I bought this nice helping hands to hold my work while soldering but it seems to be designed only for very light objects unless it is clamped into something; otherwise it will tip forward. The problem with this is that there is no acceptable place for me to attach it onto my desk.

I would like to simply add a very heavy weight to it between the clamp so that I can position it anywhere I like.

What can I buy very cheaply that is both small and dense enough to provide a good amount if weight to this? Ideally I would like for it to be at least 1lb but the heavier the better. The clamp itself has a clearance of about 50mm.

I did look for rocks outside of my apartment but they were all too light.

I also tried both double sided tape and a cell-phone grippy mat. The tape does not adhere to the material of my desk and the grippy mat does not adhere to the helping hands base. I could use some very strong mounting tape but I would prefer something mobile.

I am currently using my Ti-83 as a counterweight but this is less than ideal.

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Find or buy a rectangle of wood that is wide and long but not very thick. You may even be able to find a scrap piece at a lumber yard or around your home. Lay that down on your work table. It will act as a new work surface for you! Then clamp the "helping hands" device onto that, and it won't fall forward even if you hold heavy items with it.

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BTW, it won't matter how heavy the wood is, since it's not acting as a counterweight; it's just increasing the surface area of the base of the device, and positioning the supported weight over the center of that surface.

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    I like this idea best. I can even customize the surface in ways that I wouldn't want to on the surface of my desk, such as grounding it. Great idea. :) – Zhro Sep 15 at 7:27
  • @Zhro Thanks! Good idea about grounding it! – BrettFromLA Sep 15 at 12:55

Get you a suction cup, of the sort used to hold a cell phone against a car window, and affix a gripper to it. suction clamps of this type have been available for years to help hold things while soldering. the good ones have a lever-action suction base that pulls down the base of the device but allows it to be lifted free and moved about on your work bench top to a convenient position. these are sold by stores that sell electronic assembly tools and soldering equipment.

Get an offcut of wood from the local building materials store. Hardwood can be dense enough that you can get a small section that's heavy enough.

Drop by a machine shop or metal fabricator and ask for a "drop" from their scrap bin. A half inch thick piece of three inch diameter steel rod will weight several times what your calculator does, and is likely to be free.

You need a lead shot filled bag. These can be leather, cloth, or nylon/polyester mesh bags, filled with lead shot. These are used as paper drawing hold downs (leather or cloth) or as scuba diving weights (nylon/polyester mesh). You could also very easily make one of your own if you can find someone who can sew. The easiest way to make one would be to get a small sock and fill it with lead shot and just sew up the opening.

If you make your own, the shape and weight can be anything you want. I have a couple of leather ones in my workshop left over from my early engineering career and they are useful in lots of ways.

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    You don't need to sew to make your own. A sock can be tied shut with some string and a "sack" knot and optionally glued with epoxy. The fabric becomes rigid and permanently closed. – piojo Sep 20 at 10:50

Magnets? I needed weights to hold down a curtain in my shower, but did not want to sew anything to the bottom. It is easy to find a wide variety of very strong magnets, which are also very dense. I bought a package of ten that are each about 1.5 inches in diameter. Two are weighty enough to easily hold down my curtains, though probably not a pound. Fishing weights are another possibility.

I have a small piece (about 12 inches by 9 inches) of one-inch-thick marble that I attached my helping hands to. I bought it as a garage sale. I think it was a demo piece from a store that sold countertops.

In the past I've gone to Home Depot or a garage sale to get a single heavy stone or ceramic tile. These can be nearly any size you want, up to a square foot or so. The advantage of the tile is that it is heavy, but also wide and flat and can provide good leverage against tipping if the helping hands are firmly attached to it (e.g. with double-sided foam tape). You can also use the tile as a work surface if it is smooth enough. Also if you do work that involves heat or flame (soldering, etc.) the tile will not be a fire hazard, and can protect your desk surface. You can choose to attach the helping hands to lean over the tile itself from an edge or corner, or to lean over the edge outside of the tile over your desk, depending on how your workspace is set up.

Another option, which I have also used, is the marble base from a trophy, available from a trophy store (or perhaps your local Goodwill or similar thrift store). These marble bases may already have one or more holes drilled in them, which may help in attaching the helping hands.

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