Friday, July 6, 2007

DIY: Westcott Umbrella Reinforcement

Another simple DIY (Do It Yourself).

David gave me this tip on the London Seminar but unfortunately I did not had any time, until today, to assemble it.

This tip is not mentioned on David's Strobist web site so consider it as a bonus.

This is intend to make the end of the metal support of the umbrella stronger, or as some would call it the Brolly. For me it's an umbrella so that's what I will call it now forward... but you can choose what's best for you since this will work on both ;)

Since this little tutorial is to illustrate the DIY I will do simple details and photos so you can follow them along and make yours, in case you have not made it yet.

I think this would be very helpful since your umbrella iron tip would be much stronger when used at the far end. This is intend to be used on the folding Westcott umbrellas. Other umbrella's I've seen have an iron tip at the end and they seem stronger by them selfs.

For Strobist I will start with the setup shot for the all photos.

Umbrella Reinforce_001 (Setup)

I used a dual black/white/silver folding umbrella, camera left, 100cm (40") that I took from my Lastolite studio kit and since I have never used it before I decided to give it a try. This umbrella is shape shifted since you can remove the inside (white) and it will become a silvered one. The camera was Tv200, Av8.0 and ISO 100.

Above is an image of it and if you click the image you get the store in London where you can order it.

Here is what you need to get this done.

Umbrella Reinforce_002

- Wescott double folding umbrella
(on this example is the white one)
- Something to cut the pencil (Knife)
- Hexagonal pencil
- Ruler
- Glue

After you gather everything let's start it.

Start by measuring between the end of the umbrella and the little thing out (I do not know how to call it) on the umbrella iron as illustrated on the image you should get 6,5 cm.

Umbrella Reinforce_003

Grab the pencil and put it against the umbrella iron to see if the size is enough.

Umbrella Reinforce_004

Insert the pencil into the umbrella iron until it bumps into something inside and you can no longer push it more. Mark it with your thumb so you know where to cut it. It should measure 6,5 cm.

Umbrella Reinforce_005

Compare it with the umbrella iron to see if everything is ok. The size should be the same as the small tip on the iron until the edge. It should be 6,5 cm.

Umbrella Reinforce_006

Next cut it 6 cm so it gives you some margin on the edge. This is good since it would not be out of the umbrella iron... but if you like you can leave it 6,5. It's up to you... Mine I cut it 6 cm so I will have 0,5cm inside and not be standing outside the iron just in case it get some rain ;)

Umbrella Reinforce_007

Cut it with a sharp knife on 6 cm. A sharp knife will do the job if you have chosen a soft pencil, that's my case here. (By the way the pencils my wife get them at her job, so no cost with this DIY) :)

Umbrella Reinforce_008

Use something beneath the pencil so you won't cut your table ;)
And make some cutting all around the pencil so it would be much easy to cut it.

Umbrella Reinforce_009

Done cutting.

Umbrella Reinforce_010

Next I tested it by inserting it inside the iron tube of the umbrella and it fit nicely but it was a little loose, not much but with some bangs maybe they could come out by them selfs.

Umbrella Reinforce_011

Complete the insert with your fingertip.

Umbrella Reinforce_012

Since after inserted I noticed that it was a little bit loose and maybe with some road bumps it could get lost. I decided to apply some glue so it won't get loose.

Umbrella Reinforce_013

After you insert the pencil the glue should start to come out, this is normal but pay atention to not let anything fall on the table or on the floor.

Umbrella Reinforce_015

I pushed the rest of the pencil inside the hole with the help of the tip of another pencil. Push it until you think it enough inside or until you like it.

Umbrella Reinforce_016

Clean the glue that went out with a clean cloth.

Umbrella Reinforce_017

And here it is your reinforced umbrella iron end. With this inside you now know that the metal tip at the end of the umbrella would not bend.

Umbrella Reinforce_018

With this tip you now have a more steady umbrella at the end part of it.

Hope you enjoy this DIY and stay tuned for more.

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David Hobby said...


Did I tell you guys about this in London, or did you come up with it on your own? I have this done to all of my umbellas, and have been meaning to write about it. But I'll just link to you now!


ruimleal said...

Hi David,

you did not tell it to the all group. I asked you, during the break, and you told me how you have done to yours. I simply made the composition shots but the main idea it's yours.

Thanks again for everything and keep them coming.


Anonymous said...

Não cheguei lá... andas muito à frente... Para que meter o lapis no chapeu de chuva? Para não dobrar... e é um chapeu branco e outro preto...
Ou o chapeu é mesmo assim? Preto por fora e branco por dentro...

Scott said...

I've been having this problem since I got my MPEX kit. Great solution!!

What glue did you use?

Mr. Fletcher said...

Hi, i've never worked with umbrellas so i actually have no idea if this could ever happen, but i would suggest to find something (a little more glue?) to make the end of the pencil waterproof, i'm afraid the wood in the pencil wouldn't like too much getting wet...


ruimleal said...

Marcello, thank you for the comment.

Are you planning on putting the umbrella under water?

I never tried that... :)

This piece is only to make the tip of the umbrella stronger and the pencil is inexpensive also.

Anonymous said...

i used liquid nails.instead of glue. tip is hard as a rock!! love it!

c said...

Pencil reinforcement tip is simple and practical. Thanks! I used some 3M 77 Spray Adhesive and it seems to work as well.

With Aloha,


Terry Thomas... the photographer said...

I would have thought a trip to the local hardware store would be better. These stores have dowels which are made of various kinds of wood such as pine, poplar or oak. And they come in different sizes.

A pencil is almost always made of a rather soft wood to make sharpening easy. We want to *strengthen* the shaft, don't we?

Just take the umbrella into the store, tell the person you want a hardwood dowel to fit. Most likely the clerk will think you nuts but heck we are photographers aren't we so *that* is nothing new!

Most likely you will be able to purchase a hardwood dowel that is *much* stronger than a pencil would ever be.

Now that I'm writing this I got to thinking, "Hmmm... I'll bet a well-stocked hardware store has a good supply of nice round metal rods." If that's true would a small metal rod be a huge improvement over a wooden stick? I would think so.

Terry Thomas...
the photographer
Atlanta, Georgia USA

ctpicman said...

Thanks for the great tip. After reading Terry's reply, I went to the hardware store and picked up a 4' long hard wood dowel for cheap. My tubes don't bend anymore! Great idea.