DIY Mirror Booth Build

There are a few different ways to build a mirror booth and a few different materials and configurations you can opt for. This is how I built ours. I aimed for easily accessible and cheap materials that I knew were reliable and durable.

Our mirror booth has been an absolute hit at our client’s events and has paid itself off many times over. The booth was so popular that it was booked for multiple events before I had even finished building it!

The booth literally paid itself off before construction was complete, a perfect sign of a great investment!

Once construction was completed I had a custom cover made by Studio Slips to protect is during transport. These guys produce affordable, excellent covers that I can’t recommend enough. I strongly suggest getting them to make you a softcover to increase the longevity of your build.

Now, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff, building the booth!

 

What you’ll need

  • Basic construction or woodworking knowledge – Helpful but not essential.

  • 3 x 11mm to 16mm MDF Sheets (or pine for less weight) – About 1.5m x 1.5m each.

  • A Mini PC – You’ll need at least an i5 processor to power the booths animations. I recommend something like the Intel NUC range. We bought ours off craigslist for about $500, half of what they go for new.

  • An Infrared Touch Frame – This gives the front glass it touchscreen ability. We bought ours here

  • A 3mm Glass Sheet – Cut to fit the IR frame, the size is about 55 inches. Wait until after building your enclosure to measure. Purchase this from a local glass supplier in your area.

  • A Dye Sublimation Printer – We’re just using the Mitsubishi CPD70-DW from one of our existing booths.

  • Vinyl Wrap – Measure how much you’ll need once you’ve built the enclosure. I used black but you can use any color you like.

  • 42″ HD TV – The TV will be mounted behind the glass.

  • 2 x USB Cables – Like this.

  • DslrBooth photobooth software – Or, you can also use the new Booth Junkie software.

  • Canon DSLR Camera of your choice – As long as it’s supported by your choice of booth software. I recommend a Canon T31 or 1300D.

  • Camera Mount – You’ll need one with a ball head that has an adjustable angle. Like this one.

  • Ac Power Supply– For you camera, or you can use a spare camera battery and charge it while your first battery is in use.

  • IEC cable x 2 – To power flash and printer.

  • HDMI Cable – For connecting the mini PC to the TV screen. You’ll need a Mini-HDMI to standard HDMI like this one.

  • External Strobe Flash – 1

  • Hot shoe Flash Adapter – Like this.

  • Flash Sync Cable – Like this. This will connect from camera to the flash. The flash will be mounted on top of the booth.

  • Flash Pole – To mount flash to the top of the booth.

  • 2 Way Mirror Film – We went to a local car tinting shop and asked them to apply 2-way mirror tint to our previously cut piece of glass. Don’t bother buying your own mirror film and applying yourself. It’s impossible to get all of the bubbles out, trust me, I tried this twice.

  • Led Strip Lights – This will act as the modelling light for the photos. The extra external light helps the camera see through the mirror tint when using autofocus on your camera. The LED strips will attach to the front of your booth double-sided sided tape.

  • Piano Hinge – Cut to your desired length for the back door- like this.

  • Cam Lock x 2 – Like this. These will need to be sized the same as the MDF you’re using.

  • Various Tools – Battery Drill, Jigsaw, Hand Planer, 10mm Wood Screws, Construction Adhesive, Black Gaff Tape, Black Spray Paint, Sandpaper, Builders Putty, Spatula.

  • 20mm x 20mm Pine Beading – Like this. These are for reinforcing the joins and for screwing each panel into.

  • Large Ornate Frame – We found some nice gold ornate mouldings from a local supplier for our frame. If you can’t find a supplier for mouldings you can repurpose an old picture frame as long as it’s large enough.

Most mirror booths are on a slight 30-degree angle. In my opinion, this is the best way to do it as opposed to having the mirror completely upright.

Because of the 30-degree angle, the taller guests will be able to see themselves in the mirror, something you could only achieve otherwise by making to booth much taller if it was upright. This makes transport much easier.

The measurements provided are a guide and don’t need to be strictly adhered to. You’ll need to measure each panel yourself, with a tape measure, and adjust if necessary.

