The Ultimate Helping Hands




About: i am an inventor/mad scientist who likes to mess about with electronics

I'm sure that most makers and electronics enthusiasts have encountered the dreaded cheap helping hands that continue to tip over at any and every opportunity, generally ruining the current project. i'm also sure that many of you have looked at better vices and helping hands, the problem with these is the price! a popular model can cost as much as £40/$57. So, in this instructable i aim to show you how to turn some cheap helping hands and some other junk into the ultimate PCB vice!


Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools:

Before you go about creating this project you need to find a few things, most of the parts can probably be found in your parts bin, failing that you can go to your local scrap yard/dump and see what you can find there.


1. cheap helping hands. Gearbest Eu+Us

2. Large transformer*


1. Hot glue gun. Amazon EU+US

2. drill/pillar drill.

3. metal cutting drill-bit. Amazon EU+US

*transformer or other heavy metal object. these can be commonly found in: microwave ovens, fridges and power supply units.

Step 2: Assembly:

Now that we have got all of the stuff, we can go about building it. the main problem with cheap helping hands is the rather puny little weight that utterly fails to keep the vice upright, we can solve this problem by redesigning the frame and adding a second more heavy weight, hence the electronic transformer. now to start making:

step 1: take off all of the parts from the helping hands, leaving only the alligator clip assemblies intact.

step 2: attach the rod directly onto the base with one of the connectors.

step 3: push both alligator assemblies onto the rod, make sure to tighten them so they don't get in the way later.

Step 3: Base Assembly:

Now we have a good frame we need to create a sturdy base to mount it to, for this we need the transformer, a drill bit capable of drilling into the metal casing, some coolant (Wd-40 will do fine), you will also need a glue gun and some glue sticks.

step 1: put the drill bit in the chuck of your drill, make sure that the bit is the same diameter as the shaft of the helping hands.

step 2: mark the location that the shaft lines up with on the side of the transformer.

step 3: drill a small pilot hole to allow you to centre the larger bit.

step 4: slowly drill into it with the larger bit whilst dripping coolant onto the hole.

step 5: clean out all the swarf from the hole and start heating up your glue gun.

step 6: fill the hole with glue and quickly push the rod into it, make sure to align it before the glue dries.

Step 4: Finish!

Congratulations, now you have made yourself an effective, cheap and very heavy PCB workstation! if there is any detail that you do not understand, feel free to leave a comment and i will do my best to help. i hope to publish my next instructable detailing how to make a different type of electronics assistance device, so make sue to check back for it. good luck with all of your projects thank you for reading!



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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! I was looking for a better way to use my "hands" as I bought the cheap one not knowing about the weight issue. I made a bigger base out of a bowl and used fish tank rock I had left over and it works great. My only issue now is I can't seem to tighten the clips enough to hold up my project so I end up pushing it down when I solder or desolder. I will try your way but here in lies the dilemma, unless it comes with a magnifying glass attachment the helping hands come with only one of those bar attachments you used for your alligator clips so where can I find another one? If I don't have one on hand, is there something else I could use?

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I usually use a screw/bolt with the same diameter as the shaft of the clips. Keeps them from collapsing, and adds a little weight to the whole unit.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm not quite sure wich part you are after, but I'll list all the parts that you could use alternately: for the rod you could use a metal 7.5mm wide rod instead of the beam, you could also modify a magnifying glass by drilling a hole in the handle so that you can mount it onto the rid, I hope this helps, if not just say, thanks for the feedback! happy making!


    Reply 3 years ago

    thanks!! I'll do an edit and add it in. To tell the truth your project inspired me to reuse a transformer!


    3 years ago

    I appreciate the reuse aspect, but at 2 for under £5 you could just use 2 standard bases and keep the extra bits for spares

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I did try this but the bases weigh so little that it makes almost no difference, if you look at the next Instructable I will post it should make more sense as it is an extra attachment for this.


    3 years ago

    why not just put some weight on the original stand?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    the original layout if the hands was not optimal for holding PCBs.