My old homemade Tripod.

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Project by fatman51 posted 10-10-2015 11:12 PM 1895 views 2 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Story:

The other day I blogged about fixing my antique drawing board so that I could draw bench plane totes. This tripod shows up in that blog because I built it to go with the David White instrument that I purchased with that drawing board when I was in college. I had started to post this tripod once before, but decided to wait because I thought I might repaint it. Then I had a conversation with a retired cartographer who was telling me about the fact that many of the globes he has made over the years are featured in museums and on collectible antique websites. It dawned on me then that I should not repaint this tripod as it too is on its way to becoming a curious, if not collectable, antique.

Working on a budget, I purchased the drawing board and instrument that goes with this tripod from a flea market booth that dealt in that kind of thing. The reason I chose this particular set is that they cost less, do to the fact that there was no tripod with the set. When I looked in the box, however, I saw that there was a tripod head on the David White. That was the deciding factor.

As I recall, I built this tripod with hand tools, working on the end gate of my old Ford truck in a parking lot. I was away at college and most of my tools were with my folks. I did not have a proper home, let alone a shop. I built quite a few things this way.

The build:

I built this tripod out of maple. I was able to scrounge up barely enough wood from part of an old pallet, which helped to keep it lightweight and trim. The fasteners, keepers, and pivots are all either brass machine screws into stainless nuts or nutserts, or stainless machine screws into brass wing nuts. The bolsters at the base of the upper segment of the legs are aluminum nailed in place with little brass hardware nails. I shaped the foot spikes out of galvanized EMT. I finished the lower legs, sliding portion, with a homemade paste of, beeswax, turpentine, and BLO. I painted the the upper part of the legs with a red oil based enamel. It has worked out great and held up very well, surviving all sorts of harsh weather and conditions.

Tools used:

Hand saw, back saw with wood miter box, coping saw, jack plane, block plane, 3/4 butte chisel, 1/4 butte chisel, sanding block, sandpaper, card scraper, two 3 inch C clamps, wood glue, eggbeater drill, 16 ounce carpenter hammer, screwdriver, 8 inch adjustable wrench, scratch awl, pencil, tape measure, try square, 2 inch paint brush. I used a framing square and a four foot level as straight edges.

Addendum: I looked back through this post to see if there was anything I forgot to explain and realized that I forgot to point out that I borrowed a guys torch to weld the pegs to the foot spikes. I made the foot spikes by flattening the EMT until I could drive a piece of maple that was tapered on one end into the pipe and then beat on the pipe until it found its shape. I cut the spike part out with a metal cutting blade in my coping saw and completed the shaping and polishing with a mill file, my sanding block, and sandpaper. I was at it for most of a day but when I was done I had foot spikes, or whatever you call them. They were even more work than cutting out the slots in the lower legs, which I started with the drill and my coping saw, because I could take the blade out, put it through the hole, and put it back on the bow. Once the cut was started, I finished it with my hand saw.

The thing truly looked like I bought it, and I impressed a couple of my professors, but I had a hard time impressing my fellow students because the scope of the project was beyond them. Too bad there was not a lumberjocks website full of like minded people back then or.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

2 comments so far

View TravistheNewb's profile


74 posts in 2560 days

#1 posted 10-11-2015 05:03 AM

Wow you still had a lot of tools with you! Did you keep all those in a toolbox in the bed if your truck?

View fatman51's profile


335 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 10-11-2015 06:26 AM

Those tools, plus another chisel or two, a tool belt, some basic mechanics and plumbing tools, including some sockets and wrenches, a jack,chain, hand winch, and a shovel all went into the crossbox behind the cab the day I bought the truck. About 200 pounds of stuff! My pop would never have let me leave home without what he explained to be the basic tools a person needs to get by in life or otherwise take a job in the trades. I have often thought to thank him before it is too late, but I am pretty sure that he would look at me funny.

-- The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. Benjamin Franklin

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