Picture of Third Hand Fume Extraction Fan
When soldering, the fumes from the solder can be very irritating, and they aren't especially good for you either. After doing some simple solder jobs I realized that I needed a way to get rid of these fumes, as the ventilation at my workspace is pretty bad. My workspace is very limited, so I didn't want to fill it up with a huge fume extactor. I needed a way to make it small and handy. Then I discovered rstraugh's Instructable, in which he showed us how to make a "Third Hand++". From rstraugh's fume extraction concept I came up with my own way of doing it, with a standard third hand device. 

  • Third Hand with magnifying glass or other third extension
  • USB powered laptop cooling fan
  • Various screws and nuts
Though I would rather have used a 12 brushless fan, I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. So I used a 5V laptop cooling fan from a cheap laptop cooling pad that I bought in a Chinese electronics store for about five dollars. The cooler had two fans, but I cut one of them off because I only needed one. The fan also had little blue LEDs inside it, but the blue light was distracting, so I clipped them off.
To attach the fan I used a screw and nut, putting the screw through one of the holes in the corner. I then took  the arm of the magnifying glass and fastened it to the screw with a nut.
To stop the wire from getting in the way of the soldering iron I taped it to the base.

And that's pretty much all there is to it. Please comment for any improvements, suggestions, questions, or anything else. And don't forget to post pictures of your own third hand fume extractor.
jensenr3011 months ago

neat idea! Thanks for sharing.

robotguy41 year ago
Another way to power a set up like this is by attaching the fan to a DC model train transformer.
sjroth (author)  robotguy41 year ago
Yeah, I guess that would work. I don't have one though, so I can't try it.
tutdude982 years ago
good idea but you should add some carbon filter so air will be clean not full of fumes from soldering
sjroth (author)  tutdude982 years ago
That would probably make it much more difficult to make though. And in this case making the air clean is not a major concern, it's more to get the fumes out of my face while working.
pfred2 sjroth2 years ago
I've thought about what you said and I can only conclude that you are getting fumes in your face because you are working directly on top of what you are working on. That is incorrect. You should have what you are working on in front of you, not under you,  then the fumes will not go in your face.

If you feel you need to be that close to what you are doing in order to see what you are doing then you should use a magnifier. A fan is not a magnifier and it will not help you to see what you are doing. A magnifier on the other hand will.

Then you can use the proper orientation, and posture while you are working and dispense with your fume fan entirely. It is a crutch that isn't helping you out nearly as much as you think it is. You are only using that fan because you do not posses the correct equipment, or you are unable to use it properly. Which is it?
sjroth (author)  pfred22 years ago
I don't think that I'm getting fumes in my face because of my posture, but more because of the ventilation in the room. Where I sit, the air from the air conditioning comes at me from the front, therefore blowing the fumes in my face.
But I think the magnifying glass would still help. I've never actually tried using it, because I felt it was in the way. I might order some extra hands or other parts for my third hand so I can attach the magnifying glass and the fan at the same time. I'll figure something out.
pfred2 sjroth2 years ago
So you are working in a draft. Perhaps then you would be better off on top of what you are doing?

The magnifying glass that comes with third hands is usually not that good. Mounted to the third hands themselves the glass kind of gets in the way too. I remove those if hands come with them. I should put up an article about the modifications I do to third hands. Anyhow, you are better off with an arm magnifier that is separate from third hands. They have better optics, focal distance, and being independent of the hands means you can move your work as you need to.

Some folks like Optivisors and I suppose they are OK but I like to come out of the magnification. So I prefer arm mounted magnifying glasses myself. I guess which is best is personal preference. But those magnifying glasses that come with third hands you're better off just getting rid of those. Magnify some text and see what the distortion is. Those glasses are usually very bad.

Hey its your eyes. Those magnifying glasses are really no good attached right to the helping hands anyways. I think I am better off with an independently mounted magnifier. I have to be able to get in there and work on stuff.

