Introduction: Photography Lighting Compression Spring Pole

This Instructable was inspired by another Instructable, Photo studio compression pole MK1.

I was going to make the original design, but decided to make a completely enclosed version. As a side effect, it is also expandable, anywhere from about 5.5 ft to 9.5 feet.

This is my first 'ible, let me know if there is anything I can do better!

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Parts

(For making 2 poles)
  • 10' x 1" PVC Pipe
  • 10' x 3/4" Electrical Conduit
  • 10' x 1/2"-13 Threaded Rod
  • 2 x Bushing 11/2" x 1
  • 2 x Male 1/2" PVC Adapter
  • 2 x 11/2" "Qwik-Cap"
  • 2 x 7/8" Chair Tips
  • 4 x 1/2"-13 Nuts
  • 2 x Compression Springs (Sold at Home Depot in assortment pack, 2 long and 2 short)
  • Strong Glue (5-Min Epoxy shown, found Welder Contact Adhesive to work much better)
  • Double-sided duct tape
  • Sweatshirt fleece fabric (Found at Wal-Mart for $1 a Yard)

Tools

  • Flat Screwdriver
  • Hacksaw or Reciprocating Saw with metal cutting blade
  • Vice-grips (optional)
  • Drill
  • File (optional)
  • Bastard File (Not Shown - Optional)
  • Course and Fine Sand Paper (Not Shown - Optional)
  • 1/2" Drum sander

Step 2: Cutting to Length

Cut The Threaded Rod, Electrical Conduit, and PVC Pipe in half (approximately 5ft each)

Step 3: Insert Nut

The 1/2"-13 Nut should be slightly larger than the inner diameter of the electrical conduit.

Place the nut on a hard surface, concrete and asphalt are good choices. Press the uncut end of the conduit onto the nut, and it should stick. Now lift the conduit and bang hard on the nut, forcing it into the conduit, keep banging until the nut in flush with the end of the conduit. This will make sure the threads are square to the conduit.

Step 4: Add First Fleece Bushing

Cut a piece of felt to the width of your duct tape, and the length of the circumference of the electrical conduit.

Put a single layer of duct tape around the end of the conduit with the nut, and attach the non-fuzzy side of the fleece to the tape. You should be able to massage the fleece into the right positioning if it's a little off.

Step 5: Thread Rod Into Conduit

Thread the rod into the nut until there is only about a foot left exposed. The threads can be sharp, so I suggest a pair of vice-grips or, if your drill has a big enough chuck, use your drill to make it tons faster.

Step 6: Attach Spring to Threaded Rod

Clamp the conduit vertically with the threaded rod sticking straight up.

Add glue to the threads about 2 inches below the top of the rod, and about as wide as a nut. Thread the nut onto the rod, and spin down so it completely covers the glue

Now, add a thick layer of glue to the top of the nut, and place the spring onto the top of the nut. Add glue as necessary to fill in gaps, and almost surround the bottom of the spring.

Allow this to dry for 24 hours, or you risk it coming apart, as you will be putting significant forces on it later. It was because of this I switched from 5-Min epoxy to the contact adhesive, the epoxy would break off quite easily.

The two inched of rod inside is to keep the spring from buckling. It keeps it more or less straight, and easier to compress.

Step 7: Turn Down Adapter

Take the drum sander, and take off the sand paper. Insert into the 1/2" Adapter and tighten.

Insert into a drill to spin adapter and use a file or sandpaper to turn down to approximately a 1" Diameter. It's OK if it's a little tapered, as long as the smaller side is towards the male threads. Keep turning until it just fits into the PVC pipe.

Next, take the adapter off the drum, and put the sandpaper back on the drum, and ream the end of the PVC pipe the length of the drum. This allows the adapter to easily slide in, and gives room for the taper, if any.

Step 8: Add Second Fleece Bushing

This step took some trial and error to get right, but it's worth it for a steadier pole.

Cut a piece of felt the width of the duct tape and length the inner circumference of the PVC. Test fit to verify. A slight bit short is the best.

Cut 2 pieces of duct tape, each half the circumference of the inside of the PVC. On the opposite end from the reaming, with the cover still on the tape, fold in half, end to end, and slip tape inside. Place the fold against the inside of the PVC pipe and unfold. Leave the cover on and repeat on the opposite side of the pipe with the second piece. You don't have to be precise here, just cut off any that sticks out.

Take off the double side cover.

Roll the fleece into a tube, with the non-fuzzy side out. Carefully slip the fleece into the pipe, keeping the end straight up and down, and unroll, while pushing against the pipe.

Step 9: Attach Adapter to Spring

Once you've let the glue dry for 24 hours, screw the turned down adapter into the end of the spring. It can be a bit difficult, but persevere, and get it as close to the base as possible. Also, it is nearly impossible to remove, as the spring will tighten against the adapter when unscrewing. In the process, I had to cut an adapter off when I changed designs midstream. If you are nearing the base, and the spring is nearly square, then stop. Make the spring as square as possible to the base.

Step 10: Insert Conduit Into PVC

Insert the end of the conduit with nothing on it into the reamed end of the PVC. Slide all way in, up to the adapter, being careful not to tear off the fleece on either end.

Bang the adapter into the PVC until it is flush with the end. I press fit the adapter in until it caught, and again banged it on a concrete floor. Be careful not to force it so far in that it cracks the PVC pipe. if you keep banging and it will not go any further, stop, there is some room in the adapter.

Step 11: Add Ends

Add the 11/2" to 1" Busing to the end of the PVC, and Add the Qwik-Cap to that. This adds a nice wide slip-resistant base to the pole.

Add a Chair tip to the end of the Conduit.

Step 12: Complete, Extend and Place

Your pole is now complete. Spin the conduit counter clockwise to the PVC, and it will extend, slowly, keep it compressed once you are near the ceiling, and keep extending until you are about an inch or two from the ceiling, and release, et voilà, a stationary pole.

If you want to make it more professional looking, you could paint the pole black, and use black chair tips.

One thing I notices is that the threaded rod tends to bang around inside. You could turn down one of the nuts, glue to the very end, and add fleece, but you would have to cut the conduit a bit shorter to do that.

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