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  • Roberts Customs

The Ultimate Vintage Plier Restoration

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Transforming Old Tools for Our Bike Repair Workshop

At Roberts Customs, we're always on the hunt for unique and interesting ways to make our bike repair workshop stand out. One of our latest ventures is incorporating vintage tools into the mix. There's just something about the craftsmanship and history behind these aged treasures that captures our imagination and fuels our passion for bike restoration.

As we set out to find the perfect vintage tools for our workshop, we couldn't help but be drawn to the idea of using vintage pliers and cutters. These are versatile, practical, and essential tools for any bike repair shop. Plus, they often boast an aesthetic appeal that makes them stand out from their modern counterparts.

The search for these antique gems led us to eBay, where we discovered a job lot of old pliers and cutters with a wealth of potential. With some elbow grease and a bit of creativity, we were confident that we could bring these tools back to life and give them a new purpose in our workshop. Little did we know that this find would not only contribute to our vision for the workshop but also lead us on an incredible journey of restoration and transformation.

A Treasure Trove of Pliers and Cutters: The eBay Job Lot Discovery

Our search for vintage pliers and cutters on eBay eventually led us to a remarkable find: a job lot of mixed old pliers and cutters with an irresistible charm. With a starting bid of just £15, we were fortunate enough to be the sole bidder, and after adding £5.20 for postage, the grand total for this collection of tools came to a mere £20.20.

The lot included various types of pliers and cutters, with some general workshop pliers, Ford motors pliers likely originating from a 1970s car toolkit, and even a couple of high-end Maun industry cutters. The assortment also featured a large 10-inch pair of Sheffield shears that we hoped to clean up and potentially resell to recoup our initial investment.

Vintage Pliers and cutters before restoration
Vintage pliers before restoration, showcasing rust and wear

Upon closer inspection, it was clear that these tools had seen better days, with cosmetic signs of age and some surface rust. However, most of them appeared to have been barely used, if at all, and the cutting edges were still in great condition. This discovery gave us the confidence that, with a little time and effort, we could breathe new life into these vintage tools and make them a valuable addition to our bike repair workshop.

Breathing New Life into CK West Germany Pliers: A Restoration Journey

One of the most intriguing pieces from the eBay job lot was a pair of CK West Germany pliers. Despite their age, these pliers were in relatively good shape, with only minor signs of wear and some cosmetic blemishes. We decided to start our restoration journey with this particular pair, eager to see what we could achieve with a bit of elbow grease and patience.

Vintage CK pliers made in W Germany
Vintage pliers before restoration

The restoration process began with removing years of dirt, corrosion, and tarnish from the pliers. We initially tried using a steel wire wheel, but soon switched to a Scotch Brite wheel (also known as a satirizing wheel) which proved to be more effective. The wheel managed to clean the pliers, leaving them with a bright satin finish.

Restoring pliers with a steel wire wheel
Wire brushing the rusted plier surface to reveal the original metal

Cleaning pliers with a satin wheel
brushing the rusted plier surface to reveal the original metal

restoration process of vintage pliers
vintage pliers before and after restoration process

To bring back the original shine, we used a soft cloth polishing wheel and some stainless steel polish. After about 10 minutes of polishing, the pliers' jaws regained their former lustre. However, the handles posed a greater challenge. Restoring their original black paint would require considerable effort and would likely result in losing the valuable branding details.

polishing cloth and steel polish on old pliers
Polishing the restored plier surfaces for a smooth, shiny finish

Instead, we decided to give the handles a unique, iridescent finish through a simple bluing process. Although this method wouldn't produce a perfectly uniform colour, it resulted in an interesting mix of blues and purples reminiscent of a race car's stainless steel exhaust pipe.

blueing steel pliers
Blueing steel with a blowtorch

The end result was a stunning pair of restored CK West Germany pliers that not only looked fantastic but also remained fully functional. With one successful restoration under our belt, we were eager to tackle the remaining tools in the job lot and continue our mission of preserving vintage treasures.

Before and after plier restoration
Comparison of vintage pliers before and after restoration process.

Reviving the Past: Upcoming Restorations for the Remaining Vintage Tools

With the CK West Germany pliers successfully restored, our attention turned towards the other vintage tools in the eBay job lot. The assortment included a mix of pliers and cutters, each presenting their own unique challenges and opportunities for restoration. In this section, we'll provide a sneak peek into the remaining tools, setting the stage for future restoration projects on the Roberts Customs channel.

Among the notable items in the lot were a pair of Ford Motors pliers, likely part of a 1970s car toolkit. These pliers held a nostalgic charm, and their restoration would give them a new lease on life. Additionally, the lot featured Maun Industry cutters, valued at over £30 a pair today, which would be perfect for cutting brake and gear cables once restored.

Another standout item was a pair of 10-inch Sheffield shears. Despite their worn appearance, the cutting edges were in near-pristine condition. Restoring these shears could potentially recoup our initial investment, showcasing the hidden value in these vintage tools.

Lastly, a set of German-made pliers with detailed branding caught our eye. These pliers, much like the CK West Germany ones, promised to be both functional and visually appealing after a thorough restoration.

With an exciting array of vintage tools waiting to be restored, the Roberts Customs channel is set to become a treasure trove of captivating restoration projects. Be sure to follow our journey as we revive the past and uncover the stories behind these remarkable tools.

Breathing New Life into Vintage Tools: The Journey Continues

Our journey into the world of vintage tool restoration has only just begun. With the successful restoration of the CK West Germany pliers, we've demonstrated that these old tools still have much to offer. They not only serve a practical purpose in our bike repair workshop but also add a touch of nostalgic charm, connecting us with a bygone era of craftsmanship and engineering.

As we continue to restore the remaining tools from the eBay job lot, we're excited to share the stories and techniques that bring these vintage items back to life. At Roberts Customs, our passion for restoration goes beyond the tools themselves; it's about preserving history, embracing sustainable practices, and fostering a sense of connection with the past.

Stay tuned to the Roberts Customs channel for more inspiring restoration projects, and join us as we breathe new life into vintage tools, one fascinating item at a time.

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