Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Make a PVC Table Dolly for Under $20



Here's a very useful gadget you can build that will give you smooth rolling shots in a compact package. It won't take you long to build and the skill level needed is low. Everyone who sees one of these seems to be impressed, though I don't rank it as high as the PVC light stands, which I use every time I shoot. Any dolly is indispensable (nothing can replace one), so here's a version I came up with.

Producing this video took me forever (three weeks since the last one) and I apologize for the production gaffes you may spot. I won't point them out here (some I make fun of in the clip), but it's just proof that any production can have issues.

Enjoy the dolly, I've already used it a few times with impressive results (see the video). Like any piece of gear, practice makes perfect, so don't give up if you find your first shots disappointing.

PARTS LIST:

Cheap tripod
2x 3/4" PVC pipes, 3" long
7x 3/4" PVC pipes, 1 1/2" long
3x 3/4" PVC T-joints
2x 3/4" PVC elbow joints
5x 3/4" PVC couplers
1x 1/2" to 3/4" PVC adapter
1x 1/2" PVC pipe, 1 1/2" long
4x 3/4" PVC plugs
4x Rollerblade wheel
4x 1/4" bolt, 2" long
8x 1/4" nuts

UPDATE: You also might want to check out the smaller, cheaper, and easier-to-build Table Dolly Junior.

14 comments:

Chris said...

What height can this max out at before it gets wobbly? Or would it be better to cut losses and just use a steadicam instead of a dolly shot? The shots look great by the by.

Scott Eggleston said...

It gets wobbly as soon as you add any length of extender. What would work better is to raise the height of the surface the dolly is riding upon. Making a track to mount on a tripod wouldn't be that difficult.

Maybe in a future episode...

Thanks for the input, Chris!

Kid Sis said...

Scott, I'd appreciate you providing any ideas on how to make a similar table dolly for a dslr like the canon 5d mark ii!

Andrew Mooers said...

I think one of your ACME home mades would work well on a rail, like a PVC 3, 4" rigid plumbing pipe for the light weight video cameras. Tilted wheels in a "V" to ride the rail. Two folding simple saw horses could secure and act as pedestals on end for simple setup. Thanks for the inspiration.

Lukas said...

I believe by making the base to be wider and longer will help to stabilize this.

deadlydad said...

You could always substitute pulleys for the wheels and use pipe/hose filled with sand/etc. for rails.

Anonymous said...

Teflon garage door rollers would work great for wheels. Inexpensive and very smooth and quiet. The axle on the rollers would fit easily in a pvc pipe.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Very cool. Saw this on Lifehacker. You could simplify alot of your construction using some of the custom designed PVC fittings available at sites like formufit.com. What takes around three PVC fittings to do you could do with just one of theirs. They also have caster inserts for the wheels.

javapop said...

The only thing I could offer as a suggestion.... would be having a parts list listed. I thought I had everything written down, and didn't up. Fortunately, after a while was able to get everything written down after viewing a few times on my iphone in lowes! :)

Dave Kinkade said...

I wonder if you could get the stability for a higher mounting point by building a box frame instead of the 'I' shape you have here? I know it might look like some sort of tinker-toy contraption but it would be rigid and give you some extra clearance from the surface of the table or counter it is resting on.

That box frame configuration could easily support the weight of a DSLR camera. Sorry, Scott, I know everyone is an armchair critic. Thanks for the very good idea!

EasyPeasyDownloads said...

can u give me an exact list of things i need to get?

Adal said...

Hi Scott, I found these wheels which come 4 to a pack at a reasonable price and free shipping. Do you think they will be ok for the table dolly?

Here is the link on e-bay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hyer-Wheels-Superlite-replacement-wheels-package-4-New-package-/260922275125?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cc02df535#ht_500wt_971

Dan said...

Great idea. Quick build, and finally let me put those $2.97 Woot.com tripods to good use. They've been holding backlights long enough.

Jason Vandehey said...

Very cool. I ended up using 1/4-20 rod and ran it all the way across each axle. A bit easier than using 2" bolts and such.