Before you start, make sure you have the appropriate safety gear on when using power tools. You’ll need safety glasses and earplugs at the very least. I suggest a pair of gloves also. Make sure any power tools you use have all of their safety mechanisms working correctly.

Be sure to work in a clear area without any trip hazards.

Step 1 – The Enclosure

1. Cut two identical side panels out of your MDF with a jigsaw, or circular saw. Use the measurements in the images on the right. These are for the sides of the enclosure.

Be sure to measure and mark each panel with a straight edge to ensure nice straight cuts.

2. Cut another panel for the front of the booth about 793mm wide. This panel will be fixed to the inside of the two side panels. We’ll cut a recess for the TV out of this front panel later.

3. Cut a small panel for the top of the unit that meets the edges of the two front pieces and the two side pieces. This measures about 793 x 333 mm.

Leave a gap at the bottom of the front piece as you can see in the image. We’ll add a small 90-degree angled section here later.

4. Install a Philips head screwdriver bit into your power drill. Measure and cut some lengths of pine beading to reinforce the inside of each corner like the image on the right.

5. Screw the 2 side panels and the top panel together. Be sure to screw into the pine beading underneath.

Make sure your screws are long enough to go all the way through the first panel and deep into the lengths of pine beading below. It’s also worth using a ‘countersink bit’ (like this) to drill small pilot recesses in the MDF so your screw heads are embedded below the surface of each panel.

You’ll patch these up later with some builders putty.

Use 5 or 6 screws along each edge of each panel so it’s extra secure. Make sure you screw each piece from the outside of the enclosure.

Step 2 – Install The TV

Here we’re using a 42 inch LCD TV mounted to the inside of the enclosure. I picked this up off an online classified ad for about $150.

The front face of the TV needs to be flush with the front of the booth, so make sure you cut the opening large enough so the TV will sit inside of the panel, not pinned to the MDF behind it.

1. Measure your TV and cut out a recess in the front of the enclosure, you’ll also need to cut a rectangular section out at the top for the camera.

2. Measure and cut a small riser for the front (at the bottom) so it’s flush with the main angled panel. You’ll need to cut the angles off the bottom of the front corners of the main side panels so they’re not sticking out.

3. Secure the TV from the inside by screwing in some ‘S’ shape metal fixings to pin the TV against the front panel, add these to each corner. You’ll be able to find some that will fit your TV from your local hardware store.

4. Add a length of pine beading that will support the weight of the TV inside the bottom of the enclosure.

5. Cut and install 2 more lengths of pine beading for the top shelf onto each side of the enclosure. Use a spirit level to make sure these are level on both sides.

Step 3 – Paint The Front Panel Black

In order for the 2-way mirror glass to be reflective, the front of the enclosure will need to be painted black.

The mirror film that we’ll be adding to the glass later is only reflective on the side with the most light. So, by making the opposite side of the glass dark it makes it impossible to see through the mirror glass from the outside.

The only thing that will be visible on the outside of the booth will be the colorful animations of your photobooth software.

1. Spray paint the front of the enclosure black.

2. Secure the edges of the TV to the front of the enclosure with black gaff tape. Don’t worry about the TV eventually breaking through the tape, once you add the glass it will all be sandwiched together an secure.

3. Use a hand planer to round the top two corners of the enclosure, one like this is ideal. No need to round the front edges as these will be covered by the frame at the end.

Smooth over your rounded corners with some sandpaper.

Step 4 – Internal Components

Now will need to add;

  • The bottom printer shelf.

  • The Top shelf.

  • A camera bracket to mount the camera.

1. Measure the length and width from inside the booth for your top shelf. The width of the shelf will depend on the TV that you’re using. I cut shelves so they hug the curve of the TV.

Place the shelf on the pine beading that you previously installed and secure it to the beading with screws.

2. Next measure and cut an upright bracket for the camera mount to attach to. This will need to be placed about 1/3 of the way in from the right side panel so the camera lens can see through the cut out in the front panel without obstructions.

Secure this using pine beading, again to the top and bottom.

3. Drill a 1/4″ inch hole in the upright bracket for the camera mount to screw into. To get the correct placement for the hole, hold your camera inside the enclosure and experiment with its position, make sure it will sit behind the glass and the lens will have room to focus and zoom.

