DIY Collapsible Light tent
By Jeffrey Bail
3 Apr 2007
DIY Collapsible Light Tent
Ever wanted to take pictures of small items around your house and make them look like it was done at a studio? It's possible with some items around your home and a trip to your local craft store. It's going to cost you around $15 but its money well spent. If you were to order a similar setup from a photography store, your looking to spend near a $100.
8 Wire Coat Hangers - The ones that you have a lot of unless it was beaten into you NOT to use wire hangers. This should a free Item! Make sure they are all the same size by lining them up.
2Yds of White fabric (48X72") - You can pick this up at any store that sells fabric. It could be almost any white fabric. Just remember it has to be somewhat thin to allow light to pass through. I prefer white nylon; it costs around $1.50yd.
Bristol Board - You can find this at almost any arts and crafts store. It's a multi ply (.006) paper that come in multiple colors. Choose what you feel is best. I choose blue in this tutorial.
Fabric Glue / Fusible Web Tape - You can use either. I used Fusible web but I think just regular fabric glue that you find at the fabric store works just as good and is much easier to use. Using Fusible web will require an iron (Read the directions on the fusible tape).
6 Small Binder Clips - These will be use to hold the light tent in position and well keep it folded together when not in use. I find mine at the dollar store
Craft Wire - This will make the hinges to allow the tent to fold back up and pulls the frame tight to block stray light. I suggest getting this. You can find this at any arts and crafts store or even the hardware store. Make sure to get a thin gauge wire as you will be sewing with it.
5000K "Daylight" Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb - This will provide the lighting for your light tent. Try to stick with a "Daylight" type bulb. Anything less will cast a yellow color in your tent. Also suggest a desk lamp to go with it.
Pliers - Hopefully you have a pair of slip joint pliers lying around. This will help you with the wire coat hangers. The longer the handle, the easier it is to use in this project.
Tape measure - Used to measure for out bends.
Scissors - Well, to cut the fabric of course.
Wire Cutters - Simple pair of wire cutters to trim your hinges
So now that we have all the things we need, lets get started. This will not be the most easiest to make but it sure beats paying $100 for the same exact thing.
Step by step Instructions :
1. This will be the most labor intensive part of making this tent. Take all 8 coat hangers apart and make them as straight as possible. Hopefully they are 44" long, If not you box will come out different but it will still work.
2. Measure in 11" from each end of the coat hanger and make a 90° bend with your pliers. The coat hanger should now look like a U shape and is laying flat. Now repeat for the rest of your hangers
3. Take your pliers to the end of each you and bend the tip like a hook Allow room so you can lock the hooks into another. Now repeat for the rest of your hangers
4. Take the 2 U pcs and join them together using the hooks. After you join them, use the pliers and crimp the hooks so they can't unhook. You should now have a somewhat square box. Now repeat on the rest of your hangers
5. Layout the fabric to where it's flat, take your square shaped hanger and lay it on top of the fabric. Leave a 2" border on the OUTSIDE of the hanger. You will be later folding the edges over. Repeat 7 more times
6. Using the glue your going to leave a bead 1/2" from the wire hanger on the INSIDE of the square. You will then fold your outside border on top of the glue. Repeat this to the rest and allow the glue to dry. If it's been done right, you won't see the hanger as it's wrapped up inside the fabric. After it's been dry, trim excess with your scissors. It doesn't have to be perfect so don't get carried away with it.
7. Now you should have 4 squares. Layout 3 across so they are touching end to end. Then take your wire and thread the two edges together. You don't have to go the entire length of the end. I did just three spots. This will act as your hinge and it will keep the box as tight as possible. The middle square will be the BACK of your tent.
8. Take your last square and lay it out so it's resting on top of the middle square (This will be the top of the tent). The bottom edge of your top square should be touching the top edge of the middle (Back) square. Make a hinge using the wire in 3 places.
9. You should be DONE! It wasn't that bad. Give it a test fold. Fold the sides into the middle then fold the top down. You can use the binder clips to secure the tent close. Open the tent the same way and use the binder clips to secure the top of the light tent to the side panels.
10. Insert your bristol board to where there is a curve in the back. Avoid creasing the bristol board as it will show up in your photos. Just add the light and your object and you should be ready to shoot.
Now you have a collapsible light tent. Hope you have fun with it. Maybe you can come up with a better way to make this. Make sure that children don't go near this. If you find any sharp edges, please get rid of them. Safety first!