DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid (Part 1)

Hi again and welcome,

here is a new idea you can start doing by yourself.

When I was on one of my trips, this time to London, for a great Strobist Seminar we went into a Mexican restaurant and as by David advice on getting all the Black Straws you could pick I decided to try my luck.

I ask the waitress if I could get some black straws and she just said grab the one's you like... so as you can imagine I took 2 hands full of them !!!! :)

Later on I decided that was time to put together the so talked snoot grid but I could not imagine how to assemble it, since I have never did it before. I then realized that a lot of people also did not bother to assemble it, maybe because of lacking how or because they simply did not know what was it all about.

In this, 2 parts simple, "Do It Yourself" I will show you first how to assemble the "THING" and then, on the second part, I show some examples on what you could accomplish with them just in terms of lighting conditions.

These are designed for the flashes  have at the moment, the Nikon SB-26 and the Canon 580EX but you can always design to fit your own.

So let's start...

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_001

Working table with all the gear needed to assemble the Black Straws Snoot Grid.

- Black duct tape
- Cereal Box (Any type or any kind)
- Scissors
- Glue
- Hand full of Black Straws (0,5 cm diameter)
- Ruler
- Portable flash to try it out later
- Pen

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_002

This is the design on the cereal card box for the 2cm Black Straws Snoot Grid. There is an error on the calculation between the picture and the real thing since I have some Velcro at the flashes end and it gives 0,2cm more to each side (If you have the Velcro at the end of your flash use the measures on the picture instead), sorry but I only noticed it now here goes correct the measures:

1 cm, 4,5 cm, 7cm, 4,5cm, 7cm and length 5 cm

This will give 2cm for the straw and the other 3 to fit in the flash and will
fit on SB26 and 580EX

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_003

This is the design on the cereal card box for the 5cm Black Straws Snoot Grid.
This fits on SB26 and 580EX:

7cm, 4,5cm, 7cm, 4,5cm, 1cm and
length 8cm

This will give 5cm for the straw and the other 3 to fit in the flash.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_004

Cut with scissors the card box as showed.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_005

After cutting the card box use the ruler to help you bend the card box on the marks.
DIY: BlackStraws Snoot Grid_006

After bending all the parts here is how it should become.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_007

After bending all the parts here is how it should become. Do not glue it yet!! On my left hand you can see the 1cm part that will be for assembling the structure together.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_008

Cut the straws with scissors and pay attention that they tend to pop out after each cut ;). Illustration for the 2cm cut for the 5cm is the same only the straw pieces would come out bigger.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_009DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_010

Now it's time to glue them to the card box. Start to glue them to the longest part of the card box this way will be easier to glue everything later on.
Start to align them at the front of the card box... don't mind if the back part (the one that stays inside the card box) is not precisely align it will work anyway. What you have to keep in mind is to align the front.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_011

Here you can see some of the straws on the back are not aligned but they are glued :)
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_012DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_013

First row now glued this is what it will look like after all of them are glued. Carry on gluing...

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_014DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_015

A couple of rows later...

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_017DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_016

A couple of rows later...
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_018

Try it out before you close it... this way you can ad or remove straws so it can stay aligned.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_019

The inside after all the gluing has finished.
DIY: BlackStraws Snoot Grid_020DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_021

Done. This is how it look after it's finished.
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_022

Now tape it to look more professional and to cover those unpaid ads :)
DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_023DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid_024

Here are the 5cm (L) and the 2cm (R) with that black tape professional look :), just look through them, you can even see what will be coming out of this...

Hope you like this photo tutorial and make use of this tools since they are very good and if you loose one you can always make another ;)

Don't miss part 2 of this series since it will bring you some examples how you can use your new Black Straws Snoot Grids.

Until next time... go shoot!!!

DIY: Black Straws Snoot Grid (Part 2)

And also check a colored version I just came up with.


Anonymous said...

For a "spotlight" effect on your subject, instead of a cube make a circle.

Anonymous said...

a honeycomb pattern like the one with the straws, even if it's a cube, will give a round spotlight.

Anonymous said...

Tas mesmo apanhado pelo flash... e exemplos deste cena? Qual é o efeito?
Abraço - CM

Anonymous said...

For those that want to know what length to cut the straws for a specific angle here is the equation -

Required length = Inside diameter of straw / TAN(desired angle / 2)

Ron - WI

ruimleal said...


I have been trying the Black Straws Snoot Grid intensively and noticed that if you do not glue them well enough they will fall because of heat and pressure.

My personal recommendation is to glue them with some kind of high contact plastic glue instead of the UHU one.

Besides that everything works like charm and people been asking me on the street where to buy one ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time out to make this excellent tutorial.

Anonymous said...

hah nice idea! thx a lot

for the sb800 i used ~62mm x 40 mm. which actually fits pretty tight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - now armed with a 2cm and 5cm model thanks to this!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I have the patience for gluing so many little pieces - I'd use some of that 3M spray glue. Quick burst across the card, lay out a layer, another burst across etc.

