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Question about wooden tripods

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#26 Garyth64

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 08:30 AM

I like the Oak so I made a 4th tripod:

 

Oak tripod with 7TE5 mount.jpg

(Shrine Manon on a 7TE-5 mount with CD.)

 

On my to-do list is an adjustable height tripod to replace the one for my ATCO 1254.  I will probably use Oak for it too.


Edited by Garyth64, 15 March 2021 - 08:32 AM.

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#27 Senex Bibax

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 09:12 AM

An aesthetically bland wood can always be stained or even aniline-dyed. Aniline dyes can do amazing things if applied properly. I refinished my guitar using clear varnish over a dark green aniline dye and it looks great. The dye comes as a powder that you dissolve in methanol, it penetrates the wood and colours it permanently (and anything else it splashes on lol.gif ).

 

More important to me would be resistance to warping, stability and vibration dampening properties of the wood.


Edited by Senex Bibax, 15 March 2021 - 09:16 AM.

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#28 Terra Nova

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 09:13 AM

This is a great topic! I’m really enjoying it. Thanks to the OP for starting it? waytogo.gif


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#29 PawPaw

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 09:56 AM

This is a excellent topic one which I have pondered often over the years.  To keep with the OP's question:  

 

My question isn't about the build, but about the wood.

 

I found it helpful in my research to ask the question, how did a  manufacturer choose the wood product for their tripods in the first place?  

I ultimately came up with three reasons:  Cost, Durability (application use)  and Availability  (choose two).  Obviously godelescher is not planning to mass produce his tripod but still I think this may be helpful to decide what species to use.  Cost and availability go somewhat hand in hand so what about durability?  It makes sense from an engineering perspective that a straighter grained wood should dampen vibrations more efficiently than a short grained or knarly species.  My focus of research was on the Japanese market here in a nutshell is what I found.

 

Our classic Japanese makers mostly chose Luan because of availability (their own domestic lumber was in short supply  after wwII) however there are over 190 tree species that are labeled as Luan......  A tropical hardwood belonging to the Shorea family of trees,  there are many grades and classes of Luan.  Durability is classed as a 1 to 3 (high to moderate) with high density....These trees are classified as evergreens and can grow up to 195'.  They are famous for their hardwood properties.  There are 4 main classifications of luan based on their properties of color hardness and density.  They are:

 

Dark red meranti:  Class 3...Comes from the heartwood, one of the heaviest types of meranti

Red Meranti:  Class 3....Not as heavy as dark red but heavier than white or yellow.

White Meranti: Class 3... Also from the heartwood it tends to darken to a golden yellow color, moderately heavy.

Yellow Meranti: Class 3....  similar to white also a heartwood that darkens to a yellow brown, moderately heavy.

 

Here in North American I would look for a longer grained wood classified as a hardwood with high density, moderate to high strength and some elastic properties.  Think about a wood that would be good to make a long bow with.

Ash and Birch are high on the list.  Yew is a wood often overlooked.  One wood here in the midwest that is overlooked with these properties is Osage Orange. 

 

Don 


Edited by PawPaw, 15 March 2021 - 10:42 AM.

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#30 Garyth64

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:05 AM

I used Maple, Poplar, and Oak, because it was what I had on hand.  I didn't really think of what wood would be best.  I just didn't want to use Pine.

 

I haven't had any twisting or warping in using those woods for my tripods. 


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#31 Bomber Bob

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:21 AM

This is a excellent topic one which I have pondered often over the years.  To keep with the OP's question:  

 

My question isn't about the build, but about the wood.

 

I found it helpful in my research to ask the question, how did a  manufacturer choose the wood product for their tripods in the first place?  

I ultimately came up with three reasons:  Cost, Durability (application use)  and Availability  (choose two).  Obviously godelescher is not planning to mass produce his tripod but still I think this may be helpful to decide what species to use.  Cost and availability go somewhat hand in hand so what about durability?  It makes sense from an engineering perspective that a straighter grained wood should dampen vibrations more efficiently than a short grained or knarly species.  My focus of research was on the Japanese market here in a nutshell is what I found.

