DIY Softbox

As I mentioned a few posts ago, my boyfriend and I have been working on a softbox to enter in the competition hosted by DIY Photography. Our main objective was to create a softbox for about $50.00 and was easy to construct and transport.  We also wanted it to be made from materials that could be easily found at the hardware and fabric stores. We also wanted it to be sturdy and durable.

Parts List:

Grand Total: $53.95

The Frame:

We had a couple of design ideas for the frame; our final decision rested on the availability of the materials and our ability to manipulate them to do what we wanted.

  1. It was decided to make the back opening large enough to accommodate a speed ring even though at this time we only have hot shoe flashes.  The plywood was cut in a paddle shape. The top is 6″x6″ square. From the middle of the bottom of the square, a handle protrudes that is 2″x 3″. In the center of the square, cut a hole large enough for the flash.  After rounding the edges, sanding, and painting the paddle, two holes were drilled into the handle.
  2. Taking the thumb screws, washers, L bracket, and nylon wing nuts, attach the paddle to the bracket. Placing the washers on the inside of the paddle, pushing the thumb screws through to the outside, sliding on the L bracket, and tightening with the wing nuts. We ended up gluing the thumb screws to the paddle with Elmer’s glue to make construction easier later on. 
  3. To what will be the inside side of the paddle, attach the 4 steel brackets with the pan head screws. Placing the screw towards the middle and the arched side flush with the edge of the paddle.  Cut the PVC pipe in half so you have two 5 foot pieces. Slide each piece through the steel brackets. 
  4. Disassemble the wire hangers. Bend two of the hangers so they are 36 inches long and have ends that fit into the opposite ends of the PVC pipe. Bend the other two hangers to 24 inches long with ends to fit into the PVC pipes to hold them a constant distant apart. 
  5. The L bracket came with 4 premade holes. In the side that will be the mount for the flash and to the stand, drill a third hole in the middle of the bracket. Using this newly made hole, we assembled the flash mount using a coupling nut, a threaded rod cut to size, and a washer and bolt  to achieve the desired height for the flash. The threaded rod can be cut in different lengths to be higher or lower depending on the flash you want to use. 
  6. To mount the softbox to the stand, we used a second coupling mount, threaded rod, and a couple of nuts to resemble a light stand spigot.
The Softbox Skin and Baffles:
I have been calling this part the tent. I just recently learned the fabric portion of the softbox is called the softbox skin.
The Process:
  1. To make a pattern for cutting out the fabric for the softbox skin, roll out a roll of wrapping paper. Lay the frame on one side and trace around the arches created by the CPVC pipes. Do the same for the adjacent side. You will have two pieces. One for the left and right, the second for the top and bottom. Using your pattern pieces, cut two of each piece from the black rip stop nylon and from the sun shade. 
  2. Take the black rip stop nylon and sew the sides and tops together to form a box. Using a 1/2 in seam allowance. Do the same with the sun shade pieces. You will now have two boxes. (I did a fitting at this point to make sure the softbox skin fit the frame.)

  1. With the Softbox Skin over the frame, adjust the back opening to frame the paddle. Leave about an inch of fabric overlapping the paddle; this will be where we attach Velcro to secure the skin to the frame. Measure and cut the Velcro to fit around the back of the paddle. Sew  the Velcro to the opening at the back of the softbox skin. Attach the other half of the Velcro to the paddle so they line up when assembled.
  2. To make the ties, cut two strips that are 2″ x 60″ (this is the width of the fabric) from the white Rip Stop nylon.  To hide the unfinished edges of the strip, fold each long edge toward the middle, then fold in half again. Sew along the long edge. Cut into 8 inch pieces. Hand sew to the inside corners of the box made from the sun shade. Three ties will be sewn on each corner. They should be placed near each end and in the middle.
  3. Slide the black rip stop nylon box over the shiny silver lining. Make sure the Velcro is facing towards the inside and the ties are visible inside the box.
  4. From the black rip stop nylon, cut two pieces that measure 5″ x 37″ and two pieces that measure 5″ x 25″. Sew the ends together to form a large rectangle. Fold the outside edge in 1/2 inch then 1 and 3/4 inches to hide the unfinished edge of the fabric and sew along the edge. Along the same edge, sew Velcro. Stopping about 2 inches from the corner.
  5. To the outside of the softbox skin, pin the Velcro band so the Velcro is around the outside facing out. Sew along the edge making sure to sew through all three layers of fabric. Turn the Velcro to the inside. With the softbox skin inside out (shiny side facing out), pin the corners of the Velcro band into a triangle so they stand away from the sides of the softbox. The band will form a frame around the front of the softbox skin.  Sew along the edge of the triangle to hold in place. 
  6. For front baffle, cut one piece of the white rip stop nylon 26″ x 38″. Fold the edges over 1/2″ and then 1/2 in again to hide the unfinished edges of the fabric. Sew along each edge. Sew the remaining Velcro to the edges. 
  7. For the middle baffle, in your softbox, measure the distance between the middle ties on the top, bottom, and both sides (Ours is 12″ x 25″).  Finish the edges like you did for the front baffle. Using scraps, cut 4 rectangles 2″x4″. Fold the long edges toward the middle, then fold in half and sew along the edge.  Attach to each corner, leaving a loop large enough to thread the tie through.
Following our video tutorial, assemble your new softbox and start taking photos!
We’ve been having fun testing out our new softbox!
Head Over Heels
The set-up for that photo:
Kinda Dry
The set-up:


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13 responses to “DIY Softbox

  1. Yep! Still pretty freakin’ awesome! ;)

  2. Bary rig

    Wow, inspiration!, thx

  3. Pingback: Two great Softbox DIY projects | DiyPhotographyStuff

  4. Tears of joy. Thanks for the inspiration and know-how, will definitely be building a few :D

  5. Cheng N.Van Fotografias

    Thank you very much!

  6. Tim

    This is so great! You guys did such a professional job on this. Very helpful. You’re going to save me a lot of money! God Bless Ya !

  7. Diana

    Wow, Love it! Thank you so much for sharing this, I’m hoping to be able to make mine within the next week. Inspired. Keep up the good work!

  8. Pingback: DIY: Foto-Softbox | TolikOnline

  9. Thank you very much! Yes, it was good example! You did good job with your video and directions!!! :-)

  10. Extremely Creative!! Thank you very much for sharing your ideas! Very inspiring! I will definitely try it myself. Thank you!!

  11. Clayton

    Thank you so very much! This is extremely Creative!! I will definitely try it myself !! Thank you!! The best one I have seen!

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