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How to Make a Light Box for Crafts

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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).

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.

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

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.

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

Tip

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).

Warning

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'll Need

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

References

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About the Author

Laura Jensel has been a full-time freelance writer for over six years. Her articles and craft projects have appeared in local and national publications, including Disney's FamilyFun Magazine. She also holds a B.A. in Psychology.