I didn't know where exactly to post this particular topic... (feel free to move, mods!)
This is a preview of the work I've been doing this month in the construction of a DIY (Do It Yourself) lighting setup for lego photography, as well as the fabrication process for my very own set of Lego work/hobby/display/show tables(!!!), using a somewhat new design standard and some added features that you may like!
I hope to publish a more complete document with blueprints and full pricing on materials, but I really wanted to get this out here early and get some feedback.
First, the lighting:
I started out by purchasing ~8" dish clamp/work/shop lights (~7 USD), which are really cheap and useful. I also decided on two half inch pipe clamps, which will run you about 11 USD each, and a length of 1/2" pipe for each clamp (about 7 USD each). With these, you can mount the clamps to tables, and have a vertical pole with which to attach the lighting.
The clamps: http://www.amazon.com/Pony-2-Inch-Clamp ... B0000224CA
This site shows the clamps and lights in action: http://www.librarium-online.com/?c=119&a=1098
Given I was investing in the pipe clamp solution, I figured why not implement some way to attach a lightbox setup to the 1/2 pipe, so I decided to create my own.
I bought some aluminum flat rod (3/4" x 1/8" x ~5'), and cut it down into four 14 inch segments to create an articulated arm, and created a few tiny plates of the same material, and attached them with L brackets to create a T shaped arm in order to attach my lightbox. I used a regular plumbing support clamp with a 3/8 thread to attach all the aluminum rod to the 1/2 inch pipe. On the end of the T, I attached a household window screen frame, and replaced the (insect) screen with hemmed ripstop fabric (parachute nylon) to function as the lightbox diffuser.
People remodel their windows all the time, so you can get, for very cheap or even free, used insect screen window frames that are perfect for this kind of application. You probably don't even need to go through the hassle of building a mounting system for them and can prop them up with cheap spring claps sitting flush on a table. ( http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/sto ... =100027346
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_01.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_02.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_03.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_04.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_05.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_06.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_07.jpg
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ing_08.jpg
I'll post more about the lights later...
I tried hunting on craigslist for some tables, but did not have any success. Living up north, we get a long snow season, and I was adamant about having a table available before the first snow, so I decided to give my amateur carpentry skills a workout!
I've read quite a bit about Lego table standards that the different LUGgers use, and I was disappointed to see a lack of consensus on the subject. They had different preferences on height and leg design, amongst other things.
I decided I would build two 30.25"X60.5" tables and two 30.25"x30.25" square tables.
I was mostly inspired by the following site: http://www.baylug.org/zonker/tables/newtables.html
Unlike the instructions in the previously mentioned website, I pre-drilled all of my screw holes with a smaller drill bit to ensure there would be no wood splitting. Otherwise, I basically hunted down the same type of folding legs for the construction of my long tables, and built with 3/4" Birch plywood.
Home Depot website has these legs for sale at about 16 USD a pair (waddel mfg. folding table legs). They stand approximately 29" tall, which basically determined the standard I would use. With a piece of wood attached, my tables would reach approximately 30" in height, and I could always adjust with a few sheets of cardboard if need be.
Now, here's where my innovation comes in. For the tables to be truly
modular, there needed to be a way to connect the tables together for shared support/stability and precision to ensure flush connections, and opening up the possibility for attaching train controller/mindstorms cpu 'dashboards', or creating unsupported wooden 'bridges' between two tables to support light weight structure spans.
I drilled 3/8" holes at specified locations along a 4" framing that hangs just below the table surface and purchased 2" long 1/4" diameter bolts and wingnuts to tighten the tables together.
This framing not only serves to reinforce the rigidity of the 3/4" plywood, but it also conceals the fold-up legs from view when stowed away, making it perfectly easy to stack and store the tables without worry.
Here are some photographs of my table work:
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_01.jpg
4" Framing ( Eight 4" X 28.75" 'shorties' for all the tables, four 4" X 30.25" 'longs' for the 30.25"x30.25" tables, and four 4" x 60.5" 'longs' for the 30.25"x60.5" tables. )
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_02.jpg
Table surfaces. Two 30s, and Two 30 by 60s, and a bit of scrap.
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_03.jpg
Bolts, screws. You need a LOT of screws to get things done. At least three boxes (225) of screws should do it.
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_04.jpg
One table down, one to go!! ~6" spacing between screws, with no screws at the corners so that the framing can be screwed in from the side using a basic butt joint (that's why I cut so many 28.75" 'shorties').
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_05.jpg
Framing of the corner tables. I use 2" 3/4 plywood (remnants/scraps) to build the frame. I got lucky and found some unused treated deck beams from an old deck we took apart. They were outside and would have rotted away if we didn't use them. ~2"x2" wood poles would have worked just as well. Ours are slightly rectangular, so I had to work with it.
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_06.jpg
A 30x30x30 table is not the easiest structure to transport through your typical home, so the surfaces of my tables come apart from the support/base, and fit snugly into these leg slots.
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u119 ... ble_07.jpg
I was stumped at first for how to build the legs on the corner units, but once I had decided the general idea, I figured it would be nice to take advantage of the space below and create shelf space. Here I use 1/2" Plywood. A 5'x5' sheet is sufficient for the production of 3 shelves divided amongst the 2 30x30 tables. The first one is done with a whole piece, the second one done in 3 parts, and a third shelf done in 4 parts (bracing beam encouraged for these last two). I used the 'whole' shelf on the table that would only have 1 bottom shelf, so it's sturdy and solid enough to bear the weight of most tubs.
The table with 2 shelves has exactly 10" of space/clearance per shelf.
And that's all I have for photos so far.
The tables are currently being sanded down and prepped for painting. I also took the liberty of routing a curved lip on the outside bottom of the frames for all of the tables so that lifting them up does not pinch one's fingers (routers = awesome).
I'll be using oil-based KILS to prime and oil-based finishing paint. For color, all the framing and lower shelves will be painted black (Perhaps not the best choice, but classy looking, methinks), while the table tops will be painted to official Lego blue, described as Pantone 293 C. I consider blue to be the most useful/flexible color. If I ever do another set of tables, I would consider tan, green, or any of the other colors I've mentioned in a certain dear Lego 'roll up baseplate' thread.
Your comments or questions are appreciated and will help me to build a better document/guide on how to build your own. More details and photographs forthcoming!