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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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DocFinance
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Reged: 01/14/14

Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Best wood for tripod legs?
      #6356951 - 02/05/14 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.

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orlyandico
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6356964 - 02/05/14 03:49 AM

Berlebach uses ash.. or was it beech.

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Chuckwagon
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Loc: Orem, Utah, USA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6356977 - 02/05/14 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.

Charles

Edited by Chuckwagon (02/05/14 04:26 AM)


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Hilmi
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: Chuckwagon]
      #6356991 - 02/05/14 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.

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fivestring
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Reged: 01/21/14

Loc: Mt Holly, NC
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6357168 - 02/05/14 08:40 AM

Hickory, ash or white oak

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tomcat141
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Reged: 08/20/11

Loc: SE Ohio
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: fivestring]
      #6357206 - 02/05/14 08:59 AM

Quote:

Hickory, ash or white oak




+3


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Eddgie
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6357244 - 02/05/14 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.


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PJ Anway
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6357593 - 02/05/14 12:25 PM

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


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DocFinance
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Reged: 01/14/14

Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: PJ Anway]
      #6357737 - 02/05/14 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.


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SteveG
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Loc: Seattle, WA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6357791 - 02/05/14 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.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=42_126&am...


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DocFinance
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Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: SteveG]
      #6359407 - 02/06/14 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.

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CharlesW
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Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6359497 - 02/06/14 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.

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Starhawk
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: CharlesW]
      #6359535 - 02/06/14 11:32 AM

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

-Rich


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sickfish
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Reged: 01/13/09

Loc: Watertown Ma.
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: CharlesW]
      #6359540 - 02/06/14 11:33 AM

Cool info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janka_hardness_test

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StarStuff1
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: CharlesW]
      #6359541 - 02/06/14 11:33 AM Attachment (19 downloads)

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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CharlieB
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Reged: 12/11/07

Loc: Southern NH
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6359578 - 02/06/14 11:57 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

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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DocFinance
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Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: CharlieB]
      #6359678 - 02/06/14 12:58 PM

Quote:

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.

Edited by DocFinance (02/06/14 12:59 PM)


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herrointment
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Reged: 03/12/11

Loc: North of Hwy. 64
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: DocFinance]
      #6359782 - 02/06/14 01:48 PM

Ash. Straight grained Ash.

Period.


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tag1260
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Reged: 10/07/12

Loc: Ohio, USA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: herrointment]
      #6359906 - 02/06/14 02:55 PM

Any reason to NOT use Red Oak other than weight?

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fivestring
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Reged: 01/21/14

Loc: Mt Holly, NC
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: tag1260]
      #6360414 - 02/06/14 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.


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Hermie
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: fivestring]
      #6360566 - 02/06/14 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


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calypsob
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: fivestring]
      #6360583 - 02/06/14 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.


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herrointment
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: calypsob]
      #6361150 - 02/07/14 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


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Jarrod
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Reged: 01/20/13

Loc: SE USA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: herrointment]
      #6361605 - 02/07/14 10:14 AM

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

http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr190/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.


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Pinbout
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: Jarrod]
      #6361717 - 02/07/14 11:26 AM

i love my oberwerks clearance tripod blem...



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herrointment
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Loc: North of Hwy. 64
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: Pinbout]
      #6362207 - 02/07/14 03:23 PM

I believe (white) ash to have the best combination of features that are desirable in a wood tripod....light, strong and damps quickly, usually straight-grained and clear. Easy to machine (watch for burning) and available. Inexpensive! This outfit will ship lumber UPS in any size or thickness, mill cut or planed. Tell them what you want and they'll pick it for you and do a good job............ LINK

I graded hardwood lumber for a living for a few years....hence my interest in the subject!


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TexasSky
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Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: fivestring]
      #6362568 - 02/07/14 06:05 PM

Definitely ash......more stable than the oaks...Less prone to twisting/warping.....
Bob


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TexasSky
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Reged: 05/03/12

Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: TexasSky]
      #6362591 - 02/07/14 06:16 PM

Here's a bad pic of the tripod I built of ash for my celestron mount.....
Ash is by far the best of all the "domestic" woods...
Stable/weight/beauty....next best would be true mahogany....very expensive....but nice.....I'm also an experienced wooden ship builder and know my woods!...As mentioned earlier.....ash period.....
Bob


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TexasSky
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: TexasSky]
      #6362597 - 02/07/14 06:17 PM Attachment (22 downloads)

forgot bad pic....

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davebuechler
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Reged: 08/21/11

Loc: Red River Gorge Kentucky
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: TexasSky]
      #6362954 - 02/07/14 09:27 PM

Nice piece os ash!

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blueman
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Reged: 07/20/07

Loc: California
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: fivestring]
      #6362972 - 02/07/14 09:35 PM

I had a Walnut Televue mount, very nice.
Blueman


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mountain monk
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 11/06/09

Loc: Grand Teton National Park
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: blueman]
      #6363000 - 02/07/14 09:48 PM

White ash---+1.

Dark skies.

Jack


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HunterofPhotons
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Reged: 04/26/08

Loc: Rhode Island, USA
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: mountain monk]
      #6364089 - 02/08/14 01:36 PM

While the specie of wood is a consideration it's important to remember that no two pieces of wood are the same.
Choosing wood solely on the specie will not guarantee it will function well in its application.
Of greater concern when choosing wood are things like "is the grain straight?', "can I get quartersawn pieces out of the rough lumber?", "how tight is the grain?", etc.
There is a reason that skilled woodworkers spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about rough lumber before they make the first cut. Many think it's because they want some time to drink coffee without being interrupted by work, but decisions made at this stage of construction affect the whole project right to the end.
At least that was my excuse. <g>

dan k.


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herrointment
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: HunterofPhotons]
      #6364390 - 02/08/14 04:14 PM

That's the difference between average and exceptional....good point!

Wood is an interesting and complex material. From seedling to dressed lumber there are many variables that will determine the quality and usefulness of the final product.

As an example...the first cut taken on a green log at the lumber mill plays a huge role in determining the value and quality of the lumber that log will produce. A skilled sawyer can turn an average log into a great one with proper placement and a bit of luck.

There's a lot of thought put into that board you just bought. The quality may be awful. It most likely could have been even worse!


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DocFinance
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Reged: 01/14/14

Loc: Clear Lake, Texas
Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: tag1260]
      #6378634 - 02/15/14 10:07 PM

Quote:

Any reason to NOT use Red Oak other than weight?



The sawdust can be very toxic, or so I've heard. Other woods too, I'm sure, but this one I've had a reaction to.

BTW thanks for all of the replies, folks

Edited by DocFinance (02/15/14 10:10 PM)


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TCW
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Reged: 11/05/13

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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: Hermie]
      #6378893 - 02/16/14 02:19 AM

I would talk to a good cabinet maker. What ever species you use, get one that is very dimensionaly stable and quartersawn with very straight grain. After that look for one that is pleasing to your eye and holds fasteners well. I would also make sure and get heart wood. Teak (real teak) might be a good choice.

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orlyandico
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Re: Best wood for tripod legs? new [Re: TCW]
      #6378951 - 02/16/14 04:20 AM

I got to try one of the tropical hardwoods similar to teak, called balau.

It is extremely hard, extremely dense, machines like metal, dulls tools quickly (due to high silica content) and likes to destroy screws. Not recommended.


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