Instructables

Built-in Wireless Light Box with Secret Storage.

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Picture of Built-in Wireless Light Box with Secret Storage.
One of my resolutions this year was to do more artwork. Toward this end, I ordered a large coffee table with lots of storage to put art supplies in so I could draw while relaxing in front of the TV at night. I wanted a light box as part of this "art station," and at first was going to cut a part of the table top off and replace it with plexiglass, but came up with this easier solution instead: a built-in light box using one of the drawers.
This light box is wireless, using battery-powered LEDs purchased at the Dollar Store (making this a very affordable solution as well). In playing with the lighting, I discovered that placing a white foam board at an angle under the plexiglass gave me the most light "bounce," as it reflected the LEDs upwards. This angled board in turn created a "secret compartment" for storing paper, pens, etc.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED

Brilliant white foam core or cardboard
Translucent white Plexiglas to fit top of drawer
Several touch-operated LED lights from the Dollar Store
AAA batteries (3 per LED light)
1" wood screws (2 per LED light)
Strong magnet
Small rare earth magnet
Ferrous metal piece (about 1/2" x 1")

Sharp blade
Ruler
Glue
Epoxy
Screwdriver
Sticky putty
 
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Step 1: Bank of Lights

For my light box, I screwed in a bank of seven LED press-to-operate lights to the back side of the drawer--each with three LEDs. I could have mounted them with the sticky back of the LED light, but I wanted to minimize bulk (and trim them to fit as high up as possible), so I stripped off all the extras on each light, flipped the light around to the battery side and screwed them into the drawer permanently.
All I have to do when the batteries wear out is pull them out and replace them.
The video in the intro shows how I did the above.

How difficult was it to make this? Can one complete this on a VERY low budget?

flyingpuppy (author)  Super Pixle Man1 month ago
The only hard part was figuring out what angle to put the foam core board in, but now that I've figured it out, you can probably do it all in max two hours. And you can get the lights and the foam core at a Dollar Store. So, yes--cheap.
Kadash6 months ago

It looks awesome ! I have an old desk which is ready for an update, but I'd like to know how thick the glass have to be ? Before I start breaking anything ^^

And thanks flyingpuppy for the instructable !

flyingpuppy (author)  Kadash6 months ago
You're welcome, Kadash. As for the thickness of the glass/plexiglas, I'd go with at least 1/4". It has to take the pressure of your hand when you're tracing your design.

Thanks ! I'll gather everything I need this afternoon :)

steelyray6 months ago

White mylar (drafting acetate) also works well for a diffuser if you have a sheet of clear glass or plexiglass.

kariswg16 months ago

....great idea...where did you get the opaque Plexiglas? I can only find the clear type locally.

Erfunden kariswg16 months ago

I've made a large light box using clear plexi. You just have to spend some time sanding the heck out of one side so it looks frosted. Opaque probably works better, though, if you can find it.

Couldn't you use the frosted glass spray paint by Rust-Oleum or even plain white spray paint?

flyingpuppy (author)  kariswg16 months ago

I bought it on Amazon and had it cut locally. But I suppose you could use regular glass (Dollar Store to the rescue) and spray it a matt finish on the back side. Or spray-mount a piece of wax paper to the back (or maybe even iron a piece of wax paper to the back??). Possibilities...

Good source of cheap glass: clearance frames at Michael's etc :3

love this instructable!

flyingpuppy (author)  Oscelot6 months ago
Thank you! I love all this "crowd sourcing" of cheap materials!

In re glass,
Martha Stewart has a nice etching cream that has very low odor and works in about 15 minutes.
You're not going to be able to etch deep shapes into something, but it will work for surface frosting.
I got it at Michael's in the US.

You can use clear glass or plexi and then spray mount some tissue paper on the bottom side. Anything that diffuses the light is good. If you use glass, you can use this unit to cut out stencils or other using a craft knife. (Plexi would scratch)

flyingpuppy (author)  vtbeachldy6 months ago
I like the tissue paper solution! And, yes, a blade on plexiglass would definitely scratch it. I used the leftover piece as a cutting board for the foam core and now it looks like an old skating rink. : )
robchang6 months ago

I love that desk, what kind of wood is it made of?

Manick Yoj6 months ago

Wonderful, and well done. I'm impressed by how you managed to reduce what could be a complex project to quite a simple and affordable, but elegant one.

flyingpuppy (author)  Manick Yoj6 months ago
Thank you. It's always my goal--when working on projects--to get the most out of the least. Probably helps that I don't have the technical know-how for things electric.
Tanzer266 months ago
For the plexi, check the fluorescent fixture or ceiling tile aisles at your hardware store. They should have Pavel's to drop into 2'x4' panel ceilings. not as thick/stiff as plexi, if you need more strength, layer it under clear plexi or glass.
Boygasmo6 months ago

I would use touch-light instead of those. It would provide more light than the side light.

rc jedi Boygasmo6 months ago

or a sheet of the plastic for flouresent light fixtures, many different diffusion types. cheap!

flyingpuppy (author)  Boygasmo6 months ago

Those ARE touch lights (stripped of bulky casing). And the angled foam board inside catches the bank of LEDs and reflects them up across the plexiglas top.

thematthatter6 months ago

this is nice, i got an old xray illuminator for my light box. You can get them cheap on ebay since xrays are going digital now.

flyingpuppy (author)  thematthatter6 months ago
That's so smart! I just checked ebay, and they have some pretty decent ones in the $25-$45 range.