Instructables

A $20/20min Commercial Quality Folding Light Box / Light Tent

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If you have been looking for a DIY light box for product or close up photographs you already know you have a multitude of choices. From cardboard boxes to laundry hampers you might be thinking the project has been done to death. But Wait! For $20 and 20 minutes you can build a light box that is easy to use, easy to store, and looks as good as or better than the commercial products. Let's get started!
 
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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You need:

2 Expandable Window Screen units (4 Screens)
Industrial Strength Adhesive Velcro
Roll of Velcro One-Wrap (Not shown - Must stick tightly to the Velcro above)
Diffuser fabric - I used 200 thread count twin bed sheet
Spline roller tool
A pair of scissors

Note: The velcro I ended up using isn't pictured. I bought white industrial adhesive with four large pieces per package (two mating pairs).

Note: Make sure the one-wrap grips the industrial adhesive Velcro well. I found some that doesn't.

Step 2: Disassemble The Sliding Screens

Picture of Disassemble The Sliding Screens
2 corner.JPG
Pull the screens apart to their maximum expansion. Remove the white clips.

Pick a corner and gently push the screen out until you can get a grip on the rubber spline. Pull it out of the track. Remove the screen.

Step 3: Install The Velcro

Picture of Install The Velcro
softbox left.JPG
softbox right.JPG
softbox top.JPG
Take the fuzzy side of the Velcro and cut the width down to the size of the frame and 1.5 inches long. Clean the frame with rubbing alcohol to assure a good bond. Place the Velcro tabs in the locations shown in the pictures. Be sure to place them on the side without a spline groove. Notice the sides use two pieces on the top edge.

Note: I forgot to get these pictures before the diffuser was installed. Don't get confused, you do that in the next step.

Cut six pieces of One-Wrap 4 inches long and two 3 inches long. (Not Shown)
drgnflyz1 year ago
I am going to make a version of these for field photography. Just wondering if you did try any different fabrics or make any other improvements in the time since you posted your original 'able? Any comments on what you have learned since using your invention would be greatly appreciated!
2ManyProjects (author)  drgnflyz1 year ago
I haven't experimented with different fabrics or done another. Frankly it has held up so well I haven't had a reason. I gave some thought to using nylon webbing instead of Velcro and attaching it using pop rivets (that process is a little tricky). The only other thing would be some type of case to carry it in, since the fabric can get dusty when you use it often.
Thanks so much. Going to be using your instructable this weekend. Very excited to try this out in the field for the meetyourneighbours.net project. We will be photographing plants, insects, amphibians, live shells, small sea life, etc. Thank you for a well done 'able!
taria2 years ago
Perfect, just what I was looking for.
zcephas2 years ago
REALLY NICE! I feel like a idiot for not thinking about this myself. Looks very professional! The cardboard ones give effective results, but try setting one up at a customers establishment and not looking like an idiot! haha! Thank-you for this! I'll post my light box when I make it!
2ManyProjects (author)  zcephas2 years ago
Sweet, glad you like it. :)
ibod3 years ago

I just stumbled upon Instructibles today whilst looking for an inexpensive option for photographing ceramic products. And I must say... THANK YOU! This is *exactly* what I was looking for and will save me a substantial chunk of $. Heading out in a little bit to pick up the parts and get cracking.

Should I find any easy to implement modifications I'll be sure to share them.

Cheers!
2ManyProjects (author)  ibod3 years ago
Glad you liked it!
2ManyProjects (author) 5 years ago
Be gentle, it's my first instructable...:)
Nice ... Im going to get the supply's now . Thanks 10/10
A fantastic beginning!!
crowsfolly4 years ago
Heading to Lowes right now! I was about to make a temp, one-use cardboard one, but this reusable and collapsible version rocks! Excellent 'able!
2ManyProjects (author)  crowsfolly4 years ago
Thanks!
jhines00424 years ago
Started building mine tonight. I couldn't find the exact frames you used so I got 48" square build your own screen kits and cut them in half (measure because they are actually 47" so half is _not_ 24", its 23.5") so that I could make four 24" square panels. When I am done I can send pics if you like. Great i'ble!
2ManyProjects (author)  jhines00424 years ago
I would certainly like to see a pic, and thanks for the complement!
Finished it tonight and took some pictures. When I download them I'll send some to you.
Here is the picture of my light box as promised and here is also a picture of what I started photographing. This light box works fantastically. One final note, I had some left over white cotton fabric from a sewing project that I used as my diffusing fabric. I also left the back panel uncovered. Because all four of my panels are the same size I don't use binder clips to hold the backdrop up, rather I use more velcro and just attach it through the open back panel to the back of the back panel frame.
IMG_3698.JPGCRW_3700.jpg
dowarnette4 years ago
what size screen did you use?
2ManyProjects (author)  dowarnette4 years ago
Thanks so much, i plan on trying to make one.
summation4 years ago
A friend and I just whipped up one yesterday.  We used make-your-own screen kits because we could only find the janky wooden adjustable ones.  We also hung a backdrop of fabric instead of the posterboard using binder clips along the top of the back panel. It turned out great!
Thanks for a great i'ble!
xjbx4 years ago
 make sure your screens are the same width and height
otherwise this won't work. 
Spypro4 years ago
Only to use a little darker background and flor so it gives a better contrast and the box is one of the greatest :)
laylia115 years ago
Whipped this up today, and it is gorgeous! Great low-cost alternative to those high priced light tents, and more sturdy (and portable!) than the cardboard box variety. We used fused plastic straps and snaps to connect the frames. Thank you for this awesome instructable!
2ManyProjects (author)  laylia115 years ago
Outstanding! Glad you like it.
Will build this today, thanks for sharing your idea!
Tommyhzy5 years ago
Wow, very nice and thought out for a first Instructable! Anyways, I think this is a good idea, although I don't need a light box at the moment... :]
2ManyProjects (author)  Tommyhzy5 years ago
Now I don't either! lol. I have a list of Instructables I want to do and I needed some way to take a passable photo. Thanks for the complements!
geekazoid5 years ago
lol i will looks cool. great 'structable