Tutorial: Homemade Grid Spot For Your Flash

Grid Spot-5 Grid spots are a great tool to have in your lighting equipment gear bag.  They allow you to narrow your beam of light without giving you harsh edges like you would get if using a snoot.  Today I’ll show you how to make a grid spot for your flash for cheap… really cheap.

First, you’re going to need to pick up a few things.  You may have some of them laying around already, but here’s what you’ll need:

Grid Spot-1

  1. Black Straws (I bought mine from Smart & Final)
  2. Pen or Pencil
  3. Super Glue or other Adhesive
  4. Razor blade or very sharp knife
  5. Scissors
  6. Straight Edge
  7. Cardboard Box
  8. Tape Measure
  9. Black Gaffer’s Tape

Step 1: Cutting Straws
You’ll need to cut your straws to the length that you would prefer for your grid spot.  I cut mine to 1/2 inch which gives me a nice and narrow (but not too narrow) light beam.  I needed 60 straw pieces for my SB800 flash.  Cut as many as you think you will need.

Grid Spot-2

Step 2: Measure and Cut Cardboard:
Measure the dimensions of your flash’s head and cut a piece of cardboard to fit.  You’ll also need to remember to compensate for the thickness of the cardboard itself, so be sure you add a little to your overall length. 

For example, an SB800’s head measures 1 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches.  So for four sides I would need a piece of cardboard that is 8 inches long.  I added 1/4 inch to each side to ensure I had enough room for the grid spot to fit OVER my flash, therefore my total length was 9 inches.

Next you’ll measure and mark your sides on the cardboard so you know where to make the folds.  After you have measured and marked, I recommend that you score each mark with a razor blade so that it will be easier to make the folds and the cardboard won’t fight you.

 Grid Spot-3

Step 3: Let The Gluing Begin!
Now it’s time to start gluing.  I used Loctite Super Glue Gel because it sets up fast and since it’s a gel it stays in place better than regular super glue.  Just don’t glue your fingers together. 

You can also use a thicker adhesive and run a bead along the entire length and then place the straws on the adhesive.  The only disadvantage to this is it will take longer for the adhesive to set up.  I wouldn’t run a bead with super glue because it will dry before you can get all the straw pieces into place. 

To get the honeycomb pattern that you need for a grid spot, remember that on the next row up that you will be gluing the straw pieces in between the pieces that you just glued into place.  Think “pyramid”… sort of.  The second row up will be shorter than the first row, but the third row will be the same length as the first row.  Make sense?

Grid Spot-4

Step 4: Finishing Touches
Now that you have all the straws glued into place, it’s time to finish up this project.  Fold the cardboard around the straws so that the two ends touch.  Glue the two ends together to ensure a solid fit.  You could just tape them with gaff, but it probably won’t hold as well.  Finally, wrap your new grid spot with black gaffer’s tape to give it a more finished look.  You can also use gaffer’s tape to build up the edges if the fit on your flash happens to be a little lose. 

Here’s the finished product:

Grid Spot-5

Summary:
This is an easy light modifier project that will cost you only a few bucks.  I bought a box of 400 black straws for $7.00, the super glue for $2.50, and I already had all the rest of the materials.  I won’t need to buy any more black straws anytime soon so I could probably make a hundred of these things and would only need some more glue. 

Why would you want to make your own instead of buying a grid spot?  Well, mainly because it will save you some money.  David Honl’s grid spots are great and at $25.00 each they aren’t very expensive, but if you buy his 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch sizes you’ve already spent $50.00.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re well worth their price but I just can’t justify spending the money when I can make as many as I need for less than $10.00. 

I’ll be happy to answer questions if you have them and be sure to let me know how your very own grid spot turns out!  I’d love to see the images of and with it!

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11 thoughts on “Tutorial: Homemade Grid Spot For Your Flash

  1. Steve,

    My hat’s off to you on this great idea! However, why use ‘black’ as the color of choice for the straws? I’ve seen a similar idea only using ‘coroplast’ which is a corrugated plastic material. Why black? If white coroplast is used, couldn’t you use a lower flash setting?

  2. Antonio,

    The reason that I used black straws is because the black will not let light through the walls of the straws and that light separation is what really tightens up the light throw. White would simply just diffuse the light and you wouldn’t get quite the same effect. You’re right in the fact that black will eat up a little more power, but since you’re throwing a narrower beam of light you won’t need as much power anyway.

    You could use black coroplast as well and it works about the same as a heavy-duty cardboard box too. The cardboard will actually warm up your light just a touch which can be helpful. You want to stay away from colors other than white or black because they will give your light a color cast that will produce undesirable results.

    Stephen

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  9. I went looking for straws…ended up at Home Depot for some other materials. Found a small straw-like tube in the plumbing area. It’s the same size as a drinking straw yet more durable and it’s little over $1 for maybe 3-4 feet

    You can also find a wider black tubing for $.89 for larger strobe grid spots. I found some about 24 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.

    Cheers to inspiration and saved money~

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