Stickvise - low profile soldering vise

Stickvise is a low profile vise designed for PCB soldering. This product was born on

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Thanks to Hackaday for helping me make this a product! They sold the first 1k Stickvises through their store, although it is no longer being sold there.

Find it now at:
- Amazon (
- Adafruit (

Stickvise is a low profile soldering vise that addresses several problems with PCB holders and vises currently on the market.

1) Most soldering aids are too tall, requiring your hands to hover in the air while soldering.

2) Most soldering aids are not capable of holding a flat object parallel to the table top, making it difficult to work under magnification without losing focus as you slide the subject around.

3) Higher end fixtures are too complex and expensive

How it works:

- With the wing nut loose, the movable jaw can slide to any position along the shaft.

- To grab a circuit board, gently squeeze the jaws against board edges.

- Tighten wing nut to fix the movable jaw.

- Easily take circuit board in and out of spring loaded jaws

More Details

Stickvise comes with the basic components shown in the picture below. Scroll down to see some ideas for ways to enhance, customize and hack your vise.

If you have a 3d printer, you can download and 3d print some of the jaw designs that I have come up with.

If you need to hold something larger, buy a longer shaft or raise your jaws up using M3 standoffs. More details:

Finally if you have a custom idea, use my OpenSCAD script to design yourself a set of custom jaws, you can then 3d print or send out to have them made. I have designed the code to generate models such as the ones below by changing a few parameters at the top, no learning curve or coding knowledge necessary.


Make your Stickvise into a big spring loaded cupholder. This is one jaw, so two will need to be printed.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 409.46 kB - 08/11/2017 at 18:34



Interlocking Jaws - My favorite jaws, these hold a PCB as well as any size cylindrical part horizontally (from a small wire to a cable to a 1" diameter motor)

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 114.93 kB - 02/28/2016 at 12:24



Jaws with vertical v-grooves for holding cylindrical parts upright

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 264.14 kB - 02/28/2016 at 12:24



wire grooves everywhere, this jaws is almost obsolete compared to the interlocking jaws, but it uses less printer material

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 177.82 kB - 03/04/2016 at 01:13



Raise the PCB up to acommodate tall components

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 30.94 kB - 02/28/2016 at 12:24


View all 7 files

  • Stickvise Cupholder Jaws

    Alex Rich08/11/2017 at 18:39 0 comments

    I spilled coffee on myself two days ago, so I decided to design some cupholder jaws for Stickvise to help me avoid this situation in the future.  Now you too can make your Stickvise into a neat cupholder with this new set of jaws.

  • New Canadian Distributor!

    Alex Rich03/14/2017 at 15:06 0 comments

    Stickvise has a new distributor in Canada - They are the largest distributor of Raspberry Pi merchandise in Canada and now they stock Stickvise!

    This should be a more cost effective option than ordering from a US distributor for all interested Candians!

  • Time-lapse video milling PTFE jaws on the Shapeoko

    Alex Rich03/05/2017 at 20:37 4 comments

    I am using a very inexpensive Shapeoko 3 to produce precision milled PTFE jaws for Stickvise from my basement!

    Why don't I have the part molded or machined somewhere else? I project sales of about 200 pairs per year. Molding PTFE is a specialized process because of the very high temperatures, so it would only be warranted at higher volumes or if I could justify a much higher price point. Machining is more typical in this volume range, but outsourcing machining was still too expensive.

    To hit the price point I wanted and not commit to large manufacturing runs, I chose to get a machine to make the parts myself. This also meant I could justify having my own CNC at home, which I had wanted for a while.

    I'm happy to say the machine is working well and has already paid for itself. Most importantly, I have a new toy that I never would have bought otherwise.

  • Raspberry Pi Zero Jaws by bfesser

    Alex Rich12/23/2016 at 01:06 2 comments

    Check these out!

    This is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind for Stickvise - mod and hack to make custom fixtures for holding PCBs. These are a cool set of jaws by @bfesser that not only hold two RasPi zeros, but you can flip them around and hold any size PCB. There is actually a dual and a single jaw set available. Enjoy pics below, if interested in 3d printing these, head over to thingiverse to download.

  • New Stickvise distributor: Adafruit

    Alex Rich09/11/2016 at 21:17 14 comments

    After over a year of selling through the Hackaday Store I have expanded to add a new distributor - Adafruit!