Alternatively, you can cut a longer ‘slit’ so the camera can slide to change its position.

Once you’ve determined the best position mark it with your pencil and drill the hole using a standard ‘wood’ drill bit.

FYI – You’ll need to buy a 1/4″ bolt that’s long enough to extend through the bracket and screw into the camera mount. You’ll also need to add a washer so the bolt doesn’t slip through the hole you drilled.

4. Add the second shelf in the middle of the booth for the printer. The placement for this will depend on what type of printer you’re using, so allow extra height for this if you’re using a large printer.

5. Lastly, add some lengths of beading along the back walls of the booth like in the image. This is for you to secure the back panel to.

Step 5 – Print Slot

Next, you’ll need to cut a printer slot in the side of the booth so your guests can retrieve their prints.

1. Place your printer on the lower shelf and mark on the side panel the best position for the slot. Aim for a slot about 8″ x 2″, mark this with a pencil and use a level to rule the lines.

We used our drill ( with a large drill bit) to create a pilot hole and then used a jigsaw to carefully cut out the slot.

If you’re careful you can round the corners of the print slot with your jigsaw. Use some sandpaper to smooth out each corner and to round them as much as possible.

2. This next one is optional but adds a nice touch;

Cut a ‘print catcher’ for your booth similar to what you can see in the diagram.

This will need to be customised depending on what printer you’re using. It’s really just 3 small pieces stuck together, it just helps when your guests are grabbing their prints out of the booth. Before installing the print catcher I recommend spray painting it black so it’s not visible from outside the booth.

Secure the 3 sides together with construction adhesive and screws and anchor it to the second shelf of the booth, using screws.

Step 6 – Back Panel

Next, you’ll need to cut a back panel for your booth.

1. Measure the width and the length for your booth and cut the back panel.

2. Now cut out a large opening for your door. Try to make this cut as clean as possible so you can use the ‘offcut’ piece for your door later.

The measurements aren’t crucial here, just aim for what you think looks right for your booth. I’ve measured about 120mm for the top and sides of the booth and about 200mm for the bottom.

3. Mount the back panel with screws to the booth, securing it to the pine beading that you attached previously.

4. Round the outside corners and internal edges of the back panel with your hand planer, then smooth them out with sandpaper.

Step 7 – Wrapping The Booth With Vinyl

This section will cover cleaning up the outside of your booth and covering it with vinyl to make it pretty 

1. Apply some builders putty and fill in all the recessed screw holes and any other gaps and uneven edges with a spatula or scraper. Once the putty has dried, sand with sandpaper so they’re flush with the booth.

2. Now we need to wrap the outside of the booth with vinyl. I purchased about 4m of 1.5m wide black vinyl from my local fabric store. This was more than enough for the booth.

You’ll need to wrap the vinyl from the just under the bottom of the right-hand panel all the way over the booth to the bottom of the opposite panel, make sure it’s long enough to tuck underneath the booth on the opposite side.

To work out how exactly how long the vinyl piece will need to be, use some masking tape and stick it the entire way around the booth. Then pull it off and stick it in a straight line along the floor.

Next, roll out your vinyl to the length of the tape and cut it to size. Wa-la, you now have the correct length vinyl for your booth.

3. Lay the vinyl over the booth, leave some excess to wrap over the front corners and back of the booth like in the images and then trim.

4. To stick the vinyl to the enclosure we used this spray on adhesive. You’ll be able to find something similar to this at any hardware store.

Start by glueing the vinyl to the MDF from the bottom of one side of the booth. Spray the adhesive on the vinyl itself and also the MDF. Press down firmly on the vinyl to make sure it firmly adhered to the MDF.

Depending on what adhesive you’re using, you may need to spray the surfaces and then wait for the glue to dry and become tacky before pressing onto the enclosure.

This may be a little time consuming but it’s worth getting right the first time.

When wrapping the vinyl around the corners, it’s I found it very helpful to use a hairdryer to heat it up and make it more flexible.

You’ll notice that when you’re wrapping around the back, the top corners will overlap (see image). To make these look neat you’ll need to cut each piece the vinyl on an angle from corner to corner so that the edges meet up nicely. This video shows a great demonstration of how to do this.

 

 

Here’s what the front should look like once the wrap is completed.

