Instructables
Want to express yourself creatively with light?  Make a mood light, perhaps?  Could you use a night light?  Make name signs or multi-word messages?  Using readily available materials, Illuminated signs are easy to make.  Any of these and more uses can be accomplished  with the simple methods in this instructable.
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

Picture of Gather Materials and Tools
To make a light, I used common corrugated cardboard, a piece of yellow paper, a small piece of acrylic sheet plastic, tape, glue, etc.  For tools, the usual paper cutting implements, i.e., straight edge, box cutter, scissors and so on.  I use a table saw to cut the acrylic, but it can be cut by scoring lines deeply on your cut line, and then snapping the plastic. Special tools are made for this, but a utility knife will work....USE CAUTION IF SCORING PLASTIC THIS WAY! The light source for these signs are mini christmas lights, available everywhere. They are low amperage, low watt, low heat lights and come in different sized strings, and colors.

Step 2: Decide On What Your Sign Will Say

Picture of Decide On What Your Sign Will Say
The possibilities are endless, of course, but for this instructable I will use CREATE.

Step 3: Cut Out Word

Picture of Cut Out Word
To make the word create, I used the word processor, picked a font, and for the size I wanted I chose 250 points.  This is printed on some card stock I had available.  Then I cut out the word using a box cutter and a scalpel.

Step 5: Glue To Acrylic Sheet and Back With Yellow Paper

Picture of Glue To Acrylic Sheet and Back With Yellow Paper
Here,the word is glued to a piece of clear acrylic I had cut from a larger piece taken from a picture no longer used.  It is light plastic, about 1/8th or so thick, very easy to cut to size on the table saw.  I made this piece 4 x 11 inches. Yellow paper is then glued with the spray adhesive on the back of the cut out word.
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Any alternatives to the acrylic such as something that can be cut by a scissor?
A two liter bottle. Cut the top and bottom off and then cut the cylinder to make a flat sheet. If it wants to roll up on you too much, a couple seconds under a hot iron will fix that.
You can get the acrylic in thin sheets that might be cut by scissors.
OR you can buy "PAGE PROTECTORS" (remember those plastic covers with a Black sheet of paper from school days?)  in up to 8.5" X 11 " in most department stores, (Larger at Office Supply Stores) and they can be cut by scissors easily.
Have fun.
Thanks. Ill check out office depot or a similar place. I also thought to use the clear " projector paper".
Creativeman (author)  illdoyourdrugs4 years ago
Well, not that I can think of.
kmoore341 year ago
If you want to make the inside brighter/more reflective, you can buy pieces of mirrored paper at craft stores - I found some at JoAnns by the doll area, can't remember the exact name. The workers might not know where it is, but if you look long enough, you'll find it! I use them for macro photography reflectors.
oilitright2 years ago
If you can believe it there is someone selling this technique on Craigslist for $175.00
Stumbling across your ible i can't believe i forgot to post the pictures of my project inspired by you. I had a few more updated pictures but couldn't find them. I went to Michaels and used this multi colored plastic backing instead. I forget the name. I used black spray paint for the black areas. i hand cut out the font with an x-acto knife. I used a brown paper bag as a border for look and character. This was a huge hit. Thanks again.
i love you.JPGi love you lit.JPG
Creativeman (author)  illdoyourdrugs3 years ago
Cool....good job!
rlawrence4 years ago
 hello, how did you make your letters so smooth, i had trouble making them that smooth
corycar4 years ago
Could you show a picture of your table saw?  Surely not a WOOD saw - it seems that the acrylic would shatter????
Creativeman (author)  corycar4 years ago
Nope, just a standard, not top of the line table saw....I use a regular wood cutting carbide blade and it works very well.  No shattering. Cman
REALLY?  I'm surprised about that... especially with 1/8 inch... but cool.  I don't have a table top - but I do have a rotary saw (rip saw)  What kind of blade do you use - if I may ask?  I'm seriously intrigued by this...
kathyh2394 years ago
Hey Creativeman,

You've hit another home run here.  I knew I shouldn't have retracted my previous marriage proposal to you!  

Do you have any suggestions for what I can do with old blueprint paper tubes?   I get them from work - giant paper towel-type tubes 3 inches in diameter and 3-4 feet long.  Any ideas are appreciated. 

