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Making a wooden tripod for my classic telescopes.

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#1 Garyth64

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 04:08 PM

Why?    Because.

 

After purchasing many old classics I've found out one thing.  Their tripod su##, I mean are shaky and flimsy.

Some of you may have seen the mods I made to a Sears 6305 wooden tripod.  Bolting the legs together worked great!  It was also a test project for a new tripod that I had in planning.

I was thinking along the lines of a 4" Unitron tripod, but wanted to make it collapsible, and including a large wooden tray to lock everything together.

I had the wood.  It was some maple left over from a kitchen remodel.  (yes, dear, I still have enough to make that last cabinet and doors. lol.gif )

I made some drawings.

I cut out the wood.

 

cut pieces 1.jpg

cut pieces 2.jpg

 

I making it so at full height, the tripod will be 5' high.  (If you extended a Sears 6339a tripod, it would be 5' high, but flimsy.)  But, I wanted to make it adjustable if needed.

 

So after a little wood working:

trimmed sections 1.jpg

trimmed sections 2.jpg

 

. . . so far so good.


Edited by Garyth64, 25 August 2017 - 05:57 PM.

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#2 photoracer18

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 04:27 PM

Looks pretty good. However most of the aftermarket ones use a router to cut channels and risers between the upper and lower sections so they have more longitudinal stability and the sections actually fit together into each other. Might not need that in really lightweight legs for 60mm scopes. The ones we sold at Hands On Optics actually had that and a very long channel cut into the lower section so that it was fully adjustable thru the range. Made it much easier to level the legs on uneven ground.

One way you could do it is cut a 90 degree V-channel into the inner side of each upper leg then turn the lower part 90 degrees so that it fits into the notch on each side. Then you would need to cut a slot completely thru the lower section, corner to corner for the length of adjustment you wanted to include. Slot only needs to be wide enough for the cross bolts so that when you loosen them up you can adjust the length of the lower part to level the tripod. 


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#3 Garyth64

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 04:39 PM

After a lot of work today, I assembled the legs and attached them to a Sears 6339a mount.

I made an accessory tray about a 19" triangle, with the corners cut off.

 

tray.jpg

 

So far, I've set the tray in place.  The legs span 38"  It looks large, it is large, and very stable.  (you can see the 48" ruler for scale.)

 

Assembly 1.jpg

 

In this photo, you can see, from left to right:  a 60mm Manon on a Sears 6305 mount that I modified; a Tasco 7TE-2 on it's original mount; and the new tripod with a Sears 6339a mount.

You can see how much larger this tripod is.

 

comparing mounts.jpg

 

edit:  from right to left

 

 

 . . . more to come.


Edited by Garyth64, 26 August 2017 - 07:50 AM.

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#4 Mr. Joey

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 05:39 PM

I admire fine crafted woodworking... Job well done my friend!

 

You obviously know a thing or two about the art of wood craftsmanship. I zoomed up a few of the beginning photos to look at the detail. Gotta love that clear cabinet grade maple! I know you're not supposed to breathe the saw-dust, but I have a feeling your wood-shop had that smell to it, cutting up all that crisp maple... I'm in envy!

 

Aside from being a super nice project, it's an absolute upgrade too. That tripod can hold double what you're planning on, and still be wobble free. There's something to be said for solid hard wood. Out of curiosity, what do you think a shorter version, with a payload capacity of around 80lbs would look like? Something short and stout, to hold a mount like the iOptron iEQ45. I'm thinking with the right choice of hardware (nuts, bolts, fasteners - perhaps brass and black anodized steel), it could be a thing of beauty matched up with the clean lines of the iOptron products. Just curious if you have any thoughts/guidelines for such a project?

 

Now then... Don't forget about wifey's kitchen cabinets!

 

Cheers!

Mr. Joey


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#5 Bomber Bob

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 05:40 PM

Great work Gary!  I bet it's super stable.  My Goto 60mm F20 has a fixed-height tripod - very similar to the 1895 MacKenzie - and it's wobble free, even on a concrete porch.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 25 August 2017 - 05:42 PM.

