Build a Mobile Picture Post

by Paul Alaback

Construction Tip!

Consider purchasing a plastic lumber post top - it will last for many years with no maintenance! The plastic top can be drilled just like wood, or attached to an existing structure. Click here for purchasing information.

post construction drawings


  • Any thin pieces of wood, 3/8" plywood would be ideal: I used 5" x 1/2" scrap cedar lumber that I had on hand.
  • Screws: 2 each, 1/4" lag bolts with a hex head, or other bolts that can be securely tightened such as phillips or regular screws. (Sheet metal screws with a nut and lock may work well, too.)
  • Small bubble level to attach to post top (see picture at right); compass, GPS, or smartphone with compass and GPS.
  • Octagon template (you can download it here) or Plastic lumber post top (you can order one here).

Step 1: Tips on Building the Mobile Post Head

  • I made a 6"x6" box out of extra cedar I had with 4- 1 1/2" long 1/4" carriage bolts that serve as "set screws" so that the box can be leveled even on a leaning post and still be secure enough to take good photographs.
  • I then made the octagonal template out of some hard pressed board which was secured with a single screw and nut in the center so that it could be rotated to true north (for maximum flexibility).
  • This should work for quite a wide variety of potential posts. This one can attach to either round or square posts from around 6" to less than 4" in diameter.

Step 2: Level Your Mobile Picture Post Top

portable post picture

  • Use attached bubble level to level post top.
  • Tighten set screws to make secure.
  • First time - Take and record a GPS reading from the top of the post to find the latitude and longitude.

Step 3: Align Your Post Top to True North

portable post picture

  • Use compass or smartphone to rotate north side of template to true north for your location.