Studio photographer? Then you probably have a lot of light stands. And if you're like me, you don't have a much space to store them. Enter: the wall-mount bracket for photo stands.
Sound sexy? It's not. It's a piece of heavy, 1/4"-thick, steel plate that's been punched, bent, and had slots cut into it. At first, I thought 1/4" steel was overkill - I was just using a piece of scrap from another project. But as I hung photo stands on it, I realized it needed every bit of that strength.
Light stands have one thing in common - the top almost always has a 3/8" neck for securing the light fixtures and accessories. The idea here is to have slots slightly wider, then hang the stands from their top.
I made this piece at TechShop, and I made good use of the Ironworker to shape this thick steel, then I used a milling machine to cut the slots. Could I have made this at home? Sure, I could have welded some pieces together instead of bending and milling, but the result wouldn't be nearly so nice.
Step 1: Cut. Punch. Bend.
First step is getting the material to dimensions. I used the Ironworker's shear to make the cuts, though a wet horizontal bandsaw would also work well. The raw stock was 1/4" x 10" wide, and I cut it to 18" long.
Next, I marked and punched three 7/16" mounting holes on the Ironworker. You could also drill these, but it's *much* slower. I'd decided to bend the piece about 2" from the edge, and laid out the holes accordingly. (They need to be punched before the piece is bent.)
Then I bent the piece to 90-degrees along one long edge. This part was a little tricky because the Ironworker's bender is only 10" long. I marked my bend line on the part with a scribe, then carefully lined it up in the bender. Bending only a small angle at a time, I worked the bend a little on one end, then on the other, until eventually the entire bend was 90 degrees. Making only tiny bends on each end at a time, there was little distortion in the piece when I finished.
Finally, I marked the layout of the slots to be cut. In the background you can see that I did the original layout on paper, then transferred the notes onto the piece with Sharpie pen.
Step 2: Getting a Fat Lip
I decided I needed a lip on the edge, or stands might slide off unexpectedly. Not much of one, but enough to keep things in place.
I started out with one idea, then shifted gears mid-stream. The first idea was to lightly weld a 1/8" TIG filler rod to the edge of the piece, then trim it flush. That didn't look as good as I expected, so Plan B was executed to buildup the edge with a welder, then mill it into a more finished shape. It's not pretty at this stage - it's just supposed to lay down metal to be milled to shape later.
Step 3: As the Mill Turns...
In the milling machine, the front edge was first faced off to be smooth, then the top of the lip was done, and finally the back side of the lip was formed.
Next, part of the profile from a 3/8" radius bit was used to put an arc on the face of the lip.
Then came time to cut the slots. Most of the slots would be 1/2" wide for the stands, with the last slot being 1.1" wide for some sections of PVC I use.
Slots were cut in multiple passes, taking about 1/3 of the thickness each time. I cut the outer slots first because they had the least support.
Step 4: Getting Screwy
Mounting was done using 3/8"x1.5" machine bolts with washers and nuts on the back-side of a 3/4" plywood cabinet panel. I'd decided where I was going to hang the bracket before I built it, and the dimensions were made to suit.
Had I instead mounted this on a section of drywall, I would have first scouted the location of studs, made the bracket wide enough to span two of them, punched the holes to align with the studs, and used 3/8" lag bolts about 3" long. There's no point mounting something this heavy in just drywall - you'll just end up with a big hole.
Once mounted, this thing was rock-solid. Even loading 8 light stands didn't make it flex. And that's a wrap!