Introduction: Better Alligator Clips

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

When I was a boy alligator clips were heavy and made to work well. They were made of heavier steel with screw terminals and good springs. Now alligator clips are anemic little things with a tiny useless jaw opening. I wanted some better alligator clips. I am making my own from small spring clamps I got at Home Depot. They are classed as a one-inch size. Other sellers on eBay and through Wal-mart (on-line) have them, although they are sometimes classed as two inch clamps. I expect those who live outside the USA might find something similar at builder’s stores for homeowners common where they live.

Step 1: Drill a Hole

I found I need a strain relief for the wire. I drilled a hole just a little bigger than the wire I am using. Drilling goes much better if I use a spring loaded punch to make a dimple so the drill does not skate.

Step 2: Attach the Wire

Strip the wire to leave a quarter inch or more of bare wire. Feed it through the hole as shown. Pull extra wire through the hole so it can make a loop and you can work freely with the wire.
Slip a very small screwdriver under the handle grip near the hole. Gently feed the bare wire along the screwdriver shank to near the end of the handle. (Second photo.).
Feed any extra wire back through the hole. (Third photo.)

Step 3: Clear the Jaws and Test

Remove the rubberized covering from the jaws of the clamps. Test your jumper wire by clamping the alligator clips to the prongs on the leads of a multimeter and set the meter for continuity or resistance.
If the wires eventually come loose from the clamps, I could make the hole larger and attach them with small brass screws and nuts in the holes I drilled.

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