I recently bought 2 Photogenic Powerlight studio strobes from the National Camera in Golden Valley Minnesota. By the way, if you are ever there, ask for Dave Johnson. He’s a retired photographer and works in their basement section. He has tons of experience and know-how, plus he’s gotten me some sweet deals.
The cases themselves range from about $40 for a single light carry case (for my lights) on Ebay to about $250+ for Pelican carry cases. With the Pelican cases you are paying for extra features and quality which I do not need, this is an important point. My goal was to create a basic case that is light, portable, provide safe gear storage, cost effective and customizable. So buy according to your needs.
- Paper Weight (I used my broken Tokina 16-28)
- Long wood skewers
- These are just BBQ wood skewers I had left over. Since the foam slides a bit inside the box you can use a few well-placed skewers to hold them in place. I did not use glue so that I can customize it if I needed to.
- FloraCraft® StyroCutter® Plus ($14)
- Michaels Crafts store: I was able to have it price-matched but the full price is ($25). You may even be able to get it from AMAZON.com
- Black Storage Locker with Wheels ($40)
- The only place I could find a decent well priced box with wheels was at The Container Store.
- Home Depot or Lowes should carry it. I had my main box dimension written down so they cut the large 4x8ft piece down for me which made it easy to transport in my car.
- I was able to make 5 pieces for the storage locker with some extra smaller portions remaining.
Total cost: ~$80.
Total time: ~4 hours.
Notes and Tips:
When using the Styrofoam Cutter take your time and clean the blade often using the edges of a cardboard box otherwise it won’t cut cleanly and may break the tip of the wand.
When using the Styrofoam Cutter there is a hair-like material buildup on the edges where you cut the foam, don’t worry about it, after you are done cutting all the pieces you can rub your fingers over those hairs and they will come off clean. You can also use the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean it up.
I plan to paint the top of the foam black once winter is over. If you plan to do the same, get a paint that is foam safe as most spray paints can melt the foam.
1. Measure the interiors of the Storage Locker by placing each piece of paper and drawing a rough outline. Make sure to properly outline and cut each page before you tape another page to it as this will be your template to use on the foam. Keep in mind that the base has wheels and that the higher you go up the sides the box outline will change slightly. Use the ruler to make sure your lines are straight.
2. Place your completed paper template on top of the Styrofoam and place a paperweight as you trace the outline.
3. Use the StyroCutter and slowly cut the outline. Making slicing motion as you cut through the foam helps. Make sure to clean the wand often on the edges of a piece of cardboard. The base foam will have no cutouts since this piece will act as a cushion between the bottom of the box and your gear
4. As soon as you are done with one piece you can make a similar outline on the second foam piece. Remember to account for wheel wells which take up less space. By the third outline you will not need to cut a space for the wheel wells.
5. Once you have cut an online in all the foam boards you can then start your outlines for your gear. Place your gear on the second foam board from the bottom. Leave enough room around it and draw the outlines. I needed space for my strobes, a few flashes, extension cords, reflectors and so on. I made an outline of those and used the Styrofoam cutter to cut those out.
6. After you have completed all the cutouts place them in the box and make sure your gear snugly fits. Once that is done, use the skewers and push that into the foam strategically to hold everything from sliding.
7. I decided not to put a cover on my gear because I don’t plan to flip my box. If you would like you can. I decided instead to use the space for a few lighting stands and umbrellas.
If you have any questions feel free to ask me in the comments section below!