DIY Clamp lights

I’m a big DIY-er.  I like figuring out how things work and then trying to build them for less than it would cost me to buy them.  Some of it’s that I like being frugal, but I also really enjoy the challenge.  Even when a project doesn’t come out exactly as planned or is even an abject failure, I can still learn from what went wrong.

There are many opportunities for DIY with filmmaking gear, especially since so much of it is be very expensive.  For this post, I’ve chosen a really simple and inexpensive, but very useful project: converting clamp lights to take up to 500w photoflood lamps.

For this project you’ll need:

  • Clamp light (can be bought at any home improvement store for less than $10; they come in a variety sizes, I use the 11″)

  • Cold-weld epoxy (about $5)
  • Socket assembly rated for 500w or more (about $7)

  • Photoflood lamp (about $5)

The sockets that come with the clamp lights are generally only rated for 100w-150w, making them unsafe to put a photoflood lamp in, so they have to be replaced with higher-rated sockets.

The process is incredibly simple.  Remove the stock socket from the reflector and clamp but unscrewing the wingnut.  The 660w socket assembly I got was larger than the stock socket, so it wasn’t simply switch it out and put it where the stock socket had gone.  This is where the epoxy comes in.  Mix it up and apply it to the inside of the base of the reflector and the outside of the top of the socket, then put them together and let it harden.  Reattach the clamp to the reflector and socket and screw in the lamp and you’re good to go.

Even though photofloods only last a couple of hours, this setup can be incredibly useful in small spaces where you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to fit standard production gear.  Below are two frame grabs from an attic scene I lit using only photoflood clamp lights, smoke and some diffusion.

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