 

Our classic Japanese makers mostly chose Luan because of availability (their own domestic lumber was in short supply  after wwII) however there are over 190 tree species that are labeled as Luan......  A tropical hardwood belonging to the Shorea family of trees,  there are many grades and classes of Luan.  Durability is classed as a 1 to 3 (high to moderate) with high density....These trees are classified as evergreens and can grow up to 195'.  They are famous for their hardwood properties.  There are 4 main classifications of luan based on their properties of color hardness and density.  They are:

 

Dark red meranti:  Class 3...Comes from the heartwood, one of the heaviest types of meranti

Red Meranti:  Class 3....Not as heavy as dark, heavier than white or yellow.

White Meranti: Class 3... Also from the heartwood it tends to darken to a golden yellow color, moderately heavy.

Yellow Meranti: Class 3....  similar to white also a heartwood that darkens to a yellow brown, moderately heavy.

 

Here in North American I would look for a longer grained wood classified as a hardwood with high density, moderate to high strength and some elastic properties.  Think about a wood that would be good to make a long bow with.

Ash and Birch are high on the list.  Yew is a wood often overlooked.  One wood here in the midwest that is overlooked with these properties is Osage Orange. 

 

Don 

Don, Great Info -- Thanks!!

 

MODS:  Can we preserve this post or a link to it in one the Top Line Stickies?  Lots of us have make / find wood tripods, and these are good points to reference.



#32 ccwemyss

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:42 AM

An interesting source of wood for one-off projects that need stiffness is old pianos. Many old uprights are free for the hauling, and are often beyond serviceability at a reasonable cost (requiring a new pin block, re-felting or replacement of the hammers, often with a split sound board). But the frames were made of old-growth hardwood with extremely fine grain. I've seen 4x4 members with growth rings that are nearly straight and too numerous to count without a magnifier. It's a shame that so much of this wood goes to the dump, when a skilled woodworker could recycle it into some amazing new pieces.

 

Chip W. 


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#33 Macguyver909

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:51 AM

I researched this some before building my tripod. But for me stiffness was the most important consideration. I chose straight grain hickory. Yes it is a little boring, but me and my buddy that helped, can both stand on the thing. Ash was the second consideration. Exotics were out due to cost. 



#34 PawPaw

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:53 AM

An interesting source of wood for one-off projects that need stiffness is old pianos. Many old uprights are free for the hauling, and are often beyond serviceability at a reasonable cost (requiring a new pin block, re-felting or replacement of the hammers, often with a split sound board). But the frames were made of old-growth hardwood with extremely fine grain. I've seen 4x4 members with growth rings that are nearly straight and too numerous to count without a magnifier. It's a shame that so much of this wood goes to the dump, when a skilled woodworker could recycle it into some amazing new pieces.

 

Chip W. 

Reclaimed/salvaged wood is an excellent source and depending on how it was stored/used has very stable grain.  



#35 grif 678

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 01:39 PM

Hi

If you are into tripod making, you could make some of the old favorites, and make the legs longer for refractor users, and you would make a killing.


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#36 ajkrishock

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 02:21 PM

I used red oak to make a replacement tripod for my 127SLT. I'm very happy with how it turned out. 
 
IMG 20191227 214437940

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#37 Bomber Bob

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 04:50 PM

I'm not sure about the wood, but I put my Orion VersaGo 2 on the legs from a 1960s Eagle (USA) Surveyor Tripod:

 

ATM 5x5T - Restore S27 (VersaGo).jpg

 

It has no problem carrying my 15#  5" F5 RFT with dual clamps on each leg, and metal spike tips -- I push those in the lawn at least an inch and it's a solid platform.


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#38 godelescher

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 05:50 PM

This is a mock up of how I plan to do the leg extensions

 

The central extending leg gets a T-slot cut into each side. The outer fixed legs have a tenon that fits the opening of the T-slot and they're drilled for two 1/4-20 bolts which get tightened by a thumb wheel or star knob.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Tp 001

 

Tp 002
 
Tp 003

 


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#39 godelescher

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 05:59 PM

I'm not sure about the wood, but I put my Orion VersaGo 2 on the legs from a 1960s Eagle (USA) Surveyor Tripod:

I actually spent quite a bit of time looking at surveyor's tripods. I love them, they're functional and they have character. Unfortunately, every creative type with an etsy store is buying them and turning them into lamps apparently, so now old surveyor's tripods are going for $200-$300.