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#6 Garyth64

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:04 PM

Looks pretty good. However most of the aftermarket ones use a router to cut channels and risers between the upper and lower sections so they have more longitudinal stability and the sections actually fit together into each other. Might not need that in really lightweight legs for 60mm scopes. The ones we sold at Hands On Optics actually had that and a very long channel cut into the lower section so that it was fully adjustable thru the range. Made it much easier to level the legs on uneven ground.

One way you could do it is cut a 90 degree V-channel into the inner side of each upper leg then turn the lower part 90 degrees so that it fits into the notch on each side. Then you would need to cut a slot completely thru the lower section, corner to corner for the length of adjustment you wanted to include. Slot only needs to be wide enough for the cross bolts so that when you loosen them up you can adjust the length of the lower part to level the tripod. 

Yup, most after market tripods do have a slot cut into them.  I didn't want to go that route.   I know what you mean, and I could have made something like that.

 

I have holes drilled, and I will drill a couple more, so the tripod can be adjusted in height.  I just wanted to keep it simpler, and not get too fancy.  Sometimes simpler is better.

 

Thanks for that thought.


Edited by Garyth64, 25 August 2017 - 06:23 PM.

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#7 Bomber Bob

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:05 PM

Are you gonna stain the wood?



#8 Garyth64

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:10 PM

I admire fine crafted woodworking... Job well done my friend!

 

You obviously know a thing or two about the art of wood craftsmanship. I zoomed up a few of the beginning photos to look at the detail. Gotta love that clear cabinet grade maple! I know you're not supposed to breathe the saw-dust, but I have a feeling your wood-shop had that smell to it, cutting up all that crisp maple... I'm in envy!

 

Aside from being a super nice project, it's an absolute upgrade too. That tripod can hold double what you're planning on, and still be wobble free. There's something to be said for solid hard wood. Out of curiosity, what do you think a shorter version, with a payload capacity of around 80lbs would look like? Something short and stout, to hold a mount like the iOptron iEQ45. I'm thinking with the right choice of hardware (nuts, bolts, fasteners - perhaps brass and black anodized steel), it could be a thing of beauty matched up with the clean lines of the iOptron products. Just curious if you have any thoughts/guidelines for such a project?

 

Now then... Don't forget about wifey's kitchen cabinets!

 

Cheers!

Mr. Joey

Thanks.  It's too late for me anyway, and so far so good.  I've been breathing saw dust for a long time. (knock on wood.)

 

I think for an 80 lb payload, I would do something even more stable.

 

This tripod that I'm making here, will be for refractors.  That is why it is so tall.  What I had in mind too was to replace the steel pier that I use for my 5" Apogee, when I go to outreach events.  That 4" steel pipe, is just getting to heavy for me to shove into my vehicles.  This will carry the 5", I just need a hub for the old CG5 mount.


Edited by Garyth64, 25 August 2017 - 06:11 PM.

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#9 Garyth64

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:17 PM

Are you gonna stain the wood?

I had thought about that a lot.  I followed your tripod making, and from that point I wondered what color I would stain mine.  Your tripod came out great.

 

I don't know.  But I do know if I just use poly-urethane, it will darken. 

 

I do like the color of the red mahogany, but this is maple.  I have lots of cut ends to experiment on, and I do have a variety of stains.  I'll make up some samples.

 

I am wondering about what to do with the feet.  I'll head over to the hardware store and see if I can find something that I can adapt.


Edited by Garyth64, 25 August 2017 - 06:28 PM.

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#10 terraclarke

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:32 PM

Looks great Gary! :)


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#11 walter a

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 07:00 PM

I went with some cut brass rod for the feet but maybe your thinking along the lines of something softer. BTW nice job Gary.

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#12 roscoe

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 06:40 AM


 

I am wondering about what to do with the feet.  I'll head over to the hardware store and see if I can find something that I can adapt.

