Creative Commons images are CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

9.95

added to your
shopping cart

quantity
In stock 292 in stock
9.95 1+ units
8.96 10+ units
7.96 100+ units

Skills

Description: This is a solderer's best helper, the third hand. Comes with a heavy base, two alligator clips, a soldering iron holder, and a good magnifying glass. Note that we don't normally need a third hand. It's nice, but soldering flat on a table works just fine. Then again, the desk is starting to look like a mine field of burn marks and melted pot holes.

What we've found with many of these cheaper third hand is the lack of stability. The small base on this unit does not make the problem any better. However, with some creativity, you can make it more stable. We also really enjoyed the fact that this unit has a iron holder. Cheap fire-starting soldering irons often do not include a holding stand - this third hand can help prevent accidents and melt marks in the dining room table.

Comments 23 comments

  • I appreciate your candor describing this item.

  • Maybe you should stock something like this , it’s cheaper and has a sponge tray(I don’t own either, though, so what do I know?)

  • I, like others before me, cannot believe I soldered anything without having one of these. The scorched tables, the blistered fingers, the cramped hands from trying to use a pinky to do a thumb’s job… The third hand should really be recommended right up there with flux and tip tinner. You don’t NEED them to solder (you really just need heat and… solder) but you really SHOULD try to acquire them before you go insane. I would definitely suggest adding this to your cart if you ever plan on feeling the tips of your fingers again.

    Onto the actual piece. I’ll start with the base and work up.

    The base is heavy, considering how small it is. It will do well holding small circuits or boards, but beware if you plan on hanging your soldering iron in the included holster. You might want to consider mounting it to a larger board or to your workbench itself if you want to use it as a solder iron stand too. I don’t plan on using it as such, so I left mine free.

    The arms are what they are. Dual ball & socket joins attached to bars or clips and tightened with a wing-nut. Pretty rudimentary, but also pretty genius. They do what they are supposed to do, which is hold things for you. They are easily manipulated by gently loosening the wing-nuts and then retightening them. This might add a little delay because its tedious to work with on some level. But for a beginner its likely that you will be fidgeting with the placement of the board for a while anyway so a few extra seconds isn’t going to make or break your process. For someone who can set up a solder station blindfolded, this thing may be more frustrating to you than its worth (which is pretty cheap!)

    The glass is dirty. Was dirty. Still sort of is. It’s not a camera lens though so I don’t mind. And it will likely continue to gather dust and filth so really, I don’t mind. Its not like looking through a grime coated window, but its not like looking through a freshly Windexed window either. But the magnification is great, especially if you have older eyes that are prone to crossing while working on such tiny things so close to your face. The glass is also on an adjustable arm, but its limited, so if you need it much farther than a few inches away from your project, you might want to look into extending its arm. (Which could be pretty easy, but I haven’t tried.)

    The end report is a pretty decent quality piece for a decent price. Yea there are better third hands out there, but this one is just as good if you are looking for something inexpensive that works. I would recommend it to someone starting out into soldering and electronics. If you really get into the hobby (or profession) then I would suggest eventually saving up for something a little jazzier (after you save up for your Hakko of course) or making your own as someone posted below/above.

    I’m happy with the purchase.

  • I found the instability issue to be easily fixable. Drilled a hole through the base and through a 10lb bench vise. Tapped said hole and drove bolt through. No longer moves.

  • I’ve seen other people using these things for years but never bothered buying one. I always would use regular clamps to hold parts which was awkward. I finally got one of these with my free day order and it makes soldering a whole lot easier. The nice wire holder is a huge upgrade from the stamped metal stand that came with my RadioShack iron (got a SparkFun soldering station too but it is broken and I’m awaiting a replacement).
    The only complaint I have is that it isn’t very stable. It tends to slide across my desk at the slightest touch of the soldering iron, so I have to hold it with one hand while soldering. I found that placing it on a block of foam helps quite a bit. Maybe I’ll glue a foam pad to the bottom.
    Also the soldering iron holder can get in the way while using the hands, so I end up flipping the hands backwards away from the iron holder.

