DIY Slider Dolly

Now that we all have shallow DoF capable cameras, the next bandwagon we need to rush to is the slider dolly. What’s a slider dolly? It’s the 21st century version of the skateboard dolly we all used at one point. Generally, the dollies are around 36″ long and composed of two metal rods with end stops and a central tripod mount. A fluid head is connected to a central bar of sorts that is coated with a teflon-like coating which slides smoothly over the bars. Below you can see one in action, a Kessler Pocket Dolly:

slider dolly

These units are manufactured by many different companies and marketed under several different names. IndiSystem IndiSlider, Cinevate Pegasus or Atlas, DPSlider, the aforementioned Kessler Pocket Dolly, and many other options. These systems range from around $400 to much higher. Fortunately, this is a component you can build yourself, using the same equipment these companies do, with no loss in quality, for hundreds less. In short, this is the budding director of photography’s perfect DIY project.

Ingenious DVXuser member ZazaCast came up with an extremely simple and affordable clone of the more expensive slider systems. The system revolves around a rail and carriage manufactured by igus, an industrial plastics and bearing supply company. You only need two parts: a WS-16-60 Drylin ‘W’ rail 1000mm and a WW-16-60-10 Drylin ‘W’ carriage. The two should run about $160 total (shipped). After that, all you need is a 3/8″ 16 thread tap (and a tap handle), a 5/16 metal drill bit, and a 3/8″ hex head bolt about an inch long.

  1. The rail (1000mm long which is about 39″ and gives you a good 36″ of slide), already has 9 evenly spaced holes in it, so all you have to do is tap the middle hole. TAP FROM THE BOTTOM UP. You want this to screw onto your tripod.
  2. Find the center of the carriage and drill a straight hole with the 5/16″ bit. Tap the hole, again, from the bottom up. Screw the bolt you bought into the carriage so it’s sticking out the top. This is where you’ll attach your fluid head.
  3. Screw the rail on the tripod and your done. Simple, effective slider dolly. The top video on the page shows the slider in action.

The DVXuser thread goes into further details also suggesting simple end-stops and low-rider legs. If this seems like too much work (where’s your DIY spirit?), then commercial units are available starting at 2.5x the price of this project.