Introduction: Helping Hand From Old Black and Decker Snake Light

About: I'm a photographer by trade and tinkerer in my spare time.

Hi fellow instructables.  First time poster long time loiterer ;).

I needed a new set of helping hands for a long term project I've been working on.  Lots of soldering and fiddly bits and my old helping hands have been falling apart. All that's left is one alligator clip and the cast iron base.

I found two Black and Decker Snake Lights at a junk shop for $2 each.  These were from the 90's with good ol' incandescent torch globes.  I'd been looking for something similar to make my helping hands and thought these would do perfectly. I'm keeping one for an LED conversion later.

One of these snake lights should be able to make 2 to 3 helping hands.

The only tools you'll need for this are:

- Thermoplastic (
- 2 x Large Pliers or Pliers and a Vice
- Scissors or a box citter/exacto knife
- Star shaped security screw driver (optional - you could crack/smash/destroy the case open)
- Alligator Clip/s
- Kettle for boilding water
- Oven (Optional for molding)

Step 1: Disassemble the Snake Light

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of this step but its pretty easy going.

1. Undo the security screw on the torch end
2. Undo the security screw on the battery end
3. If you don't have the screw driver bit - HULK SMASH!
4. Pull everything you can off
5. Take your cutting knife or scissors and strip back the black flexible tubing.
-  you might be able to just cut the ends off and pull it over if you want to keep it.
6. You should be left with the two rectangular (connectors) ends now.  Take the pliers and grip one end and then another set of pliers to grip the knuckle below it..
7. Twist till the connector breaks away from the knuckle and then snip the cable.
8. (optional) repeat steps 6 and 7 for the other end.

Step 2: Make the Base

I decided to use Plastimakes thermoplastic for the base.  You could use anything you'd like but this is what I did.

I used a large microwave safe plastic egg poacher and filled it with the thermoplastic granules .  I use these for molds occasionally.  Once the thermoplastic cools, it releases without any issue.  You could also just hand mold it and use a non stick surface to be level.

For the mold, heat an oven on fan forced to 90 degrees Celsius (194 F) and place the egg poacher on the middle shelf and leave it for 30 - 60 minutes.  Be careful not to go above 100 degrees or you could burn the plastic.

To quicken the process, you could pre melt the plastic in boiling water first.  I use the oven so I can minimize large air bubbles and let the plastic settle.  I find pushing the plastic into a mold creates gaps in the bottom where the air can't escape.

While thats getting hot and melting into the mold, go through the next steps.

(I also recommend reading for their guides/tutorials to get a good understanding of what you can do with thermoplstic and how to use it.)

Step 3: Attach the Clip

Boil some water to melt a small quantity of thermoplstic.  You'll need enough to fill the open end of the knuckle and to wrap around the outside.

Once you've filled it with plastic, push the clip into the knuckle.

Holding it so it doesn't move, place it in cold water to set the plastic quickly.

Be careful to make sure that the clip can open freely.  If you make a mistake you can just put it back in hot water again and rework it.

Step 4: Put the Helping Hand in the Base

When the plastic in the mold has gone clear and smooth, you're mold is ready.  It took mine almost an hour to go completely clear without pre melting in boiling water first.

Once the mold looks done you can start getting the snake ready.  I turned the snake around on itself so that the connector could hang freely in the center a 1/4 inch or so off the table.  this way, you don't need to worry about holding it up while it sets.

Once you're lined up, you can leave it to set for a while or you can place it in cold water.  I ended up throwing mine in the sink and ran cold water over it to set the plastic.

Step 5: Remove From Mold

Once the plastic has gone completely white (or a solid colour) again, you should be able to remove it from the mold.  I left mine for 15 minutes in cold water due to the thickness of the plastic.  It holds heat for some time.

Removing it should be easy and it should slide straight out.  Thermoplastic will shrink a little on cooling.

Step 6: You're Done! Yay

Thats it.  You should now have some idea how to make a spare helping hand with thermoplastics help.  Hopefully you've also thought of other ways to do it and things to add.  You can finish it by using a scalpel, exacto knife or box cutter and trimming off any rough edges.

I'll be splitting mine in half to make another and adding some additional clips and holders in the future.

Enjoy your hands!

Epilog Challenge V

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Epilog Challenge V