How to make your own marquee light box

Updated April 17, 2017

Marquee light boxes display arcade signs and movie posters. Old-style light boxes were frames surrounded by lit bulbs that extended out from the frame while most modern light boxes are lit from behind. When making one for yourself, your best option is to keep the design simple. Making it yourself also ensures that the marquee light box is perfectly sized to the poster or sign you wish to display.

Measure the dimensions of the poster or sign you wish to frame. Standard movie posters are 27-by-41 inches, but the exact size may vary depending on the age of the poster. The average arcade marquee measures 8-by-28 inches.

Cut a frame for the light box out of ½-inch plywood. Each piece should be between 1 ½ and 2 inches wide and cut to the same dimensions as the image it will frame. Nail the frame together.

Cut a piece of hardwood to fit onto the back of the frame. The lights will be secured to this part of the frame. Nail it to the outer frame.

Paint the light box frame black. Paint the sides of the frame as well as the front facing edges. The hardboard at the back does not need to be painted.

Place two pieces of Plexiglas the same dimensions as the frame back-to-back and lay them on top of the frame. The pieces should rest on top of the frame rather than sinking into the hole. If you are using the light box to hold an arcade marquee, place the marquee onto the frame in place of the Plexiglas in both this step and the next one.

Lay a piece of L-shaped aluminium onto the top and bottom edges of the frame so that they are flush with the Plexiglas. Nail the aluminium to the frame, making sure there is enough of a gap to slide the Plexiglas in and out of the frame. Remove the frame.

Attach the lighting fixture to the back of the frame. Center the fixture on the hardboard back and secure it with the accompanying screws. Drill a small hole into the bottom of the frame to fit the cord through. Attach a self-levelling hanger to the back of the frame.

Paint the back of one piece of Plexiglas with white spray paint to act as a light diffuser. Sandwich the poster between the two pieces of Plexiglas (painted side facing outward at the back of the poster). Slide it onto the light box.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • ½-inch plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Hardboard
  • Black spray paint
  • Plexiglas
  • L-shaped aluminium
  • 22-inch florescent light fixture
  • Electric drill
  • Self-levelling hanger
  • White spray paint
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About the Author

Joanne Robitaille's first journalistic experience was in 1994, when she did school reports for a local newspaper, "Shoreline." Her articles now appear on various websites. Robitaille has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Windsor.