Introduction: Steampunk 3rd Hand

This Instructable will show you how to make a simple "3rd hand" tool, for use in soldering projects. Since I've found so many great soldering projects on Instructables, I decided to build myself a "3rd Hand." But since I know I'll spend more time looking at it than actually using it, I decided I wanted it to be attractive and interesting looking as well as functional. Hence the "steampunk" flare.

The full name for this device is the Brazilian Steampunk 3rd Hand, or "Terceira Mão Vaporpunk." Since I made this in Brazil, with mostly Brazilian tools and materials, I decided it deserved a Brazilian name;-)

• Block of wood
• 4 bolts
• 4 knobs
• 3 alligator clips
• Magnifying glass
• Copper Electrical cable
• Metallic paint (optional)
• Varnish (optional)
• Decorative coin (optional)
• Padlock hasp (optional)

• Power drill
• Pliers
• Saw (if your wood needs cutting)
• Grinder (optional)

Step 1: Drill Wood

I used a piece of Brazilian hardwood called "Massaranduba." I chose this scrap of wood because it was already cut to the exact size I was looking for, and it was particularly heavy for it's size, (about 4 inches by 5 inches, and an inch thick).

Drill four holes in the wooden block, where you want your "hands" to be. (If I had this to do over again, I might have put the holes in the four corners, to make the finished device a bit more "sure footed").

Optionally, you may want to sand or grind the sides of your wooden block. I used a grinder, to give the edges a darker burnt appearance.

Step 2: Stain Wood

This is purely decorative, but I decided to use a Brazilian varnish called Sparlack Neutrex, the same varnish I used for my Instructables, Painting metal to look like wood my Rustic wooden towel rack and my Steampunk Incandescent USB lamp.

You can use any kind of shellac or varnish, depending on your taste.

Let dry overnight.

Step 3: Strip Cables

For the "arms" for this device, I used a heavy gauge electrical wires, the type used for internal electrical wiring in a Brazilian home. Initially I thought about painting the plastic insulation with a metallic gold paint, but then I realized these cables are made of copper in the first place, so I decided to strip them to expose the copper. I left about an inch of plastic insulation at the tip, to help hold the alligator clips in place.

Step 4: Paint and Attach Alligator Clips

To keep with the steampunk theme, I decided to paint the alligator clips with a gold metallic paint. I used an awl to slightly widen the base of the clips, pushing the awl until the base loosens a bit, then a pliers to squeeze them tight at the end of the cables

Step 5: Prepare Magnifying Glass

I tried to find an inexpensive brass magnifying glass, but had no luck. So I decided to use a cheap plastic magnifying glass from a 99 cent store, and paint it with my metallic gold paint, and I'm happy with the result. The advantage of a plastic magnifying glass is that you can easily force a hole into the base with a screwdriver or other sharp pointed implement, and then slide the magnifier onto the cable. I thought about gluing or adding shrink tubing, but found it wasn't necessary.

Step 6: Add Hasp and Decorate

This came as an after thought, but I realized that it would be helpful to have a holder for my soldering iron, and the brass hasp for a window padlock was perfect!I

 I also decided to glue a silver and brass Brazilian one real coin to the center of the wooden block, purely for decoration, and to give it that additional Brazilian "Vaporpunk" flare;-) It's a really nice looking coin, as you can see in the second photo above. (This photo was taken before I stripped the cables and added the gold paint).

Originally I wanted to use brass bolts, but couldn't find them at the local hardware stores, but a few dabs of gold metallic paint gave the desired affect, and and ended up being much cheaper than actual brass.

Step 7: Attach Cables to Bolts

Using a pliers, I wrapped the cables around the bolts, before inserting the bolts in the wooden block. (The photo above is before it occurred to me to strip the plastic insulation).

Step 8: Attach Feet

Once you have all four bolts in place, attach the "feet." I had a few wooden drawer knobs that weren't doing anything, so I decided to use these. The pre-drilled holes in the knobs were slightly smaller than the bolts, but with a little pressure, they screwed on nicely. 

Note: You can use brass knobs for feet, but you have to make sure that the bolts will screw into the knobs.

Step 9: Finished Product

Here are a few pictures of the finished product.

If you like this Instructable, please consider voting for it in the "Wood Challenge."


nanosec12 made it!(author)2012-10-01

I have been contemplating making a set of 'third' hands, but most of the designs I have seen are very complex and require parts you have to order online. I like the simplicity of your design, and the availability of all the parts. Well Done !!

Winged+Fist made it!(author)2012-10-01

Thanks! If I had it to do over again I'd probably skip the drawer knob feet, and just cut the bolts flat on the underside, or put them on the corers for better stability. If you do make one, please post a photo here!

thechocolatist made it!(author)2012-05-24

Very good and simple!!! I think I have to do this. Thanks for the idea.

Winged+Fist made it!(author)2012-06-07

Thanks Chocolatist! I look forward to seeing your version;-)

Sparkytastic made it!(author)2012-05-15

Very cool, and super simple!
If you want to make a brass magnifying lense you could try using Brass tubing and brass stripping from the hardware store maybe.

Winged+Fist made it!(author)2012-05-15

Thanks Begrado! The tricky part about a brass magnifier is attaching it to the copper cable. It certainly can be done, but no longer "super simple";-)

Sparkytastic made it!(author)2012-05-15


About This Instructable




More by Winged Fist:Refurbishing antique radiatorsSteampunk VW Bug (Vaporpunk Fusca)My Outdoor Workshop (Minha Oficina)
Add instructable to: