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Solutions for splinters

comments (18) August 18th, 2009 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
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This bad boy looks like its easy to remove, but what about the ones that really get under your skin? - CLICK TO ENLARGE

This bad boy looks like it's easy to remove, but what about the ones that really get under your skin?


Splinters are a hazard of our woodworking hobby. Last week I was shuffling through some rough boards, looking for "the one,"  which of course was at the bottom of the stack. I wasn't wearing gloves and was working quickly when one edge of a board lanced me with a long wooden spike (OK, it wasn't that big, but it sure did hurt).

The splinter was easy to remove by gripping the exposed end with my fingernails and ripping it out. But I've always had trouble getting out the little guys. Sometimes, if they're available (and clean) I use tweezers; sometimes I just pick, pick, pick with my nail until it comes loose, then I pull it out with my fingers or my teeth (yes, it's gross!). 

Can anyone offer some better methods, or at least more sanitary methods, of removing wood splinters? Help a brother out before the next splinter bites.



posted in: blogs, splinters


Comments (18)

candeloria candeloria writes: FOOL PROOF splinter removal- unless of course,it comes out easy with tweezers,nail etc. get a small dish of very warm water and a small sliver of regular old bar soap, while soaking the finger in the warm warm water gently rub the soap over the area with splinter for a few min until skin is water logged for really deep ones not quite so long for others then take finger out of water give it a little squeeze youll be surprised how easy it pops right out. works every time but only with wood splinters
Posted: 10:03 pm on February 17th

old saw old saw writes: I can't add much to what has already been said about splinter removal other than to say that an investment in a pair of strong drugstore reading glasses or "cheaters" has been as much help as anything else. The really difficult splinters are metal ones, like from steel wool, and they seem to be smaller and more painful. Also, remember to sterilize your skin and the "instruments" with alcohol before using them - you do not want to take a chance on getting one of those antibiotic-resistant infections that are becoming more and more common.

Related to the subject of using tape to remove splinters and such, I've found that duct or masking tape is just the thing to remover fiberglass insulation from one's hands and arms.
Posted: 2:24 pm on October 25th

StevePark StevePark writes: For little ones, I use a pair of splinter tweezers from the local pharmacy (and I keep a set in my shop apron). If I can't get a good grip on a small splinter, soaking the area with hydrogen peroxide will sometimes help to push it out (something to do with the bubbles, I assume). For the big ones, Micro Mark sells a pair of surgeon's splinter forceps (www.micromark.com/SURGEONS-SPLINTER-FORCEPS,7188.html) for about $15 that has the leverage to clamp onto nearly any embedded object and drag it out. I've carried a pair in my canoe-tripping first-aid kit for years.
Posted: 11:58 am on September 3rd

bill117 bill117 writes: I see other people have mentioned useing tape. I have found that double faced tape is much more sticky than masking or celophane tape and realy grabs a splinter even if you can't see it but can feel it.
Posted: 11:41 pm on September 2nd

robbhammack robbhammack writes: I use an xacto knife with #11 blade if it's buried to deep to get a grip on. A related tip I learned years ago may also work for many very fine spinters - I haven't had occasion to try yet. when you brush up against some types of cactus, you can get many fine spines embedded - most smaller than a hair. to remove them with magnifying glass and tweezers is very tedious, but if you drip melted candle wax over the area (or use one of those wax kits your wife /daughter / SO may have around), when the wax cools it shrinks around the ends and they can all be "peeled out" at the same time.
Posted: 8:46 pm on September 2nd

nava1uni nava1uni writes: I always keep a pair of Uncle Bill's tweezers hanging above my work bench and they work great. If it is too small I cover it with a piece of adhesive tape and leave it for a few hours the then pull it off in the opposite direction of entry. I always clean the area, apply some antibiotic ointment and cover it with a band-aid to keep it clean.
Posted: 12:08 pm on September 2nd

nava1uni nava1uni writes: I keep a pair of Uncle Bill's Sliver tweesers hanging on a nail above my workbench. If it is too short to grab I apply a piece of adhesive tape over it and leave it for a little while then pull it off in the direction of entry. That usually gets it out. The little tiny ones that come from mahogany or redwood I just leave and my body reacts and then they come out with a little soaking. I always clean the area and cover it with a little antibiotic ointment and a band-aid to keep it clean.
Posted: 11:58 am on September 2nd

