In Art & Design, Sci & Tech

Here’s how to make a cheap and easy PVC based light box with interchangeable backdrops.

Follow these instrutions to build a light box.

You will need the following items:

  • Hacksaw or fine cut wood saw.
  • File or some 80 or 100 grit sandpaper.
  • Screw Driver
  • A carpentars square or something like it to get things square.
  • 3 1/2 x 5ft. CPVC pipe. $1.34 ea.
  • 4 1/2 CPVC Tees, $.24 ea.
  • 4 1/2 CPVC Street Elbows. $.24 ea.
  • 4 1/2 CPVC Caps $.23 ea.
  • 1 Can CPVC Cement. $2.35
  • 3 Number 6 sheetmetal screws. $.04 ea.
  • 1 Twin bed sheet. $5.49z
I have used all 1/2 inch CPVC pipe and fitting on the whole project. The sizes here will make a nice desktop Light Box, you can make it any size you want or need. Just remember you will need 2 pices the same size for the width and 2 of the same size for the depth. The 4 legs will all be the same. I did not use the cleaner on the pipe before I glued it, I just don’t plan on running any water thought it so I see no need for it. The glue holds just fine without it.

Cut all of the pieces that you need. After you have cut all your pipe pieces you will need to clean the burrs from the ends of each pipe. The inside is not important but the outside should be clean and free of burrs. Set them on end and check that all the pieces are the same length. If needed sand or file them to the correct length.

Putting the top frame together. Dry fit everything together before you glue. Lay all the pieces on a flat suffice and put all part together to make sure they fit. Then do one corner at a time glue the parts together. Make sure you square each part with the other as you glue it. The glue does not set up to fast so you do have time to get the part squared up with the others.
Glue the Caps on the legs. Install the Street Elbows on the legs but DO NOT GLUE.I have 2 sets of legs, one is 12in. and the others are 14in.
Lay the top frame on a flat surface. Place the glue on the street elbow and glue it to the top frame. Make sure it is square to the top frame. I used a carpenter square for this. Let set for a minute or so and then finish the other 3 leg in the same manor.
This is what it will look like when complete. You can use the frame like it sets or on end if you need more hight. I have 2 sets of legs, a 12 in. and the 16 in.
I add the 3 sheet-metal screws to the top rail. I use a paper punch to punch the holes in my backdrops to hang them on. The backdrops are just heavy paper that cost 84 cents each at the hobby store. I have blue, gold, silver, white backdrops.
These are the lights I use, they are very cheap, the 2 small ones cost $4.78 each and the 2 larger ones were $9.00 each. I have 75 Watt spots in the large lights and the small one are 20 Watt.
I am using 50 or 75 watt light bulbs. The ones I have right now are J3 Long Neck-58 Tungsten Halogen CAPSYLITE PAR30 Long Neck Reflector Lamp Medium Base 75Watt 120Volt Wide Flood Beam. These are from Home Depot
I have been using these bulbs lately. They are much much cooler and the light is very good. I still set a custom White Balance (WB) with my Expo/Disc. I got these at Home Depot they are N:Vision and have a color temp. of 3500k.
You can also pull the sheet over the front and cut a hole just for the lens. I have at times use a light on top, I have a plan desk light that I use for that. Watch the heat of the lights, they do get hot and you don’t want them to come in contact with the sheet.
Sample image, Taken in light box with a blue equipment pad as a backdrop.
Sample Image, Taken in light box with a gold backdrop.
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