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

-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

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

Step 3: Tape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



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    16 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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!



    8 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    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


    9 years ago on Introduction

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

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.
    I sorta hoped I could get away with just the inspiration video for now since my house is a wreck right now.  :-P

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Should I post an Instructable of a backdrop I'm going to make and submit some photos of the modular studio in action?

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.