Making a Replacement Tripod Part
This was posted as my thing-a-day project for February 7.
In January our Make:KC group focused on mold making and casting parts. This is a project I wanted to create but was left over from last month.
Sometime last year I bought a nice tripod at a garage sale. The tripod was missing the piece that attaches a camera and the tripod together. For my Thing-A-Day project I wanted to make a pattern for a replacement part. My project today is making this pattern.
The missing part was designed to be wedged between an angled portion of the front bracket and a rotating latch which also has a specific angle to pinch the part into place. To make this part I’m going to use some Sculpey polymer modeling clay. This clay can be formed into the shape required then baked in an oven to retain its shape.
After kneading the clay it’s time to begin rolling out the clay to the precise thickness of about four popsicle sticks.
Instead of filling the tripod solid with the clay, I need to leave a void so an attachment bolt has room plus enough width to tighten the bolt with my fingers. The wall widths seem to work if they are one popsicle stick wide.
The next step is to begin pushing the wall pieces into place. Squeezing them into place forming the angled latching pieces.. After placing the wall parts around the perimeter another wider piece is formed to cap off the top.
The trick is being able to pull the part back out without deforming the clay. Before placing the clay into the tripod I places a thin sheet of cardboard into the hole. The part pulled back out without much trouble.
After the clay is formed it’s time to bake the part. The oven was set at 275 degrees F. and left for about 20 minutes. After removing the part it is solid and can be handled without fear of deforming it.
The cured part is test fitted back in the tripod. It is a little tight fit but does pop into place.
The new Sculpey clay part could be drilled and fitted with a bolt to attach my camera. The cured clay part is durable and could work to save the day if I didn’t have any other options and needed the part to get the job done. I don’t want just a quick fix, I want a workable replacement part. By using this piece as a pattern I can create a molded part with more durable materials. Next project is to create a mold that can be used to cast a new part.
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(c) 2010 Vince Thompson