DSLR Cowboy Holster




Introduction: DSLR Cowboy Holster

About: Just an ordinary person who loves #thinking and #tinkering

I love #insectPhotography and I spend a lot of time in the garden looking for bugs and flowers. Investigating the crime scene (sometimes I need to pull blocking grass to get clear shots), I need to put my camera down for a while. It is okay to put it on the grass, but when there is only dirt and no grass? No way. Once I hung it on my shoulder and put the camera on my back while setting up the scene, it swung to the front and I caught it reflexively. I saved the camera but had back pain for a week because of that reflex-movement.

Then I make this cowboy holster out of 3.5" PVC pipe for my Nikon D3300, an 11" length pipe left over in my garage. You should do some research before starting this project such as the diameter of your lens and pick the ideal diameter and length of pipe for your camera. This project works for long lenses but I am not responsible for your breaking the expensive gears.

Step 1: Sketch

This is the rough sketch of the pipe cutting. Measurement may vary according to your camera. What I used in this project are :

  • 3.5" PVC, 11" length.
  • Ruler.
  • Marker.
  • Saw.
  • Drill.
  • Cutter.
  • Scissors.
  • Files.
  • Sparkfun Heaterizer XL-3000 (or any heater/hair dryer).
  • Some synthetic leather sheet.
  • Multipurpose glue for synthetic leather.

Step 2: Cutting the Pipe

Use a Clamping Mitre Box if you have one. It will help you cut straight line on the pipe.

  • Divide the pipe into 5" and 6" but do not cut it off. Leave 2" to 3" of the circumference uncut.
  • Split open the 6" side lengthwise with the uncut section on the back.

Step 3: Flatten the Sheet

After splitting the 6" side, now we are flattening it. I owned this Sparkfun Heaterizer XL-3000 heater gun last year at USD10 and this was the first time I used it. It comes with 110 VAC while we have universal 220-240VAC here in Indonesia. That's why I put it near my old stabilizer which has 110VAC output and this was the first time it showed its usefulness in my project.

Blowing the PVC for 10 seconds will make it soft and deformable. Hold it for seconds it will get hardened into its new form. Do it slowly to flatten the whole 6" area. I bent both ends a little. Then I used a clamp to push flatten the round part while blowing the heater gun on it. What an awkward way of mine. You can do it your way. You don't have to use heater gun. Any hair dryer will do, even a candle will do, I have tested it.

Step 4: Trim the Clips

Now we trim the clips according to the sketch. The horizontal 2" was initially for the belt. I was about making holes at both ends to let my belt through to secure the holster. Later I cut them off because I felt that the clips themselves are doing good securing the holster.

To remove the center piece I used drill, then use a file to clean the cut and round all the corners.

Step 5: Shape the Clips

Again we use a heat gun to bend the belt and clips according to your waists.

Then I cut a curve on the pipe where the popup flash hooks. This way, we give a little more mass get down inside the holster and let less probability for the camera to pop out.

Step 6: Cover the Holster

You surely don't want the hard sharp edges of PVC scratch your camera, then cover it with soft synthetic leather all over the holster, inside and outside. I left the clips uncovered so that it is easier to slide in and out of my waist. The four inch clips are deep enough to avoid accidental slide out from my waist.

I am not good in finishing, but this one satify me. This is my first time working with synthetic leather and it ends pretty well for a beginner ^_^ Beep... beep... I have another crime scene to investigate.

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    15 Discussions

    The uses for your holster are only limited by the imagination. Gardening snips, drink bottles, small furry animals! Well done!

    1 reply

    Yes, sure. Imagination and a little modification to it ^^

    Options: Put a chunk of backer rod (Think 1/2" pool noodle -- insulation section at any construction materials store) on the edge, and cover with tape.

    I would lengthen my strap so that I could wear it around my neck even with the camera holstered.

    Lots of cameras have front mount buttons for depth of field, flash, etc. You may need to modify the top so that these buttons aren't on the edge.

    Another entirely different way to do this:

    Secure a plastic dog clip to your belt. Put a longer neck strap on your camera. Clip to the strap. This keeps your camera at your side when you bend over.

    1 reply

    Yes, if possible, lengthen the strap and keep it in your neck is a better security. Taking care of the Depth of Field button for Canon owner is another thing to consider, cut another curve around that button.

    Securing with more clips is not my purpose making this project. I want a holster that is easy to put and pick my camera. I just want to put it there temporary when I need to do something on the ground. If you are looking for a total security, a soft camera bag on markets is the answer :D

    Where did you get your synthetic leather and exactly what kind of glue did you use?

    1 reply

    That is synthetic leather commonly used for car seats, so now you know where to get one. I even got it free, the car seats repair shop gave me some of the leftover around the their floor.

    The glue is nothing special, a multipurpose glue for wood or leather or anything else, here in Indonesia we have a wellknown brand "kambing" (goat) and "banteng" (bull). Sorry I forgot to take picture of gluing the leather because I was concentrating on measure-cut-stick process :D

    This is a great idea! Does the synthetic leather come with adhesive backing or did you use some glue (if so, what kind)? If I make one or more of these for my cameras, I think I'd like to add a restraining strap to go over the top of the camera so it doesn't bounce out when I'm riding my horse. ;-) Thank you so much for this Instructable. I know it takes a lot of time to do such a good job.

    1 reply

    I use multipurpose glue for leather. One that used for shoes. In Indonesia we have the wellknown brand "kambing" (goat) or "banteng" (bull).

    Riding on a horse? Are you kidding me? Please consider buying soft bag. No way you want to risk your expensive DSLR on bumpy ride.

    Thanks, I am just enjoying my free time for both making and writing ;)


    9 months ago

    This is awesome & a piece of truely DIY project...unfortunately doesn’t work for my camera with battery grip...thanks for sharing

    2 replies

    I am thinking like this, another two smaller PVC at the back to support the extra battery grip. The clips are then constructed from the small PVC at the back. Use several zip ties to join the lens PVC and the grip PVCs. The problem is it will be difficult to cover them all with synthetic leather. Doable but not that easy ;)


    Thank you ^^

    Maybe you can modify a bit to suit your battery grip? Maybe I can sketch one for you tomorrow ;)