Airfield Models - How To

Make Extra Hands

May 05, 2015

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Airfield Models ( Extra Hands

Extra Hands or Helping Hands are available from various places such as hobby shops, hardware stores and electronics stores.  They look like they're all made by the same manufacturer but even if they're not, they're all cheaply made.  I've yet to see this tool in a high quality version.

While they are very useful there are three significant problems.  The first problem is that they're small.  The idea is great but they don't work well for larger objects.  You could buy several of them but that's not economical.

Making your own isn't difficult and you can make a dozen or so for about $10.00.  The alligator clips shown here were purchased from Lowes.  I paid for them, opened the package and went over to the wiring section to find a soft wire that would fit inside the shank.  In this case 6 gauge copper wire was a snug fit.  And the price was right at about $.025/ft.

The extra hands I made are fairly heavy duty.  You can do the same thing using smaller alligator clips with smaller gauge wire.

Other types of ends can be soldered to the wire such as lugs, binder clips, etc.  If you need the hands to be secured to the base then you can buy the right size lug, solder it near the base of the wire, bend the lug 90 and screw the assembly to a base.

Also see

Soft wire is cut to length and soldered inside alligator clips. The copper wire comes on a large spool.  I roughly straightened it and then cut several pieces approximately 8" long.

After the pieces were cut I spent more time straightening them.  I also squared and deburred the ends.

Alligator clips soldered to copper wire. I soldered the clips to the wire.

Depending on what you use these for you can probably glue the clips in place with CA, JB Weld or do nothing at all if the fit is tight enough.

If you use these for soldering then you should probably solder the clips in place.  Heat will break down CA.

Extra hands mounted in a base will be used as a painting fixture. The reason I made the hands so long is so that I can get to the edge of a part to spray it.

Here I am preparing to spray an elevator that has been hinged with Robart Hinge Points.

I drew a straight line on a scrap of 3/4" MDF and then laid the elevator next to it to mark hinge locations.

Holes are drilled about 1/2" deep so that the hands don't fall through.

Again, I could solder lugs to the base of the hands so that they can be screwed in place.  That would make them more secure but less convenient.

Dowel stubs clamped in the alligator clips will be placed in holes for Robart Hinge Points. I clamped dowel stubs in the alligator clips to hold the elevator.
An elevator and stabilizer being primed for paint. This was a really bad idea.  Trying to spray both sides of two pieces this close together made it very difficult to get in between without contacting wet paint.  I won't attempt this stunt again.
Painting is done outdoors.  So far this fixture has withstood plenty of wind. I spray paint outdoors.  The wind kicked up while this part was drying.  It swayed back and forth significantly but never let loose.


How to Make Board-Edge Clamps
How To Improve Commerically Made Extra Hands

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Copyright 2006 Paul K. Johnson