    Super excited to expand the Stickvise audience, Adafruit is a really cool company. They did an amazing job on photographing Stickvise, check out some of the shots they took! Better than any I have taken for sure. Also on the Adafruit product page you can see a great video of Limor and Phil talking about it a little bit.

  • Ben Heck Show Stickvise sighting!

    Alex Rich07/11/2016 at 02:15 0 comments

    I sent Ben Heck a Stickvise a couple months ago, I thought it was a long shot to even get a response but I wanted to at least give it a try. You have to put yourself in his shoes, he probably gets tons of unsolicited crap shipped to him every week that people hope will make it into one of his videos. It turns out he was really nice, even sent me a thank you email when it arrived and told me that he was using it a few minutes after it arrived. Very cool of him to do that.

    I noticed in the show's latest video (covering the completion of his Hackmanji game) that Stickvise was on his bench in the background the whole time. Not sure what he's holding in the vise but it's an honor to see it being used!

    I sent his Stickvise out with a customized "Ben Heck Show" PCB, I thought it looked pretty cool:

    Here is the episode

  • Replacement Jaws

    Alex Rich04/24/2016 at 01:25 1 comment

    On Monday I'm shipping out Stickvise replacement jaws to the Hackaday Store! They should be available in the next week or so. For those who have damaged their jaws and want some spares, check them out. For starters there will be two options: standard nylon and high temperature PTFE

  • Milling a PCB outline on Stickvise

    Alex Rich03/22/2016 at 15:46 2 comments

    Still brainstorming the idea of using Stickvise for PCB milling. After a brief chat on Twitter with Danielle Applestone (owner of Other Machine Co. makers of the Othermill) I was inspired to delve further into this possible application. The main issue is full slotting, particularly parallel to the edges of the jaws where the PCB is most likely to slip. This morning I did some testing to see how Stickvise would handle this.

    Below are the results, not a bad start - didn't have movement in any of the five test boards I cut out.

    Sorry for the absolute bush league mistake of putting my finger over the lens, that's embarrassing. You can see more about the jaw design I'm using in this older project log.

    The info on the cut is as follows -

    Machine: Tormach 770

    Spindle Speed: 10,000 RPM

    Feed Rate: 10 in/min

    Tool: 1/8" diameter, 2 flute carbide endmill, uncoated, general purpose (I think I got it from McMaster)

  • Jaw production begins!

    Alex Rich03/21/2016 at 21:51 4 comments

    Ok everything went well today, I cut all of my blank material (made like 135 pieces, or 67.5 pairs) using a table saw, that worked great. Then I used my fixture to make 12 pairs of PTFE jaws. It's not a blazing fast process, I am going to have to be careful how I price these things as I could easily see myself wind up working for $2 per hour if I go too low.

  • Jaw Production Fixture Done

    Alex Rich03/20/2016 at 16:51 3 comments

    Check it out, fixture is done. I milled the aluminum on a Tormach 770, really an excellent machine.

    One fun thing about CNC is you can do things that wouldn't be feasible on a manual mill. I decided to go in and chamfer all of my edges using a Maritool 90 degree chamfer mill. You can see in the pics below there are perfect little beveled edges on everything, even the circles. It would have been overly tedious to do this on a manual machine, so you invariably would have hand filed. Nothing wrong with that technique, just doesn't look as cool!

    On top of that, I had some fun adding a bead blasted finish just to top it all off. I use an inexpensive Grizzly sandblast cabinet, and some fine glass bead media that I bought from McMaster years ago. This final step really makes tool marks disappear and leaves a nice matte finish, didn't need to sand or polish anything.

    Couple notes

    - tapping not done yet, will do that next

    - Thanks to @Jan for advice on my initial design. I added extra holes for clamping each part in two places instead of just one. I'm sure I won't regret that decision. We'll see how this works soon, stay tuned...

    below is the Maritool chamfer mill I used

View all 36 project logs

Enjoy this project?



highland wrote 11/12/2014 at 18:07 point
This appears very nice. In the past I've used to do something similar. This appears slight more useful for this specific purpose.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/12/2014 at 18:26 point
Thanks! Yes, those style clamps are part of the inspiration for my design. I feel like everyone I have ever talked to about this has been using some random tool that isn't quite right for the job. I'm hoping I can put an end to that with this product.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Samuel Wittman wrote 11/11/2014 at 18:01 point
What a beautifully simple device.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/11/2014 at 18:16 point
Thank you!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Bruce wrote 11/10/2014 at 17:57 point
That looks beautiful!