And here’s the back.

Step 8 – Installing The Back Door

Here I’ll cover how to cut and install the back door, the hinge and the door locks. You’ll also install a metal cabinet corner protector on each corner.

1. Firstly, you’ll need to cut a back door out of your MDF. Just measure the length and width of the opening on the back of the booth and take about 5mm from each side and then cut the door with your jigsaw or circular saw.

2. Now you’ll need to cut out two holes in your door for the cam locks. Measurements for these will be different depending on the thickness of the MDF you’re using for the enclosure and the size of the locks. You can work this out by positioning the locks against the door and marking the spots with a carpenters pencil. Use a ‘spade’ drill bit to drill appropriately sized holes.

3. Wrap the door with vinyl using the exact same method as earlier.

4. Source 4 metal protectors for the corners, these stop you from damaging the corners of the booth during transport. They’ve saved my booth corners more times than I can count!You can find these online, they’re designed for guitar amplifier cabinets but work really well for this purpose. Here is an example of what to look for.

These should screw in pretty easily, just be sure to use black screws so they look uniform.

5. Once wrappedyou can install the two cam locks. This is pretty simple and there should be installation instructions on the packaging for your locks.

6. Now you’ll need to add the piano hinge in order to mount the door to the enclosure.

Our hinge is about 60cm long, it doesn’t need to be the full length of the door as long as it’s not too long it’ll be fine.

Screw the hinge to the left edge of the door and then fix the door with screws to the inside edge of the booth.

There you have it, your mirror booth door is now installed!

Step 9 – Preparing The Mirror

1. Take the IR frame that you previously purchased from AliExpress and measure the length and width from the furthest edge of each side.

This will sit on top of your glass (not inside your glass).

2. Take the IR frame measurements you made to your local glass supplier and have them cut a piece of 3mm thick glass to the exact measurements of the frame.

3. Now take cut piece of glass to a window tinting service and have them add some 2-way mirror film to the glass.

Our film was about 80% reflective. On the left is an image of what your glass should look like once the mirror film is added, nice and reflective!

Step 10 – Fixing The Mirror

1. The first thing you’ll to do is cut a small hole through the top left corner of the front panel. About 2cm x 1cm.

You’ll need this to run some leads through for the IR frame and front LED lights that you’re going to install later

Now you need to fix the mirror glass to the front of your booth, it needs to be as secure as possible so it can’t fall off.

I used some invisible bathroom mirror clips (similar to these) to support the mirror at the bottom. I then added heavy duty double sided tape around the perimeter edge of the glass to stick it to the enclosure.

So, the clips at the bottom support the weight of the mirror glass and the double sided tape stops it from slipping sideways.

2. Cut out 2 small recesses at the bottom of the booth’s front panel, this is so you can embed your clips a little bit so the glass is as flush as possible with the booth.

Make sure you measure each clip position evenly from the sides of the booth so the weight of the mirror is evenly distributed.

3. Cover with gaff tape so they don’t scratch against the inside of your mirror.

4. Stick some heavy duty double sided tape along each edge of your mirror glass. This need to be on the side with the film on it.

Now, carefully place your mirror glass onto the clips.

Make sure that the side with the mirror film on it is facing the inside panel and not the outside. If you place the film facing the outside it will inevitably end up scratched and ruined.

Press firmly all the way along each edge so it sticks securely to the front panel.

Mirror attached!

Step 11 – Attaching The IR Frame

Attaching the IR frame is pretty simple.

The main thing you need to worry about here is that the frame is oriented correctly so the touch component responds to the same corresponding point on your TV display.

On the IR frame, there is a USB cable that extrudes from one corner. For our frame, this meant that the corner with the USB lead needs to be positioned at the top left side of the booth.

1. Run some more double sided tape along the back edge of the entire frame and stick the frame to the glass.

Make sure the USB cable is on the top left side of the glass and feed the USB cable through the hole you created earlier, this will connect to the PC later and will give your monitor its ‘touch’ capability.

Step 12 – Building The Decorative Frame

Next thing on the list in to add a frame to your booth so it looks pretty!

I managed to find a local picture frame wholesaler that supplies lengths of ornate moulding in various styles and colours.

