Two Great Weekend Projects – Striplight and Softbox

photography softbox and striplightDo you know those weekends when it is just to hot to get out of the home? Well just for those weekends we have a great weekend project. Actually we have two weekend projects.

The first project is a Foamcore softbox. We’ve had those before, even for small flashes. But this one comes complete with build and assembly instructions by Paul Both. To top sugar with cream (or light with diffusion) Paul also made a nice strip light – again complete with plans and chocolate syrup. (The designs were made for the 580EX2 and 430EX Canon flashes, but will fit any flash with minor adjustments).

Paul said the role of inspiring muse for this creation was Nick Wheeler who made the best softbox ever, just a little while ago.

Download the plans for the softbox here and for the striplight here. Read on for assembly instructions (flickr set here).

Items required to build/assemble:

Lightstrip and Softbox

  • 3/16″ Black Foamcore Board (1 sheet required for Strip light, 2 sheets required for softbox)
  • Shiny substance (mylar blanket, aluminum foil etc.)
  • Ripstop nylon or Thin cotton fabric (thin cotton is considerably cheaper and lets just as much light through. $14.99 per yard compared to $3.99)
  • Hot Melt Glue Gun
  • 12″ hot glue sticks (easier that the 4″ ones – available at big box stores.)
  • Spray adhesive/contact cement
  • Black Gaffers Tape (black duct tape, black masking tape – all will work, and only black assuming you are using black foamcore board.)
    1/2″ wide adhesive tape (carpet tape works really well)
  • Sharp Knife
  • Nice clean area

Strip Light

1. Cut all parts according to plans, try to be as accurate as possible. To help with cutting, try not to cut all in one shot. Cut the top layer, cut through the foam, and then cut one last time through the remaining layer.

Lightstrip and Softbox

2. Prepare reflective material by cutting to size (slightly larger is better) for all parts.

3. Spray adhesive over one face of entire part (A for example.) Lay down one edge of reflective material and slowly wet out/pulling tightly reflective material until it is completely against/smooth with surface. Complete rest of part in the same manner.

4. On edges where two boards are going to meet, remove about 1/4″ of reflective material to help hot glue to bond (bonds better to foamcore board than to reflective material.)

5. Now prepare tape and put about half on one sheet and the other half off, now put the long face over top of the shorter face and rub tape down. Now take hot glue and run constant bead on inside corder of “V”.

Lightstrip and Softbox

6. Before the glue dries, you need to get one of the triangular shaped pieces in – to ensure a 90° angle on the to back boards. Do the same thing here, apply the tape first and then put the board into place, apply glue and then let dry. Finish rest of pieces in the same manner. Before proceeding, take a reflective tape (aluminum tape, mirror tape etc.) and cover up any exposed glue joints.

7. While your letting the Strip light dry, prepare the front diffusion material. I cut about an extra 1″ all around. Now is a perfect time to also steam/iron out any wrinkles the material may have.

8. Apply double sided adhesive tape all around the outside edge of the strip light. Make sure you leave the one backer on until your ready.

Lightstrip and Softbox

9. Start with one of the long edges (peel off entire backer) and lay down the diffusion material. On the first edge just ensure that your putting it down straight (or as straight as possible).

Lightstrip and Softbox

10. Do opposite long edge pulling a little (here is where the foamcore board shows it’s weekness – it will bow if pulled to hard) – so only put a little pressure (if you ironed before, you shouldn’t have any wrinkles to worry about.)

11. Close the top two edges in the same manner. In the meeting corner, just trim material and fold down. Use a blot of hot glue to make sure they don’t unravel.

Lightstrip and Softbox

12. Optional: take black tape again and cover exposed edges of diffusion material to help make it look more professional.

Lightstrip and Softbox

Lightstrip and Softbox


The softbox is basically the same thing, just a little more complex during the assembly process due to the compound angles. Hence – build the strip light first to practice and then move onto the softbox.

Now, I designed my strip light to sit on top of the small strobe. I mount my small strobes on light stands, which means I can change the elevation of the strip light very easily. Since the weight is so little – I haven’t had any issues in doing this (extra stress on the strobe.) One thing I found that helps, is to turn your flash head 90°. This allows the strip light to sit down on top of the strobe base, with the head protruding in about 2″.

If you a bit less DIY equipment check out the westcott 16″x22″ softbox and the prophoto 1×6′ striplight.