How to Build a Light Box for Slides

Updated February 21, 2017

Light boxes can be quite expensive to buy. Making your own light box is a much cheaper option. Light boxes are used to look at slides and negatives as they need light to pass through them so that you can view the images. Making a light box may take a little time and patience but it will be worth it when you have something that is functional and you will be able to maintain yourself. If you are really creative, you can personalise this light box to your own taste and even to match your decor.

Place your old drawer on a table and drill five holes in either side of the drawer. Make these holes on the short side so that they are less visible. These holes will be ventilation holes to ensure that the box does not overheat.

Drill another larger hole that will fit a plug wire through on the long side at the back.

Line your box with reflective foil, making sure you cut holes in it where you have just drilled holes to ensure airflow and so that your plug wire will fit through.

Fill your fluorescent battens with your daylight tube lights. Daylight bulbs will ensure that you can see your slides properly. Ordinary fluorescent tubes will give your slides a green tinge.

Place your battens inside the drawer about a foot apart, or as wide as your drawer will allow. Feed the cord of the batten through the drilled hole. You will need to take off the plug, feed the wire through and then replace the plug once they are in.

Cut your Perspex to fit the size of the drawer. Screw into each inner side of the drawer a thick piece of wood (about half-inch thick), a half-inch from the top. This is what your Perspex will sit on. You can either do a long strip of wood on each side of the drawer or a number of small blocks of wood. Make sure that they are evenly spaced.

Place your Perspex on top of the wood and plug in your lights. Your light box is complete.


If your light box is larger you may need to add more lights. Purchase more battens and daylight tubes the same size. Secure the battens to the base of the drawer.


Do not place electrical tape directly on the tubes or casing for the tubes.

Things You'll Need

  • Reflective foil
  • Opal translucent Perspex 3-5 mm thick
  • Old wooden drawer
  • 2 fluorescent light battens (with a cord and switch)
  • 2 daylight balanced 5000K tubes
  • Drill
  • Strips of wood 1/2 an inch thick
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
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About the Author

Zoe Van-de-Velde began writing in 1990 and contributes to eHow and Answerbag. Van-de-Velde has a Bachelor of Arts & Humanities in media and English from DeMontfort University. She is currently studying for a Master of Arts in creative media arts specializing in digital photography at the London South Bank University.