Picture of Light Box
Time: around 6 hours

Cost: up to $35

A light box is a box with one translucent side that allows light to pass through. Light boxes are functional in many different crafts/arts including photography, illustration and design. Cheap light boxes online start around $40, so I thought I could build a nicer one for less money. I wanted to design a box that fulfilled the functional aspects of a good light box, but that was also simple and beautiful enough to be used as a lamp or display for negatives. It can sit flat on a table for drawing and viewing negatives, vertically on a bookshelf, or even hung from a wall.

Here are a few creative uses for the light box:

-Viewing slides and negatives
-Backlit macro photography
-Tracing drawings and photographs
-Converting slides and negatives into digital photos
-Watercolor paint surface
-Displaying transparencies
-Lamp, when hung or displayed on a bookshelf

Check out the photos for some examples of these uses!

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
This project requires a few standard tools and some inexpensive materials. It there's a tool that you don't have access to, don't give up! Be creative, and ask me or other members for ideas about doing this project with what you have. Anyway, here's what I used:


-Table saw
-Compound miter saw
-Drill Bits
-Small hammer
-Flathead screwdriver
-Ruler or tape measure
-Wood glue
-Masking tape


-Walnut board, at least 4" wide, 3/4" thick and 4.5' long (about $10)
-2 pieces of 10" by 12" glass ($4)
-Candelabra lamp kit ($6)
-Fluorescent candelabra bulb ($3)
-Aluminum tape ($5)
-1/8" birch plywood sheet ($4)
-2 sheets of drafting vellum ($1)
-Small finishing nails and screws ($1)

The total cost should be about $35 if you buy everything new. I was able to scrounge up or repurpose a lot of these materials though and only spent about $15 on new materials. Everything listed is available at hardware stores, expect drafting vellum, which is carried at art stores like Dick Blick.
Great tutorial! I am trying to make a light box to exhibit some movie film cells. I was wondering if anybody can tell me where I could put the cells at using this type of light box? I have a ton of them but they are small. There are four images per strip and 3 strips per movie. I have ten movies! All of the films are great ones such as Alien, 300, Taken, Fight Club (all the cells for this one have Brad Pitt or Edward Norton in memorable scenes), Iron Man, etc. This Instructable seemed to look easier and nicer than the one specifically listed to showcase fill cells. If anybody can direct me toward something more relevant or tell me how to alter this one, I would greatly appreciate it!! Thank you in advance for any and all help!
led panels 8.5x11
camera art1 year ago
Hello will this work with a dura-tran as I building it for exhibition 24x20 inches. As I am an artist and I know if in a lightbox you can see the tubes its done badly.


vincent75202 years ago
Nice work !
I vote !
Tomdf2 years ago
Very clean and well documented, nice work!