Sometimes you need a hand when you assemble models and miniatures. Are you trying to glue small parts together in your scale model or miniature kit, and wished you had an extra hand? Do you need to airbrush a subassembly? A helping hand holder stand can go a long way to help.
In this article, I review a few of the helping hand systems that I’ve tried or researched during my earlier years in the hobby.
- Even super glue can take some time to cure properly. Waiting for adhesive to dry can be risky when a model isn’t held together by other means.
- A helping hand tool of some sort would be great in these situations when you’re trying to assemble scale models. Warhammer 40k miniatures, scale model trains, and other hobby kits require assembly.
- I’ve tried all sorts of holder and helping hand systems, including soldering magnifying glasses with alligator clip stands.
Are you looking for soldering holders or clamps for model building? Assembling or making scratch built models for your next diorama? Take a look at some of these helping hand tools that could assist you in your hobby!
Top 10 best hobby assembly stands and helping hand tools
This is Games Workshop’s version of a third helping hand.
This is a fairly unique product in that it is designed to hold the bases of models from the Citadel line of miniatures. I’ve reviewed the other Citadel painting handles here. I love them so much I purchased 8 of these handles.
The Citadel Assembly Handle is the most versatile painting handle available on the market. It uses flexible arms attached to plastic clips (which are quite strong for holding plastic parts).
The entire system is useful for gluing and assembling miniatures. And, they don’t need to be miniatures from Games Workshop. Any model sub-assembly that can fit in the clips, and aren’t too heavy, could work well with this system.
This helping hand type holder for assembling models uses 6 alligator clips. The clips are attached to a flexible system of “sticks” or rods. They can slide along an arm-bar on the weighted-base.
Notably, the base is magnetized and sturdy. This is especially useful if you have a metal surface to attach this on.
It could even work against a vertical metal surface. The magnets would hold the system in place (as long as the weight you’re clipping isn’t too much).
The design helps to keep your hands free for an easier time working with fine scale models and sub-assemblies.
This is great for assembling small parts with glue or painting delicate, fine detailed parts. This is also superb for holding parts for airbrushing in a spray booth.
If you’re soldering any wiring, I might DIY an extra holder or use one of the other options, however; as this may be not be rigid enough for that application.
This is a simple, but incredibly useful hobby clip and stand design.
There are 20 clips with rubber padded tips. The sticks and clips are ideal for holding parts together for spraying such as airbrushing or aerosol spray can priming application.
However, the sticks are not flexible in the stand, and therefore they are less useful for assembling model parts together.
This is similar to the Evemodel Painting Stand, except it is cheaper and comes with 10 clips and a stand.
The system is ideal for holding model parts and miniature assemblies for spray paint applications. The clips don’t have the rubber padded tips like the Evemodel system.
The sticks are not flexible so there is some limitation as a helping hand for assembling miniatures and models. I would recommend this for use in a spray booth or a means to hold painted sub-assembly parts as they dry.
This is a classic helping hands system for those of you who solder wiring and other electronic elements. You can buy this at any local hardware store, such as Home Depot.
A sturdy base with two clips on pivoting arms create a third hand tool that you may find useful for a variety of needs. Set screws tighten down the pivoting arms to keep the clips stable and your parts steady.
The two clips may be too far apart to hold model parts together while you wait for them to dry. But, for someone who needs to spray paint sub-assemblies or working with soldering, this is a classic tool.
This third helping hand system is designed as a soldering magnifying glass system. In fact, this is designed primarily as a soldering station with all the accessories that could help someone assemble (or disassemble) electronic parts.
Combining the helping hands with a magnifying lens and light is why I put this on the list. In many aspects of our miniature and scale modeling hobby, we simply need to see what we’re doing better.
This means better light and magnification.
The lens included in this system have a 2.5x to 10x magnifying power. The LEDs seem to be a bit weak and I would not rely on them.
Along with clips that can hold small pieces as we work on them, this fits all of these needs.
