The SolderBuddy is a DIYers Delight!

Maybe it's just my old school mindset, but I find being able to get "under the hood" to tinker around with some gizmo or other to be a perfectly satisfying pursuit. I like old motorcycles because they have carburators, points, and plugs—give me the right wrenches with the parts and bits and I can fix any of that. Audio also has lots of places for your Average Joe with a little skill and the right tools to begin to corral electrons and learn how to watch them flow. To my eyes and finger-tips the SolderBuddy ACS ($40.50) feels like just the right kind of old school tool for building audio cables. Ah the sweet smell of flux after midnight!

The SolderBuddy ACS is one of a series of wood block-based solder assist tools by Lee Tingler that address the particular needs of certain hobbyis groups. Each wood block has a number of machined holes, slots, and/or clamps that fit particular connectors or parts used in a particular area of interest. For example: the SolderBuddy ))SPK(( is set up for a house sound technician to repair speaker and instrument cables; the SolderBuddy Hobbyist HAM is for amateur radio enthusiasts; the SolderBuddy Hobbyist RC is for radio control enthusiasts.


Lee sent me a SolderBuddy ACS as it's the appropriate one for building audio cables. It's pretty simple really: you put your connector in the appropriate hole; prepare and position the cable ready for soldering by clamping it in the "Post N Clip"; and then solder your connections. I like the optionally available Versa-Vice ($8.75) bendable Post N Clip. Machined connector holes are provided for: XLR male male and female; 2.5mm, 3.5mm, and 1/4" phone plugs; RCA male and female; 5.5mm dia coaxial power plug; and Mini XLR.

I really liked the pin labeling on the XLR connectors—didn't have to get my glasses on to read the numbers. Most of the connectors fit nice and snug in the holes, though the female RCA was a bit tight. I also felt the Post N Clip holes were a bit loose, but it was less of a problem in use than I expected as once you position the cable and connections things seemed pretty stable. All-in-all, this tool worked quite nicely, and has the added convenience of packing up into a small enough size for a tool drawer. If the price is a bit steep for your pocketbook, you can get a Helping Hands clamp for about $12. I have one, but it's way easier to get things positioned in the SolderBuddy.

Here's a little video to show you how it works.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Also available on the site is Lee Tingler's dandy soldering primer "The Artful Solderer." It's a bit pricy at $18.90, but the content is quite comprehensive—I learned a thing or two reading through it—and it's printed on high-quality Yupo synthetic paper so if you get it dirty or wet you can wipe it clean.

For some more DIY resources check out Nate Maher's DIY Resources page, and if you're hankering for a bit more advanced project I highly recommend the BottleHead Crack vacuum tube headphone amp kit or Pete Millett's Butte.

Happy soldering!

Tingler Innovations
5540 Amber Cove Way
Flowery Branch, GA 30542-5738

tony's picture

I've made a wide range of solder fixturing over these last 60 years, this little kit has "more" organized features. ( I typically shy away from working with the tiny TRR connectors, perhaps this fixture will lessen the fear)

I remember this fellow being at one of the Shows, some time back. I noticed his Ham fixturing for RG-8 Coax.

I no longer consider myself a DIY'r, yet still, I've done 10 or 15 solderings this past year.

I'm buying this fixture, the little video sold me!

Thanks for taking the time away from those Utopias.

Tony in Michigan

Magoo's picture

I use a "Third Hand" tool myself for making HP cables but this Wood Block looks great! Soldering those tiny connectors on my HD 800 S was a challenge....could have used that wood block then for sure.

BTW, I am also a long time two-wheel enthusiast.... that other small block looks good as well...gonna have to check out Lee's site...

Thanks Tyll!

AMiller74's picture

I just found one in my garage, together with helping hands holder station that belonged to my father. Do you know any tutorials or online manuals? I'd really like to try my hand on it but I don't really know how to start.


Tyll Hertsens's picture

I guess I'd suggest checking out ; ; and . Dig around and then ask questions, I'm sure someone will help you out.

Johnny2Bad's picture

I was pretty sure I already knew the answer, but in the interest of accuracy, I went to the site to see whether shipping to Canada was an afterthought or any effort was made to choose a cost effective service. The result:
$US 64.45 for the SolderBuddy alone, although he did offer to throw in an NSB-A for free.

Now, that's a price that would make many people think twice. But here's the problem: he doesn't indicate whom he would use as a shipper.

This is critical; depending on which carrier he uses, there could be as much as an additional $50 or as little as $ a COD Fee payable on delivery. Please note this is not money due to Customs or any Government Agency, these monies go directly to the shipper after the customer has already prepaid shipping.

So, all in all, we're looking at about $C 90 to $C 140 for his little wooden box. Sorry, not enough value there.

I'm sure Lee is not even aware that his choice of carrier makes such a huge difference; shippers like UPS certainly don't tell vendors about these additional fees their customers would face.

But it is typical that the vendor doesn't explore the implications of his choices to customers outside the US. And companies who do know the score and offer inexpensive shipping options to Canada ... yes they do exist ... certainly won't tell him; they enjoy sales of up to 25% of their gross to Canadian customers, and aren't eager to let that competitive cat out of the bag.