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How to Make a Lightbox

by Tom Sowders


If there's a cooler, easier DIY project than building a custom light box, I haven't heard of it.

You've seen light boxes in malls, airports, restaurants, and stores, lighting up words and images. Check out our blog post, "What Is a Light Box?," to see several types.

DIY light boxes used in bonus rooms or children's bedrooms are a thrilling way to illuminate the specialness of your space. So many options, though. What kind will you make?

The instructions below are adaptable to your project. Use battery-operated LED light bars to eliminate the power cord from yours, if you want. You could edge light a graphic with LED tape rather than backlighting it. Own the project and make it yours.

Step 1: Box
Wine crates are great for small light boxes. Or you can build a three-sided box with wood and nails or epoxy. Write down the measurements of your box, and make sure to cut a hole to run the power cord.

Step 2: Light
Light your box. Use a fluorescent light bar on each side of the box, or mix it up with colored or white LED tape or rope. We suggest that you not use incandescent lights.

Step 3: Transparency
What will your light box illuminate? A graphic professionally printed on a rigid plastic sheet is most common. Make sure your transparency matches the light box's dimensions.

Step 4: Frame
Make a frame to hold the transparency snug to the box. An easy way to do this is to use 1x3 boards with 45 degree cuts. Glue and reinforce with braces.

Step 5: Attach
Drill starter holes in the transparency. Screw the transparency to the light box with the frame.

Ta dah! Remember, you can paint the box, if so desired, and changing out the backlit transparency is as easy as removing four screws. Enjoy your new custom light box!

 

Written by Tom Sowders



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