meb3703 meb3703 writes: This will be long, hang with me, it's worth it....
A few years back I was building 2 cedar stripped canoes. I had ripped the cedar, and put the cove and bead on the strips. Each step consisited of running a piece of sand paper down the cove, cleaning the fuzz out of the cove. Well, I got a "sliver" of cedar, about the size of pencil lead, up under my thumbnail, exiting at the nuckle. Wife was out with the kids, I couldn't pull it out, so I wrapped it up with a bandage can continued working with just 9 fingers. A few hours later she showed up, we pulled the bandage off, and the thumb had swollen over the thumbnail....off the the minor ER room we went. Doc looked at it and determined he had to deaden the finger with a shot, this is where it gets "fun".
When he pulled my thumb back to open the joint in my palm, the room went to two small white dots, the pain exceeded my ability to control my actions....I took an offisive move to releive the pain, grabbing the doc on his most sensitive area. Yep right there in front of my wife and nurse. He established a new level of pain appreciation, and let go of my predicament, which allowed me to let go of his predicament, if you get my drift. We re-established the rules of giving and receiveing shots, I was strapped down to the gurney, he stood in an area unaccessable to my other hand, and the shot was administered, at which time I passed out.
Two years later, I took my daughter to the same minor ER, the same doctor was there, he kept loking at me and finally asked "Splinter?" I said "yep", my daughter said "That's a true story?" the doc said "yep", and the urban myth was substantiated...the nurses said they never beleived the other nurse, the doc said he has postitioned his body for every shot since, and to this day, I look at each woodworking expereince with an appreciation to the ounce of prevention saying when it comes to protecting my hands from splinters.
Posted: 10:01 am on September 2nd

ibdegen ibdegen writes: I can't believe nobody's mentioned Uncle Bill's Sliver Gripper. It can be had for $4 to $6, and the model I prefer has a clip that will hang it on a key chain in no more room than two small flat keys! I'm never without a pair.

I haven't had a splinter, big or minute, that hasn't succumbed to the Sliver Gripper. Even when the splinter is tiny and below skin level, the tweezer can gently and precisely peel the skin away from around the entrance wound. As soon as you see the head of the splinter, consider it gone!

I don't work for this company and I'm not in any way affiliated with it. I'm only a fan who wishes he had invented it. If I had the resources, I'd engrave my name on them and use them as business cards.

Just Google "Uncle Bill's Sliver Gripper." Or they may be sitting unassumingly at your local hardware store's checkout counter.
Posted: 9:43 am on September 2nd

wagonboss wagonboss writes: Splinters can be a problem, and you ask "what about the ones that aren't protruding above the skin?" About thirty years ago I bought a 'splinter probe' (no. 3615) from Zee Medical Supply, along with a pair of tweezers with a small maginying glass. The probe is three sided on the end and can go under the skin and slice it open to get to the splinter, then with the nice magnifying glass and tweezers the splinter will pull out. Many people try to use a sewing needle, but it's pointed on the end and just tears in one spot, not to mention very annoying in the process. The splinter probe eliminates that problem.
Posted: 9:39 am on September 2nd

Azman Azman writes: Splinter forceps! Got one about 20 years ago from a sales rep when I worked in an E.R.
http://www.amazon.com/Hunter-Splinter-Forceps-Curved-inch/dp/B000VSVPAU/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1251264426&sr=8-19
Posted: 1:30 am on August 26th

Diesldoc Diesldoc writes: A drop of dish soap on a band-aid with some sugar sprinkled on it - then applied to the cussed splinter site. Once the skin softens and wrinkles - could take two or three apps - the splinter will usually give up to a well honed set of tweezers.
my Wee Scottish Mum's recipe - it works....
Posted: 5:30 pm on August 25th

CharlieP CharlieP writes: Someone gave me a horse syringe needle - sharper than the sewing needles I have used for years, and slides under the buried sliver like a shovel. I hear you can get them at farm supply stores, but the "gift" hasn't worn out yet.
Posted: 12:42 am on August 20th

Beckum Beckum writes: Most of the small ones are a "pinch and roll" to get the end exposed enough to grab with a tweezers and pull it out. For the deeper ones, I have dug them out with needles and even gone so far as to cut along the point of entry in the direction it went in enough to expose enough of the end of the splinter to get a hold of. Mostly, I wear gloves and take my time so as to avoid the whole thing. The tape idea sounds interesting, I might have to try that one of these days.
Posted: 10:53 am on August 19th

antsecho antsecho writes: hi Tom
I have always found that the best way to get the little suckers out is with cellotape. You just put it over the splinter them rub it and rip it off, bringing the splinter out.
Posted: 9:34 am on August 19th

DaveRichards DaveRichards writes: Tom, sometimes I find I can scrape a sliver out with the edge of a utility knife blade. Just drag the blade in the opposite direction that the sliver went in.

Packing tape is sometimes useful for getting hold of a sliver, too.
Posted: 3:37 pm on August 18th

Jurgen01 Jurgen01 writes: In most cases, I use my knife (always razor sharp) to lift splinters out. Small splinters will come out if you "scrape" over them. For larger splinters, slide the knife on your skin to the splinter as if you were going to scrape it. When the splinter is against the knife blade, capture it with a finger pressed against the knife blade and lift it out.

I have used everything from needles to pliers (don't ask) to remove splinters, but most of the time, my pocket knife works best. I went to an emergency room with a splinter I could not remove by this method and the docter told me to leave it in -- it came out by itself three months later.

Once the splinter is out, a good clean-up of the splinter site is a good idea whenever possible. A band-aid with antibiotic salve kept on overnight usually prevents the infection that is common with splinters, too.
Posted: 2:22 pm on August 18th

GEide GEide writes: Gross pix Tom.

My mom always used to use a sanitized sewing needle when she needed to dig an embedded splinter out.

Posted: 10:45 am on August 18th

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