After assembling your photographic lamps, you need a tripod to mount them to. As these are not precision instruments, and this is a Low-Budget series, we don't want to go buy a nice manifrotto or something.
If your first stop is a thrift store, (and it probably should be) you might notice most of the available tripods are missing their quick release plate. These plates might cost three times as much as your bargain tripod for a new one. More than likely you won't even be able to find one.
Fortunately, most of these pieces are very simple. Chances are you have all the tools you need lying around.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
For this instructable we don't need power tools, but they sure make life easier.
We're going to need these tools:
Hand Saw and Miter box (these can be and are replaced with a table saw)
1/4" drill bit
Chamfer bit (nice to have, but I used a christmas tree stepped bit.)
A stack of thick card stock or similar
Of course, some materials are also handy:
1/4" - 20 threaded bolt
Captive bolt ring
Length of Hard Wood approximately the correct size for your tripod (Use hard wood, I used pine, but it was what I had at hand. I will replace it when I get a chance.)
Step 2: Measure the Tripod
There are two steps to measuring the tripod. Because these plates have angles other than 90 degrees, we have to find a way to measure them.
My favorite method is to push a stack of card against the angled surface and then copy the slope for measuring with a protractor.
It's also good to keep a reference diagram handy. I scrawl one on a mini whiteboard so it's easy to edit.
Step 3: Layout the Material
Find a bit of wood that can be cut down to size easily. I was lucky enough to have this beauty in my scrap bin.
Go for a hardwood if you can. I used pine here and it's likely I will have to replace it sometime in the future.
Step 4: Cut the Wood
This is the first step that can include power tools. I used a table saw with an adjustable blade angle.
DO NOT USE A TABLE SAW! Table saws are statistically the most dangerous tools in your shop. I don't want to hear about anybody who loses the ability to touch type. A much better tool for this task is your standard pullsaw and miter box combo.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, cut along the marks you made for yourself. The angle isn't critical, but the closer you can get the better.
Step 5: Adjusting the Pattern Because You Overlooked a Simple Piece While Measuring
Because of the shape of the quick-release lever, my brand new plate didn't stay put. Time to break out the chisels and carve it down in back.
Always cut away from yourself with chisels and make sure that your work is properly clamped down.
Step 6: Drill the Hole
Now you want to find the center of your plate and put a 1/4" hole through it. If you're using a screw, you also want to chamfer the bottom so the head of the screw is flush.
Step 7: The Bolt
Now for the addition of the bolt. A standard tripod mounting bolt is 1/4" with 20 threads per inch. You need one of these that is at least 1/4" longer than the thickness of your mounting plate. I used what I had lying around. You might want to get the proper size.
Once you've inserted the bolt, you want to clip a captive ring onto the other side of it so it stays put. I didn't have one, so I used a welder. Remember that excuse should not apply to auto maintenance
Step 8: Success
You should now have a functional, if not fashionable, replacement mounting plate for your cheap tripod. If it looks like mine, it's also a contender for There I Fixed It.
Disclaimer Numero Dos:
I accept no liability if your camera falls off of your tripod, your tripod falls over, your house is struck by lightning, or aliens invade the earth. Use your brain. This was designed to hold up a light that weighs less than a pound and can be repaired for less than a dollar.