How to Make a Light Box for Crafts

Written by laura jensel | 13/05/2017
How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Desktop light box (Copyright Laura Jensel 2009)

A light box is an essential tool for many crafters, used primarily for tracing designs. Scores or even hundreds of models of light boxes are available commercially, and there are companies that offer custom light-box-building services. But you can make a functional, practical light box inexpensively--or even for free, depending on the things you already have in the house.

There is no building or constructing in this project, just putting components together. The light box takes five minutes or less to complete and is small enough to store away in a craft room or closet when you're not using it.

How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Picture frame glass with painter's tape wrapping all edges

Make sure there are charged batteries in the touch light.

Carefully remove the glass from the picture frame, then clean both sides with glass cleaner and a soft cloth or paper towel. When both sides are clean, carefully wrap each edge with painter's tape (for safety--see Warnings).

How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Touch light inside shoebox

Place the touch light inside the shoebox. If you like, you can anchor the light with a ring of painter's tape (sticky side out, of course). Do not use glue, since the battery case is on the bottom of the light. Leave the shoebox lid off. This project works best with a shoebox that has a light-coloured interior.

How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Glass, not yet secured, on top of shoebox

Set the tape-wrapped glass on top of the shoebox.

How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Edge of glass secured to box

Tear two 6-inch pieces of painter's tape and secure the short ends of the glass to the short ends of the shoebox so the glass--which is your work surface--will not move.

How to Make a Light Box for Crafts
Finished light box, ready to work

Peel up one of the secured ends of the glass, touch the light to turn it on, and resecure the glass.


Quilters may need a larger light box for larger scale designs. If you have a dining room table that can accept leaves, open out the table, place a lamp underneath, and cover the opening with 1/4-inch-thick Plexiglas (available at home improvement centres). Secure the Plexiglas to the table with painter's tape (not masking tape or duct tape, which could damage your table).


Take great care when handling or cleaning the glass in this project. The edges are sharp and can cut skin. The painter's tape over the edges will protect you as you assemble the light box and as you use it for crafting.

Things you need

  • Shoebox
  • Picture frame slightly larger than the shoebox
  • Battery-powered touch light
  • Painter's tape, masking tape or duct tape

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