  • I purchased this third hand mainly to hijack the magnifying glass to use with the SFE third hand (TOL-11784). I wasn’t expecting this product to be very high quality and thus was expecting to throw it out, but it turns out it isn’t bad after all. Think I’m going to keep it.

    If you’ve got the money by the SFE third hand instead (TOL-11784), if you don’t this one will do the job quite nicely.

  • Just like to put it out there this is just my experience. Its stable but when you put some thing on it like a circuit board it just keeps falling down and when you tighten it up it bends inbetween the two balls and now it broken and i just wasted $11 i could of spent on some thing else. When you use the magnifying glass it tips the third hand over

  • I NEED one of these! Come in stock! Come in stock!

  • I just got one of these and spent an evening soldering onto small bits using it.

    I now wonder why in the I didn’t get one of these @#$%^ things sooner! Seriously!!

    There was soldering before, and there is soldering after getting one of these, and I would not want to go back (you would not believe the ridiculous things I was doing to hold down the fussy bits!!!)

  • AVOID AT ALL COSTS, (cause you’ll have plenty replacing components using this crap), 1. base too small, that’s been said before, i’m re-itirating it, but it can be fixed. 2. hands are too clumsy , at times far part, this leaves me with handing with only one hand for unstable soldering, the solution i found was to replace one hand with the magnifying glass, so i’ll be able to re-position it. 3. this hands fall apart!!!, this cannot be fixed after a while of twisting the metal grips of the crocodile are lossen, the they just fall from device, which drive me bonkers. i’ve just ordered this : http://www.ownta.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=56023 which looks so much better..

  • Thanks I love it, a heavier or larger base would be cool but for the price its good. I found it required to twist the solder iron holder at another 45 degrees then pictured above to keep it from tipping over under normal use which is still comfortable with my pistol grip soldering iron..

  • I use a separate iron stand so I just left the holder off. I have had no problems with stability, and it’s extremely easy to adjust!

  • I ordered one of these and got something completely different than what is pictured here. The model I have doesn’t have the flexible neck or the LED’s. I don’t know if it was a mix up or if sparkfun has not updated the photo’s, but wtf?

    • Oops! We changed suppliers and didn’t notice the change in the part. Email customerservice at sparkfun and we’ll fix things up for you.

  • In the snake bot lab we used to call these Johnny Fives.

  • Elexp sells this for about $3.50

  • For such an cheap unit you could always drill mounting holes in the base and screw it onto an piece of plywood. That would increase the stability tenfold.

  • … but … would this be a better iron holder than the Aoyue holder that comes with the soldering station?
    I bought the Aoyue station as a replacement for the Ungar station I’ve had for years, but the iron holder that came with the Aoyue station forces me to grab the iron over-hand style. I don’t know about everyone else, but I always grab and use my iron under-handed (so I’m holding it like a pencil). The Aoyue stand forces me to grab it over-hand and then switch to underhand afterwards because the angle it’s in the stand doesn’t give me much room to get underneath it. With a hot soldering iron, switching your grip single handed is kinda tricky…
    So - I’m wondering if this would be a better iron holder.

    • The Aoyue stand makes you grab it overhanded? Really? I use my Aoyue station religiously and am able to grab it comfortably like a pencil.
      To answer your question, I think the iron holder on this stand has a steeper angle so it might be easier to grab underhanded, but I believe the Aoyue is much better/more stable.

      • Thanks Nate for the quick response. I keep my soldering station and the iron holder at the back of my workbench. When you reach across that distance, the angle of the Aoyue holder makes an underhanded grab difficult. A more vertical holder would be much more comfortable. It’s a little better if I put the holder on top of the soldering station, but it’s not quite as stable that way.

    • Yeah - I should add - I love the Aoyue iron. I’ve never used a station that got that hot that quickly!


Related Products