A J FRENCH said...

thanks for posting this, useful DIY grid --- just going to try it now

Anonymous said...

I used cyroplast for mine. It's the stuff that outdoor yard signs are made from. They usually come in a sheet of 2'x1' and you can get them from your local sign shop for about $5. The advantage is that they're easier to make and the straws don't fall out (like my first model did). I have a white one and will be making a black one soon. Also, I wrapped mine in black foam (Walmart for $1). The advantage to this is that it looks a lot more professional and maintains grip on the flash - even though it slides on/off the flash gracefully.

Gaddy said...

I finally got around to making this. I got the black straws at Panera Bread. I'm letting the glue dry and I'll be trying it soon. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I used scotch tape to hold the straws. Its less messy and lot easy. I tried thin and wide straws.
I see thin straws produce soft light.
Here is my version

AJ said...

I just made my first black straw grid, but made a modification:

Instead of gluing the straws inside the cardboard, I made sure they were not attached to the cardboard at all. I then wrapped the straws in tape, and now I have a straw grid that I can add to any of my snoots (4", 6", 8")

Not sure yet if it makes any different what length snoot it's on, but it at least gives me the option of using a snoot with or without the grid.

Anonymous said...

Hi may i know where to get the black straws? i cant seem to find it

Leanne Frank said...

I made a couple of these grids for my Vivitar 283s and 285s using coroplast layers instead of straws -- and they work great! Templates for the 285 are available here: Can provide template for V283 if anyone needs them.

Anonymous said...

it's a great idea.. i'll do it soon.. (first, i have to find the black straws..)

thank you for these tutorials..

Anonymous said...

Tried it out with some black straws I "lifted" from an eating outlet (had my dinner there so I didnt feel as guilty hee) and an old cardboard biscuit box.

Used 10cm length straws with 3cm for my 580exII.

Amazing, the concentration of light :P Love it! Love it!

- j.e.r.r.y

Paul B. Pescitelli said...

here is an article to about the glue I found to work well...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how long the straws should be using a Lumedyne head?

Anonymous said...

I'm all set and ready to make this DIY snoot grid, but I can't find any black straws! Any idea where I can find some?

Anonymous said...

To those asking where to find black straws: I was asking in lots of different shops today until I finally found some in a party supply store. The kind that sells scary face masks, funny hats, party whistles, and yes, black straws!

Anonymous said...

I live in London and you 'lucked out' getting all those straws in a restaurant.

Anyhow, you've done well and now it's on my agenda to give it a try too.

Anonymous said...

The large diameter black straws are often sold as caipirinha straws.

I had great success glueing them with a hot-glue gun. It solidifies in seconds, bonds extremely well to the plastic of the straws and can be used to fill in the gaps between the straws and at the edge of the construction.

I've found that with a zoomable flash head the telephoto settings give the most even spread of light.

Anonymous said...

What would happen if one used colored straws, like say all green straws. Would there be a gel-like color cast?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these new ideas. I like Your Views and article and also Your site has Lots of Useful Information. Here i am Sharing my ideas

dneez said...

Thanks for info.
I now have the tape and straws. Let's get started!

Anonymous said...

UK source for black straws; Makro They do own brand pack of 400 5inch long 1.49 ex VAT

Anonymous said...

thank you very much for this tutorial. i just built the 2cm-grid today. fantastic. works great.

Dave said...

I made one today with (pale) green straws. It casts a slightly green light. I plan on using iti ndoors with compact fluorescent, so that works.

Still, when I can find black straws I'll be making another. Or even better that white coroplast sign stuff. Either way with black or white I can still use color gels if I want.

Bottom line, using colored straws works but has limited flexibility.

Luis said...

Nice DIY Rui!

Obrigado! (Thank you!)

Mine came out really good for a first approach!

I like the round pattern, even tough the snoot itself is rectangular!

Anonymous said...

I at last found black straws at a nearby supermarket and made myself two units. For the housing, I used artist's board (white on one side and black on the other side) and glued the straws on the white side. I used super glue at first but the glue just dried up without bonding the straws. So I used a hot glue gun and it did the job! Thanks for this very practical idea.

Happy Holidays to all!

Anonymous said...

Black straws can be found at Smart& Final ( box of 400 )

Anonymous said...

I don't like making the snoots with cereal box cardboard. Isn't it better to use black cardboard? I was planning to buy some at my local paper warehouse (I'm a printer) then realized I had received some shirts for Christmas that came in black boxes. These came from Jos. A. Bank, which has quite a few locations in the United States. They work great. I have two shirts and enough black cardboard for a dozen snoots.

N. Wiegand said...

Here is another way to make a snoot:

Anonymous said...

Thank for genius idea...

Jonathan said...

I followed this guide and ended up with a seemingly good snoot. I used carpenter's glue because of a comment about the UHU glue issue. The bottle advertised superior strengthening, so I tried it out.

Did a nude/model shoot and used the grid for some hairlight. The straws fell apart and the thing was in the trash in minutes. Quite embarassing - looked very unprofessional. Needless to say I ordered a real flash snoot the same day!

tomtor said...

