Helping hands are great for quick and easy soldering applications, and Panavise vises are great for heavier duty holding tasks where you still need fine precision and delicate gripping power.
If you want more flexibility and customization options, you can always make your own Loc-Line-style modular hose third hand tool (Instructables how-to). But, speaking from experience, it can be a hassle drilling and tapping a base plate.
Tip: You could also create a customizable vacuum hose setup using Loc-Line!
SparkFun’s Third Hand Kit is a ready-to-go Loc-Line-style component holding system. It comes with two flexible arms, two alligator clips, a drilled and tapped aluminum baseplate, and all necessary hardware to assemble it.
At $35, the SparkFun Third Hand Kit is a little pricey, but it is customizable, reasonably well built, and ready to use in just minutes.
The kit comes with no-name imported modular flexible hoses which actually aren’t flimsy at all. They’re not as robust as Loc-Line’s made-in-USA hoses, but they’re not bad either. Extra “coolant pipe” hoses can be purchased for $1.95 each, and extra alligator clip assemblies are $1.95 per pair.
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According to the technical drawing (PDF), the aluminum base plate has (3) mounting holes drilled for use with 1/4-20 bolts, and (4) countersunk mounting holes drilled for use with common drywall screws. The 1/2″ flexible hoses attach to the base plate via (6) M14 x 1.25 tapped holes. This means you can attach up to 6 flexible arms to each base plate, and it also means that the base plate is not compatible with Loc-Line’s NPT-threaded hoses.
I purchased a complete kit when SparkFun had them on sale on Cyber Monday. I think the kit is slightly over-priced at $35, but there’s nothing quite like it commercially available. I definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have the time or tools to build their own third hand system from Loc-Line components.
Ooooooh, great post. I may just make my own now that you gave the link, but this thing is way, WAY better than our other soldering third hands. Brilliant.
yeah this is easy to make,you can use anything for the base, and the arms are locline,commonly used as coolant line on cnc machines and such. and alligator clips are el cheapo too.
Drilling and tapping isnt so bad,the threaded ends of the locline are 1/8 npt i think for the small ones. as long as you can drill straight or use a hobby mill or something you can do it easy.
From just looking at the pic that baseplate can be made easily in less than 30 minutes from setup to finish.
I’m in favor of DIY, but keep in mind that drilling and tapping for Loc-Line’s NPT threads or these hoses’ M14 threads require large drill bits and taps. There’s also the added cost of cutting or machining an aluminum or plastic base plate to size from raw materials.
With Loc-Line, you could use base attachments that allow the hoses to be screwed down to holes tapped at 1/4″-20, but the cost of components goes up.
Digging a little more, sparkfun sells the clips and the locline substitutes for $2 each, so that’s the easy button if you know how to drill and tap. Which I’d assume anyone on this forum can do…
A lot of the people who could benefit from this might not have machinist tools, which would make the cost of DIY fabrication go way up once you consider the added cost of tools, cutting tools, and accessories.
I have many Loc-Line components that I use for random jigs, but for a third hand setup it was more economical in terms of materials and time to just buy the complete SparkFun kit.
Thanks for posting. I pimped my helping hands (pictured in your “related posts: helping hands) not that long ago.
I’ve been meaning to add extra hands to it and these arms look like they will do.
Check out my pimped out helping hands..still needs more pimpin 🙂
I think it’s a cool post. I made the same sort of thing myself after reading a blog post six months ago but if you don’t have the desire to DIY it, this kit is great.