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Question about wooden tripods

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#101 RichA

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Posted 01 April 2021 - 06:30 PM

I'm a cabinet maker with a full shop and I want to make a wooden tripod. My question isn't about the build, but about the wood.

 

At first I thought about hickory or ash. Both are very dense hardwoods but hickory has wonky grain patterns and wants to bow and twist when it's cut. Ash is nice and heavy and straight grained, but it's just about the least interesting wood on Earth to look at. It's just blonde and nothing else.


Then I thought about Ipe, which is both harder and stronger than either ash or hickory and also very interesting to look at, but after building a patio table out of Ipe, I had to send every blade in my shop out for resharpening and swore I'd never touch it again.

 

White oak is a thought. It's strong and beautiful and it would show as quartersawn on many of the tripod faces. But with its big open pores, I'm concerned about moisture absorbtion altering its shape


Teak would be the natural choice, but real teak prices are prohibitive and have been for years.

 

Maple, Cherry, and Walnut are all tight grained and readily available to me. I know a tripod out of any of those would be beautiful and I could easily use only the straightest grained boards, but none are very heavy.


I guess my question is about what do you look for in a wooden tripod. Are you looking for lightweight and transportable? Are you looking for heavy and stable? Are you looking for the warmth and beauty of wood? What's your suggestion?

 

Lastly, I'll add that rigidity isn't my concern. The rigidity will be taken care of by the leg design and spreaders. My concern is mostly about weight. Legs of an Ipe tripod might weigh 25 lbs. Legs of a cherry tripod might weigh as little as 8 lbs. If rigidity isn't a factor, how much of a factor is weight?

You might want to make it so you can extend/contract the legs, it is much more versatile that way.  Refractors (most of them) have large eyepiece swings from zenith pointing to horizontal so having a foot or more of height adjustment is important.



#102 godelescher

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Posted 02 April 2021 - 06:33 PM

You might want to make it so you can extend/contract the legs, it is much more versatile that way.  Refractors (most of them) have large eyepiece swings from zenith pointing to horizontal so having a foot or more of height adjustment is important.

Thanks. Maybe I'll try that next time.



#103 Nippon

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Posted 03 April 2021 - 10:24 AM

I'm a cabinet maker with a full shop and I want to make a wooden tripod. My question isn't about the build, but about the wood.

 

At first I thought about hickory or ash. Both are very dense hardwoods but hickory has wonky grain patterns and wants to bow and twist when it's cut. Ash is nice and heavy and straight grained, but it's just about the least interesting wood on Earth to look at. It's just blonde and nothing else.


Then I thought about Ipe, which is both harder and stronger than either ash or hickory and also very interesting to look at, but after building a patio table out of Ipe, I had to send every blade in my shop out for resharpening and swore I'd never touch it again.

 

White oak is a thought. It's strong and beautiful and it would show as quartersawn on many of the tripod faces. But with its big open pores, I'm concerned about moisture absorbtion altering its shape


Teak would be the natural choice, but real teak prices are prohibitive and have been for years.

 

Maple, Cherry, and Walnut are all tight grained and readily available to me. I know a tripod out of any of those would be beautiful and I could easily use only the straightest grained boards, but none are very heavy.


I guess my question is about what do you look for in a wooden tripod. Are you looking for lightweight and transportable? Are you looking for heavy and stable? Are you looking for the warmth and beauty of wood? What's your suggestion?

 

Lastly, I'll add that rigidity isn't my concern. The rigidity will be taken care of by the leg design and spreaders. My concern is mostly about weight. Legs of an Ipe tripod might weigh 25 lbs. Legs of a cherry tripod might weigh as little as 8 lbs. If rigidity isn't a factor, how much of a factor is weight?

I too am a woodworker of skill and had to build many things out of Ipe because my boss loved the fact that it is so resistant to rot and is very stable. Understandable for a contractor in Florida. I developed both a high respect and a hatred for Ipe. Plus if you don't wear a mask while working it you'll probably end up sick. Personally I'm thinking of building a nice wooden tripod myself and I'm leaning toward mahogany.


