To solder a small PCB I need something that can hold it very tightly, so I can touch it and it won't move.

I tried a lot of tools. First I used this third hand with magnifying glass below. But it can damage the board and is not so good for my things.

Then I tried this PCB cell phone circuit board repair holder kit". Didn't work either.

But the best tool I tried was this PCB holder (sorry, but I can't find an equivalent product in a website writen in English).

This last one is ok, but it's tricky for a very small PCB. Besides, it is a little weak. It moves if I make a little more pressure on it.

Another tool I tried to use was this small bench vise, but it is not so good to hold a PCB.

Any more ideas? Is there any specific tool to hold a small PCB?

  • \$\begingroup\$ What are the ballpark dimensions of your PCBs ? [What's small for some may be big for others.] \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Nov 8 '13 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can put shrink-wrap on the jaws of the "helping hands". Two layers if necessary. Another option is a Panavise (or similar) \$\endgroup\$ – RedGrittyBrick Nov 8 '13 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nick Alexeev, just to answer, small is just small… I am working with various sizes, but one small PCB is 10mm by 4mm. \$\endgroup\$ – Rodrigo Dec 22 '13 at 19:04

I've used this one:

enter image description here

It works well for small pcbs.

You can get it from http://www.adafruit.com/products/151

edit: This is Panavise model 201 PV Jr. Many of catalog distributors carry it (Jameco among others).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have this one too. Works well for PCB down to 10 x 10 mm. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Nov 8 '13 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ The whole Panavise line is worth looking at. The are the classic source for adjustable vises with interesting heads for specific tasks. They will likely never be the cheapest answer, but as the OP notes, the cheap answers are rarely actually practical. \$\endgroup\$ – RBerteig Nov 8 '13 at 23:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great tips. This is really good one. I will import one of this type :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rodrigo Nov 11 '13 at 2:09

A hemostat and a vise. The hemostat holds the board, and the vise holds the hemostat.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you post a picture of such setup, by any chance? \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Nov 8 '13 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev: Unfortunately I do not, and it would seem that everyone else on the Internet either makes do with just a vise or has one of the vises designed specifically for holding PCBs. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 8 '13 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clever. Could be generalized by going through a catalog of jewelry repair tools, or other small hand tools. Micromark is my usual source for any unusual small tool and has lots of useful looking vise-like objects as well as decent selection of hemostats. \$\endgroup\$ – RBerteig Nov 8 '13 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's one source for a hemostat. About US$10 there. Look in surplus catalogs and hobby stores and you might find them for significantly less. \$\endgroup\$ – RBerteig Nov 8 '13 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ $10 is quite a bit though. Even Sparkfun sells them for $3. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 9 '13 at 0:32

Those are called Vise(s) in english. They are general purpose holders, and come in a variety of sizes, and quality. If the third one is moving around on you, you might want to add some rubber, like from a large rubber band or a bicycle tire tube to the parts that screw close, to provide some friction. The holes may be a little too big to tighten properly.

And if you find you have to press to hard while soldering, your soldering iron is not hot enough. You shouldn't have to dig into the board to solder or desolder stuff.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit generally considered immoral, depraved, or degrading. Vise is a tool for work holding. [I was making the same mistake, until a colleague had corrected me during grad school.] \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Nov 8 '13 at 20:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev a vice grabs onto your soul and is very hard to get loose from \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Nov 8 '13 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ vice can grab onto one's soul like a vise \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Nov 8 '13 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Great, i didn't google vise. Is good know this \$\endgroup\$ – Rodrigo Nov 11 '13 at 2:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev in English, 'vice' is the correct spelling for the tool. 'Vise' is an alternative spelling common in the USA but not other English speaking nations. \$\endgroup\$ – Pete Kirkham Dec 27 '13 at 11:27

Blu-tack is perfect, particularly if you have limited height available e.g. under a microscope.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "The material has a flash point of 93 °C / 200 °F, at which it releases carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapour, oxides of nitrogen, and toxic fumes.", but we're all soldering in a well-ventilated area anyways, right? \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 9 '13 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I recommend applying heat to the solder joints, not to the support mechanism, and the use of fume extraction, especially when working under a microscope O_o \$\endgroup\$ – markt Nov 9 '13 at 4:42

protected by Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 5 '18 at 0:32

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