building a new sweep

After 2 or 3 years of use, my previous foam board sweep was dented and dinged, but still mostly usable, but it was just a bit too small. I had some leftover foam board sitting around, and promised Jim Grey that I’d write up a how-to post, so I made a new one over the weekend.

Really, it’s very easy to make one of these. You need 4 things: a sheet of white (or black, or whatever color) foam board, a straight edge, an X-Acto knife (or other sharp blade), and about 15 minutes.

Several months back, I found some foam core Science Fair display things on sale at Michael’s, and picked up one white and one black one. I used the wings of the white one to build the Scan-O-Matic X, and had the big rectangular back leftover. One side is plain white; the other has a subtle grid on it. You don’t need anything this fancy, but the grid helped me line up things a bit better.

To get the foam board to bend in a curve, you need to score one side of it, deep enough to break through the foam, but not so deep as to cut through the paper on the other side.

Start by scoring a few lines.

Continue on until you think you have enough. I made about 10 cuts, I guess.

Flip it over and see how well it bends. You may be done at this point.

I wasn’t… Most of my cuts were not nearly deep enough. If your board bends like mine did, flip it over and start slicing…

You can tell when you have it good enough, because the foam board will begin to flex: if you press down on one side, the other will curve up slightly. (Not pictured.)

None of this has to be perfect, it just has to bend without breaking. This is ugly, but really good enough:

Get your [whatever] out and start shooting. If you keep your item fairly close to the front edge, any lines in the back will be blurred out.

And even if you push it back towards the back, at f/4 it’s still pretty hard to see the lines, and even then, some careful editing in post can make them disappear.

Of course, it’s better to get the cuts more evenly deep and evenly spaced: craft matters. But if you don’t get it right, don’t worry too much about it. This one isn’t perfect, but it’s better than my first attempt, and sufficient for my purpose.

So that’s it! Easy, huh.

I hope this helps! If you have some better ideas or any tips to share, please leave a comment below.



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