    Same here. I get a nostalgic feeling when i smell an old craftsman screwdriver. Mine aren't old enough to smell yet, but dad's are.
    #20