How to Make a Light Box for Tracing

Written by m. evans
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How to Make a Light Box for Tracing
Create your own light box for tracing. (light bulb image by Christopher Walker from

A light box is most convenient when it comes to tracing projects. You can purchase tracing tables at most art stores, but they may cost more than you want to spend. An inexpensive alternative is to create your own light box for tracing. With a few tools, materials and some basic handicraft skills, you can have your own light box, good for any tracing project.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Wood, cut to size
  • Plywood
  • Screws and Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Fibreglass
  • Sander
  • Primer
  • Paint brush
  • 3 light sockets
  • 3 11-watt light bulbs
  • Wires
  • Toggle switch
  • Polyurethane construction adhesive
  • Jigsaw
  • Silicon window and door sealant

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  1. 1

    Measure and cut four pieces of wood to equal size. Set your boards up in a right-angled formation with the edge of one board flush along the side edge of another. Use your drill to screw each piece of wood together to form corners and ultimately a square. The measurements and screw size and type will depend on how large you want your light box to be.

  2. 2

    Measure and use your saw to carefully cut a piece of plywood to act as the back of the box. Screw the back of the box on to the square.

  3. 3

    Measure and use your saw to carefully cut a piece of fibreglass that will act as the front of the box. Sand one side of the fibreglass to create a dull, foggy texture. This will help to distribute the light evenly. Set the fibreglass piece aside.

  4. 4

    Paint the inside of the box with white paint or primer and allow it to dry. This will help to further distribute the light evenly through the fibreglass top.

  5. 5

    Attach sockets to three small, low-wattage light bulbs. A good choice are 11-watt light bulbs, because they produce little heat, but sufficient lighting.

  6. 6

    Use polyurethane construction adhesive to attach the light bulbs in a row inside the box, along the middle of the back piece. You may want to tack the bulbs down with a bit of hot glue as well, as the polyurethane takes several hours to cure.

  7. 7

    Drill a medium-sized hole below each of the sockets, feed wire through the holes, then wire the light bulbs.

  1. 1

    Take the metal cap off of the socket. Set it aside.

  2. 2

    Strip a bit of insulation off of the wiring and insert through the end cap.

  3. 3

    Wrap the wires around the screws tightly and reattach the metal cap and casing.

  1. 1

    Cut a small hole in the back of your box and feed the ends of the wires through.

  2. 2

    Attach the ends of the wires to the toggle switch and attach the switch to the back of your box using polyurethane construction adhesive and a bit of hot glue.

  3. 3

    Attach the fibreglass to the box, sanded side down, using silicon window and door sealant.

Tips and warnings

  • Test your light bulbs and toggle switch before you seal the top of the box on.
  • Unscrew and remove the back of the box for any repairs or light bulb changes.
  • Consider adding strips of rubber or wood along the bottom of the box to raise the box an inch or so and allow for heat ventilation.

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