Introduction: Basics - Attaching Stuff to a Camera Tripod

Often I've wanted to attach something (anything) to one of my camera tripods. All of the American standard tripods have a short screw that measures a 1/4" in diameter and has 20 threads per inch. With a few metal-working tools, it is not difficult to make brackets to fit these screws. I used a short piece of steel rod in this example, but you could use angle iron or any strong metal to accomplish the task. I'd shy away from aluminum, because it is too soft to retain any thread and hold substantial weight.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

The basic dools are:

  1. Electric drill - it is possible to do with a hand drill but it would be very frustrating and hard.
  2. Hacksaw - to cut the steel for your project
  3. 13/64" drill bit for drilling steel
  4. Tap handle and tap for 1/4" screw with 20 threads
  5. Vise to hold the steel for the project.

Material

Basically, all you need is some kind of steel material, rod, angle iron, steel pipe; whatever your project calls for.

Note on Tools: Tap and die sets can be very expensive, however, you can buy a set that includes the 1/4" - 20 tap and 13/64" drill bit. You can also buy a separate tap handle in most hardware stores. (I have used a vise grip wrench to hold the tap--it doesn't work well, but it does work. Some time ago, I bought a very small tap-and-die set with four taps and 3 dies for little cost. Also, you can get a 21 piece tap and die set from Harbor Freight for about $10.

Step 2: Cut Your Material

Mount the material in the vise, and use the hacksaw to cut it to size.

Step 3: Drill the Hole

You want a hole that is 13/64" in diameter. Mount it in the vise and drill it. You can see that I got mine a little off center, you may want to have a center punch to ensure that the drill starts correctly in the middle of your material. You should drill the hole at least 3/8" deep. Deeper is OK, but not shallower. You need enough depth to get a good thread cut into the material.

Step 4: Tap the Thread

Tap the thread into the material. The tap size is 1/4" with 20 threads per inch. This requires a steady hand and a sense of orientation. The picture shows that the tap is a bit cock-eyed--not intentional--and not how it was actually done. The thread needs to be as precise as you can get it.

Step 5: Test Your Threaded Material

Test the material to make sure that the tripod screw gets a good grip on it. Most tripods have a two-part knob for tightening the camera. The part with the small knob is tightened to a snug fit. The second, larger knob is the one that you tighten securely. It holds your object and keeps it from wobbling.

Step 6: Finished Project

In my case, I built a rather crude iPad holder for my tripod. There are lots of ideas on how to make such a holder, so I won't add my idea.

Step 7: Conclusion

In conclusion, I've given you instructions on how to make a stable connection with your camera tripod. I should mention that you can always just get a 1/4" coarse nut and glue it to your item of interest. Be forewarned that glue is not typically strong enough for most projects. A word about threads. I mentioned the 1/4" coarse nut. "Coarse" is the term that applies to a 20 tpi (threads per inch) as opposed to "fine" which is 28 tpi. Do not try to put a "fine" 1/4" nut on your tripod, it will ruin the thread.

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