Introduction: Tool : DIY Helping Hands Tool and Material Holder From PVC

At ATXHackerspace and in my home shop, I often find myself wishing I had a second set of hands to hold items in place while I work on them - either gluing, painting, sanding etc. I was inspired by the set of "helping hands" I use on my electronics bench and decided to make a large set of helping hands using items I had laying around the shop.

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Step 1: Step 1. Materials and Tools

Materials you will need:
Some length of PVC Pipe 1/2" , 3/4" or 1" will work
At least 4 T fittings for the diameter pipe you will use
At least 1 End Cap
PVC cement
Tool hangers, clips, etc. (I used an old lamp holder, a tool clip and an unused tool claw)
1/2" woods screws

Tools needed:
Tool to cut pipe (I used a ratcheting pipe cutter)
Drill with 1/8" bit

Step 2: Step 2. Create the Pivots/Joints

A "helping hands" usually has 2 pivot points so you can position the holder or clamp essentially anywhere.  We will create a pivot point using a pair of T joint and a small section of PVC.  One joint will be glued, the other joint will be able to be turned.e

Step 2a Small PVC piece.  Cut a small section of PVC pipe (for 1/2" pipe about 1 1/2') - just enough to fit all the way into both fittings with a little gap between. 

Step 2b Glue on of the T joints .  Pick one of the 2 T' joints and apply a thin layer of PV C cement and glue the small PVC section into it. Give it a few seconds to dry/harden.

Step 2c. Create the "index" for second joint.  Push the PVC length all the way into the other T.  Make sure it can turn with a little pressure.  With the 1/8" drill bit. drill a hole through one wall of the T-joint and through one wall of the PVC (do not drill all the way through).  Once done, turn the movable T joint about 45 degrees. Using the same hole 45 degree on the joint, drill another hole through the PVC.  Repeat every 45 degrees. You will end up with a T with one hole and a PVC piece with several holes in it -- these will be the "stops".

Step 2d. Secure T with a wood screw.  Pick a position and screw a woods screw through the stop hole to secure the T-joint in one position.

Step 3: Step 3. Build the "Holders"

I built my "holders" into End-caps.  This way, I could change out what type of holder I needed depending on what I am working on.  For my hands, I used a tool hook, and 2 types of clamps.

Step 3a - Tool Hook.  This was the easiest, I just drilled a 1/8" pilot hole in the end cap and screwed in the tool hook.

Step 3b - Basic clamp - I drilled a 1/8" pilot hole into the end cap -- then fastened it so it would not move using a machine screw and several nuts.

Step 3c - Lamp clamp - I drilled a 1/8" pilot hole. Then heated the end cap using a heat gun until it got rubbery - then pressed the end clamp ball through the hole.  I then filled the end cap with PVC cement so that the clamp would not turn.

SAFETY TIP. When drilling a hole in the end cap, secure the end cap using something other than your hand.  I used pliers - a vise would have been a better choice.

Step 4: Step 4. Assemble the Hand

Next cut 3 lengths of PVC. I used 1' pieces.  Think of then as the base, upper arm, and forearm.  Attach the bottom of the base securely to your workbench.  I lashed mine using tie wraps.  Attach Pivot 1's glued T to the top of the base.  Attach another length of PVC to Pivot 1's movable/indexing T (the upper arm). At the other end of the this PVC length, attach Pivot 2's glued T.  Attach the third piece of PVC into Pivot 2's moveable T.  At the other end of the 3rds piece, then attach a tool holder. 

Step 5: Step 5. Repeat to Make Another Hand

A "helping hand" is a lot more useful when they come in pairs.  Repeat these steps to create a second hand.