How to make a new three degree of freedom hand for your 'helping hands'. The design allows you to make custom, switchable end-pieces (in addition to the standard alligator clip).
Step 1: Find Parts Lying Around
four nuts (appropriate to the screws above),
two big washers,
'ZapGel' (gel cyanoacrylate) and 'zip kicker' (a solidifying accelarent)
a thin piece of metal/plastic that you can drill holes in (I used a lego piece with holes already in it)
two capped nuts (I don't know what these are actually called, see picture),
Step 2: Make a Base
drill a hole in the washer big enough to fit the helping hands rod through.
cut the washers to a smaller size if needed (just looks nicer)
super glue two nuts in between the washers. Then use ZapGel to strengthen the bond, use a lot of ZapGel to make sure it's really sturdy.
This is a base that you will use to mount your hand onto a 'helping hands' rod or some other rod on your work bench.
Step 3: Make the Balls of the Ball Joint
get your two screws, make a ball of ZapGel -OR- ShapeLock around the head. (ShapeLock might be better, I used ZapGel).
I also glued to tops from capped nuts (hack sawed off) onto the top to make a smoother metal half. This is not really necessary.
If you have ball bearing of appropriate size lying around, just ZapGel them to the tops of the screws instead.
Step 4: Make the Socket of the Ball Joint
I used two lego pieces with holes in them as the sockets. I just put a screw with a butterfly nut on the other end through the center hole, and put a ball (screw with ZapGel/ShapeLock head) in between each end. See the final picture to see what I'm getting at (it's really simple).
If you don't have a screw with a flat top (makes it easy to turn by hand) for the center hole, make one:
get a screw, cut off two sides of the head (I used a dremel). This makes a head that's easier to turn by hand.
Step 5: Make the Hand
glue an alligator clip onto a nut with super glue, then use ZapGel to add structural support to the bond.
Step 6: Put It All Together
I made an 'easy' to turn screw to attach the base to the 'helping hands' rod. It was still hard to turn it tight enough by hand to stabilize the base on the rod, so I had to use a screw driver to tighten it enough. Luckily my cutting had left enough of the head for the screw driver to grip.