I would note an obvious point that this would be a poor choice for holding parts for spraying applications, e.g., airbrushing and priming.
This is the same helping hand magnifier system as the Beileshi system. But, the Ram-Pro is smaller, preferring a minimalistic approach.
The LED is attached to a flexible arm that allows you to focus the the light on particular areas of your working surface. The lens is glass and of sufficient power to see detail.
In both systems, the working distance between the lens and the subject is short. So, be aware that you won’t have a ton of room to work in under the magnifier.
The helping hand clips I reviewed above are the same kind as any other soldering helping hand system. The pivoting arm-clips can be locked-down using set screws.
The stand is weighted and should provide a stable system for holding your sub-assemblies for light duty detail painting, or gluing.
Take the soldering helping hands system in #5 (the Pros Kit 900-015 Helping Hands Soldering Aid), add a magnifying glass attachment, and you have the the system described here.
The Ram-Pro Helping Hands Magnifier Glass Stand with Alligator Clips does have a slight advantage over the other soldering assembly tools I have listed.
The arms and pivots have greater length and degrees of freedom. This makes this system more useful as a scale model or miniature kit assembly tool. The same locking screws keep the arms in place.
Given how inexpensive this helping hand tool is (~$10), it’s the best value of the bunch.
Of all the helping hands systems, this is one of the most compelling tools on the market for holding components for gluing and assembly.
The four arms are useful for working with miniatures, scale model kits, crafts, jewelry, and other hobbies that require a third, extra hand for holding small parts.
The arms with clips are fully flexible and attached to a non-slip steel weighted base. This helping hand design is particularly useful for working with scale model trains and railroad kits.
Of course, this is on the pricier end of the spectrum, but it is one of the better products I’ve found for assembling miniatures and other small-sized tasks.
This is the same product as #9 (KOTTO Helping Hands Soldering Tool), but with 5 arms instead of 4 arms.
Is this the best helping hand for assembling miniatures and working with scale model parts? It all depends on your need.
The flexible arms with clips has come in useful for me when I’m working with several parts at the same time. Gluing legs to a hip piece (i.e., 40K dreadnought, or Warmachine Warjack model) can be challenging because you need the position just right.
Moreover, this is one of the best helping hand holders for working with scale model trains and railroad kits. The flexible arms are great for scratch building pieces for your model railroad layout, and holding parts that need to be glued.
The neat part I noticed about this helping hand tool is the ability to combine the holding clip strength of two or more clips. If your subassembly is too heavy, just reach over and clip on another arm to hold everything together.
Sure, this is a little more expensive, but it’s worth the cost when you realize how much frustration you can avoid.
Finally, this works well as a holder for spraying applications, e.g., airbrushing or priming. It’s small enough to fit in a hobby spray booth, too.
The reason assembling miniatures and models is a risk for frustration is because we only have two arms.
It’s kind of like motorcycles. Wait, what? Yup! The reason motorcycles are so dangerous is because they only have two wheels. Riding a trike or quad is a much less risky.
In several respects, adding more holders (aka helping hands) makes your hobby easier as well, and simply more enjoyable.
Of course, you don’t need one, but I’ve found that extra help is invaluable when you really need it.
Top 10 hobby assembly tools with clips
- Citadel Assembly Handle
- ABEST Smart Model Hobby Parts Holder Airbrush Spray Booth Holder
- Evemodel Painting Stand with Alligator Clip Stick Set
- Yamix Painting Stand Base Alligator Clip Sticks with Base Holder
- Pros Kit 900-015 Helping Hands Soldering Aid
- Beileshi LED Light Helping Hands Magnifier Soldering Station
- Ram-Pro Helping Hand Magnifier Glass Stand with Flexible Neck LED Flashlight & Alligator Clips
- Ram-Pro Helping Hands Magnifier Glass Stand with Alligator Clips
- KOTTO Helping Hands Soldering Tool
- KOTTO Soldering Tool PCB Holder Five Arms Helping Hands