Introduction: Inexpensive Modular Photo Studio Stands

Picture of Inexpensive Modular Photo Studio Stands
This Instructable shows to make 4 expandable/collapsible lighting stands and 2 expandable/collapsible backdrop stands inexpensively ($50 or less depending on how resourceful you are).

I got the idea from this video, but I wasn't keen on the idea of storing an 8' tall stick in a can even if 8' might be nice to have as an option.  These I can easily store in a closet.

If you want something a bit more beefy/potentially taller, use larger buckets, more cement, and more wood.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
-9 Furring Boards (1"x2"x8')
-6 Buckets (4-5qt)
-Saw and Miter Box
-Latex Gloves (not shown)
-Rubber boots
-Tape Measure
-Masking Tape
-100lbs of Cement (2 x 50lb bags)
-Hose (or full watering can; not shown)
-Piece of wood for mixing (not shown)
-Junk Cup/Can (shown later)
-Level (not shown)
-12 2" Mending Plates (not shown)
-Screws (or bolts with washers and nuts; not shown)
-Drill and Drill Bits (not shown)
-Sander (not shown)
-3/8" Dowel Rod (not shown)
-5" lengths of Bamboo (or 1/4" dowel rod; not shown)
-Rubber mallet (not shown)

Step 2: Cut

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Cut boards in half or to the length/height that you will ultimately want.

Step 3: Tape

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Tape 3 boards together such that the middle one is offset greater than the depth of the bucket.

Note:  Tape is being used so the boards aren't tightly squeezed together because the middle board will need a bit of sliding room later on.

Step 4: Cement

Picture of Cement
Place one taped-together-stack-of-boards into the bucket.

Follow the directions on the bag for mixing the concrete and add the concrete to each bucket. 

Note:  You will need gloves, latex gloves, and dust mask for safety.  Rubber boots are also recommended to protect your other shoes.

Level and reposition the boards.

Note:  I did not use a level because the boards are light and will neither be used for holding heavy things nor stressed.

Note:  I suck at using cement.

Step 5: Sand

Picture of Sand
During the cementing process, some of the boards may have warped or shifted, and the middle board may not longer be able to touch the top of the cement when slotted between the outside boards.  Sand the middle board to make it fit.  You will sand again later on, so this is just for fit.

Step 6: Attach Mending Plates

Picture of Attach Mending Plates
Mark the holes for the mending plates at the top of each of the outside boards as shown in the picture.

Drill holes and secure with screws or bolts.

Tip:  If the middle board is a little too snug in the fit, add small washers between the mending plate and the board.

Step 7: Drill the Expansion Holes

Picture of Drill the Expansion Holes
Having done this a couple different ways, the easiest way is this:

Mark 2 holes in the middle of an outside board separated by 2" or so.

Hold the middle board so that roughly the bottom 6" is sandwiched between the boards.

Drill holes through all three boards graduating the bit size until you reach 3/8" or the appropriate size to easily slip a dowel rod through.

Lower the middle board so that the upper hole in the middle board is positioned within the lower hole in the outside boards.

Insert a dowel.

Drill a hole through the middle board using the upper hole on the outside boards as a guide.

Continue lowering, inserting a dowel, and drilling until you have reach the necessary number.

Step 8: Sand Again

Picture of Sand Again
Sand the outside boards and the middle boards again to remove loose fragments and soften the rough edges so you don't get splinters when using these.

Step 9: Backdrop Holder

Picture of Backdrop Holder
For 2 of the middle boards, drill a hole the exact same size as the dowel you are using.

Pound the dowel into the hole with a rubber mallet.

Step 10: How It Works

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By slotting in bamboo/dowel rod into the 2 points, you can raise and lower the middle board.  This is useful for backdrops, lights attached with hardware to the tops of middle boards, and storage.

You can attach lights using permanent hardware or hand clamps.

You can probably do a better job than I did.


bajablue (author)2012-01-24

1st: That's the most interesting pair of Rubber Boots I've ever seen.

2nd: Thanks for another great ible. I'm trying to improve my photography skills and I've found your ideas immensely helpful!


qman007 (author)2011-01-28

as this is a great idea on the cheap, something like these aren't that portable. I couldn't imagine lugging 2 backdrop stands and 3-4 light stands to a wedding.

piperjon (author)2010-08-09

OOOO!!! These are so cool! I really want to make some cool backdrops that I have ideas for, but haven't really settled on anything yet on which to hang them. I love this idea! You rock, sista girl! - Pj

J@50n (author)2010-02-06

 u should use some spray paint or put some finish on them so they last longer!

AngryRedhead (author)J@50n2010-02-07
You can use some wood oil finish to prevent the wood from becoming brittle and splintering, but it's up to you and how you use/store the stands.  So long as you aren't leaving them outside, you're probably fine for a decade or so without any finish.
scoochmaroo (author)2010-01-04

Show me how you use them!  I want in-process pictures :D

AngryRedhead (author)scoochmaroo2010-01-04
I sorta hoped I could get away with just the inspiration video for now since my house is a wreck right now.  :-P
Jayefuu (author)AngryRedhead2010-01-04

I'm with Scooch! (please? :D )

AngryRedhead (author)Jayefuu2010-01-04
I will, but today is "moving all the crap out of the closet and into the living room so we can install closet organizers and hopefully get this wreck under some sort of control" day.  Tomorrow might not be any better, but hope springs eternal.  :-P
Jayefuu (author)AngryRedhead2010-01-05

Eughhh. That day's the worst.

yokozuna (author)Jayefuu2010-01-04

Not sure if I mean the same thing as Scooch, but I'm curious what backgrounds you have/use and if they were bought or DIY.

AngryRedhead (author)yokozuna2010-01-04
Should I post an Instructable of a backdrop I'm going to make and submit some photos of the modular studio in action?
yokozuna (author)AngryRedhead2010-01-04

Absolutely!  I cite the first rule of Kiteman. :)

AngryRedhead (author)yokozuna2010-01-04
Oh my gosh, I don't know what that means.  I joined a little over a month ago.  Is there a whole set of rules?
Jayefuu (author)AngryRedhead2010-01-05

Rule 1) If you think of it, instructablise it.

I can't find the forum post now, I don't think that's quite what Kiteman said but it's similar.

scoochmaroo (author)AngryRedhead2010-01-04

Ok, ok. 
Next time!

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