Posts Tagged ‘tripod’


In:In the Shop

Comments Off on Tripod Accessory: The Boom Arm

After making the phone clamp to mount my phone to a tripod I decided to add a boom arm as well.  This is extremely useful for top-down shooting, reaching over the bench for videos, or just keeping the tripod farther away so I don’t kick its legs while I’m working.  The arm is 30″ long overall and has an effective reach of about 24″.  There isn’t much to cover in the general design of the arm.  I used one brass insert, installed in the same manner that was described in the phone clamp post.  The slots along the arm obviously allow the clamp to get positioned anywhere over its length.  One detail worth mentioning is what I call the “head” which is to one side of the brass insert vs. the “arm” which is on the other.  You’ll notice I left the head large (about 6″ x 2″ x 3/4″) where as the arm gets thinner, narrower, and has the slot material removed.  This is to allow the head to counterbalance the long reach of the arm.  It’s not perfectly balanced, but it helps a lot. I can add the weight of the clamp and phone all the way to the end of the arm and things stay nicely in place, however I am considering adding a brass weight to the head to improve the balance further.

Roughing out the shape of the arm.

Brass insert installed, holes added to define the ends of the slots.

Slots roughed in, ready for a test drive.

Tripod mounting plate installed on the boom arm.

Testing the arm before final clean up and finishing.

Close up of the test shot.

Completed boom arm in Sapele, finished in Watco danish oil.

Finished shot of the arm and slot details.

For now I used a simple 1/4×20 Allen head screw with a knurled head to attach the clamp. It’s a bit small, but I can use it as a thumb screw, no need for an Allen wrench. Eventually I may switch to a proper thumb screw with a larger head, but this works well enough for the moment.

Detail shot of the underside of the arm.

These two simple accessories have already made things so much simpler in the shop for shooting pictures and especially videos.  Each one took only a couple hours to make so if you’re doing a lot of phone/camera juggling in the shop take some time and make these two pieces.  Or don’t.  This is America people, what you do in your shop is your business.

Cheers, -WMT

I recently got around to making some accessories for my tripod (a phone mount/clamp and a boom arm for said clamp) to make life easier when shooting video in the shop.  I’ve wanted to do this for about a year now, but only just got around to it.  After sharing some pictures via Instagram I got several requests for selling or sharing plans for these two accessories, but we’re not in the phone/camera business so we don’t plan on selling them.  We are in the hope-this-makes-your-life-better-for-free business, however, so enjoy.  This first post will cover the phone holder (a.k.a. clamp) that mounts the phone to the tripod.  The next entry will cover the boom arm attachment.

Disclaimer:  If you make a phone holder/clamp like ours be aware there’s nothing to stop you from cranking down on the nut and cracking your screen… use common sense because we won’t be replacing any phones.

The holder is based on our Drawer Slip Clamps and uses one standard set of stainless steel hardware.  The jaws are 4″ long and 3/4″ thick just like our clamps, but to hold the phone they were made wider at 2″ (this was to hold an iPhone 6s, your phone may be different so size the width accordingly).  Brass inserts were installed in the bottom and end of the clamp for the tripod attachment plate and a 3/4″ notch was cut out of the sliding jaw to provide access to the Home and Photo button on the phone.  Finally, some thick leather was glued (I used contact cement) on the ends of the jaws to provide some extra grip and cushion.

The fixed jaw gets drilled and tapped to receive the threaded rods. The tap table keeps everything perfectly perpendicular.

With the sliding jaw roughed out, two clearance holes were drilled for the threaded rod to pass through, then a 3/4″ hole was bored out for access to the Home button. After drilling the hole, cut through to the end to form the U-shaped notch.

I don’t love brass inserts and avoid them when possible, but this application was well suited for them. To install the inserts accurately, I threaded a 1/4-20 post into the insert, then jammed a nut against the insert to lock everything in place…

Next, I chucked this assembly into the drill and applied downward pressure while turning the chuck by hand. This kept the insert from threading in crooked.

The inserts installed cleanly, but I left the split portion proud of the jaw so I could grind it flush. FYI- if you try to use a flathead screwdriver to install the insert you will likely snap it.

The completed clamp, inserts ground flush.

The U-notch allows access to the Home button and Photo button.

Final product, made from Sapele and finished with Watco danish oil.

Close up of the leather padding.

This is the standard camera attachment piece that comes with most tripods. The 1/4×20 screw normally gets threaded directly into the bottom of the camera, but phone’s don’t include that feature… hence the reason for this build.

Here’s the basic setup. The tripod’s attachment piece screws into the clamp via the brass inserts. The clamp holds the phone, and this entire assembly gets mounted to the tripod.


There you have it, the phone mounted to the tripod.

Put out a camera, my daughters instantly strike a pose.

The 1/4×20 inserts can also mount directly into desk-top tripods, double bonus.