Instructables
Picture of DIY Fabric Softbox (14x56 Strip)
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I wanted a second strip softbox to do some more interesting portrait lighting set-ups so I decided to make my own. It takes a while and involves a number of steps, but I was very pleased with the end result. Prepare to spend a fair bit of time in front of a sewing machine as this has a lot of seams. All in all, I was able to do this in half a day & spent about $75 in materials. To buy one of these new you're looking at anywhere from $250-$500.
 
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Step 1: Assemble the materials and tools

Picture of Assemble the materials and tools
Materials used in this project include:

2 yards of heavy black nylon fabric ($12)
2 yards of heavy white nylon fabric ($12)
300 yards of heavy duty upholstery thread (Black/white) ($10 for two)
28' of Velcro (hook & loop tape) ($10)
3' of black nylon webbing ($3)
6 - 28" sections of fiberglass tent poles ($18)
Epoxy ($4)
Brown craft paper ($1)

** An important part to this is the ring that mounts to the poles and to your studio light/tripod. I have a few, so I didn't need to make one, and each ring is specific in size to each brand of light. Note that the size of the pole end should correlate with what ring you will be using **

Tools:

Sewing machine
Measuring tape
Dremel tool (or hacksaw)
Pencil
Straight edge/Square
Scissors

Step 2: Measure out the pattern on craft paper & cut

Picture of Measure out the pattern on craft paper & cut
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You will need two of each of the following (two in black nylon, two in white nylon):

Front/Back: Triangular "rangehood" shape (see diagram)
Top/Side: Rectangle with scoop cut (see diagram)

And two of the following (in black nylon):

Side/Top Panel: 25" x 8" side x 13" middle (see diagram)

One of the following (white nylon):

Diffusion Panel: 16"x58"

Step 3: Cut your fabric

Picture of Cut your fabric
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Take the templates made in the previous step and pin them to your fabric. The templates also give you a chance to play with your layout to make the best use of your material.
For the flexible rods, I've discovered that Home Depot sells driveway markers - a 48" fiberglass rod with a reflector on top. With the reflector cut off, you have a flexible shaft that works perfectly in a softbox. They only cost a couple of dollars each.
tabrown053 years ago
Have you thought of using bamboo poles? you can get them at a lot of home improvement centers, they are strong, lightweight, and cheap.
70 bux for supplies? Only one box?
mark11photography (author)  shadowspydre4 years ago
Yup - at the time I hadn't been able to find the right kind of two-sided material to do the white inside/black outside but have since sourced it halving the fabric cost. Also, with a bit of research you can track down the right poles instead of using tent poles and without having to epoxy the poles another couple costs get knocked down. I'm sure you could pull it off for cheaper, but I wanted something durable and used the best materials I could get including upholstery thread, heavy duty velcro, and dense nylon. If you make one let me know what you got it together for.
mark11photography (author) 4 years ago
 Update: The poles didn't last very long - put too much strain on them. Better idea would be to purchase replacement ones from Calumet for the S56 strip box that inspired my home made version.
pier255 years ago
Great job!
Tent poles were an interesting idea for the frame.
Ideally you want something light, flexible & strong. The ones that came with the commercially produced softbox I own are some type of flexible metal rod with aluminum ends. I tried in vain to find this same metal - might be a better option. But, the tent poles are strong and flexible and cheap, so they'll work for now. And, the ends just happened to be the exact diameter I needed to fit into the speedring.
Yeah, they look strangely similar to the poles that came with mine.