I needed a boom arm for my light stand in order to float a monolight over a shooting table (DIY table I might add). I could have bought one but I couldn't justify the expense for a metal pipe and a mounting stud. Cheaper ones didn't have the weight capacity and I wasn't going to trust my monolights to a flimsy arm. So what else is there to do but to make my own.
Step 1: Parts Needed
I have seen some pretty decent attempts on other DIY posts and most looked either too home made or to cumbersome. Using what has been done before and a little forethought I had a plan. A quick trip to the hardware store and photography store got me all the parts I needed.
From the photography store:
1) One mounting stud - I bought a Manfrotto dual size (1/4 - 3/8) threaded mounting post.
From the hardware store:
1) One aluminum painter's extension pole with removable screw threading.
2) One 1/4-20 thread 3 1/2" carriage bolt - sized to fit the Manfrotto mounting post.
3) Two washers.
4) One nylon lock nut - to fit carriage bolt.
5) Threaded rod coupling nut - it must be able to fit snugly inside the extension pole and allow the carriage bolt to pass through.
6) Pop rivet
Step 2: Assembly
The extension pole came apart in three pieces (excluding the handle end). The pole, the screw tip and a metal insert used for strength (?). I kept the pole, used a portion of the metal insert and got rid of the screw tip.
I began by screwing the nylon lock nut onto the carriage bolt to about an inch from the head. I then threw on the two washers the rod nut and screwed on the mounting post. I then adjusted the locking nut so it tightened up the washers and rod nut against the mounting post. I then removed the mounting post and gave a couple of more turns on the lock nut.
Taking the metal tube insert, I cut off a small section that would fit between the carriage bolt head and the first washer. I took the washers off, inserted the newly cut off piece of tubing onto the bolt, replaced the washer/coupling nut/washer and finally threaded on the mounting post. I tightened the whole thing being careful not to damage the brass mounting post.
The whole assembly goes like this;
Carriage bolt with nut screwed down / cut off insert tube / washer / coupling nut / washer / mounting post.
Step 3: Putting It Together
Once the mounting post assembly was screwed together it was time to put it into the end of the pole. First i needed to know where to drill for the pop rivet. The rivet would keep the whole assembly from sliding out or rotating. I placed the assembly next to the pole and made a mark on the pole about a 1/2" from the head of the carriage bolt. You will need to drill through the pole and the inner metal sleeve.
I inserted the whole thing into the end of the pole. Using a hammer I gently tapped the assembly in until just the edge of the washer was even with the end of the pole. It should fit snugly without doing too much damage to the end of the pole.
I drilled a small hole through the wall of the pole and inner metal tubing and pop riveted the whole thing together. If the rivet is too long you may need to make a small adjustment or get an appropriately side rivet.
Step 4: Ready, Set, Shoot!
I was not lucky enough to find a black extension pole (if it even exists) but figured I could spray paint the pole afterwards. I also kept the plastic handle end in order to use the hanging hole to attach a sand bag for counter balance. I made two of these in under an hour once I had all the parts. I just wish the manufacturer used a sticker that was easier to remove.
My monolights weigh just under five pounds and the poles are more than adequate to hold them up. Another DIY post uses an adjustable painters pole but I felt a five foot boom was more than enough for studio work.
I hope you found this DIY Photographers Boom Arm helpful. I welcome our comments. Good luck and happy shooting.