Hand Grip for One Hand IPhone Photos





Introduction: Hand Grip for One Hand IPhone Photos

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...
I have begun to use my iPhone's camera for illustrating my Instructables. But, that often means my other hand is busy with something I am trying to show. I always worry about dropping the iPhone and breaking the screen. I decided to make a grip for holding the phone with one hand so that my index finger lines up with the shutter release button on the screen. (For now I am using rubber bands to hold the phone on the grip, but see the 2nd photo in the last step for what I did to replace the rubber bands. The phone shown belongs to my wife. I am using my phone with one hand to take these photos.)

  • 2 x 4 (wood)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 inch pine 2 1/2 inches wide
  • 1/2 inch dowel
  • glue
  • Square
  • Protractor and bevel guide
  • Hand saw for wood
  • Spokeshave or hand plane
  • Belt or drum sander
  • Drill

Step 1: Grasp the 2 X 4 As Shown

Mark around your hand as you grasp a 2 x 4. Saw out a rectangular piece. This will be the part gripped by the hand when using the camera holder.

Step 2: Shape the Wood Block

The wood block you sawed from the 2 x 4 needs to be shaped to fit the contours of your hand. This will provide a more secure grip and less fatigue while using the camera holder. I started with a spokeshave, but switched to light cuts with a hand plane.

When you are satisfied with the shape of the wood block, sand rough marks away with a belt or drum sander.

Step 3: Round for Your Thumb

Your thumb needs to wrap around one corner of the wood block. Round the corner where your thumb will be. (See the text box on the photo.)

Step 4: Drill a Hole for the Dowel

I had only a 1/2 inch dowel. I drilled a 1/2 inch hole in the wood block shaped to fit my hand. The hole is drilled at a compound angle. The dowel slants to the right as seen in the photo by 16 degrees. The dowel also slants toward the viewer at 5 degrees. You may vary these angles according to what fits your hand.

Step 5: Drill for the Dowel

The phone will rest on a piece of pine about 3/4 inch thick. I had some that is 9/16 inch thick. The drill is shown coming through the bottom of the flat piece on which the phone will rest. A drill press would work. I used a table and pushed the wood into the spinning bit mounted on my radial arm saw.

Step 6: Do Not Block the Lens

A corner will have to be removed from the flat piece so the image can reach the camera lens. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole to make a nice radius. In order to prevent chipping out, I drilled the hole part of the way through from one side. As soon as the point of the bit came through the wood, I finished it from the other side. Then I sawed out to the edges. See the next step.

Step 7: Round Corners and Dry Fit

I sanded the corners round. I inserted the dowel and dry fitted the pieces to determine how much each needed to be rotated in relation to the others. I made pencil marks so I could get the right angles again after applying wood glue to the dowel and the holes. Do not forget to mark the dowel in relation to the wood block grip, too. The goal is for the index finger to find the spot where the shutter button will be  and do so in a very natural way without strain. 

Step 8: Glue

When I drilled the hole in step 5 there was a little chatter on the bit and the hole is a little oversize. So, I squeezed the flat piece in a vise to make a tighter glue joint.

This photo is from the underside of the camera holder, but it gives a view of how the compound angles work.

Step 9: Grasp the Phone Holder

Wrap the hand around the hand grip. The dowel will be against the 2nd or middle finger. The thumb will press from the end of the formed wood block to keep the dowel against the 2nd finger. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th fingers will hold the the wood block grip firmly. You should be able to operate the shutter button on the screen with the index or 1st finger very smoothly without jerking the phone. (Sometimes my thumb is more comfortable under the bottom of the formed wood block than pressing against the end of the wood block. Do whatever is comfortable and holds the phone steady.)

This is designed to work comfortably when photographing objects on a table top. It can be used in other postures, but is not quite as comfortable. Now I can operate my phone's camera with one hand and not feel like the phone might slip out of my hand.

I did replace the rubber bands with pieces of aluminum. A wing nut allows removal and installation of the phone on the grip. See the 2nd photo. The text box indicates the screw on the other aluminum tab. My phone has a rubber "soft" case the aluminum tabs are able to grasp quite well.

