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Build a photo studio - Collapsible Light Diffuser Frames

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Picture of Build a photo studio - Collapsible Light Diffuser Frames
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Ever want to make a light-box studio but not want to store it? These collapsible frames will give you the effect of a light-box but can be rolled up for storage with your tripod and other tubular gear. This project costs around $20, and you may already have all the parts you need.

The parts list:
8x 10-32 x 3/8" pan head screw - 5/8" long
8x 10-32 wingnuts
6x #4 brass wood screw - 1" long
White cloth
Wooden bits

Tools:
Saw
Staple-gun
Small drill with 1/16" and 3/16" bits
Countersink tool (or a bigger drill bit)

For the wooden bits, I used 3/16" x 1 1/8" slats, cut into the following lengths:
6x 4"
2x 14"
4x 20"
2x 26"
This will make a 14"x20" frame and a 20"x26" frame. You may use any lengths you want as long as the shorter slats are at least 2" shorter than the longer slats.

The parts picture (second picture below) shows all the parts for the smaller of the two frames.
 
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Step 1: Drill the frame components

Picture of Drill the frame components
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Drill holes for the frame corners using the 3/16" drill bit. Drill a pilot hole with the 1/16" drill bit. With 1 1/18" wide wooden slats, the holes should be 9/16" from the end, centered in the slat.

In one long and one short slat from each frame, drill one or two small holes into the edge of the slat. On the small frame, I used one hole and on the larger frame I used two. This will be where the feet are attached with the brass screws. If you are using one foot per edge, drill the hole in the center of the slat. If you are adding two feet per edge, drill the holes a quarter of the way in from each end.

Drill a 1/16" hole in the center of the 4" foot pieces. Countersink the holes for the small brass screws using a countersinking bit or a larger drill bit.

Step 2: Attach the feet, assemble frame

Picture of Attach the feet, assemble frame
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Use the brass screw to attach the feet to the frame.

Bolt the frame together using the 10-32 bolts. Make sure you insert the bolts through the longer slats first. The 10-32 bolts should be a snug fit in the 3/16" holes.

Step 3: Add filter material

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Stretch the cloth over the frame and staple it in place with the staple gun. The cloth should be on the same side of the frame as the heads of the bolts. Fold the edge of the cloth under itself and staple through both layers.
IMPORTANT: Only staple the fabric along the long edges.

Add one staple to the each end of the long slats to hold the edge of the fabric.

Trim off excess fabric.

If your staples go through to the other side of the wood, bend them over to secure them and to hide the sharp ends.

Step 4: Colapse for storage

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The frames are complete. To collapse for storage:
- Rotate the feet into the collapsed position.
- Remove the wingnut from two opposing corners.
- Remove the short slat from the two corners with the nut removed.
- Fold the short slats onto the long slats
- Screw the wingnuts back onto the studs that they were removed from
- Roll the cloth around the frame components for storage.

Reverse the process to reassemble the frames.

Maintenance:
If the cloth gets wrinkled, it can be ironed while the frame is collapsed and the cloth is unrolled.

Please let me know in the comments if you liked this instructable, or if you have any improvements. This is my first instructable, so I am happy to take comments.
kminer49er5 years ago

I have used 54"x108" (137.2x 274.3 cm) white plastic banquet table cloths as difussion material (cut to size) in both light boxes and diffuser frames.  One tablecloth would make 4 ea. 20" x 26" frames.  They work very well and are super cheap. I have found them for as little as $1.99.  If using incandescent or other lighting source that creates heat, keep your light source at least 10" from the plastic or it could melt .

Couldn't you just modify a cheap canvas from like Wal-Mart? Just asking.
The canvas is too thick as a diffuser but makes a great sunshade. 2nd, the frames don't knock down for easy storage. The PVC idea might work with sewn pockets instead of stapling. May have to try that.
chwbcc7 years ago
I have heard of a PVC version of this. If you have seen those tents with the colapsable rods you'll understand what I am talking about. You simply cut 4 pvc pipes to length add elbow joints and anchor a bungie cord inside. This will colapse easily and allow for easy transport to photo locations. The screen is made to fit the size of the frame with four corner pockets sewn in to it. This way you can change the density of the fabric to control the light source better. I will post an tutorial probably later this month.
SeamusDubh7 years ago
Great Idea, I'll have to try this for my photography.
maruawe7 years ago
Actually that is a very good idea, I do photography all the time,this will help I may even try this with mylar for holographic pictures
engunneer (author)  maruawe7 years ago
Thanks. If you do make one with mylar, I'd like to see it. Now I have to go see if there are good instructables for holographic imaging...
I have not made one yet, When you use mylar you have to be very careful not to scratch it in the production part(putting everthing togather). I will take at least a couple of hours and the sides will not fold down as this one seems to. Probably the way I will make it is to make it the same as above then use white velcro in the corners to attach the mylar panels, that way I can roll the mylar when it is not in use
Awesome! I can't wait to make my own. Thanks!
Cool... very good idea, I like it.