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Picture of Salvaged Solder Helper
Combine scrap material to quickly build a set of hands free clamps for soldering. Materials can vary and measurements are irrelevent.
 
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Step 1: Cut a path for the wire.

Picture of Cut a path for the wire.
While I recommend having a proper pair of jeweler's hand free clamps for soldering, a very easy set can be assembled from salvaged parts. Materials required are:

2 feet stiff wire
I used the red and black from some BX cable laying around (red for positive DC, black for negative DC) but coat hanger would work just as well. I can't imagine stranded wire would work well, but anything goes so long as it will stand still.

2 pieces scrap wood
Old wood dressers are the best place to scrounge nice finished wood. I think this project used up the last few scraps. Anything thin will do, I recommend having it sanded so you don't get a splinter while soldering.

2 salvaged alligator clips
For some reason I always have a few clips laying around. If you don't, any electronics supplier will.
( Radio Shack )
( Interior Electronics )

2 small bolts long enough to pass through both pieces of wood
Try looking in your sock drawer, I can always find some there.

Tools:

Needle nose pliers
Wire stripper
Drill with large and small bits
Rotary tool with router bit

Use the router bit to cut a path for the wire to lay in. Put holes through at each end for the wire to poke through. Because stiff wire will not lie perfectly flat, you will have to cut pretty deep for the wire to fit in.

Step 2: Coil and shove the wire

Picture of Coil and shove the wire
ClampStep2a.jpg
ClampStep2b.jpg
With the wire through both holes, push the wire down starting at one end. Use a slot screwdriver to push the wire down, there shouldn't be any wire sticking out of the trench. Try to leave 3 or 4 inches sticking out of the bottom hole and the rest coming out of the top.

Step 3: Drill 4 holes through both pieces

Picture of Drill 4 holes through both pieces
LIning up the two pieces of wood with the coil of wire sandwiched between, drill four small holes for the bolts. They do not have to be pretty, although they should be slightly smaller than your bolts.

Step 4: Router around the holes

Picture of Router around the holes
Widen the hole on the bottom surface of the bottom piece of wood. You can use the router or a large drill bit, the end result is all that matters. You want the bolts to be below the surface so that the wood lays flat on your table.

Step 5: Bolt the pieces together

Picture of Bolt the pieces together
The bolts should be threaded through the holes so that you know there won't be any wiggle. Throw down a washer out of principle and a nut and you've got the base finished.

Step 6: Attach clips

Picture of Attach clips
ClampStep6b.jpg
Wiggle the wires around a bit to figure out how long you will want the arms. Cut them the same length and strip 1/4" to 1/2" off both ends. You don't want arms too long or there will be too much wiggle and bounce.

Different clips will require different connections, just be sure that they are on tight. I suggest bending a hook in the wire and squeezing it shut around the clip. You can always solder the heck out of the connection for reinforcement, I don't think it is necessary.

Step 7: We're ready to solder

Picture of We're ready to solder
For no money and not much time, we now have an extra set of hands for soldering. What I like about this design is that you can put your meter to the wire ends at the bottom and test the conductivity of what you are working on, or you can connect your DC power and test that the connections are good. Since I didn't feel like cutting my scraps to the same size, I now have a little ledge to rest my resistors on. The important thing to remember about this design is that if it will require a great deal of time or money, it's more worthwhile to buy a proper set.
my wookie2 years ago
i like the Lego guy
Rileymi3235 years ago
thts kool, u should add a magnifying glass in the middle with the same free movement as the clips
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! I wanted to get the real thing but they where to much money so i didn't get it. but know i can make them awesome WHOO
hg3418 years ago
i need 1 and you love you loges dont you?
rush_elixir8 years ago
Very Good indeed!!!!!!! I made mine with a small magnifying lens attach for tiny objects like chips to be soldered.
Cool I like it
evy-wevy8 years ago
that's alot cooer than ones at radio shack, try sdding a cheap plactic novelty magnifier with anither wire
The Leo8 years ago
I like the use of the Lego men to indicate scale, or just for the fun of it. It's a great use for a load of old bits. If you had a spare lens lying around you could probably pop it in another clip for a magnified view, though you might need stiffer wire.
crapflinger8 years ago
i always like the "DIY" stiff wire helping hand method better...because they're sooo much more configurable...i mean heck...you could have an octo-helper if you wanted...just stick 8 pieces of wire in there and you're golden