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#104 Terra Nova

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Posted 03 April 2021 - 10:43 AM

I too am a woodworker of skill and had to build many things out of Ipe because my boss loved the fact that it is so resistant to rot and is very stable. Understandable for a contractor in Florida. I developed both a high respect and a hatred for Ipe. Plus if you don't wear a mask while working it you'll probably end up sick. Personally I'm thinking of building a nice wooden tripod myself and I'm leaning toward mahogany.

My mentor in graduate school back in the 1970s built a deck and pergola out of Ipe and did wind up quite ill from working with it. Not only did he have respiratory problems, he broke out in a very severe rash including oozing blisters. All in all, it was enough to wind him up in the emergency room. The deck and pergola on the other hand was quite beautiful, and to my knowledge, has outlived its builder who passed away twenty years ago.



#105 Nippon

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Posted 03 April 2021 - 01:50 PM

My mentor in graduate school back in the 1970s built a deck and pergola out of Ipe and did wind up quite ill from working with it. Not only did he have respiratory problems, he broke out in a very severe rash including oozing blisters. All in all, it was enough to wind him up in the emergency room. The deck and pergola on the other hand was quite beautiful, and to my knowledge, has outlived its builder who passed away twenty years ago.

I'm not surprised. I wore a particle mask and my table saw and other woodworking power tools were set up in basically a metal pole barn with no walls. It still made me feel fatigued and stained my fingernails yellow until they eventually grew out. It can be pretty but I personally don't care for the little swipes of purple in the grain. And it is unbelievably heavy. 



#106 godelescher

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 09:58 PM

Just wanted to update this thread with final thoughts on the tripod's performance.

 

In a word, spectacular!

 

I had three scopes out tonight, a fork-mounted LX200 mak on the standard Meade field tripod, the FL80 on a GP mount on the purpleheart tripod, and my neighbor's 4.5" newtonian on an ioptron cube mount and tripod.

 

Viewing was fair and at times breezy.

 

The cube was a waste of time, so I won't mention it again.

 

The mak and vixen both did fine starting off on m45, then onto trapezium. But it was Mars that really separated the two. The mak had a 15mm ep for 177x and the vixen had a 3mm for 187x. Dampening time between focusing on the mak was a couple of seconds and breezes were noticable above 10mph. On the vixen though, and you may not believe me, but it's true, dampening times were almost nonexistent and, though I felt breezes, I saw no movement in the EP. None at all.

 

At one point I racked the focuser from lock to lock then back into focus because I couldn't accept what I was seeing, but the image barely moved through focus and came to an abrupt halt as soon as my hand left the focuser. I have never, EVER, had an image this stable. I felt like it was on a pier.

 

This tripod may, in fact, be the best thing I've ever built... And I've built yachts and houses.

 

My recommendation to you is to build one exactly like this one. I'm fresh in from outside and typing this still wearing my sweatshirt and shaking from the experience. I would put this tripod against any Berlebach in any situation and I'm pretty sure it would win handily. I am very VERY impressed and more than a little surprised at how it surpassed everything I wanted to accomplish with this build.

 

Before I finish up my part of this thread, I want to thank all my fellow CN contributors, specifically Kasmos, apfever, ken launie, walter a, and pacman 2 who all helped me out with design critiques (you were all right) and necessary specs. I also want to thank defenderslideguitar a lot (!) for providing me with a GP hub. Absolutely could not have finished this without him.

 

Lastly, there are some design elements that never got posted on this thread. Like a detail of how the clamping mechanism works, which I think is the key to its stability. I will post drawings of the build as soon as I've made them, as well as my cutlist.

 

I'm really not trying to pat myself on the back, I'm genuinely surprised at how it surpassed my expectations. Thank you for helping me.

 


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#107 Terra Nova

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Posted 04 April 2021 - 10:18 PM

I’m glad all your hard work and artisan woodworking skills paid off. It looks like you’ve created a real gem there. One that works as good as it looks! waytogo.gif waytogo.gif




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