DIY 22″x32″ Softbox

So, I found a new site, a few days ago and I really liked one of his posts.  Here and Here.  He made a little softbox that went on the end of a speedlight.  I don’t really care for my light to be that close to the camera unless I have no option, so I took his idea to the next level…  (We’ll Tarantino this)

Materials, you’ll need the following:

  1. Black Corroplast (corrugated plastic).  I got mine from Delawaresign down in Harrington, DE.  They were very helpful and friendly and they put up with all my questions.  $22 for a 4mil colored 4’x8′ sheet, $18 for a 4mil white sheet.  I picked up 2 sheets of black cut into 2’x4′ sections.  On the first sheet I had the flute direction running the 8′ length and the other the 4′ width. More on that later.
  2. Diffusion fabric.  I went to JoAnn’s fabric store (kinda like A.C. Moore or Michael’s, but for fabric related stuff) and picked up a white fabric with a tight weave for a few bucks.  I don’t remember exactly how much it cost since I got it awhile ago, but the amount I used couldn’t have cost me more than $5…
  3. Tape.  Double stick duct-tape and regular duct-tape.  I love double stick duct-tape so I always have a roll or two on hand.  I picked up a roll of Gorilla Tape, which is my new favorite duct-tape.  You can use any kind you want but I’d recommend it even though it’s a little more pricy…
  4. Emergency Camping blankets.  I got some off of Amazon.  10 for $9!  I only used one, so I have some extras… If I was more efficient with my cutting, I might have been able to get 2 of these from one blanket…
  5. Spray glue.
  6. Tape measure.
  7. You’ll need a T or similar perpendicular line drawing tool.
  8. A long straight edge.  I used a scrap bit of wood I knew was straight.
  9. A sharp knife.  I can’t stress this enough.  Break off a new tab on a utility razor or buy a new one.  I tried with a dull one and I wasted a pice of corroplast…
  10. Pencil
  11. Hard flat surface that you can cut into.  I used a piece of scrap 1/2″ plywood.
  12. Finally the printed plans (see below).

Design.  I drew everything in the computer in 3D to make sure all the dimensions work out and are even (i.e. 1/8th inch instead of 0.12494367)

I have PDF versions of these if you need it…

I think they’re self-explanatory but just in case I took pics as I did it.  Instead of posting every shot, see the gallery here.  I have the flute direction going the length of the triangles, away from the frame, for strength reasons.  Only problem with this is you’ll have to order 2 4×8 sheets to do this.  If you’re going to do this entire project from one sheet one set of the triangles will have to have the flutes running parallel with the frame.  Make it so this happens on the larger triangle (B) or the triangle could fold under the weight of the softbox.

Once you have all the pieces cut out, you’ll have to spray glue the blankets to each one.  I’d suggest laying the blanket out and putting a piece on top of it, then cut the blanket leaving yourself at least 2 inches around.  Then (in a well ventilated area) spray the corroplast and then lay the sheet on top.  I used a rag to smooth out the blanket and get rid of any bubbles.

Once they’re all done, start building the frame.  You can build two of them from one sheet.  The corners should overlap when you’re done.  Build the first and then put the double stick tape on.  Lay it on the fabric and cut the fabric as close to the frame as you can.  Then another layer of double stick tape and the other frame.  Once that’s done, duct-tape the frame edges together.

Now, assemble the triangles.  You might want to bend one of the wide edges back so it will collapse flat.

I double stick taped some little pieces to the tips so I could rubber band the pieces shut.  [UPDATE] You’ll want to make sure these are securely attached.  Double stick duct tape doesn’t seem to be enough.  I wrapped mine with extra gorilla tape.

Now, I had to jerry-rig something up so it would fit on my tripod.  The next version will have a better system, but for now, I just cut a hole in one of the smaller sides and double stick taped some scrap pieces on it so it rested on the knuckles of my tripod (where you tighten down the extensions…).  If you’ve got a better idea, please let me know…

Since it has that frame on it, you can easily clamp some extra pieces of corroplast to it and block light.

Now, you’ll need radio triggers for this since the flash will be inside the softbox…

I’ll update this post when with some pics of it in action.  Until then, let me know what you think and if I’ve missed anything in my explanation…

[UPDATE]  Preliminary tests are going well!  The light output from it seems good and even.  I ‘ll upload a pic of the speedlight inside the softbox, but it’s basically pointing at the back of it and i’ve got the diffuser cap on the flash.  The only issue I have with it so far is the attachment to the light stand.   It’s not very sturdy on there and it’s difficult to adjust the light since I have to open it up each time I need to change the flash power…  Maybe i’ll play around with a version that has the flash outside the setup so you can easily get to the flash controls…


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