Many projects begin with drawing or tracing a picture, a task that can be simplified with the use of a light box. Light boxes illuminate the original picture from behind so the image can be traced onto an overlying page. Whether you are creating 2-D animation or pulling together a new woodworking project, a light box can be a useful tool. You can make a light box from any type of wood and hard plastic sheeting. If you’re uncomfortable with woodworking, you can use cardboard, but the results will be less sturdy.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Wood, 1 by 2 inches, 5 feet long
- Wood, 1 by 4 inches, 2 feet long
- Wood glue
- Nails or wood screws, three-fourths inch
- Polycarbonate plastic sheet, 18 by 24 inches
- Paint for wood, any colour
- Fluorescent light and fixture, undercounter slimline style, 23 inches long
Cut two 18-inch pieces from the 1-by-2 wood, using the short side of the plastic sheet to measure. Repeat this process with the long end of the plastic sheet. This will give you three 1-by-2 boards to use for the frame.
Cut one 24-inch piece of wood from the 1-by-4 to use for the frame header.
Place a 1-by-2 side piece on its end on top of the 1-by-4 header. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the smaller board on the top edge of the header. Remove this piece with a jigsaw.
Glue the side pieces into the header. When the glue is completely dry, reinforce this joint with nails or wood screws.
Glue the remaining 1-by-2 in place between the side pieces, at the opposite end from the header. Once the glue has dried, strengthen the joints with nails or wood screws.
Smooth all surfaces and corners with sandpaper.
Sand one side of the plastic sheet, making it cloudy and diffusing the light. Sand down the sharp edges of the corners of the sheet.
Wipe down the frame to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated.
Paint the frame and allow it to dry.
Follow the directions included in the packaging, and mount the light fixture on the inside of the 1-by-4 header board.
Place the plastic over the frame, scuffed side down. Once the plastic is in position, fix it in place with glue or place a screw in each corner. Be careful not to overtighten the screws if you choose this method, or the plastic may crack.
Plug in the light and turn it on.
Tips and warnings
- Sanding is best done outdoors or in an open area, because it creates quite a bit of wood dust.
- This light box works best when the underlying surface is a light colour.
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