Instructables

Make your 'helping hands' 100x more useful for soldering / gluing small parts

An easy way to make your 'helping hands' thing 100x more useful for soldering, gluing, and many other things. I'm a little embarassed posting this cause it's so simple, but people seem to be surprised when I show them this.
 
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Step 1: Switch the magnifying glass with one of the 'hands'

The problem with the helping hands when you buy it is that the alligator clips are too far apart to hold thing really close together. Just unscrew the magnifying glass, unscrew one of the alligator clips, and switch them (or just do away with the magnifying glass, I never use it).
One could apply the sleeves to this item too;

http://exltek.com/Products/Lookup.aspx?ItemNumber=224030_4_18_10
I love your instructable and I made some improvements on your idea at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Improvement-of-make-your-helping-hands-100x-more/
wwlaveck4 years ago
Theses are great and can be picked up at Harbor Freight for under $5 and under $3 on sale. I added a 6" X 6" block of wood as a base. I just attached it with four screws with large washers to hold it in place.
Dragonbone5 years ago
When you're soldering electronic components, one of the functions of the clips is to conduct heat away from the sensitive parts. If you use, say, aluminium foil wrapped around the jaws you can keep this function and also protect the components. Don't use PVC tubing, it will melt.......!
The use of flux also helps in conducting heat faster and minimizing melting of the insulation. It takes some practice, but it works. I do this kinda stuff for a living.
leevonk (author)  Dragonbone5 years ago
the function of the tubing around the jaws is to keep the jaws from cutting into the insulation of thing wires that you are soldering. also, the more heat that's drawn away from the part you are soldering the longer it takes to solder. For many sensitive components it's best to solder it as quickly as possible to lessen the amount oftime exposed to high heat, drawing heat away from the component means you have to leave it at high heat longer for a good solder junction to form.
Prometheus7 years ago
Smart thinking with the shrink-tubing. This is really a brilliant way of making a useful tool even better. Well done!
i keep a pair of extra pliers on my workbench that have heatshrink tubing on them, too. i make custom cables, and i use them to hold connectors during hand assembly... keeps the connectors pretty, and saves my wrists. Lots of other uses, too.
I agree, that's really useful. I'm going to add it to the third hands I made sometime soon.
Another useful mod is to put a strong spring washer under the screws or nuts so the ball-ended rods move more smoothly (ie don't catch on irregularities). I used a plain steel washer bent a bit in the vice.
MisDoe6 years ago
I was looking at my helping hands and the clips are real close together. They actually touch so I can still keep the magnifer. I don't know why yours are so far apart from each other. I would like to keep the magnfier and put a third clip but I don't know how to do that.
MisDoe6 years ago
I have the helping hands thing too but mine has a magnfier that really helps when doing small projects and if your eyes are old like mine! I bought this at a tool show in town about three years ago and it has been a very useful tool.
Drew3D7 years ago
I'm an Instrutables newbie, so I hope it's okay to post this, but you can get these Helping Hands things at AllElectronics.com for $4.50. Very handy (heh). And much cheaper than Radio Shack.

http://www.allelectronics.com/cgi-bin/category.cgi?category=search&item=HELPH-M&type=store
Gnaw Drew3D7 years ago
Thanks for the link. You saved me some money!
ank0ku7 years ago
The heatshrink/electrical tape was a stroke of genius! Nice Job! : D
this is the most useful instructable i've ever seen.
sillyxone7 years ago
my dirt cheap helping hand from last year: - the base is a dead hdd, heavy enough - the arm is some wire I found in my junk box, probably zinc, strong enough to hold a small pcb, but flexible enough to bend in any direction/shape - alligator clip from Menard/HomeDepot, much cheaper than Radioshack
IMG_5568_resize.JPG
radiorental7 years ago
Nothing to be embarrsed about Leevonk... well maybe nothing other than the geekfood & ketchup on your desk in the background - you filthy beast! This is cool... is there a source for these clips and connectors. I'm thinking it would be kinda cool to build a roboto the lab assistant holder thing
The alligator clips are available at most Radio Shack stores, as is the third hand tool itself. I don't know about the connectors alone.
DO NOT BUY FROM RADIOSHACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The helping hands there are 20 bucks, while the nice ones on the internet that can be mounted on a worktable are ~ 8$
I just bought a house.. now I can hardly afford the luxury of Radiosharks!!! 2nd mortage anyone?
leevonk (author)  radiorental7 years ago
you can make them pretty easily from stuff lying around:

http://www.instructables.com/ex/i/EF0675CE4D541029AC23001143E7E506/
_soapy_7 years ago
http://www.instructables.com/ex/i/0E7FEA76A14710288767001143E7E506/?ALLSTEPS is a related project, using wires and croc clips to make one of these from scratch.
_soapy_7 years ago
This is a great hack. I did always wonder why the arms were so far apart as to be almost useless.
GrendelT7 years ago
Don't forget to put heatshrink on your alligator clips (as pictured). The prevents the teeth from the clips biting throught the insulation of wires, or scratching PCBs.
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