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#40 Terra Nova

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 06:16 PM

I actually spent quite a bit of time looking at surveyor's tripods. I love them, they're functional and they have character. Unfortunately, every creative type with an etsy store is buying them and turning them into lamps apparently, so now old surveyor's tripods are going for $200-$300.

You can buy new for less. Tiger has a huge selection. Unfortunately, the wooden ones are usually painted (because of their intended use). Seco tripods are very well made.


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#41 Xeroid

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 07:16 PM

When you have one mockup leg done, extend the center piece, tighten the hardware then place a 100 lb weight on top to see if the center slips/moves.

 

 

 

This is a mock up of how I plan to do the leg extensions

 

The central extending leg gets a T-slot cut into each side. The outer fixed legs have a tenon that fits the opening of the T-slot and they're drilled for two 1/4-20 bolts which get tightened by a thumb wheel or star knob.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 



#42 godelescher

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 07:23 PM

When you have one mockup leg done, extend the center piece, tighten the hardware then place a 100 lb weight on top to see if the center slips/moves.

I'm not going to do this.


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#43 apfever

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 07:33 PM

I think the head of the bolt will crush the wood at least occasionally. It might crush in the wood enough to close up the T slot and cause binding or roughness.  


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#44 godelescher

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 09:24 PM

I think the head of the bolt will crush the wood at least occasionally. It might crush in the wood enough to close up the T slot and cause binding or roughness.  

The tenon takes a lot of the compressive force where it's in contact with the bottom of T-slot.

 

This is where the hardness of the wood becomes a major factor. It doesn't take much tension to lock the leg, but it does take some. This mock up is made with cherry which is very soft. If I made this tripod using cherry, I think it would be easy for the bolt head to damage the T-slot by over-torquing.

 

The hardest wood known is lignum vitae with a janka hardness rating of 4300. Ipe is around 3600, purpleheart, brazilian cherry, and bloodwood are all near the top at 2500 to 3000. By comparison, white oak ( a pretty hard wood) comes in at 1360, ash at 1320, and cherry far below that at 950.

 

So when you're thinking about how "wood" will fair in this regard, remember that we're talking about wood species that far eclipses what a traditional domestic species can withstand. A 8' 2x4 at home depot weighs roughly 10lbs. If that same 2x4 was made out of lignum vitae, it would weigh almost 40 lbs.

 

With that kind of hardness, I don't see the bolt head being an issue. Especially when it doesn't take a lot of force to lock the legs and the total weight, divided by three tripod legs, is going be somewhere around 20lbs total.

 

I don't know, I'm just going on instinct here. Maybe a sliding dovetail joint is a better idea.


Edited by godelescher, 15 March 2021 - 09:36 PM.

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#45 Kasmos

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 09:52 PM

 

This is a mock up of how I plan to do the leg extensions

 

The central extending leg gets a T-slot cut into each side. The outer fixed legs have a tenon that fits the opening of the T-slot and they're drilled for two 1/4-20 bolts which get tightened by a thumb wheel or star knob.

 

Any thoughts?

If the wood becomes even slightly warped, will it cause binding issues?



#46 godelescher

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 10:51 PM

If the wood becomes even slightly warped, will it cause binding issues?

I don't know. Maybe, but I'm doubtful.

 

Each piece is going to be jointed on two sides, then squared up. I'm going to use only the straightest grain. The lumber has been kiln dried. There can be a little tolerance on the cheeks, and the total travel is maybe 25"-30".

 

I think it has to be built well in order to work right, but I've seen way more complicated wood mechanisms with tighter tolerances function well. I've also seen 60 year old teak sliding dovetails on the decks of Alaskan fishing boats that still work fine. I think this can survive well under its intended circumstances.


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#47 luxo II

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 11:21 PM

If I was going to make a tripod again I'd use a combination of australian hardwoods, laminated using boatbuilding techniques.

 

First off, for the outer load-bearing parts, 40 x 15mm strips of Australian silver ash which is very pale, straw-like in colour with a grain so fine its invisible; this stuff is incredibly strong, tough, and not brittle.

