How to Make Your Own Dolly

When pros want a smooth tracking shot, they pay top dollar for a rolling camera platform. For those of us not on a Hollywood budget, try this DIY dolly.

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You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • 2 3' long 2" x 2" pieces of angled aluminum
  • Drill
  • 3/8" bit
  • 60 flat washers
  • 12 3/8" x 2" carriage bolts
  • 16 nuts
  • 12 skateboard wheels
  • 2 adjustable wrenches
  • 3' x 3' ¾" plywood
  • 4 3/8" x 4" carriage bolts
  • 2 20' pieces 2" PVC
  • A camera
  • A tripod

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Drill wheel holes

    Measure and mark 4 inches in from each end along one side of the aluminum. Mark the center of the piece on that same side. On the other side, measure and mark 6 inches in from each end and 2 inches to one side of the center. Drill at each mark to make holes for the wheels and repeat the process with the other aluminum piece.

  2. Step 2

    Finish drilling aluminum

    Measure and mark the corner edge of each piece of aluminum 12 inches in from both ends. Drill holes at each marking that will be used to attach the aluminum to the plywood.

  3. Step 3

    Finish casters

    Put a washer on a 2-inch carriage bolt and thread it through the outside of a wheel. Put three more washers on it and thread it through a wheel hole in the angled aluminum. Put on another washer and tighten it with a nut. Repeat the process for the other 11 wheels.

  4. Step 4

    Prepare the wood

    Draw two parallel lines on the plywood, each one a foot from two opposing edges. Measure and mark the lines 4 inches from each end. Drill holes at each mark.

  5. Step 5

    Attach the aluminum

    Attach the aluminum to the wood by lining up the holes in the aluminum with the holes in the wood. Thread each of the 4-inch carriage bolts through a washer, the aluminum, the wood, another washer, and a nut. Tighten the nuts until the tracks are held securely in place.

  6. For added control, build a waist-high handle to the platform.

  7. Step 6

    Lay down the track

    Lay the two sections of pipe on the ground so they're parallel to each other. Set the wooden platform down so the wheels roll on the pipe. Put a camera on a tripod on the platform and you're ready to go.

  8. The Italian film Cabiria released in 1914 was the first popular film to feature a dolly shot.

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