Monopods are a more convenient alternative to the time-consuming set up of a tripod; why not make it even more convenient by doubling it with a walking stick? This article outlines how to quickly and cheaply fashion your own walking stick with a convenient tripod mount on top.
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What You Need to Make Your Walking Stick Monopod
Walking stick. If you already have one, great. If not, don't bother going to the store and getting one that's overpriced: take a nice walk in a nearby forest, maybe shoot some pictures while you at it, and look for a good stick. Make sure it is a height that is both comfortable to walk with and to take pictures from. You want one that can take your weight, so make sure you test it first by leaning on it and hitting it against a few trees. More on how to prep the walking stick later, but if it looks like it'll need a little work, you might need sandpaper (fine and coarse grits) and a knife to remove twigs and bark. Great walking sticks can also b found along the shores of a beach. If you want to laquer, varnish or otherwise finish your walking stick, feel free to collect materials to do so as well, though this article will not cover such details.
Screw. Ten cents at the local hardware store, and chances are that you'll have the right one laying around the house. You're looking for one that will fit the tripod mount on the bottom of your camera, generally ¼ inch, and about an inch long. If you can find the right size without a head, even better, as that will streamline the process somewhat.
Drill. This can be hand powered, or even just something to gouge a small screw-sized hole with, like a knife or screwdriver.
Glue. I would recommend Gorilla Glue, as that expands to fill any extra space, and it wonderfully strong.
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Construction of the Monopod
If you need to prep the walking stick, this will be the most time consuming step. Usually, the bark will be easily removable with a knife. Smoothing the stick with sandpaper is the next step: start with a coarse grit to get rid of any large irregularities, and follow up with a fine grit to bring out the beautiful sheen of natural wood. There's more you can do to further polish up your stick, but we'll leave that for the variations section (later). If you mess up during any of this, or the stick proves especially troublesome to prep, feel free to use another one. Sticks are a free and renewable resource, after all.
After the initial prep work, the rest of this goes quickly. Gouge as small a hole as possible in the top of your stick that will fit the screw, using either a drill, a screwdriver, even the knife you used for prep work. Make it only deep enough that when the screw is inserted head first, enough of it pokes out that you can securely attach it to the tripod mount of the camera. Once the hole is gouged to the right size, insert some glue, followed by the screw and more glue. Make sure that the screw stays perfectly vertical! Once it's dry, scrape any excess glue from the top and adjust as necessary. Finished!
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How To Use Your Walking Stick Monopod
Now that you have your walking stick monopod made, it's time to try it out. It's probably best if the camera remains in your bag while you're walking, less it bump into an ill-placed branch or fall to the ground and suffer damage.
When you have your picture in sight, simply screw the camera into the screw end of the monopod and shoot. This will reduce the majority of camera shake, but if there's still some, try bracing yourself and/or your monopod against a nearby tree, or take a stronger, more sturdy stance.
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If you want to make your walking stick look a little nicer, there are a number of things you can do. A waterproof finish can provide a nice sheen and color to the wood, while also protecting it against rot and other things that might reduce your walking stick monopod's lifespan. A grip might come in handy also: this can be anything from a strip of rubber glued on in a spiral to some leather cording. Feel free to pimp it out (so to speak) with practical things such as a watch, compass, or other things, either dangling or directly attached. Further decorations, such as carvings, feathers, paint or anything else is entirely up to the imagination of the user.
If the screw poking out at the top makes for some comfort concerns, then you can very easily create a cap for it. The appropriately sized PVC cap, found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store, is the easiest solution, though it might not match too well with the rest of your walking stick; paint or other decoration might help alleviate this. Brass caps, though more expensive, may prove to be somewhat more aesthetic. Putting a cap on both ends of your walking stick can also help reduce wear and tear.