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DIY: Creating Your Own Ring Lighting Setup

This post is part of a series called DIY Photography and Video: Gear, Tips and Tricks.
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Do-It-Yourself projects are now the new thing to do in your spare time. In this DIY, you will learn how to create a fully functional thirty inch ring light that only costs a fraction of the price of buying one new. So get up off the couch and add a another light to your studio arsenal!

Supplies and Tools

Here is a list of the supplies you are going to need to pick up from your local hardware or home improvement store.

  • 1 8x4 sheet of 1/2 inch plywood
  • 40 ft lawn and garden extention cord
  • 12 keyless light fixtures
  • 12 full spectrum 60w coated lightbulbs
  • 1 can of flat black high heat spray paint

Total amount spent - $63.00

Here is the list of tools that I used for the job.

  • Battery powered drill
  • Skill saw or circular saw
  • Box cutter knife
  • Jigsaw
  • Router
  • Hole-saw
  • Straight edge or long ruler
  • Some extra wire or string
  • Screw driver
  • Wire strippers
  • Tape measure
  • Sand paper

Step 1

Take your sheet of plywood and cut it in half to make two square sheets.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 2

Measure in fifteen inches from a side of the plywood and put a screw half way into the plywood. This is going to be the center of the ring.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 3

Wrap some string or wire around the screw, stretch it out to the end of the plywood, wrap it around a permanent marker and draw a circle. Shorten the wire by 6 inches and draw another circle. This will be the cutting lines/guides for your ring.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 4

Take a straight edge and mark lines every 30 degrees from edge to edge through the center of the circle. This will mark the spots for your light fixtures so they are evenly spaced.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 5

On the lines marked in Step 4, measure 3 inches in from the outer ring line and mark the center for your fixture holes.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 6

Take a 3-inch hole-saw, line it up with your center marks and drill out the twelve holes for your fixtures.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 7

Take a jigsaw and cut along the two cirlces marked in Step 3.

diy ring lighting setup

Check Point

After following the first few steps, your plywood should look something like this. If it doesn't, leave a comment and I'll do my best to help you out!

diy ring lighting setup

Step 8

Take your plywood and paint it black. Spray paint is best for this, as it saves a great deal of time over brushing it by hand. You'll the need to wait for it to try before continuing.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 9

Position all twelve light fixtures over the holes in the plywood and screw them down. Make sure that the two center screws on the back of each fixture are easily accessable for wiring.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 10

Take your extension cord and cut off the female plug. Use your box cutters to cut away about 5ft of the insulation to expose the inner wires. Take your wire cutters and cut out the ground wire from the uninsulated section.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 11

Make a mental note that the end of the wire is going to be Point B, and Point A is the part of the wire right after the insulation ends.

Step 12

Starting from Point A, strip three-quarters of an inch of insulation from both black and white wires.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 13

Take your black wire and wrap it around the gold screw and tighten to ensure a good connection. Take white wire and wrap it around the silver screw and tighten.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 14

Continue counter-clockwise to the next light fixture, repeating Steps 12 and 13. Make sure you give the wire some slack between fixtures so that the connections are not strained.

Step 15

When on the twelfth light fixture, cut off the excess wire, leaving enough to wire the twelfth one.

Check Point

Now that the wiring is taken care of, your ring light should look like this.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 16

Repeat Steps 2, 3, 7 and 8 on the second half of the plywood to make the back. The back will be used to cover the wires, will make it look better, and is generally a good precaution to keep your lighting rig safe.

Touching any exposed wire while the rig is connected would be extremely dangerous. Make sure that everything is secured, and safely contained between these two rings before plugging it in!

diy ring lighting setup

Step 17

Take your router and route out the middle of your back peice about a quater inch deep and two and a half inches wide.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 18

Line up the front ring and back ring. Put two screws in between each fixture an inch from each side to ensure a solid construction.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 19

Take your sand paper and sand around the edges of the ring to make it nice and smooth.

diy ring lighting setup

Step 20

Screw in all your light bulbs into the light fixtures. I'm using fairly standard bulbs here, but you can experiment with different strengths and colours for all manner of different effects!

diy ring lighting setup

Step 21

Plug it in to make sure that your light is working! If everything has gone to plan, you should see your hard work illuminate beautifully.

diy ring lighting setup


diy ring lighting setup

I hope that this tutorial wasn't too confusing to follow. This isn't an incredibly simple DIY project, and you do need some existing knowledge to make it a success. With some trial and error, hopefully you'll be able to get there yourself!

If you have any questions about the process, or purpose, of a particular step, just drop a comment down below and I'll be glad to answer your questions!

diy ring lighting setup
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