Here is a picture of my soldering station:

I made that magnifier out of a projector lens. I have a commercial arm magnifier too, I use that elsewhere for something other than electronics. I use it when I grind tools.
sjroth (author)  pfred22 years ago
Alright, thanks for the tip. I'll look into that. I tried to connect the fan and third hand at the same time but it was way too crowded on the third hand and it made it made it very unstable, so I scrapped that idea. An external magnifying glass would probably solve it.
pfred2 sjroth2 years ago
You need helping hands like I have
well yes but still the fumes will be in the air
but you can put filter on second helping hand and put it close to fan
Will you need a resistor for this project ???
sjroth (author)  Arduinonator2 years ago
If you have a USB fan like I did you won't.
Thank you ;)
Do yo
valveman2 years ago
I built something similar. I used a small 3" section of ABS pipe and put in a 5V fan. Ran it on 9V battery to a 5V regulator. Put a piece of carbon filter material on the front and then mounted to a small cheap tripod. Works great!
sjroth (author)  valveman2 years ago
Sounds great! I'd love to see a photo of it.
valveman sjroth2 years ago
Here is a photo of my portable Fume extractor. Easy to build and works well.
sjroth (author)  valveman2 years ago
Great, what filter did you use? I'm trying to add one to my fan but I have no idea what to use.
valveman sjroth2 years ago
I had a filter from a range hood. So I cut it up to make filters. It's a charcoal filter. If you buy a new filter, you should have a lifetime supply.
sjroth (author)  valveman2 years ago
Ok, thanks for the info. I'll try to find something like that.
shanecoley2 years ago
save your money, you can get them from poundland, 99p store, pound world, pound savers , all those kind of shops :)
Foxtrot702 years ago
Please provide a link to the site of the cooling fans?
sjroth (author)  Foxtrot702 years ago
I bought it from a Chinese store for about $5. But if you really want a link, you can get something similar here:
i have made a few fume extractors but i have never thought of this! great idea and thanks for sharing!
Ismegordo2 years ago
What a great idea, Simple yet Fantastic.
As we ALL do our soldering, we are only hurting ourselves, I use a mask and yes I can see using a Carbon filter on this idea could well be a better idea.
Thanks for putting this up, as some of the "Simple ideas" are often the best.
Well Done and keep up the Great work
Nice job. I have plans to build a fume extractor hood - just haven't gotten around to it.

I used work on my lung capacity while soldering - turn away from my work to take a deep breath in, and hold it until I'm done with a section, then blow out to push the fumes away. Kind of developed a nice rhythm to doing it! Eventually I moved to wearing a respirator mask.

The dangers of solder exhaust are well documented. From what I understand, you are most likely to develop asthma from inhaling fumes over a long period of time. The lead content in solder is not hazardous unless you are heating it a few thousand degrees, although inhaling particles (not fumes) containing lead is not good either.

Speaking of which, lead-free solder can actually be more dangerous to work with since you generally have to heat it to a higher temperature to melt, thus creating even more fumes. Unless you are creating a product in Europe or it has to be RoHS compliant, I would suggest NOT using lead-free solder if you do it by hand. The minuscule amounts of lead in circuitry (components, boards, and solder) is not hurting us or the environment, but the massive amounts leaking out of old car batteries is a different story...
sjroth (author)  Kurt E. Clothier2 years ago
Thanks for the feedback, Kurt. I had no idea that the soldering fumes could be that dangerous, so I will try to figure out a way to filter the air, as tutdude98 also suggested. Maybe I could try using the filter of a cheap mask or something.
legofreak862 years ago
one word:AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! You need a patent for sure!
sjroth (author)  legofreak862 years ago
It's not an original idea, though. Just an adaption of one.
Wayfarer2 years ago
Not sure how ultimately useful, but as I have the bits, and this is such a great idea, I just can't wait to make one!
FoamboardRC2 years ago
Dude that is soo cool because when I solder I usually use my helping hands!