UPDATE: I appreciate the comments by DarkTherapy. The earbud cable has a microphone on it with an up/down volume control button built into the microphone. Plug in the cable and press the up button to fire the camera shutter. This is a way of achieving a vibration free shutter release. He suggests making a pistol grip for the iPhone and placing the microphone portion of the earbud cable where it can be pressed easily. Dedicated shutter release cables for the iPhone are also available at this link and other places. (You would need to make certain part of the cable did not dangle in front of the camera lens and "ruin" the picture.)



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest

    29 Discussions

    Thank you. I seldom know much in advance what idea I might get, especially if it involves solving a problem that arises. I already have 258 other Instructables and some ideas in the Community Posts published.

    You know you can press the volume up button on the iPhone rather than having to touch the on screen shutter button to take photos right?

    5 replies

    Yes. When I have done that or seen others do that, it seems two hands were required to hold and steady the phone. In large part, that is because the volume up button has a little spring resistance which leads to moving the phone when releasing the shutter. I appreciate the light touch involved with using the shutter release button on the lower part of the display screen, but even then I sometimes get camera shake or bad focus from poorly controlled and jabbing movements of my fingers. Thank you for looking and for commenting.

    The iPhone earphones/mic cable can also be used as a remote camera shutter button, you could maybe mount that anywhere you like, maybe a "pistol grip" camera shooter. Keep up the good work.

    Phil, I like your simple solutions for common problems. I just got a new iPhone and am learning to use it....always worrying about dropping it. I am saving this for future reference and may use it. Thanks for posting it.

    As I mentioned to Jim (coolbeansbaby68), I always had the feeling my phone was trying to wiggle out of my hand so it could dive to the floor. My son-in-law has a nice Galaxy SIII Android with a badly cracked screen because he dropped it somehow. This phone grip does not take long at all to build. Make it fit your hand and fingers, and I think you will really like it. You could even add a wrist lanyard for extra safety. Thanks.

    I guess I really got lucky with my phone (Samsung Galaxy Note II). All I have to do is say "capture" while the camera function is open an it will take a pick. So I guess I could actually do it with NO hands! lol. Great Idea here though. Very creative.

    1 reply

    Thank you. I did not know that about the Galaxy phones. I was very interested in a Galaxy SIII, but the sales guy thought my wife and I should get the same model of phone so I could help her when she had questions, since it was the first smart phone for each of us. He also thought the iPhone would be more intuitive and easier to learn. He probably looked at our gray hair and let a little age discrimination take over his thinking. I do have Blow Photo on my iPhone. It responds to sharp noises and blowing at the microphone, but there is a 5 second delay before the shutter fires. Then, the photo has to be handled in a precise set of steps before the picture lands in the Camera Roll where photos are stored. I do find the more I use this home brew attachment, the more I like it, even if I could easily use two hands for a particular photo.

    Excellent idea and documentation! some sugru "claws" instead of rubber bands maybe?

    3 replies

    Thank you for your comment. I have never used sugru. I have been thinking more along the line of some metal "L" clips that attach with screws and/or wing nuts.

    another idea would be to buy a ($2.00 shipping included) 1/2 hard shell from a place like Meritline and glue it right on your board? or one of those "sticky mats" for the car dash board?


    One commentator (Ricardo Furioso) has not been having positive experiences with the sticky mats. I did not know hard cases are available so inexpensively. That would work. Take a look at the last step. I added an extra photo of the aluminum "L" brackets I added. One of them has a wing nut for easy removal of the phone. The brackets seem to work well. Thank you for your suggestions.

    I have used my suction cup phone mount from the car as a desktop tripod. Some phones can use a voice activated shutter release.

    I use the sticky pad in many situations and love it. Best thing about it is that rinsing it in water rejuvenates it.

    1 reply

    Apparently you are having a better experience with a sticky pad than Ricardo Furioso in another comment.

    I downloaded an app called Blow Photo. It trips the shutter when the user makes a quick blowing sound in the direction of the phone's microphone, or near to the microphone. A sharp, loud noise will also trip the shutter. But, the noise begins a 5 second self-timer that must run down before the shutter trips. Then an image is not automatically saved to the Photo Roll, but the user must go through a couple of steps to save the photo. I continue to like my phone grip and index finger method of tripping the shutter better and better every time I use it. Thank you for your comment.

    Thanks. I feel like my phone is no longer trying to wiggle out of my hand and dive to the floor. I can apply just the right pressure to the shutter release spot on the screen without jiggling or jerking the phone and getting a picture that is either blurred or out of focus.