Picture of DIY Tracing Light Box for under $20.
Lets face it, store-bought light boxes are expensive. And other DIY light boxes usually require cutting, soldering or some other form of work. This DIY light box requires almost no work at all and costs next to nothing. Intrigued? Here's what you'll need..

-1 clear plastic box/bin: approximately $5-$12 (I used an extra scrap-booking storage container that I had purchased from either Michael's or Jo-Ann's. Its nice because its flat, thin and relatively large as its made to hold 12x12 scrap-booking papers. These run about $8-$12 but are often on sale and both stores always have coupons.)

-4 touch lights: ~$4 (I bought 2 for $1 each from the dollar store which did not include batteries and one 2-pack from Walmart for $3.96 which included 8 batteries. Turns out they were the exact same product, so I paid a dollar more for the Walmart one taking into account the battery cost.)

-4 AA batteries for each light = 16 batteries total: $2+ (you can also buy these at the dollar store. I bought an 8-pack of low-drain batteries for $1. Its not like you're powering a car here..)
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Step 1: Step 1 - Add the juice

Picture of Step 1 - Add the juice
Open the battery compartments and place 4 AA batteries into each light. Follow the pictures inside the compartment if you need assistance with this step.. Replace the covers when done.

Step 2: Step 2 - Place the lights into the box

Picture of Step 2 - Place the lights into the box
Open the clear plastic box and place all 4 lights into the box. Touch each light to turn on.

(Note: on my box there is a small divot in the top of the box that one would have to avoid while tracing. However, the bottom of the box is nice and smooth, so simply flipping the box over before putting in the lights would remedy this situation. If you would like a more permanent light box, small squares of adhesive velcro could be placed on each light and in the bottom of the box. I probably won't be using this very often, so I wanted to be able to take the lights out and use them elsewhere if necessary.)
kathynv2 years ago
Wonderful! Now I can make a lightbox as a gift for my sister, who always wants to borrow my expensive lightbox. She'll have what she needs and not need to wreck my expensive tool. Thank you so much! These are inexpensive enough to give to the kids, too! Whee!
amisiak (author)  kathynv2 years ago
Haha, you're very welcome.
Absolute Genius !
Just what ive been looking for, an inexpensive way to have a lightbox !!! Voted for you - good luck !!!

Once again - Genius !!!!!!!!!!
amisiak (author)  offtherails20102 years ago
Thanks so much! I was surprised at how little it cost and how simple it was as well. If only I had stumbled upon it during my undergrad art years..
ChareneL6 months ago

Unbelievable! Why didn't I think of that. I'm going to purchase said items today and get started on my embossing project without the hassle of getting wood, plastic, wiring, etc. Yayyyyyyyy!

MaureenH7 months ago

Could the heat from the lights ever melt the plastic?

amisiak (author)  MaureenH7 months ago
Hmm.. Good question. I don't think mine would because I got cheap dollar store lights/batteries and they don't put out a ton of light let alone heat. I suppose it's possible if you are using it for a prolonged period, but the lights should really only be on when in use.
floriv11 year ago
Thank you! Best idea yet! I think I can do this. :-)
TT22 years ago
Very nice.
Though you could replace the " cakelights" with an ordinary surgemaster with an flat lamp on top, like:

So only a clear box, surgemaster, fitting/lamp
amisiak (author)  TT22 years ago
Very true.

I just didn't want to have to cut a hole in the plastic bin, and I don't think it would close properly over a cord without doing that. Did I mention I can be pretty lazy? I also think that route would have increased the cost and I wanted to make it as cheap as possible since I'm not a professional artist and won't be using it daily.
amisiak (author) 2 years ago
Thanks everyone :)
Why did I not think of this? You're a genius.
amisiak (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Haha thanks.
shazni2 years ago
This is just what i do! i generally keep a torch under a transparent box and do my drawing...the torch i have is a rechargeable emergency light which is kind of it's great!
amisiak (author)  shazni2 years ago
Nice! Like minds..
Oo interesting.
Thanks for sharing. :)
Conas2 years ago
wow, so simple. I can't believe I didn't think of this. Thanks!
amisiak (author) 2 years ago
Thank you!
fantastic and soo simple. :)
scoochmaroo2 years ago
Great idea!