Consider the handle above, which has clearly been on that pan for quite some time. You can see that lots of grease has crept between the handles over time, and gotten baked on by the heat of stoves. Such crud makes it very had to get old handles off sometimes, and these are by no means anywhere near the worst I have seen. Additionally, despite being stainless steel, the screws and barrel nuts are known to rust together, or get stuck on with thick grease.
Our own recommendation for the removal of suck stubborn handles prior to replacement has been to simply break the handles off if they won’t come off by gentler methods.
Reader Phil has some better suggestions on this topic.
I’ve been restoring pre-1968 revere ware so i can have a set of amazing cookware, without spending thousands of dollars. I have been using a few tricks to get seized handle screws out, without destroying the handles completely.
#1. Use heat. I use a stick type soldering iron, tinned so you get good heat transfer to the nut and bolt sections of the handle hardware. The solder wont stick to the hardware because its not fluxed, but it will heat it up and boil any grease holding the hardware together. Also if metallic corrosion is present it will expand the hardware to hopefully free it up.
#2. While hot, use a precision flat tip screwdriver (similar to eye glasses screwdriver) to wedge between the ‘head’ of the nut hardware part and the handle hole it sits in, and lightly turn the precision screwdriver to hold the nut section, while using a standard size screwdriver to turn the bolt section of the hardware and separate the two.
If done correctly, you can save the handle without damaging it, and be able to inspect and clean the ‘tang’ (the metal that the handle bolts to). Be warned though, ive removed handles that appeared good on the outside, only to find the inside was overheated and dish-washered numerous times and the Bakelite was brittle and cracked on the inside. If that’s the case, buy new handles from RevereWareParts.
We certainly appreciate the last part. 🙂