Today I’m going to take you through how to make a DIY 4×4 frame. Usually to get an aluminum frame, you’ll have to spend $120-$130.00, including shipping costs. To make our DIY version, it’s going to cost us just $25.00. I said $15.00 before, but haha, it’s actually $25.00, and you can make it with tools you have laying around your house.
The whole design of this is something I did back in the day when I was starting out in the movie business, and we didn’t have cool aluminum frames. The frames we had were like the little wrought iron frames that surround the flag. They were very small, bent easily in the wind, and it was hard to affix the tape to them because they had a round surface, not a flat surface. Back in the day, I was responsible for building over eighty of these frames.
The process is fairly simple. We’re going to create triangles for the corners and then affix four 4 foot pieces together on the corners using little 3/4″ screws and carpenter’s glue so you have a DIY 4×4 frame.
First you’re going to take two pieces of 1″x3″x8′ wood and cut both in half to get your four pieces to make the frame. Make sure that the ends are cut at a 45 degree angle so that they will fit together perfectly for your frame.
A chop saw is great for making a clean line.
Each corner is a triangle made from a 1/4” thick piece of plywood. You’re going to affix the planks onto the four ¼ inch triangles, so that you end up with a frame. To affix the pieces, we are going to use carpenter’s glue to attach the planks to the corner triangles. Apply glue where you made the diagonal edge and also on the back of the triangle.
Then you’re going to reinforce it all by using a screw gun to punch in some screws.
Note that you only do the triangles on one side because you want the other side to be flat. This is so you can easily apply your gaffer’s tape, your staples if you want to staple it down, or your diffusion or gels easily to the flat side.
Creating the DIY Ear:
Now let’s make the ear that will make the frame mountable into a head. This is basically a 12×12 ear with a safety notch. To make the ears, you’ll need 1/2” plywood and a jigsaw with a pretty sharp blade to be able to intricately cut the ears of the frame so that they can slide into a stand.
This ear is pretty sturdy. Just remember to use your screws and glue again to reinforce the ear to the frame. Also put an ear on the other side, so that you have two ears per frame.
There are ears on both sides so that if it’s windy, you can use two stands on each side to keep the 4×4 frame in place.
Here is a template for you to cut out the ear:
Keeping it Small:
For all of you who do not have the space to haul a 4′ by 4′ frame along, you can shrink this frame simply by using some hinges along with some standard door sliding bolt locks. Cut your frame at the 24″ mark on opposites sides of the frame and add your two hinges at the top and bottom of your frame. Make sure you screw the hinge at the top of the 1 x 3”. Underneath it, add the sliding bolt lock. The sliding bolt lock will give it rigidity once you extend the frame to its full 4′ x 4′ frame size. By keeping them on the same side, it enables you to still have a clean flat surface to apply your color or diffusion.
When I roll out, I like to have lots of gels and diffusion. I like to have two 1/2 CTS, two 1/4 CTS, and two full CTS. I like 1/4 blues, 1/2 blues, and full blues, as well as all the latest diffusions: 1/2 soft frost, 1/4 grid, light grid, and full grid. This gives you the ability to affix all of these on a frame nicely for $25.00 dollars each. These DIY frames are also easy to make. They take about 20 minutes to make, and you can have a whole arsenal of these babies to deploy at a moment’s notice.
Here are the products to streamline and shrink your footprint in your vehicle.