Nov 28, 2013

Building simple light stands

by Matthias Wandel

I wanted some more light stands to use outside my shop, but I didn't want to invest too much time or money. I often find lamps that people throw out, so I used some of those as a starting point for these light stands.


One of my lamps came from a "torch" style floor lamp. I glued tinfoil to the inside of the translucent lampshade to make it into more of a reflector. I figured the pole (which used to be vertical) would make a good handle for this one.

The other lamp was a conical lamp for hanging above a table. I also lined the inside of this one with tinfoil.

The wood for the bases is some poplar beams from a palette. Poplar is not a very good or very strong wood, but just fine for a quickie project. I cut the ends at a 45 degree angle, easier to do on the bandsaw. I then smoothed it on the jointer.

You can never trust palette wood to be entirely clean. A metal detector helps, but it won't always detect small metal splinters, nor will it detect sand. So I planed it on the right side of my jointer, where the knives are already nicked.

Making a cutout for a half-lap joint. I cut slots on both sides with the table saw, one side wider, so I could get in there with a 1/4" bandsaw blade to finish the cut.

Assembling. A tight fit is good.

I then glued and nailed a piece of plywood over the intersection as reinforcement and to get more depth for a hole.

I drilled a 1 1/4" (32 mm) hole to mount the post.

The post was ripped from a 2x4, also from the garbage. I whittled one end round with a spokeshave. I drilled another 1 1/4" hole in a scrap of plywood to check the fit. Once I can partially force the plywood on, it leaves some marks on the wood where it rubs, and that tells me where to shave it down some more.

I whittled it until I got a tight friction fit. It sticks well enough that I can lift the base by the post without fastening it in.

The conical lampshade can be difficult to mount, but I just screwed it directly to the post. I figure the angle and height should be about right.

I made a mounting bracket for the other lamp, allowing it to be tilted. I can also adjust the height by mounting it to different holes in the post.

The cool thing about having many light stands is that I can really control the light.

This shot at right doesn't really look like it was taken at outside at night, but it was taken with the setup, above. With enough lights at different directions, the lighting looks fairly even, even without using soft box lighting. I have a 27 watt CF bulb (equivalent to 100 watt incandescent) in each lamp, for a total of 135 watts.

Building simple light stands

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