Building a Tripod

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I bought a Bogen 3221 (Manfrotto 055) tripod in 1989 when I was living in the USA 1989 and later added a Benbo ballhead (which did not have pan capabilities). When I started doing large format photography, my tripod felt a little bit insufficient. I wanted a new tripod that could handle heavier loads and that included pan. These requirements resulted in a tripod design that although useful, still had some flaws. When I later bought another ballhead (with included pan), I changed the design to eliminate the flaws. This is the tripod shown here.

The initial project was performed in co-operation with my brother who is a mechanical engineer. He makes his living designing industrial robots for ABB Robotics. The legs on the current tripod are the same as on the initial one. Only the top plate has been changed.

The two top sections of the legs are made of ash and the lower one is made of aluminium pipe. The design and material are such that the legs will not be harmed if submerged in water. The top plate is fabricated from beech veneer that has been formed into a plywood with waterproof glue, in such a way that optimal strength is achieved. Hardware is made of stainless steel, aluminium and brass. Knobs and handles are standard items that may be bought from any well equipped supplier of such things.


I started to make drawings of my tripod and write a detailed description of its design. This was intended to help others who are interested in performing this kind of project. As time has passed by, I realize that this material will never reach the intended audience. I have not had the time to do any work on it during the past three years and cannot see any more time being available in the coming years. 

Dimensions (head excluded)
Folded length 0.7 m
Max Height (head excluded) 1.6 m
Min Height (head excluded) 0 m
Weight 3.3 kg (add 0.95 kg for the Schoon ballhead including the Manfrotto quick release)