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This is a rather simple fixture to help paint and finish really small parts. It holds tiny pieces up in the air to make spray-painting easier and less likely to mess up. I will be using it mostly to paint small 3D-printed parts for models of products that I design.

It's easy to make and the materials are either free or inexpensive.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

Materials:

  • Wire coat hanger(s)
  • Alligator clips. I got them at Radioshack a while ago. The important part is that they must have those red and black grip things on them. More on that later.
  • Wood/plywood scrap. At least 1/2" thick, flat on at least the two faces, not a super light wood like balsa. I used a 6"x6" square piece of 1/2" thick plywood.
  • Plasti-Dip is kind of optional, but highly recommended

Tools:

  • Drill (ideally drill press) with a drill bit the same diameter as the coat hanger. I used a 5/64" drill bit, which was perfect for my coat hanger.
  • Wire snips
  • Pliers (Vise Grips work even better)
  • Ruler
  • Tape (masking or painters tape)

Step 2: Straighten the Coat Hanger

First, cut the twisted hook off the hanger with your wire snips.

Then straighten the remaining wire the best you can with the pliers and your hands.

Step 3: Cut the Coat Hanger

Cut the straightened wire into sections. One coat hanger provides about 39.5 inches of useable wire, so I cut five lengths of 6.5" and had a 7" piece left over.

You can go longer or shorter, or mix and match. I wouldn't go any shorter than 3" because the clip gets too close to the surface.

Step 4: Mess With the Alligators

1) Take off the little red/black grips. They should just pull right off.

2) The tube part of the clip that the grips were covering is the important part. Make sure you don't get clips that don't have that part on them.

3) Using your pliers, push one edge of the tube under the other and start to roll the metal together to make the opening smaller.

Step 5: Crimp

Stick a piece of the hanger wire in the tube you rolled, then keep rolling. This is where Vise Grips or larger and more comfortable pliers come in handy, because you want to basically smush the tube so tight around the wire that it stays in place. Don't just focus on the end of the tube; you need to get it tight along the whole length so the clip doesn't come off.

...if you really have to, a bit of super glue or epoxy will keep the clip from wriggling around.

Step 6: Drill Holes

Drill holes in your wood base piece. It doesn't necessarily have to be in a neat pattern, but I've found it helpful to draw the pattern on my computer and then print it out to use as a drilling template.

You don't want to drill all the way through the wood. A 3/8" deep hole fits my coat hanger very snugly without problem.

Step 7: Plasti-Dip the Clips

Tape the clips open, then dip the teeth in the Plasti-Dip, following the instructions on the can. The coating prevents the teeth on the clip from scratching delicate surfaces, but allows the clip to hold onto a piece very well.

I gave my clips two dips, around 30 minutes apart. After that, let them dry for several hours.

Step 8: Profit

Stick the clips in the wood base to hold small parts for painting!

Use different combinations to hold the pieces up without touching the "show" surfaces!

Make different clip heights and different bases for specific tasks!

Use soft wire for extra flexibility!

Try using things other than alligator clips! Bulldog clips would probably hold flat pieces really well!

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