We think of helping hands as those little alligator clips on a metal stand. They are cheap and fall over, so we tend to buy them and don’t use them. However, if you are willing to put $35 or $40 into it, you can get the newer kind that have–well–tentacles–on a heavy base. [Archie_slap] didn’t want that kind of investment, so he made his own for about $10. We think that’s Australian dollars, so that’s even less in the United States.
What’s better is he documented every step in meticulous detail and with great pictures. You probably won’t directly duplicate his project because you will probably pick up a slightly different base, but that’s not hard to figure out. The arms are actually coolant hose, [Archie_slap] picked up almost everything but the base plate on eBay.
It’s obvious [Archie] is a frugal guy, based on his drill press. It gets the job done, though. The build is attractive and looks like a much more expensive commercial product. Some of us around the Hackaday lab are old enough to wish there was a magnifying glass attached, but maybe that’s version two.
We’ve looked at a lot of different helpers recently. We couldn’t help but think about a somewhat similar Gorillapod holder we covered last year.
Machine shop wisdom says the lathe is the king of machine tools. We ascribe to that belief, although the common aphorism that the lathe is the only tool that can make copies of itself seems a bit of a stretch. But in the shadow of the almighty lathe is a tool without which even the simplest projects would be vastly more difficult: the lowly vise. Trouble is, finding a good vise can be a tall order. So why not take matters into your own hands and build this very sturdy vise from scratch?
Most commercially available vises are made from a couple of large castings, but as complete as [MakeItExtreme]’s metalworking shop has become, casting molten iron is not a tool in their kit — yet. So they turned back to what they know and welded up the body and jaw of the vise from mild steel. The video below shows the long sessions of welding and grinding that bring the body and the jaw into being, in the process consuming miles of MIG wire. The main screw is cut from stainless steel and threaded with the correct Acme form for such a high load application, especially given the mechanical advantage the long handle provides. The jaws have dovetails for replaceable inserts, too, which is a nice touch that’s hard to find on commercial units.
Vises on Hackaday tend to the lighter duty varieties, such as a 3D-printed vise, the Stickvise for PCBs, or even a fancied-up woodworking vise. It’s nice to see a heavy metal build for a change.
Continue reading “Building a Metalworking Vise, Layer by Layer”
[ProtoG] sent us in this video (also below) where he demonstrates the use of machinist’s dial-gauge indicator arms as helping hands. I’ll admit that I got so jealous that I ordered a pair. I wouldn’t say that I need more tools to hold things in place, but I certainly want them. The rapid coarse placement combined with fine adjustment looks so sweet. Using them as scope-probe holders is brilliant.
Our own helping hands, purchased for $5 from a surplus shop, have seen nearly twenty years of use now. About ten years ago, I heat-shrinked and plasti-dipped the jaws, and since then they do less damage to cable insulation. The clips kept coming loose, but that was fixed with a little epoxy. I never used the magnifying glass, and by removing it I bought some more sliding room for the jaws, which was an easy win. The base has a “non-slip” coating of Shoe-Goo that keeps it in place on the desk. Cork might be classier.
For bigger holding, there’s always the desk vise, though I’ll admit that I mostly use it for holding PCBs while soldering, and that a better solution for that particular task wouldn’t hurt. [Mike Szczys] tells me that the Stickvise seen here is a handy thing to have on the bench. It started on Hackaday.io and we still carry it in the store.
For grabbing the fiddly little things, nothing beats a pair of hemostats and a range of tweezers. Hemostats in the desk vise make a great ad hoc holder. Good sharp tweezers pay for themselves with the first removed splinter, or placing SMT parts.
So, Hackaday, what do you use for holding things? What do you hold your PCBs with while soldering? What do you use to hold down SMD parts? What’s your third hand, or twenty-third? Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: Helping Hands”
We often wonder how many people have 3D printers and wind up just printing trinkets off Thingiverse. To get the most out of a printer, you really need to be able to use a CAD package and make your own design. However, just like a schematic editor doesn’t make your electronic designs work, a CAD program won’t ensure you have a successful mechanical part.
[TheGoofy] has a 100% 3D printed vise that looks like it is useful. What’s really interesting, though, is the video (see below) where he explains how printing affects material strength and other design considerations that went into the vise.
Continue reading “3D-Printed Vise Is a Mechanical Marvel”
Helping hands are a common soldering aid. These inexpensive devices usually have a substantial base, a pair of alligator clips to hold a workpiece, and sometimes a magnifying glass. [Yonatan24] (who happens to be 13 years old) built his own set using a siren horn as a base. Lately, however, he decided to enhance it quite a bit to use Gorillapod arms and incorporate a solder cleaning and a variety of other features. Of course, there is a magnifier along with a solder waste collection bin.
The build is well-detailed, although since [Yonatan24] salvaged some of the parts, you might have to make adjustments to match the parts you use. The Gorillapod arms are from a cheap tripod, but a lot of the material was left over or stripped from junk (like the lead weight).
We’ve seen workbench PCB holders before (including a 3D printed one), of course, but you have to admire the look of this one, as well as the overboard set of features.
The Stickvise has been a staple of the Hackaday community for a while now. If you need something held for soldering there’s no better low-cost helping hand. But if you’re just using a breadboard and a dev board of some sort, there’s another vice on the horizon that uses similar spring clamping to hold everything in place while you build something awesome.
While [Pat]’s inspiration came from the aforementioned Stickvise, the new 3d-printed vice is just what you’ll need before you’re ready to do the soldering. The vice is spring-loaded using rubber bands. The base is sized to fit a standard breadboard in the center with clamping arms on either side to hold dev boards such as an Arduino. This innovative yet simple de”vice” grips boards well enough that you won’t be chasing them around your desk, knocking wires out of place, anymore.
There are some nuances to this board, so be sure to check out the video below to see it in action. As we mentioned, it uses rubber bands instead of springs to keep it simple, and it has some shapes that are easily 3d printed such as the triangular rails. If you want to 3d print your own, the files you’ll need are available on the project’s site. If you want to get even simpler, we’ve seen a few other vices around here as well.
The Stickvise is available for sale in the Hackaday Store.
Continue reading “3D Printed Vice Holds Dev Boards Beside Breadboard”
We are all aware of the typical wood shop vice, the type that is mounted underneath the workbench and takes forever to open and close by continuously spinning a large handle. These vises normally only open several inches due to the length of the operating screw. They are also not very wide because a cantilevered wide jaw would provide less force the further away it is from the center-mounted operating screw.
Wood worker [Andrew] wanted a very versatile and large vise for his shop. It needed to be wide, provide equal clamping force along the jaw and be able to hold very thick objects as well. One more thing, he wanted it to have a quick release clamping system so there would be none of that continuous handle spinning nonsense.
Spoiler Alert: [Andrew] did it! The end product is great but the interesting part is the journey he had taken along the way. There were 4 revisions to the design, each one making the vise just a bit better.
Continue reading “New Cable-Based Vise Improves Woodworking Workshop”