Better Alligator Clips

5,737

31

11

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.

Build a Tool Contest

Participated in the
Build a Tool Contest

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Summer Fun: Student Design Challenge

      Summer Fun: Student Design Challenge
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest
    • Stone, Concrete, Cement Challenge

      Stone, Concrete, Cement Challenge

    11 Comments

    1
    StormC6
    StormC6

    10 months ago

    Is there some reason that you didn't solder the wire to the clip?

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 months ago

    The clamps are steel with a shiny protective plating. I have never done well when I tried to solder anything to that.

    1
    The Lightning Stalker
    The Lightning Stalker

    Reply 10 months ago

    The little ones sold online aren't soldered either. What I do is take some 600 grit sandpaper to it, clean with iso and apply flux. The larger clamp will take a bit of heat. It should work unless the plating is very repellent of solder.

    0
    johnmech59
    johnmech59

    10 months ago

    I made the mistake of buying cheap import alligator clips. The plastic vinyl is slippery making them practically useless. I tried roughing the steel clip underneath with limited success. That is why I read your article with some interest. You are onto something.

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thank you. One possible problem with what I suggested here is that they are rather wide. Someone may need an alligator clip that is narrow so it can attach to something on a circuit board without touching what is next to it.

    1
    chydes
    chydes

    10 months ago on Step 3

    Brilliant!

    0
    salmansheikh
    salmansheikh

    Reply 10 months ago

    Yes I hate the cheapo alligator clips I bought off the net. Jaws don’t even align and I like the rubber tips idea cause I don’t like the jaws cutting into pcbs I solder with a solder/pcb station I mocked up. I should have done an instructable for that. 😂

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 months ago

    The photo with the rubberized pieces still on the jaws is a mistake. I should have made another photo without the rubberized pieces. But, if leaving them on solves a problem for you, that is good. See the final step and its photo. There the rubberized tips have been removed so the alligator clips can be used on a jumper wire.

    0
    salmansheikh
    salmansheikh

    Reply 10 months ago

    They can be removed i guess. I don't think those edges are as bad as real alligator clips that sometimes I worry will ruin parts on delicate pcbs I am soldering parts or wires to..

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 months ago

    It is nice to have options when needs are different.

    0
    Phil B
    Phil B

    Reply 10 months ago

    It is kind of you to say that, but I had bought some of the one inch spring clamps for something else, and I wanted a better alligator clip. Eventually, the two connected in my mind.