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Thread: Improved clamps for third hand

  1. #1
    mklotz mklotz's Avatar
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    Aug 2015
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    Improved clamps for third hand

    Those cheap, import third hand holders are handy tools for holding bits in alignment to solder or glue. However, as with all tools, they have limitations.

    The alligator clips can leave indentations in small parts; there is no adjustment of their holding force.

    As the left hand image in this picture...

    shows, the clips can not be adjusted to touch each other. While the resulting gap isn't a problem for many jobs, I have occasions when the combined length of the parts is less than the gap width.

    To solve all these issues, I built some replacement clamps that take the place of the alligator clips. They're longer, as this picture...

    shows so they can close to the point of touching. In addition they're built like tiny machinist clamps so the holding pressure is adjustable and the flat clamping surfaces don't mark the work. They open wider than alligator clips so can accept larger parts.

    Construction is dead simple as the disassembled clamp in the foreground shows. The body is a simple turning, milling and tapping job. I had some already knurled aluminum knobs lying around so I force fit them onto 6-32 SHCSs to make clamp screws.
    Regards, Marv

    Home Shop Freeware

  2. The Following 18 Users Say Thank You to mklotz For This Useful Post:

    baja (01-31-2019), Dorn (01-31-2019), Frank S (06-14-2018), Harvey Melvin Richards (01-30-2019), high-side (01-31-2019), jjr2001 (06-14-2018), Jon (06-14-2018), MakeFix (06-15-2018), oldcaptainrusty (02-03-2019), olmike (01-31-2019), Paul Jones (06-15-2018), PJs (06-14-2018), rlm98253 (10-12-2018), rossbotics (06-15-2018), Scotsman Hosie (11-01-2018), Seedtick (06-16-2018), Tule (01-31-2019), Zaakoc (06-15-2018)

  3. #2
    Frank S's Avatar
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    Peacock TX
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    Thanks Marv, I have owned several of those 3rd hand tools over the years sometimes they are great while other times not so much you just gave me an idea that would improve 1 that I have with damaged clips or for a larger unit.
    Never try to tell me it can't be done
    When I have to paint I use

  4. #3

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    Nov 2017
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    Alligator clips

    Quote Originally Posted by mklotz View Post
    The alligator clips can leave indentations in small parts; there is no adjustment of their holding force.
    If you have a couple of inches of silicone tubing like the kind used for nitro RC cars you can slip it over the jaws to help with the indentations.

    Nice toolmaker's clamps. Much too nice for my $5 helping hands.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to Elizabeth Greene For This Useful Post:

    Paul Jones (06-15-2018)

  6. #4
    Content Editor DIYer's Avatar
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    Aug 2013
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    Thanks mklotz! We've added your Third Hand Clamp Modification to our Clamps category,
    as well as to your builder page: mklotz's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:

  7. #5

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    Feb 2016
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    I have on like that I bought at HF I wish they would be on a on / off magnetic base

  8. The Following User Says Thank You to G.Paul For This Useful Post:

    Scotsman Hosie (11-01-2018)

  9. #6
    Scotsman Hosie's Avatar
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    Scotsman Hosie's Tools
    Marv has a machinist's upgrade, for those alligator clips. But I've had problems with that main/middle support bar rolling on me. I've tried roughing them up, but usually have to grind or file a flat spot - just to keep them in place. And when your hands shake as bad as mine do, anymore, they're handy as sliced bread. ��

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