In our kitchen, about the only thing I use more than the the stove is the sink. But when you're camping it's difficult to find a convenient place to wash up. This camp wash basin is super easy to make, and is easy to set up and store.
Step 1: Find the Parts
I replaced some of my pop-up sprinklers a while back, and I noticed there is a nice stainless steel spring inside. The spring inside this sprinkler is four inches long and 1 1/4-inches in diameter. Unscrew the sprinkler and remove the spring. Watch out for flying parts.
You will also need:
Three 1/2-inch diameter wooden dowels (these came 48-inches long).
A plastic gold pan (a wide, shallow pan used to prospect for placer gold —“doodlebugging”). This pan is just a bit less than 14-inches in diameter, and cost less than $10. You can find a wide variety of these plastic gold pans on-line, but but be sure you get one with a good lip around the outer edge. I’ve had mixed luck trying to find a regular wash basin or plastic pan to fit on this tripod. The bowl can’t be too deep, and must have a good lip around the edge to catch the points of the dowels and keep the legs from spreading apart.
Knife or Sandpaper
For towel rod: 1/4-inch diameter dowel about 18-inches long.
For soap dish: disposable plastic water bottle (with top cut off)
Small nail, pliers, and heat source for melting holes through the soap dish and gold pan.
Step 2: Cut Dowels to Length
Figure out how high you want your wash basin to be. My bathroom sink is 32-inches above the floor. With a 13 3/4-inch diameter pan, the dowels need to be 36-inches long to make the height of the pan 32-inches above the ground.
Clamp and saw the three dowels to the 36-inch length.
Step 3: Whittle Points
Use a knife (or sandpaper) to make dull points at the ends of the three dowels (you only need points on one end).
Step 4: Slide Spring Over Dowels
Assemble the tripod by holding the three dowels together and sliding the spring down to about the middle of the dowels. Compress the spring with two fingers as you spread the legs apart. You can position the spring a little above center to allow the legs to spread further apart, which adds to stability but also increases tripping hazard. Hold the tripod open and place the gold pan on top so that the lip of the gold pan catches the pointed ends of all three dowels. Grasp the gold pan firmly by the sides (it helps to hold onto two of the legs while doing this) and jimmy the basin left and right, forward and backward, letting the legs slide up and down the spring to level the wash basin.
Step 5: Towel Rod and Soap Dish Options
If you want to add a stick to hold a towel, you can just scrounge a stick or buy a 1/4-inch diameter dowel and cut it about 18-inches long. Slide the stick into the spring, along side the legs, leaving a couple of inches sticking up past the pointed ends of the dowels. You can also use twist ties to tie a stick to one of the legs, which will also keep the stick from bending too low under the weight of a towel. Or, you can just hang a towel where the three dowels intersect, above the spring.
For a soap dish, cut the top off of a disposable water bottle and use a heated nail to melt two holes near the upper edge. Hold the nail with pliers and heat the nail over a flame until it's hot enough to melt through plastic. Make a pair of holes in lip of the gold pan to match the holes in the soap dish. While you're doing this, melt a few holes in the bottom of the soap dish to let water drain out. Use a twist tie to attach the soap dish to the gold pan.
Step 6: Close for Storage
When you remove the gold pan from the tripod, the tripod closes up automatically for easy storage.
The wash basin may be a bit unstable, so set this up where it won't get knocked over easily.
You can also use the gold pan to do some doodlebugging while you're camping.