I recently got into exercising my maker muscle, and I realized that I needed some helping hands to help me solder. I'm a high school student with no job, so I didn't have the resources to buy some helping hands and I thought that was the end of my hopes of ever owning a pair. But recently, I came across an awesome Instructable by blhack where he made a "Third Hand" for soldering (the link to his design his here: bit.ly/1eHiO0n). I was inspired: I looked around my house and I scrounged up some parts to make this decent assembly which I can now use when soldering.
I am sorry to say that I was too eager to build my design to remember to document the building stage with a camera, but I will do my best to explain my design to you with the pictures I have.
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Step 1: The Components
Wooden Panel: The wooden panel provides a solid base that ensures the helping hands' center of gravity will be above the something that is in contact with the ground (to prevent the helping hands from toppling under the weight of a heavy component that I may be soldering).
I roughened up the surface of the wooden panel and the lexan surface that would be interfacing it before I wood glued the two surfaces together. By doing so, I was able to create a stronger bond at the interface.
Lexan Cover on Wooden Panel: The lexan cannot withstand the head of the soldering iron for long periods of time, but it provides a smooth surface which I can easily remove solder from (if any solder happens to drip onto it, although I don't expect this to happen often).
Next, I screwed the wooden post to the wooden panel. In order to do this, I first drove the screws through the post until their pointed ends poked out of the wood at the other side. I then impressed the wooden panel with small holes by pressing the post against it. Next, I drilled into the panel at these holes so that the screws' pointed ends could get a grip on the panel. Finally, I finished screwing the screws into the through the post and into the panel.
Helping Hands: I made the bendable component of the helping hands out of .5 mm, solid copper wire (it was what I had on hand). I bent the wire 6 times over at a length of 130 mm. I then twisted it tightly to give it strength and stiffness and then heat shrunk it. (Later on, I realized that this was too weak, and I add 5 extra lengths of 130 mm wire to strengthen and stiffen it sufficiently. Altogether, I had 1.43 m of .5 mm copper wire bent into 130 mm helping hands.) I attached the helping hands to the post via screws.
Solder Spool: Because it was a useful addition, I included another screw on the post which I wrapped the solder around.
Step 2: Helping Hands in Action
The final product: a decent pair of helping hands that work well. (As an added bonus, you can boast to your maker friends that you built your own helping hands instead of buying them.)