Introduction: Impromptu Third Hand for Soldering

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…

I was away from home and needed to solder a power cord for my daughter's Sirius radio in her car.  Fine wires are difficult to solder together, even under better circumstances

Step 1: Items Available

I did have access to solder and a soldering iron.  Beyond that, I had a Chip Clip and an empty whiskey bottle. 

Step 2: Clip in a Bottle

I inverted the clip and put one half of the handle into the neck of the bottle.

Step 3: Strip the Wires

The wire I used was very similar to that shown here.  It is about 22 gauge copper and stranded.  I like to roll the wire on a hard surface while pressing a sharp knife against the plastic insulation.  It is always a challenge to cut through the insulation without cutting off any strands of wire.  Here I have successfully cut through the insulation without cutting any strands of wire, and I have pulled the insulation partially away to show the bare wire.  About 1/8 of an inch of bare wire is all that is necessary.

Step 4: Wires in the Clip

If you plan to insulate your solder joint with heat shrink tubing, slide it onto one of the wires now.  I did not have any available to me when I needed to do this job, so I planned to use electrical tape.  Put both wire ends into the clip and bend them toward each other.

Step 5: Mesh the Ends Together

Push the ends of the wires so they entwine with one another end-to-end.  This part is tedious and requires bending the wires so they stay exactly in place when you release them from your fingers.  Press any loose strands together with the rest of the wires as you see here.

Step 6: Solder the Wires

Without disturbing the wires, heat and apply solder.

Step 7: Finished

This is a good strong solder joint, even though the wires were not twisted before soldering.  Slide heat shrink insulation over them and heat it, or use electrical tape.