This easy to make wooden adaptor plate turns three trekking poles into a versatile and light backpacking tripod. The design includes a small, light and fairly sturdy ball head that works well with mid-sized mirrorless cameras with standard zoom lenses, such as the Fuji X-T4 with 18-55mm kit lens.
The design includes two sets of holes for two different tripod leg angles: standard and low angle. The three low angle holes allow the camera to be positioned low, approximately one foot above the ground. The low angle hole adjacent to the ball head may be used with a hand-held single trekking pole to take selfies or do vlogging.
You may need to modify the instructions below or use a different drill bit size to best fit your particular trekking pole tips, or to meet your particular needs. For example, the adaptor plate could be made a little smaller by omitting the three low angle holes, or it could be made from a plastic material instead.
You could save 3 or more ounces by replacing the third trekking pole with a lighter aluminum or carbon fiber pole, but to do so, one of the three angled pole holes drilled into the adapter would have to be sized to fit this pole. And to hold the pole in place when inserted into the adapter, a set screw would likely be needed, drilled perpendicular to the light pole’s angled hole, using a tap and die to match the set screw’s threads. You could also find a slightly lighter ball head, but the Oben BD-0 Mini ball head is metal and holds the camera firmly without slipping.
Note that plywood seems to work better than solid wood as plywood resists cracking better. An earlier version of this adapter was made from 3/4″ cedar lumber, which cracked around the holes due to the significant bending stress from the trekking pole tips.
Diagram and Measurements
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Weight (with ball head and quick release base): 5.7 ounces
Diameter: 3.5 inches
Height (in folded position): 2.5 inches
Oben BD-0 Mini Ball Head
ULANZI F38 Quick Release System plate and slot on base mount
1″ x 1/4″ round head machine bolt
Plain nylon washer, 1/4″ I.D., 3/4″ O.D.
Drill press with adjustable tilt table
1/2″ Forstner drill bit (or another size appropriate to your trekking pole tips).
Coping saw (or jigsaw)
180 grit sandpaper
Scrap 2×4 wood for overdrilling holes
- Cut a work piece of 3/4” plywood approximately 5 inches square.
- Mark the center and draw guidelines for: 5/8” radius from center, 1-1/8” radius from center, 1-3/4” radius from center, 0/180 degree line through center, 60/240 degree line through center, and 120/300 degree line through center.
- Use scrap 2×4 under the work piece for overdrilling holes. Set drill press table tilt to 27 degrees (z axis in diagram above).
- Clamp work piece at 60 degrees on the x-y axis in diagram and drill a hole centered on the 1-1/8” radius guideline. Repeat two more times for holes at 180 and 300 degrees. These are the primary tripod holes.
- Set drill press table tilt to 60 degrees (z axis in diagram above).
- Clamp work piece at 0 degrees on the x-y axis in diagram and drill a hole centered on the 5/8” radius guideline. Repeat two more times for holes at 120 and 240 degrees. These are the low angle tripod holes.
- Drill a 1/4” hole for the Oben ball head, as shown in the diagram. A center hole may also be drilled for attaching cord.
- Test fit your trekking pole tips into the angled holes. Enlarge the holes with sandpaper rolled onto a dowel until you have a good fit. Depending on the size of your trekking pole tips, you may have to do quite a bit of sanding to enlarge the holes for a good fit, or a larger drill bit may be needed.
- Cut the adaptor plate out of the square work piece using a coping saw or jigsaw, cutting around the 1-3/4” radius guideline. Sand all surfaces. Wood stain and a protective clearcoat may be applied.
- Firmly attach the ball head to the adapter using the machine bolt and washer as shown in the photos.