 

 

I've used hard rubber feet that are sort of like a section of a cone sliced sideways with a recessed screw hole, they work well and don't dent or scuff the floor if set up indoors.  Usually, I taper my leg ends as you have, then cut the bottoms off at my regular 25-degree leg angle so the bottom faces are parallel to the floor, then add the feet-of-choice.....

 

If you would like to make a folding center/tray brace, I can post my (easy) method of building one.


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#13 Garyth64

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:53 AM

I went with some cut brass rod for the feet but maybe your thinking along the lines of something softer. BTW nice job Gary.

those legs are looking very good


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#14 Marc-Andre

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:09 AM

 

I am wondering about what to do with the feet.  I'll head over to the hardware store and see if I can find something that I can adapt.

 

I bought 3 of these in 2015 for a "yet to be started" tripod for a Sears 4344 to replace the metal legs.  They are not as robust as my survey tripods with 2" wide lower leg profiles.  These fit on a lower leg that is 1-1/2" wide by 7/8" thick.  They are cast aluminum.  The lower end of the leg would have to be shaped to accept this profile size.  Price was right.  I'm sure heavier duty replacement feet are sold somewhere.

 

PS:  They came with rubber caps on the points.

 

http://www.tv4rv.com...uct_detail&p=42


Edited by Marc-Andre, 27 August 2017 - 07:37 AM.

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#15 leveye

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:37 AM

Great work my lensfriend!  I may need your services soon.


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#16 Garyth64

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 10:22 AM

I worked on the tray a little this morning.  I thought that I should but edges on the tray to keep anything from falling off.  I cut some maple strips 1-1/2" x 1/4" and attached them to the tray edges.

 

tray edges.jpg

 

It seems  like all the trays, that I have seen, have holes in them for eyepieces.  It exposes the inside of the eyepiece to the elements.  If there's a lot of humidity in the air, I've had eyepieces fog up inside.  So I'm going to place something on the tray for the eyepieces to set on, and also something to hold the eyepieces in place.

I've thought of  using some black felt on the inside of the tray.

 

tray in black.jpg

 

And may this for the eyepieces:

 

eyepiece holder.jpg

 

I haven't come up with a stain color yet.  I don't know whether to keep it light, or make it dark.

 

I'll take it outside this afternoon and mount a scope on it for a test.

 

 


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#17 Garyth64

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:32 PM

I set the Sears 6339a with it's mount on the new tripod.

 

The tripod is solid.  I like it a lot.  The large tray stabilizes everything . . .

 

6339a on new tripod.jpg

 

. . . except the mount.

 

The scope wiggles up and down, but not left and right.  I'm going to have to go thru the mount and fix that somehow.

 

Later, I attached the tripod to my 128 Unitron mount.  Nothing wiggles or vibrates.

 

I like the extra height.

 

(now if I only had a hub for the Edmund mount)


Edited by Garyth64, 26 August 2017 - 07:34 PM.

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#18 Mr. Joey

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:21 PM

I like that look... I vote for straight-up poly-urethane or clear lacquer, both of which will yellow, or darken, on the clear maple. The tray is already darker and will add nice contrast as it will darken a bit too.

 

Nice work. Are you taking on clients/jobs? You didn't think your skill-set would just retire along with the gig at GM did you? Ha!

 

Got any cherry (or any nut bearing tree - walnut -) lying around?

 

Mr. Joey


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#19 Chuck Hards

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:31 PM

Very nice work!  

 

A couple of years ago, I cut new wood for an old Japanese tripod, stripped and re-used the original metal fittings.  Made it extra-tall, it puts the mount at head level when I'm standing.  I added a Vixen dovetail shoe, and now can use any number of telescopes on it.  It's got an Edmund 5/8" shaft mount on it currently.  There's a thread on it somewhere but most of the photos are probably Photobucket embeds.  I'm going back and redoing my old threads, replacing the PB links with attached pics, but it's going to take most of the winter.

 

These legs are mahogany, note the pine inlay in each leg component, for visual interest.

