Heavy-Duty SCT Tripod

By Jim Dixon

I’ve been seeing these 12″ MDF rounds at my local hardware store and knowing that I was just going to have to make something out of them. Originally I planned to use two for the altitude bearings of a Dobsonian scope but when I purchased an SCT instead I decided that one would be perfect for the top of a heavy-duty tripod.
Modeled after those from Celestron, my tripod has turned out very well if I do say so myself. Besides the MDF round, I used pine 1x2s (Oak was twice as expensive and I used a lot, besides pine worked fine), several lengths of aluminum, some strips of galvanized steel, a bit of 1/4″ plywood, hinges, and assorted bolts, screws, and nuts.

  • I cut the 1×2 to 36″ lengths and glued two together three times to make the central piece of each leg. Then I used a router to cut a groove down on side of each and glued strips of steel to give me a pressure plate so that I could lock the adjustable legs. Thumbscrews are used to lock the legs in place.
  • I sandwiched the central pieces between the two outer 1x2s with index cards as spacers and then started building the aluminum brackets that hold the pieces together. I was able to use a hacksaw to score the aluminum so that it would bend at the corners properly. Besides adding a lot of strength, these aluminum brackets added a lot to the appearance.
  • The photo shows the rest of the key components: The ¼”x 2″ boards that make us the leg braces, hinges, screws, and bolts. The photo doesn’t show the rubber pads on each leg.
  • After using the tripod for a couple of months to make sure I was done, I stained and sealed the legs.
  • There is one more enhancement I’m going to make which is to add a triangular accessory shelf that will fit between the legs.

Not counting any tools I had to purchase, I was able to build this for about $75, which is less than a third of the cost of a name brand tripod. Although I tweaked it over several weekends, I had a functional tripod after the first weekend.