As promised in yesterday’s post, I turned one of my DIY dual flash brackets into a triple flash bracket today, by drilling one more hole.
All the T-straps I saw at various hardware stores had holes predrilled (or punched) in various places; the pattern isn’t standardized. The one I bought had three large holes — big enough for a 3/8″ bolt — and eight tiny ones — I assume for nails.
So without modification, I was able to use one hole to attach the T-strap to my tripod and two holes to hold two flashes (see yesterday’s entry). I figured it would be steadier with a hole in the middle, plus that would leave an extra hole for a third flash.
Having never drilled through metal before, I used Google to locate several forums where others had asked the question: “How do I drill through metal?” and people with various levels of experience provided dozens of answers. The “expert” answers all said to get a drill press. Well. Several DIYers had answered that you could do it with a regular drill and regular drill bits, if you were careful.
So, following the DIYer advice, I proceeded without buying an expensive and space-consuming drill press. I used a nail punch to dent the metal where I wanted the hole — so the bit wouldn’t “walk”. I used a 1/8″ bit to drill a pilot hole. (Forum responders suggested this, saying a smaller bit might break, and a larger one would require much more pressure to dig through the metal.) Applying quite a bit of pressure on the back of the drill and using slow/medium speed, I drilled the pilot hole in just a couple of minutes.
Switching to a larger bit (3/16″, I think), I widened the original hole in about 20 seconds, and then used a 1/4″ bit to widen the hole further. Regular sandpaper smoothed off the rough edges of the hole, and a narrow cylindrical file smoothed the bore. (I might widen the hole further someday, to accommodate a 3/8″ male thread.)
Then, as seen in the previous photo, I used a simple wing nut to attach the T-strap to the top of my light stand, and the other flashes were attached with winged screws and washers.
The original cost was $6.99. Adding four more washers and another winged screw brought the cost to near $9, still less than half the price of the cheapest factory-made multi-flash bracket I could find — and that one looked very flimsy to me.
UPDATE, 2014.01.20: Today, I widened the center hole to 3/8″ so it can also be attached to my tripod — with the ball head removed.