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Best wood for tripod legs?

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#1 DocFinance

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 03:38 AM

Next step in resurrecting my Polaris mount is a set of extendable legs. Any ideas on which woods would be better than others? Local Home Depot has pre finished poplar, ash, and oak, and I'm open to other suggestions.

#2 orlyandico

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 03:49 AM

Berlebach uses ash.. or was it beech.

#3 Chuckwagon

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 04:20 AM

If you are looking for a strong, stiff wood, use Hickory. It is the strongest of the North American hardwoods in compressive strength, bending strength, and in stiffness. To quote The Preacher from Pale Rider, "There's nothing like a nice piece of hickory." :) Birch is also a good choice.

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#4 Hilmi

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 04:59 AM

I'm no expert woodworker, I build wood projects from scraps I find. Last time I used Redwood, it burnt two drills and took 3 times as long to cut through compared to other woods. Same goes to sanding, but in the end, my most durable projects in Oman's merciless sun have been the ones I built out of Redwood.

#5 fivestring

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 08:40 AM

Hickory, ash or white oak

#6 tomcat141

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 08:59 AM

Hickory, ash or white oak


+3

#7 Eddgie

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:25 AM

Ipe.

Indestructable.

Eight times harder than redwood.

A dense wood with close grain. Coloration similar to Teak.

Difficult to work, but resists weathering better than most wooed. It can be sealed to stabilize the color (or it will turn gray in time, but can be pressure washaed back to normal color)

You can often find scraps from deck companys. Call one in your area that installs Ipe decks and ask them if they will give you some short scraps after their next project.

Of course all of these other woods mentioned are fine choices too, but you asked for other alternatives so I thought I would mention it.

I am not kidding though... If you rush a long rip, you will dull out your saw. It is horribly dense stuff. For Ipe, it is best to keep the cuts slow to avoid melting out the edge on the saw teeth.

Honestly though, this would likely be overkill. I am sure that some ash would work well enough and be far easier to work. Again, you asked for alternatives, so I am just offering another one that most people don't know about.

#8 PJ Anway

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 12:25 PM

Ironwood (also called Blue Beech). It's as tough as .... well, iron. :grin:


#9 DocFinance

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 01:37 PM

Thanks for the ideas. I think I've got some redwood around already (from an old bench that folded up) so that may be my first experiment.

I like to work with red oak, and it sure is heavy and dense (which is good for mount stability) but I'm not sure about its dampening abilities. Heavy is good, but rigid isn't good if it propagates vibration. I'll have to see what the tradeoffs are.

#10 SteveG

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 02:06 PM

Are these legs going to be adjustable? I personally could not build a set of wood tripod legs for less than what can be purchased aftermarket:
http://handsonoptics...th=42_126&am...

#11 DocFinance

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 10:23 AM

Yes, they will be adjustable. I may have to buy a few pieces of wood, but I already have all of the hardware and finish material just sitting around. Those tripods that Gary sells are a great buy, though.

#12 CharlesW

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 11:12 AM

I would head over to Clark's Hardwood Lumber Co in Houston and talk with them. Besides, you'll have fun just looking at the exotics. But, teak would be a good choice. You can get it in thicker stock, not SUPER expensive, and absolutely impervious to the elements.

#13 Starhawk

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 11:32 AM

I'd go with ash- you need to be able to move it.

-Rich

#14 sickfish

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 11:33 AM

Cool info http://en.wikipedia....a_hardness_test

#15 StarStuff1

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 11:33 AM

I built this red oak tripod for my Super Polaris almost 20 years ago. It has held up well, dampens quickly, very strong. Here it is holding a long 80mm and a C102f. A key is having a solid tripod tray that locks the legs very strongly.

While almost all of the tripods and bino mounts that I have built over 30 years were made from red oak I like ash even better.

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#16 CharlieB

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 11:57 AM

Ash is my preferred wood, followed by white oak, but you have to use stainless steel hardware with white oak or the the wood blackens.

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#17 DocFinance

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 12:58 PM

Ash is my preferred wood, followed by white oak, but you have to use stainless steel hardware with white oak or the the wood blackens.


I didn't know that for white oak. I like working with red oak (for the stiffness) but I don't like the weight or the toxicity of the sawdust. For this, though, either redwood or oak might be the best answer.

I was reading through Roth's Compendium earlier, and it seems that the tradeoff for any tripod is between stiffness and the ability to dampen or "bleed" vibrations quickly. There's a chapter by a fellow named Zaegler (I think) that covers mount design and has a bunch of good stuff in it.

There is one other characteristic that's important, as pointed out here: weight. I should be able to move it. So some of the lighter woods win out on that point.

#18 herrointment

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 01:48 PM

Ash. Straight grained Ash.

Period.

#19 tag1260

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 02:55 PM

Any reason to NOT use Red Oak other than weight?

#20 fivestring

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 06:51 PM

Red Oak is kinda porous. If you look at the end grain under magnification it's like looking into a pile of drinking straws.
White Oak is NOT like red oak. It is stronger and weathers well for outdoor purposes.
Teak and ipe have been mentioned but they are heavy.
My 3 would still be ash, hickory or white oak.

#21 Hermie

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 08:01 PM

I'd just add that the tripod design will have more effect on the stiffness than the type of wood used. Make sure you incorporate a spreader/tray, and if you can tension from the mount head toward the ground (weight/center rod) it will be even better.

Hermie

#22 calypsob

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 08:12 PM

Some other wood that would work-

Cedar 4x4's would work ok.
Cypress would work good.
Dogwood is probably the hardest hardwood I have ever worked with even compared to ebony.
If you are up north look for rock maple, also very hard.

If you are in the south look for long 8 foot pallets behind buildings, they are usually supported by oak 4x4's, which are kiln dried and very strong, probably white oak.
Beech is very strong but will be expensive.
Heartwood pine and refurbished barn beams would do great.

If you live near a lumber mill that dries wood on site, ask if you can buy their kull wood, which is scrap cut off of the ends. Usually you can find some good sized pieces.

What you want to stay away from is wood which has not been kiln dried which will cause all kinds of problems.

#23 herrointment

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 01:37 AM

Some woods have better natural damping qualities. Red Oak and Ash look remarkably similar up close but behave very differently. Red Oak is denser and heavier but this does not make it an ideal choice.

Here's a link to a page showing the various characteristics of common hardwoods.

Hope this helps....LINK

#24 Jarrod

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 10:14 AM

For quantitative data on North-American native woods, also check out table 5-3 here:

http://www.fpl.fs.fe.../chapter_05.pdf

Anything in the hickory or pecan families appears to be the best, based on work at maximum load. It's about twice as strong as oak.

#25 Pinbout

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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:26 AM

i love my oberwerks clearance tripod blem...

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