 

Laminated (epoxy glue & screw) with australian native cedar, a lightweight hardwood, reddish mahogany colours which fades with age, yet has fantastic grain patterns.

 

For the feet at the tips I'd use Australian burr redgum, which is about as dense and hard as aluminium, deep red with swirly grain or possibly fiddleback grain. This stuff is so hard you can machine it and cut screw threads in it, and insert a set of stainless steel pointy tips (the kind Berlebach sell). 


Edited by luxo II, 15 March 2021 - 11:27 PM.


#48 Ken Launie

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 01:59 AM

I have a small 3-inch Brashear telescope mounted on an adjustable-height tripod that appears to be of similar design to what you're discussing, with a wooden T-slot that has a tenon and broad clamping bolt. It's made of a dark, heavy wood, but the T slot has broken out in a couple of places on one of the legs, badly, with the result that I needed to remove the extensions in order to use it at all. I consider the Brashear a flawed design that resulted in a concentrated load that tended to open up the gripping part of the T. The square inside corners of the slot are stress concentrators and the nice straight grain runs parallel to the corners. The stiffness of wood is not uniform in every direction, and the clamping tended to bend the wood in its weak orientation. Instead of two bolt heads (already better than my single one) clamping on the T, you could try something like an 1/8" x 3/4" brass strip to clamp the T, with a couple of brass flat-head 1/4" bolts (drilled through, countersunk and soldered in place). It would spread the load and might eliminate the problem I had.

 

I'll attach a quick snapshot of the damaged areas (sorry for the lousy image) and a page from a 1911 Brashear catalog showing the tripod. Either the thing wasn't very popular back in the day, or the survival rate was low, but almost none of them are to be found now.

 

I've enjoyed the discussions on the topic and am sure you'll come up with a cool-looking tripod.

 

--Ken

Attached Thumbnails

  • 1911 Catalog illustration.jpg
  • Broken tripod leg.jpg

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#49 Senex Bibax

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 06:58 AM

I actually spent quite a bit of time looking at surveyor's tripods. I love them, they're functional and they have character. Unfortunately, every creative type with an etsy store is buying them and turning them into lamps apparently, so now old surveyor's tripods are going for $200-$300.

Here's mine, a Spectra Physics elevator column model with wooden legs. At various times I have used it as the base for a custom mount for binoculars, and with the column removed as the base for an EQ head:

 

P 20190814 181344 P
P 20190814 181157 P
P 20190814 181214 P

Edited by Senex Bibax, 16 March 2021 - 07:03 AM.

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#50 godelescher

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 07:37 AM

I have a small 3-inch Brashear telescope mounted on an adjustable-height tripod that appears to be of similar design to what you're discussing, with a wooden T-slot that has a tenon and broad clamping bolt. It's made of a dark, heavy wood, but the T slot has broken out in a couple of places on one of the legs, badly, with the result that I needed to remove the extensions in order to use it at all. I consider the Brashear a flawed design that resulted in a concentrated load that tended to open up the gripping part of the T. The square inside corners of the slot are stress concentrators and the nice straight grain runs parallel to the corners. The stiffness of wood is not uniform in every direction, and the clamping tended to bend the wood in its weak orientation. Instead of two bolt heads (already better than my single one) clamping on the T, you could try something like an 1/8" x 3/4" brass strip to clamp the T, with a couple of brass flat-head 1/4" bolts (drilled through, countersunk and soldered in place). It would spread the load and might eliminate the problem I had.

 

--Ken

I can see that design is flawed in a number of ways. First, like you mentioned, there is only a single fastener which creates a fulcrum. Second, the mechanical connection is on the underside of the legs so the downward force is trying to break the legs apart.

 

In my iteration, the downward force isn't trying to separate the legs, but trying to collapse the legs. Also, there will be a T-slot on each side of the center section, so the legs will be actually be fastened with a total of four bolts on each leg.

 

I hear what you're saying about about spreading the point load. I may cut some fender washers to fit the slot to do exactly that. My original idea was to use aluminum T-track and mate it with some miter track on the outside legs, which would take ALL of these problems out of play, but both elements would be visible and, aesthetically, that's not acceptable.




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