Introduction: DIY Tripod for Smartphone (iPhone SE)
A tripod for about 10$ made from 3 folding metre sticks and some scrap wood.
It took me about 4 hours to complete the project.
I made it for my iPhone SE, but with little alterations on the dimensions on the phone dock you can simply make it for your own phone if you don't own an iPhone SE, 5s or 5. I will include some tips about getting the right dimensions for other phones later that progress.
Here is a list with the used materials
- 3 folding metre sticks (one meter long)
- 3mm MDF (70mm x 250mm)
- 8mm x 10mm MDF "sticks" (cut off a 10mm MDF plate, on table saw. Other wooden materials can be used as well)
- 18mm wood block ( 85mm x 100mm)
- 2 hair ties
- 1 8mm wood peg
- 6 panhead woodscrews (4x17)
- 18 washers
- hot glue
- wood glue
Step 1: Get Your Materials Sorted
Gather all materials and prepare your workspace.
Print out the template from the included a PDF and cut out the shape.
Step 2: Cut Out Shape
Since you cut out the template, you can now draw the shape onto the 18mm wood block as shown on the picture.
Then cut it out on the bandsaw, but please mind your fingers. Safety always comes first, throughout the whole project.
The wooden shape should turn out like on the picture.
Step 3: Find Centre and Drill Hole
Now get your just cut out wooden "star", the later head of the tripod, and find the centre.
Then drill a 8mm hole. In order to get it straight I recommend to do that using a stand drill.
The wood peg should now slide into that hole smoothly. It should neither be to loose nor to tight.
Step 4: Drill Small Holes for Screws
Now get a measuring device and find the middle line on all 6 sides of the star shape.
Then measure 17mm from the inner edge, mark it and drill a 2.5mm hole.
Be careful to not drill all the way through, as it will turn out more precise later if you drill all the 6 holes one by one.
Step 5: Hotglue Metre Sticks
Find the middle section of your folding metre sticks and glue them together (like picture 2).
This will later give your tripod extra stability.
Attention: glue only once per stick, just this section!
Tip: only glue sides with the 60cm marks together. Therefore 60 faces 60, you avoid mistakes.
Step 6: Drill Hole for the Joint
Next, be careful with this step.
Get your 3 folding metre sticks and drill a 4mm hole at the 7cm mark and the 93cm mark.
Try to get right through the middle (hit the number 7 and 93 directly with your hole).
Do this with all three metre sticks.
Step 7: Cut Off Ends
With the holes drilled, cut off the ends of the metre sticks at the 6cm mark and at the 94cm mark.
Look at the pictures to get it right, I marked it where to cut.
And again; mind your fingers!
Step 8: Assemble Tripod
Get the wood screws and washers and assemble the tripod as shown in the picture.
It should now stand steadily and you should be able to unfold the metre sticks 3 times to increase the hight of the tripod.
Step 9: Layout for Your Phone
Now the harder part.
Put your phone on the 3mm MDF and adjust the 8x10 MDF sticks that your phone sits firmly.
Mark your essentials:
- where is the camera? Hole needed.
- where is the headphone jack? Cut out needed.
- position of the sticks? Easier to glue them later.
Attention: find out how your phone sits best. Pay attention to buttons and operation elements you may need to take pictures on your device. I figured out that my iPhone SE fits this way the best, like in the pictures (also works for iPhone 5, 5s)
We need the headphone jack accessible in order to plug in headphones. Why? Because, if you didn't know already, you can take pictures by pushing the volume buttons on the headphones. Therefore pictures are more likely to be sharp and not blurred (because a hard-button on the phone was pressed and released).
Tip: if you have some elements sticking out (e.g. volume buttons) you can later carve out little cavities with a sharp knife or chisel. In my case the phone sleeve was just thick enough that no button is pressed when the phone is mounted on the tripod.
Tip: I want to use the phone with the sleeve on in the tripod. Therefore I took it out of the sleeve and used the sleeve to easily mark the camera and headphone jack.
Step 10: Drill Hole for Camera
With the mark for the camera go once again up to the stand drill and drill two 10mm holes right next to each other you may need more ore different holes if you have another phone).
Now get a little sanding paper or a file to work away the rest to make the hole look like on the picture.
Tip: round off the edges to make it smoother, sanding paper will do the job.
Step 11: Glue MDF Sticks
Apply wood glue to one of the sticks like shown on the picture.
When placing the pieces together pay close attention to that the edge (marked red) is totally flushed.
Tip: use clamps to hold together the pieces until the glue has hardened (approx 5mins).
Tip: do not use to much of the glue, because it will spill out of the cracks. If it does clean it off immediately to get a clean edge.
Step 12: Repeat With Sides
Now do the same again with the sides.
Attention: be sure to place the stick precisely on the mark you made in beforehand. This is important because you want your phone to fit in later perfectly.
Tip: to ensure that the pieces are right-angled I recommend to use a right-angled triangle ruler and double check before the glue has hardened.
Step 13: Repeat With Other Side
As in the previous step, repeat the procedure with the other side.
It should come out like on the 3rd picture, I highlighted again the hole for the camera and the position of the headphone jack cut out.
Step 14: Marks for Hair Ties
With all the glueing done place your phone in the "dock" and mark where you want to have it held by the hair ties.
You will need to make little cut outs that the hair ties won't get lost and your phone falls out of the dock.
Attention: make sure that the hair ties won't interfere with the lenses of the camera or go through the screen.
Step 15: Cut Outs and Cleaning
When the glue hardened completely, go up to the band saw and cut away useless end of the sticks and make the cut out for the headphone jack.
Also make the little cuts at the marks to hold the hair tie in place.
Tip: give the cut out for the headphones enough "room" to access it properly. If it's to small you will have problems plugging them in when your phone is mounted to the tripod.
Tip: if you have trouble with the little cut-outs for the hair ties, a file can do the job as well.
Round off all edges with sanding paper.
Step 16: Wood Peg Cutting and Glueing
Mark half of the 8mm wood peg and cut away a quarter of it.
Then glue it in place in the BOTTOM centre of the dock (like on picture 5)
Get the reference from the picture, it doesn't need to be very precise but it still should be as even as possible (in order to give the glue as much area as possible to hold together the two parts).
Tip: use a rather long wood peg, you can also use a round stick of any wood at any length you wish.
Tip: wood pegs are cheap, so don't hesitate to try any times until you're satisfied with the outcome
Attention: I did that on the band saw but it can be very tricky to craft small pieces on a band saw. Be careful with fingers and maybe switch to other tools if you feel uncomfortable. I suggest a hand saw and chisel.
Step 17: Assemble and Finish
Stick the dock in the hole of the tripod base and your finished. Mount your phone into the dock and fasten with the hair ties.
Your now ready to shoot pictures or FaceTime your gf/bf with hands free.