 

Tripod Rebuild 031.jpg  Tripod Rebuild 032.jpg

 

Tripod Rebuild 027.jpg  Tripod Rebuild 029.jpg


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#20 Garyth64

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:33 PM

I did some adjustments and modifications to the mount.

 

I beveled the wood tray to match up with the angle of the tripod.  It makes it a much tighter fit.

I kicked around the idea of how to lock the legs, to keep them from spreading.  Once all the wings nuts are tight, the legs don't move, but I wanted that little bit of security.  So, what to do.  I thought of making piece of wood that would fit in place; or a clamp that would tighten; or something really fancy.

 

I went with the old stand-by, a chain.  But I still needed to get it tight, so I added in a turnbuckle.  (Genius . . . or not.)

added chain.jpg

 

 . . . no chance of it coming apart now.

 

I also added a little eyepiece tray,(and I can attach a little tray light too).  I cut a piece of felt for the eyepieces to sit on.  It was meant to be, because when I went to screw it down, I was able to use the existing holes I had made in the wooden tray's assembly.  I used 3/4" stand-offs to raise up the little tray.

added eyepiece tray.jpg

 

I put the Unitron 128 mount on the tripod, and she's riding high.  It is absolutely rock solid! smile.gif

Unitron riding high.jpg

 

In making this tripod, I had some thoughts of how hard it would be to assemble and disassemble going to outreaches.  It can be set up, and taken down, in just a couple of minutes.


Edited by Garyth64, 27 August 2017 - 02:34 PM.

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#21 Garyth64

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:39 PM

I like that look... I vote for straight-up poly-urethane or clear lacquer, both of which will yellow, or darken, on the clear maple. The tray is already darker and will add nice contrast as it will darken a bit too.

 

Nice work. Are you taking on clients/jobs? You didn't think your skill-set would just retire along with the gig at GM did you? Ha!

 

Got any cherry (or any nut bearing tree - walnut -) lying around?

 

Mr. Joey

Thanks. 

 

I too was thinking of keeping it light colored

 

I just piddle around and do stuff like this for myself.  (Hey, former union guy here, coffee breaks, second lunches, long lunches, more coffee breaks . . . no one could afford me. lol.gif )


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#22 Garyth64

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:41 PM

Very nice work!  

 

A couple of years ago, I cut new wood for an old Japanese tripod, stripped and re-used the original metal fittings.  Made it extra-tall, it puts the mount at head level when I'm standing.  I added a Vixen dovetail shoe, and now can use any number of telescopes on it.  It's got an Edmund 5/8" shaft mount on it currently.  There's a thread on it somewhere but most of the photos are probably Photobucket embeds.  I'm going back and redoing my old threads, replacing the PB links with attached pics, but it's going to take most of the winter.

 

These legs are mahogany, note the pine inlay in each leg component, for visual interest.

 

attachicon.gifTripod Rebuild 031.jpg attachicon.gifTripod Rebuild 032.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTripod Rebuild 027.jpg attachicon.gifTripod Rebuild 029.jpg

Very, very nice!  I don't get that fancy. ( but I could)


Edited by Garyth64, 27 August 2017 - 02:41 PM.


#23 DreamWeaver

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 02:53 PM

They are photobucket Chuck. I looked for it yesterday.



#24 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 04:13 PM

Personally, I like redwood / reddish stains with the black mounts (like the Polaris), and the beige or natural with the gray mounts (like the Mayflower).  Except for the Goto.  I wanted it to stand out, so I used a dark cherry, which I won't use on any other tripod.

 

SS151 on Polaris S03.jpg  Mayflower 814 - 1st Setup S11.jpg  GHS 452 Refresh T76 (Complete Right Side).jpg


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#25 Garyth64

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 05:48 PM

Of the stains I had on the shelf, I made these samples:

 

From top to bottom:

 

Canyon Brown

English Walnut

Summer Straw

Polyurethane

bare wood

 

stain samples.jpg

 

I am leaning to the polyurethane.


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