I went with a classic gold frame which really pops against the mirror.

If you can’t find a local supplier for frame mouldings I recommend trying some online classifieds and looking for an old frame that you can pull apart and fit to your mirror.

Just be sure that the frame is going to be big enough.

1. Measure the length and width of your IR frame from the outside edge. Add about 3mm to each measurement so it’s not too tight.

2. Mark your moulding on the inside edge with your measurements and cut a 45-degree corner on each end.

You’ll need either a circular saw or a mitre box for the cuts as it’s very important the angles are cut precisely or your frame won’t be square.

3. Glue each piece of the frame together using construction adhesive on the corners and let it set. I also added a couple of angled screws on each corner to help it hold together while it dried.

4. Once dried, place your decorative gold frame over the top of you IR frame. It should sit nicely on top.

The gold frame is removable, so when you’re transporting your mirror booth you’d remove the frame and then add it onto your booth when your setting it up at an event.

Step 13 – Add LED Lights

Now let’s add some LED lights to the front of the mirror.

The LED lights will act as a ‘model light’ to light up the area the booth will be in at events and to allow the camera to be able to focus on the people in the images if you decide to use autofocus, which I recommend.

I purchased a roll of fluorescent white LED lights (like these) from a local retail store but they are also readily available online. Make sure your lights are fluorescent white not warm white as warm white will diminish the quality of the photos

These can be cut to size pretty easily and attach at the corners using some corner connectors (you’ll find these pretty easily online also).

1. Cut a length of lights for each side of the booth.

2. These lights have double sided tape on the underside. Peel back the tape and stick each row of lights onto the front face of your IR frame. Use your corner attachments for the lights to connect them together.

3. Run the AC power lead for the lights through the same small hole in the top left of the booth that you created previously. You’ll connect this up to power later when you wire together all of the internal electronic components.

Step 14 – The Flash

Next thing is adding the flash, the flash pole, and umbrella.

You can do this in a number of ways, I used a flash pole that screws into a detachable plate that mounts to the top of the booth. A local supplier makes these, they’re very similar to how a PA speaker pole attaches to a subwoofer speaker.

You can really use any sort of flash pole you think will work. For the sake of this guide, I’ll show you how I installed this one. The process will be similar for most flash poles.

1. Attach the plate to the top of the booth, make sure it’s in the middle. I used a spade drill bit to recess a hole because the mount needs to be embedded in the centre where the pole sits. I also drilled smaller holes to attached the bolts that you can see in the image.

2. Screw the flash pole into the plate.

3. Mount your strobe flash to the top of the pole.

4. Attach a photographers umbrella to the flash. You can buy these online or from any photography store.

Step 14 – Adding The PC & Connecting It All Up

This section will go through how to install your PC to the TV, IR frame, camera and flash. And connect it all to power.

1. Firstly, add an extension power board to your booth, I added one underneath the bottom shelf and one above the bottom shelf.

2. Mount your mini PC to the inside wall of the booth. Anywhere in the booth is fine as long as it has easy access. I mounted mine above the bottom shelf. Your PC will need to have the Windows OS already installed.

3. Plug the power cables from your TV, PC and LED lights into the power board/s you installed.

4. Connect the PC to your TV display using a HDMI cable. My PC required a mini HDMI connector on one end and a standard sized HDMI connector on the TV end.

5. Connect your camera to your PC using the USB cable that comes with the camera. If you have a power adapter for your camera plug that into the power board also, if you are running the camera on a battery that’s fine but I recommend having a spare charging while the booth is in use.

6. Connect the Flash IEC cable to your power board.

7. Place the hot-shoe flash adapter into your camera and connect the flash sync cable from the hot-shoe adapter to the flash.

8. Now run an extension power lead from your powerboard into a wall socket and power on all of the electrical components.

You’ll need to have a play with your camera settings, remember the visibility for your camera is going to be severely reduced because of the tinted glass so you need to adjust the camera’s settings to compensate. Don’t forget to adjust the output of your flash too!

Here are the camera settings I found to work well for our booth, these probably won’t be perfect for your setup but they should get you in the ballpark, so just adjust from here.

  • Shutter Speed –  1/200

  • ISO – 1600

  • F-Stop – F8.0