Dad's Utica 39-7 Diagonals

Tool Restoration

Dad's Old Cutters

Over the years my dad gave me a number of tools, with his classic Stanley plane, and the Gerstner tool chest being the prizes.  He's also given me some other hand tools - his old Barcalo linesman pliers and a pair of old Utica diagonal cutters.  Let's talk about the Utica's!

As Inherited

These seven inch Utica 39-7 diagonal cutters are a pair of pliers my father gave me a couple years before he passed back in 2022. It was always an honor when my father gave me one of his tools. Between tools, working on my childhood home with him and sports, these are some of the best memories, I have of that old guy!

Utica Tool Company

But, before we get too far into this, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about the Utica Tool Company. Utica Drop Forge & Tool was an early maker of pliers, nippers, and other hand tools. The company was a pioneer in the production of low-cost but high-quality pliers, and later became an important producer of adjustable wrenches as well.

The Utica Drop Forge & Tool Company was founded in 1895 by W. Pierrepont White and Hubert L. White in Utica, New York. The company initially operated as a maker of pliers and nippers, with their first address at 75 Genesee Street in Utica. This ad shows the 3 diamonds logo which Utica used from 1911 through 1950. 

The Diamond Pattern

I love the old-school practice of each manufacturer having a signature grip pattern on pliers handles. Sometime around 1913 Utica began offering patterned handles with some of their plier models. Utica's earliest pattern was a diamond checkered field extending back from the middle of the handle, with a V-shaped opening towards the front of the pliers.

Note: This pattern is going to come up sometime in the future when I post about restoring a pair of Pexto pliers.

Every son’s first superhero is his father, and it was the same for me. For me, he was Superman and Batman combined. - Tiger Schroff


Clean up on this one was pretty simple. I ran it through the wire brush on the bench grinder and then used a 600 grit sandpaper to it.  All in all, the clean up itself took maybe 20 to25 minutes.  This is a testimony to the way my father took care of his tools. They were never in pristine condition, they didn't have a shimmering shine, but they're always well maintained and clean.  That's kind of how I try to maintain high tools too. 

A Decision

The next thing was to decide what kind of finish. It looks like the handles were originally blued, so I considered keeping them near original by cold bluing them.  

But at the time I worked on the cutters,  I was on a kick for the Klein handle grips, and that's what I ended up putting on them. I like the look, and I like the way the grips feel.  (And - for me the Klein tenite grips take me back some 40 years to a couple dinners I worked for an electrician).

I like them so much so that now I have a small collection of pliers with those grips on them. So I think I'm kind of done with them for the time being. Although, who knows what might happen in the future!

And that's it for these cutters...a quick cleanup and a new pair of pants - all ready for the dance.   Hey, thanks for droppin' by... see ya' next time!
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