Combine scrap material to quickly build a set of hands free clamps for soldering. Materials can vary and measurements are irrelevent.
Step 1: Cut a Path for the Wire.
While I recommend having a proper pair of jeweler's hand free clamps for soldering, a very easy set can be assembled from salvaged parts. Materials required are:
2 feet stiff wire
I used the red and black from some BX cable laying around (red for positive DC, black for negative DC) but coat hanger would work just as well. I can't imagine stranded wire would work well, but anything goes so long as it will stand still.
2 pieces scrap wood
Old wood dressers are the best place to scrounge nice finished wood. I think this project used up the last few scraps. Anything thin will do, I recommend having it sanded so you don't get a splinter while soldering.
2 salvaged alligator clips
For some reason I always have a few clips laying around. If you don't, any electronics supplier will.
( Radio Shack )
( Interior Electronics )
2 small bolts long enough to pass through both pieces of wood
Try looking in your sock drawer, I can always find some there.
Needle nose pliers
Drill with large and small bits
Rotary tool with router bit
Use the router bit to cut a path for the wire to lay in. Put holes through at each end for the wire to poke through. Because stiff wire will not lie perfectly flat, you will have to cut pretty deep for the wire to fit in.
Step 2: Coil and Shove the Wire
With the wire through both holes, push the wire down starting at one end. Use a slot screwdriver to push the wire down, there shouldn't be any wire sticking out of the trench. Try to leave 3 or 4 inches sticking out of the bottom hole and the rest coming out of the top.
Step 3: Drill 4 Holes Through Both Pieces
LIning up the two pieces of wood with the coil of wire sandwiched between, drill four small holes for the bolts. They do not have to be pretty, although they should be slightly smaller than your bolts.
Step 4: Router Around the Holes
Widen the hole on the bottom surface of the bottom piece of wood. You can use the router or a large drill bit, the end result is all that matters. You want the bolts to be below the surface so that the wood lays flat on your table.
Step 5: Bolt the Pieces Together
The bolts should be threaded through the holes so that you know there won't be any wiggle. Throw down a washer out of principle and a nut and you've got the base finished.
Step 6: Attach Clips
Wiggle the wires around a bit to figure out how long you will want the arms. Cut them the same length and strip 1/4" to 1/2" off both ends. You don't want arms too long or there will be too much wiggle and bounce.
Different clips will require different connections, just be sure that they are on tight. I suggest bending a hook in the wire and squeezing it shut around the clip. You can always solder the heck out of the connection for reinforcement, I don't think it is necessary.
Step 7: We're Ready to Solder
For no money and not much time, we now have an extra set of hands for soldering. What I like about this design is that you can put your meter to the wire ends at the bottom and test the conductivity of what you are working on, or you can connect your DC power and test that the connections are good. Since I didn't feel like cutting my scraps to the same size, I now have a little ledge to rest my resistors on. The important thing to remember about this design is that if it will require a great deal of time or money, it's more worthwhile to buy a proper set.