How-To: Copy stand on the cheap

Photography & Video
How-To: Copy stand on the cheap


Instructables user Light_Lab writes:

I collect lots of documents as part of my work; recently I decided I should let the sheets of ‘tree stuff’ return to the environment and clear up my living space and office by scanning everything I could. I had recently got rid of a flat bed scanner; it was far too slow and I hardly ever used it. I needed something that was convenient and fast; it didn’t need to make ultra high fidelity scans, just readable would do.

Check out the tutorial for this easy and cheap copy stand.

14 thoughts on “How-To: Copy stand on the cheap

  1. James Vasile says:

    If you’re going to be copying more than a page or two at a time, take a look at the Book Ripper at

    It’s a jig for two cameras. You turn the pages and snap the pics at up to 900 pages an hour. It’s an open source design project and we encourage you to build one!

    1. LightLab says:

      Hi, perhaps you should read my whole Instructable. I actually designed this for the highest speed copying of stacks of individual sheets. You only have to move the pages quickly of the stack with one hand while you click the remote with the other. Which I can do now with practice at about 3000 pages and hour. It all depends on whether you care where the sheets land when you flick them off the stack (^_^) a big bin helps.
      The copy stand does books too, and very quickly as well. The technique varies a little depending on the book but at its best I can easily beat 900 pages and hour. I regularly do ~120 page journals in about ~5 minutes. That is about 1400 pages an hour. Some books can be tricky though and may be slower.

  2. pharnsworth says:

    DIY Book Scanner (hardware & software):

    Laser-cut book scanner platform (hardware only):

    1. LightLab says:

      These designs put plastic sheets on top of the pages to keep them flat. I tried this and found it had two disadvantages:
      (1)It slows down page changing.
      (2)You have to darken the room lights to avoid reflections.
      I needed a desk ready device in a shared office layout so I had to leave the lights on. Turns out the need to keep the pages flat is vastly over valued.

  3. Stunmonkey says:

    You can simply invert the head of most tripods for a free and much more stable stand for temporary or intermittent use.

    If you do more than occasional use, actual real copy camera stands that used to cost a fortune are now being given away or dumpstered all the time as they fall out of use. Get one of those.

    1. LightLab says:

      I actually started with an inverted tripod arrangement. That was abandoned because it was anything but stable. Also aligning pages and keeping them square was a pain in the neck.
      I designed this stand to be pre-aligned and rock solid and it is, though the strength is deceptive. My wife was not convinced I could get away with 3 legs instead of 4. I had to drop it on the floor a few times to convince her. You can drop about a 5 kilo stack of pages on the base and the camera doesn’t move.
      I can’t get tripods for free; I built this for less than $30 which is a lot cheaper than I can get a good tripod. Also it can be built in half a day and then it is always ready to go. You can even disassemble / assemble it in ~5 minutes if you wanted to store it away.

    2. LightLab says:

      When I was trying to solve this problem I went to film labs that were closing down and I never saw even one commercial copy stand being dumped. Why would they when they work equally well with digital cameras.
      I did see lots of enlarger stands being dumped and seriously considered modifying one of them. I never saw one I could easily convert to hold a digital camera over the center of an A4 page. Also all the ones I saw would have looked cumbersome on my desk.
      Some promising stands come up on eBay but by the time you factor in postage and conversion they are too expensive.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

View more articles by Becky Stern


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).