We show you how to make a DIY camera handle to help make your footage smooth and steady
A grip, or handle, can be a great way to help a camera steady, and there are many to choose from, but they can be expensive. We’re going to show you how you can make your own DIY camera handle using some materials you may already have in your garage.
What You Will Need:
A piece of wood
A saw and mitre box
A marker pen
Sandpaper – lots of it, and a variety of different grades
A face mask and goggles – all the dust from sanding isn’t nice in your eyes or to breathe in!
A detail sander, and a multitool to speed things up and make life easier
A 3/8″ to 1/4″ Tripod thread adapter from a tripod head – if you haven’t got one you should be able to buy one for a couple of pounds)
A 1/4inch to 1/4inch threaded screw coupler. (Like These)
A drill and 9mm drill bit
And to finish some wood stain and varnish
Cutting The Wood
The first step is to cut a piece of a wood, a classic leftover chunk of 2×4 is a good size. Cut the wood so that it comfortably fits your hand – a length around 10-15cm is about right. The cuts at either end should be at a slight angle so that the wood tilts forward. This should allow you to grip it more comfortably.
Make A Template
It may look like we have done some accurate measurements for our finished handle, but the entire thing was measured only from our own fair hands. Simply hold the wood in your hand and draw around with a marker pen. The line drawn will act as your guide for sanding. By repeatedly drawing around areas of your hand as you sand, you can create the ridges and curves that you need for a perfect custom fit.
Don’t be shy at the begin! If you are a skilled carpenter they a chisel, router or coping saw may be able to help you on your way. However, if like us your woodwork skills are a bit primitive, then a detail sander and some 40 grit sandpaper are all you need to start to shape the wood. The easiest place to start is the curve at the back that will go between the arch of your thumb and forefinger.
Keep sanding away. Once the curve at the back is done start work on the sides. Sand away where your fingers will rest and wrap around the side, which should naturally leave a nice bump where the palm of your hand can rest.
Sanding… just keep sanding!
When the basic shape is done you can go in with a multitool and cylindrical sanding paper to carve out the front of the grip and the profile for your fingers to rest. After a couple of passes of sanding, it is worth drawing around your finger again and working out where to make the ridges and islands that will make the handle comfortable and easy to hold. If you done have a multi tool a semi-circular rasp or file can help. Or worst case scenario – wrap some sandpaper around your finger.
With the shape now finished use finer sandpaper to remove the coarse scratches. Working your way through 80, 120 and 180 grit paper until you get a nice smooth finish. There is still more sanding, but this will do for now.
Drill a hole
To hold the camera we have used a 3/8ths inch to 1/4inch thread adapter, like those commonly found on a tripod head. If you don’t have one lying around you can purchase them from a good camera store, or hunt one down online. Use a 9mm drill bit and make a hole in the top of the handle. The 3/8ths thread is slightly larger, but with a bit of a wiggle and screw you can screw it in to the hole. A spot of epoxy resin before you screw it in will help keep it in place.
You can keep you handle as is, but for a finishing touch we have used some wood stain to add a touch of class to the handle. Wipe the stain on evenly with a cloth and then wipe off any excess. Leave it to dry, before giving it a final wipe. We have then added a few coats of clear matt varnish, before using some 0000 grade wire wool for a final polish. One more coat of varnish and another quick polish with the wire wool and it is finished.
Attach A Camera
As seen in the video, we have used a 1/4″ to 1/4″ thread coupler to screw in to the top of the handle and then in to the camera. Using a rubber washing on either side of the coupler can help it grip securely, and also help to make sure that you can get it off easily.
Here’s our finished handle posing majestically mounted on a Canon XC10. A lovely combination!
You can obviously use different method of attaching a camera, such as putting a threaded bolt straight in to the top of the grip, but we’ve gone for quick and simple, with parts you may already have. And you can spend a lot more time finishing it to make it perfect. Our next step is to put a second thread in the bottom of the grip, and, and on the side, to give us the option of using it on various DIY camera rigs… but more of that soon!