Sunday, March 20, 2011

Helping Hand

I saw a post on Viktor's DIY Blog awhile back about building a Helping Hand. I wasn't terribly fond of the cheapie helping hand I'd been using, and decided to copy the one Viktor built.  First, I had to find the Multi-Direction Plastic Water Oil Switch Pipe Adapter used for the arms.  Needless to say, these aren't stocked by my local hardware store (nor could I find them anywhere else in NYC).  I ended up ordering them via ebay.  This was my first time ordering from a no-name company in Hong Kong (for delivery from Hong Kong), but it worked out ok, and everything arrived as ordered.

Ok, so now we have the parts, so time to put them together.  As Viktor pointed out, the pipe adapters are 12.5mm in diameter.  Ideally, we'd use a 12mm bit to drill holes them, and then we'd screw the pipe adapters into the holes.  My life is never this simple.  First of all, metric drill bits seem to be scarce in these parts (the local Ace didn't have any metric bits at all, in any size).  Second, the nearest fractional inch bit (15/32") was close to $13.  I have no desire to spend that much on a drill bit that I'm likely to never need again.

But wait!  I received a Dremel Trio for Christmas.  I've been looking for a reason to use it, and now I have one!  I could start the holes with the biggest bit I do have handy, and could then use the router to enlarge them until the pipe adapters fit.  And that's just what I did.  In the process, I verified that the Trio terrifies the dogs just as much as the other power tools do.

I didn't have any fancy scrap wood lying around (well, it turns out that I did, but the fancy scrap was hiding under the bed), so I used a simple piece of pine.  I figured it'll be on the receiving end of a bunch of abuse as time passes, so no need to use something special.  Below, you can see the wood with the pipe adapters screwed in.  Happily, the valve part pops right off the bottom threaded part.  This made it much easier to screw the threaded part into the wood.  I had discovered earlier that the orange piece at the tip -- the place where the alligator clip will be attached -- is not removable.  I guess that's why I ordered four -- so I could break one.

In this picture, I've installed the articulated parts.  One of the already-installed adapters is holding the alligator clip in place while the hot glue dried.

My biggest takeaways from this: Routers are awesome.  As is hot glue. And now I have a helping hand that's not going to fall over when I look at it cross-eyed!

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