Picture of Build a Versatile PVC Light Stand for Under $5
You need to add light to properly expose your image (whether for photography or video).  I had assembled a decent DIY light kit, but needed somewhere to properly hang my lights.  The lowest cost retail stand I could find was $20.  I managed to come up with a PVC design that served the same purpose at 1/4 of that price and could do things a retail stand couldn't.
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Step 1: Parts list

Picture of Parts list
PVC cutters.jpg
(1) 10' length of 3/4" PVC pipe
(4) 3/4" couplers
(3) 3/4" tee joints
(4) 3/4" end caps

PVC ratcheting cutters

Step 2: Cut up 10' PVC pole

Picture of Cut up 10' PVC pole
(3) 2' lengths.
(6) 6" lengths.
(1) 1 1/2" length.
(1) 10 1/2" length.

Step 3: Assemble basic stand parts

Picture of Assemble basic stand parts
short pieces into tees.jpg
end caps on.jpg
small piece into tee.jpg
broken down stand.jpg
Press fit the couplers onto the longest pieces.  This will give you 3 longs and a short that resemble futuristic clubs.

Cram 2 6" pieces opposite each other into each tee. 

Add end caps onto 2 of the assembled "tees + shorts" parts.

Add 1 1/2" piece in non-end-capped tee.

Step 4: Assemble stand

Picture of Assemble stand
low light.jpg
short stand.jpg
add wieght.jpg
Push the two end-capped tees onto the piece with the short insert.

Add lengths for different heights, all the way up to 7'.

Step 5: Attaching lights

Picture of Attaching lights
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add flo.jpg
How to attach a work light, a clamp light and a florescent light.

Step 6: Accessories make it versatile

Picture of Accessories make it versatile
accessory tee.jpg
accesory hinge.jpg
support leg.jpg
chinese lantern.jpg
crib sheet.jpg

Step 7: A bag to carry it in

Picture of A bag to carry it in
You're going to need a way to transport your new stands as they can be awkward and heavier than the retail version.  Any big bag will do.

For more nanobudget tips, please visit The Frugal Filmmaker...

Step 8: And here's the video version...

photogirl6019 months ago

I finished one and it came out great. It will be for a Halloween shoot I will be doing and this was great for a project that was cheap and did not have to look all over creation to find. And given the time constraints, it fit the bill perfectly.

I went to Menards and found everything I needed. for less than 10 dollars. I bought 5 foot lengths of pipe for $1.49 each. While you have the fittings in hand make sure they are all 3/4" of the same type (Schedule 40) and that they all fit securely. There are other thickness and colors.

sonne43214 years ago
Tried making these. Didn't work for me. I bought 2 10 foot lengths of 3/4 inch pvc pipe, 3/4 inch couplers, 3/4 inch t joints and 3/4 inch end caps. The pipe doesn't come close to fitting snug in any of the joints/end caps/ couplers. It says 3/4 inch on everything I bought, too. Measured the pipe. Seems to be about 3/4, but the little inserts/joints and everything measure MORE than an inch. I even bought these at lowe's (everything but the pipes). Not only that, but I think I got ripped off at the hardware store (not Lowes). Because it cost me over 13 bucks just for 2 10 feet long 3/4 inch pipes! Retrofilms says he bought his pipes for less than 2.00. They're probably much cheaper at Lowe's (I forgot to check), but couldn't buy them at Lowe's because they wouldn't fit in the car and I live kinda far from there. Any suggestions? Please help.
yeah they cost about $2.00 at lowes for ten feet, also if 3/4 inch pipe doesn't work, try 1/2 inch, it might have a more snug fit, also make sure your fittings are the same size as your pvc, because there are many different sizes.
i bought my stuff all at lowes and though everything fits the pipe was 8.99 for each 10 foot lenght (i also bought 2) i have yet to put it together but i am starting to have my doubts about how sturdy these will be. i looked at homedepot rona and lowes and all pipe was 8$ at least i even went as far as cheaking the conduitpvc, white pvc, and cpvc and it was all the same
Nice one. Going to built one for my self on this weekend.
Thanks mate
garp544 years ago
This is right up my alley. I think I'd scuff up the pipe and paint it flat black. Also, why couldn't you use a couple 3/4" to 1" adapters to make the top part of the vertical slide into the bottom part (1") of the vertical. You could drill a few holes and use a pin to make the height adjustable, for a couple cents more. Good job!
mg0930mg4 years ago
Done, and done. I just finished two of these light stands, next I'm going to try and do the dimmer. Unfortunately, I somehow got 1 1/4" pvc for your newest tutorial. I have no clue how I did that, but I hope to eventually finish one of the fig rigs before my shoot on saturday.