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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My New Lighting Stand

I really have no idea what to call this fixture I built to hold my lights. So for now we will just call it a lighting stand.

I have gotten several questions about how I made this so I am going to try to give you a basic how-to here. I didn't actually measure anything I just put it together as I went. I had a basic idea of what I wanted but until it was finished I really didn't know what it would look like.

Before we start talking about the how let's talk about why I made this. When I set up my craft table I used some of those clamp on lights that have long necks with hinges so I could place the light where I wanted it. I had two of them, one on each side of me. Over time I decided that not only did they not give enough light (they were only rated to take 40 watt bulbs) to do videos by they really didn't give me enough light and they were constantly in my way. I had added some additional lighting a while back in the form of shop lights from the hardware store. You know the kind, the ones guys put in their shops with the metal reflector on the back and they have a clamp so you can clamp them conveniently where you need them. The only place that I could figure out to clamp them was on my bookcase that is next to my main work table. So I got one of those and although I really liked the added light but it really wasn't where I needed it. I brought home a second of these lights but like I said I only had the bookcase to clamp it to. I spent a couple of weeks trying to figure out something I could put on the wall (between the windows) in front of my table to clamp the second one too. In the meantime I just had both of the lights clamped to the bookcase. It gave lots of light but all from one side so not the best for either working or filming.

Then one day I got to thinking about PVC pipe and all the different things I have seen made out of it over the years. Yeah, I am talking that white pipe that carries water through your house. I thought there must be a way to use PVC pipe for this project. I do love using this pipe since it is cheap and easy to work with.

I did check out some similar projects people had done on YouTube but no one was making exactly what I needed. 

please ignore the mess in my craftroom/office


I went to Home Depot last Friday with a vague idea of what I wanted to do and what I would probably need to get. I spent some time on the plumbing aisle looking mostly at the fittings. Since plumbers need lots of this stuff to do the plumbing in construction most of the parts are really cheap. I did end up buying a lot of extra parts but I am planning to make more lighting equipment for doing photography (for my various blogs) in the next couple of months so I will use it all up by the time I am done I am sure.

I did purchase a PVC pipe cutting tool for $11.98, I already had one at home but I had forgotten to check if I knew where it was before I left the house so I figured it was better to get another one rather than not have it. That being said you can cut this stuff with a hack saw, the cutting tool is just way easier to use and it gives you a smooth straight cut (not one of my better talents with a hack saw)

cutting tool, well worth the money

Other than the cutting tool the parts I bought and used in this project were:

2 pieces of ½” PVC pipe that were each 10' long. (keep in mind that pipe like this is sized by the inside measurement not the outside)
1 bag of 90 degree slip x slip elbows – bag contains 10 of these and I used all 10

90 degree slip x slip elbow

2 individual slip x slip x slip tee joints

slip x slip tee

The slip part of the description means that the parts slip over the pipe and don't have threads (I think that's how to explain it)

The costs for these items were as follows:
pipe ( $1.89 each) $3.78
elbows (bag of 10) $ 1.78
tees ( $ .35) $ .70

So for a total of $6.26 I had the parts for my project. Even adding in the cost of the cutting tool this project was really inexpensive.

I also picked up 2 more of the shop lights while I was at Home Depot and they were $8.47 each. 
You might notice there is no kind of glue in the list above, that's because I didn't use any. I just slipped these together so I can take this down completely in a matter of minutes. That means if I need to move it for any reason I can put it all back together with ease. Also I can change the configuration if I want to in the future.

Now for the adventure of making the light stand. I knew about how tall I wanted the bar to be so I cut two lengths of pipe about that long. Since these were the longest pieces I knew I needed to cut them first. I used just over half of each pipe for these pieces. I didn't actually measure but they are just a bit over 5' tall. Just be sure that you cut both of them the same length. A mistake I made but it was easy to trim the longer of the two the length of the other one.

Next piece to cut was the top cross bar, it needed to be just a bit longer than my table is wide (the long way- wide as I sit facing it) The table is about 38” long so this piece was cut a bit longer than that.

Next I constructed the two bases, this was a place that I messed up the first time and had to go back and cut some off. I forgot to measure how far apart the legs are on the ends of my table. So do yourself a favor and check this if you are making one of these and want the base to go under the table.

Basically what I did though was to first cut the longest piece of the shape, then I cut a piece about half that size added the tee and cut a piece of pipe to make a side the same length as the first side. (hopefully that makes sense- hopefully it will when you look at the photo) The short side of this part was just cut from the remaining pipe to be all the same size. 


base another view

When all the parts were cut and the bases assembled to fit the area between the legs. I simply uprights into the third side of the tees then put the top cross piece on using 90 degree elbows. 

90 degree elbow where the upright joins the top

The only problem I am having is keeping the lights on the sides where I want them. They want to slip so I wrapped some silver duct tape around the area where I want them to stay. I might look for some kind of clamp to help hold them or I might see about picking up a couple of parts called “slip x slip” couplers and cut the upright pieces where I want the lights to go and add the couplers. That would give a wider area for the light to be clamped above. If I do I will post some pictures of what ever I decide to do. 

duct tape is a temporary solution

As far as light bulbs I have daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs that are 23 watt, they say they are the equivalent of the old 100 watt bulbs. I find they give a huge amount of light to work by.

As soon as it cools off a bit I will get back to recording and we can see how this new set-up works.


  1. Well Done Joanne! Really ingenious if you ask me. A Fantastic solution at a Fabulous Price... or even vise versa :D


  2. if you wanted to you could drill holes in the pipe and but short pieces of dowel through the holes so the clamps have something to grip on to.. just a thought

  3. I made one of these to use as background for photo booth was intimidated by the process until the nice man from ACE Hardware jumped in and cut ALL the pieces for me all I had to do was assemble :)

  4. I made one of these to use as background for photo booth was intimidated by the process until the nice man from ACE Hardware jumped in and cut ALL the pieces for me all I had to do was assemble :)