You can also make a grid with long straws without having to glue by using an existing snoot, rubber bands and a cloth:

Scott Johnson said...

I'm about to build one of these as soon as I can locate black straws. All the party stores near me have gone out of business.

Carpenter's glue does not stick to non-porous surfaces like plastic straws. Not surprised that one fell apart.

I have a feeling that plastic model glue would work well. Cyanoacrylate (super glue) would too, but is hard to work with.

Unknown said...

Great tutorial! Very informative in how well worded and descriptive you were! You know they say that if one knows how to describe what they want really well, then life is just as good as how you describe it :)
Its great for people who feel like time is running against them and then land on your blog and feel like a whole burden was just lifted off of their shoulder.. I admire and respect people who take
time to make it easier for others.. Thanks a bunch! :)
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ajie.nolasco said...

Try to look at my tutorial on making this snoot and grid. Mine has a zoom capability, which makes it unique. The materials that I used also makes for a more professional look and feel. Here's the link:

Don't forget to leave comments so I will know if you liked it or not. Thanks.

Unknown said...

These are brilliant - I've made myself six (2cm and 5cm for 3 different flashes) plus an insane-looking 20cm one (using whole straws) which concentrates light enough to give me a selective spotlight for shooting 5" action figures and miniatures.

Unknown said...

For black straws in abundance check:|66%3A2|39%3A1|72%3A1301|293%3A1|294%3A50 ;-)

kaziutek said...

any technical reason for black straws vs. standard white?

migar said...

This is my production:

ruimleal said...


great set. Any chance you can send me one for try out?

Mail me so we can talk.

Unknown said...

I just made a snoot with 3 cm straws, they were the bigger green ones from Starbucks though, worked pretty good. Standing about 6' back I got about a 3' spot.

Vu Bui said...

I made a little video tutorial about the first one I made.

Thanks for the guide!

Anonymous said...

I would say great work done. But don't you think you should have tried something more.
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Unknown said...

An excellent piece of work. This is a very handy tip of how to make a snoot grid. Its very interesting.
Plastic Card

Unknown said...

Well, I've had my first attempt at this, but I wanted to try a couple of changes:

To make it more secure on the strobe head, I bought a bunch of cheap clones of the diffuser provided with my SB-800 and used one as a base.

Second, I decided to try making the body out of plasticard for durability - unfortunately I need to work on my fabrication skills somewhat!

ruimleal said...

Thank you Dom for the input. It's always a pleasure to have new modifications to improve the original.

Let me know when you got it solved.

Best wishes,


Unknown said...


Version 2 of the plasticard black straw grid snoot is here!

Major changes are:

Switching from 1.5mm to 0.5mm styrene sheet allowing fabrication by bending rather than trying to score and bend (leading to the splitting evident on my original) and cutting a notch in the sacrificial diffuser to allow manual control of the zoom setting on the strobe.

Folded Snoot


Finished grid snoot

Completed grid snoot mounted on base

Light pattern with strobe set to 14mm

Light pattern with strobe set to 105mm


Gipukan's blogging from a P1i said...

Great Idea,

I used some old wifi coax cable shielding instead of straws. and put it on my vivitar dm400mz with it's defuser pannel down.


NervisRek said...

Instead of cutting the cardboard to fit, go to your local grocer and buy the individual kiddie size cereal boxes and it'll fit perfectly. I use it on my Canon 580EX.

Anonymous said...

I tried this twice, and both times the glue wouldnt hold the plastic straws, so that after a good half hour of cutting and arranging straw pieces, the whole thing was falling apart. And furthermore I've realized, by just buying a darn gird for my speedlight, I would have avoided a headache.

andzer said...

great idea! thank you!

Unknown said...

heii..what will the effect if i change the straws with white is so hard to find black straws

Unknown said...

White Straws vs Black Straws:

When your flash fires, photons come blasting out of the flashtube at all sorts of angles. The purpose of the channels we're forming with straws (or coroplast) is to eliminate the stray photons that are moving outward from the flash at any angle that is NOT perpendicular to the face of the flash (i.e, not straight outward).

Black straws will absorb more of these stray photons than will white straws.

I would imagine that by using white straws, you end up with something like a diffused grid light as photons come bouncing all helter-skelter of the interior walls off the white channels.

Likewise, this is why you want to zoom your lens to its longest telephote angle. The flash uses its internal lenses to direct the photons directly outward.

BruniTTo said...

yea and maby woth other colours of straws you can get dipperent lights maby, deffently have to try this meself :D said...

I can't recommend making a pair of 2cm and 5cm grid spots enough. I simply love mine:

Tim O. Peters said...

Thanks a lot brother for ur great help.Keep it up

ruimleal said...

Blogcar, tens exemplos na 2ª parte do texto.

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SEO Services said...

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For a "spotlight" effect on your subject, instead of a cube make a circle in google plus.

Computer Repair Redding said...

I have been trying the Black Straws Snoot Grid intensively and noticed that if you do not glue them well enough they will fall because of heat and pressure.