Cheap Soldering Helping Hands
My poor-man's soldering station holding some resistors
Soldering can be a pain. One of your hands is holding the iron, the other hand is holding the solder, and you're left wishing you had another hand or three to hold down the actual components being soldered. That's what helping hands are for. Helping hands are little adjustable stands with clips for holding and positioning your parts for easy soldering. You can buy such devices for $10-$30, but you can also just as easily build one with a couple things you might have lying around.
This super-cheap soldering stand takes the form of two low-gauge (large diameter) copper wires, each with one end sporting an alligator clip and the other stuck in a wood block. The wood was scrap, the clips were taken from an old, frayed leads, and the copper wire I had lying around.
The base of the soldering station, showing the connection of the wires to the wood block. The dotted lines drawn show the path of the wire inside the block.
The wires are held to the block by being threaded through two holes. As seen in the picture above, they first go through a slanted hole from the top face of the wood block to the side, then straight into the side of the block for a couple centimeters. By hammering the wire into the block, it became firmly attached. Make sure to drill holes that are slightly smaller than the diameter of the wire so that it fits snug.
The clip attached to the end of the wire
The clips are crimped to the ends of the wires as shown in the picture above. The wire is threaded through the end of the clip and the end of the clip is squeezed around the wire. This keeps them solidly connected.
This is an extremely simple design that you can make in less than half-an-hour. It could certainly be improved, but it does the job. The copper wires can be a little difficult to bend into position, but overall tend to be stable and have a large range of motion. They are also conductive, which can be a plus when testing small parts as they can be used as probes.