I'm a electronic hobbyist, and as much as possible I do SMT. I almost never use my Panavise anymore because it's such a pain to adjust the width of the jaws. I've learned to just leave the board sitting flat on the work surface instead, but if the opposite side is populated or you're reworking a board with thru hole headers or something, it's not the best. This vice would be great!

If I squint at it a little, I can imagine the jaws being designed to work as a jig for holding a solder paste stencil overtop of a PCB...

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/10/2014 at 18:32 point
Thanks Bruce, great idea with the solder paste stencil. I may eventually offer aluminum jaws as an option as well to allow the vise to be used for reflow and heavy hot air work. Stay tuned for updates!

  Are you sure? yes | no

PointyOintment wrote 11/03/2014 at 06:28 point
My first thought when I saw this was that when doing through-hole soldering/desoldering, some components may collide with the shaft, so I like that there's only one shaft to minimize the chance of that happening, and that it's possible to just use taller inserts to completely avoid the problem.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/03/2014 at 10:54 point
Thanks for your thoughts! Yeah that's the catch of making it low profile, some tall things on bottom of the board will hit the shaft. The vise is surprisingly good at holding things off center too, so you could slide your thru hole boards to one side. The taller jaw plates would work as well

  Are you sure? yes | no

mac_ha wrote 11/02/2014 at 12:15 point
Wonderful idea and very simple design, thought myself of something similar for quite a while, primarily for my CNC... Going to make one now, and wondering what is your mechanism of the wing nut to fix the movable jaw on the shaft? Also, some arrangement to ensure the jaws are parallel with each other would be useful too, I think...

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/02/2014 at 18:36 point
The mechanism that clamps wing nut to shaft is a simplification of an old machinists' trick called a split cotter clamp. My version is a compromise that is a bit easier to manufacture than a standard split cotter. It is basically just a socket head cap screw with an angled flat ground under the head. The flat wedges against the underside of the shaft and prevents the screw from rotating, meanwhile the wing nut draws the screw up against the shaft like a wedge. It has a great hold but releases instantly when you loosen the wing nut.

This exact vise would not be great for milling because the springs are the only thing applying clamping pressure. You could add a short lead screw somewhere for more clamping force, I considered that for this design but I thought it was overkill for holding PCBs and connectors.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 11/02/2014 at 18:44 point
Also, forgot to mention about the parallel thing - if you clamp the movable portion while the vise is sitting flat on a table the jaws will be perfectly parallel. I thought about using two shafts or maybe some sort of dovetail guide track rather than a single shaft, but I thought the additional complexity was not worth the benefit.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mac_ha wrote 11/08/2014 at 09:38 point
Thanks Alex - after posting the message last week and starting to look for materials to make it, I also realized that your simple design is just enough to serve the purpose! No need to overcomplicate it! And thanks again for sharing!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 10/31/2014 at 15:24 point
I am hoping to get input from the Hackaday community on this idea. I know this vise is useful to me and the two engineers I work with but I have no idea how many other people would find it useful. I would like to launch a Kickstarter for this just for the fun of it, but I don't want to do that before showing it off to a few other people. Input on the idea would be appreciated!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ben Delarre wrote 10/31/2014 at 16:51 point
Hey Alex, Yeah that looks really quite useful. I've been meaning to create a similar sort of vice for my CNC. But I hadn't thought of getting one for soldering. I generally use a Panavice, and quite like the fact that I can angle it at any orientation necessary. This is quite useful for attaching wires and things like that which require a '3rd' dimension, but as you say when just populating a pcb they are irritatingly high up making for shaky hands.

What would be the price point for this?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Alex Rich wrote 10/31/2014 at 17:01 point
I was thinking of $20 early bird on Kickstarter, maybe retailing for $25 or $30. I'm considering offering the vise with no jaw plates for a reduced price to those who want to make their own jaws with CNC or 3d printing. I also will make a bunch of different jaw plate designs available for free download, I love the idea of 3d printing the jaw plates because everyone has to hold different stuff.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ben Delarre wrote 10/31/2014 at 17:04 point
That is a really lovely idea yeah, an open set of jaw designs would be awesome. I think your price point is spot on as well. Sign me up.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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