Keep up the good work.
I could use a couple of them also at a reasonable price as they could be their own shipping tubes if they are thick enough, and they could be sent at parcel post rates.
Make Xtal Radios! http://www.midnightscience.com/ or http://www.vintageradio.me.uk/crystal/boys_book_xtal.htm or donate them to Boy or Girl Scouts along with plans for Crystal radio sets to start the next generation in electronics or crafts.
Creativeman (author)  kathyh2394 years ago
Thanks kathyh: re the old tubes:  think of round things to make, desk organizers, pencil holders, art supplies, etc.  cut them and let kids decorate them for the projects mentioned.  I did a couple of cans with styrofoam mosaics as shown....good for holding pens, pencils, etc.  Cman
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The lIghted boxes are MARVELOUS --  I'm excited to try one.

Now, I'm looking at the pics of what you called " styrofoam mosaics". 
What part is styrofoam?  The tiles?  If so, what did you grout them with.  Looked for a link to another Instructable . . .  Looking for GOOD kid projects and this is a dandy.
Creativeman (author)  morrisonarts4 years ago
Thanks morrisonarts. I decided to go ahead and make an instructable for the styrofoam mosaics... see: "Can Art: A way to Recycle some Tin Cans." Hope this helps. Cman
dkfa4 years ago
Ah..a Very nice way to save money then using neon lights in a a store. But, will this be more power efficient as a neon store light? Would It be as noticeable? Nice ible. 5*
Neon Transformer about 120 Watts
Standard Christmas lights about 15 - 25 Watts.
LED Christmas lights about 5 Watts.
You do the math.
Attention grabbing, add a flasher bulb to regular Christmas lights or an electronic on off timer to LED Christmas lights and they will draw attention.
OR better yet add a sound controlled on off  for variable timing to local sound or music.
wenpherd4 years ago
Very very nice!
Creativeman (author)  wenpherd4 years ago
Thanks, wenpherd. Cman
DUDE this rocks. Its simple and effective. I love how you went with the Christmas lights as they are cheap and abundant. Nice work man. YOu are creative man. : )
Creativeman (author)  illdoyourdrugs4 years ago
Thank you. Cman
WingDings4 years ago

This looks like fun! :)

Would it be better to use LED lights rather than incandescent ones, by the way, to stop the heat build-up?

I know you say that they are "low heat lights", but I would have thought these incandescent lights can still give out enough heat to significantly warm a sealed enclosure, causing early failure or damage? Or maybe that can be solved with some ventilation holes?

Creativeman (author)  WingDings4 years ago
It is fun!  You have a point with the leds, seems they are the rage now. However, they are quite a bit more expensive, how much light do they throw? and as for the heat issue;  I have watched them carefully for a few weeks now, and leaving them on for several hours at a time has not caused that "heat buildup."  Warm, but no where near combustible temps....I would caution anyone to NOT plan on leaving them on,unattended, or when you go to sleep!  Cman

Yes, some of the LED lights are a bit more pricey, but they seem to be coming down in price all of the time. Maybe some day they will be as cheap as the incandescent type. The light they give out may be an issue, as you mention. I'm not sure if they generally give out as much light as standard incandescent bulbs - I suppose that varies with the kind you buy.

 

Another issue with LEDs is that the plastic packages around the light emitting parts often focus the light into a thinner beam than normal bulbs, which throw out light in all directions (unless they have the "cloudy" type of package). It might be necessary to site them a bit further back from the sign or use a piece of "frosted" plastic sheet or similar to diffuse the light, to avoid bright spots of light from being thrown onto the back of the sign, unless that kind of look is what people are after!

 

LEDs should have the advantage of being more energy efficient for the same light output, though, assuming the transformer that they're supplied with is an efficient one, of course.

piper12344 years ago
mm so easy n' cheap it gives a "highlight" look to any inner space ; ) 
bwvalentine4 years ago
I'm going to make one of these for my studio window that I haven't been able to do anything with.  Awesome instructable! :)
Creativeman (author)  bwvalentine4 years ago
Thanks for the comment, bw...may we see a picture when complete? Cman
absolutely :)
Creativeman (author)  bwvalentine4 years ago
Funny you should mention it, i.e., "studio window"..I just completed this new sign yesterday. Cman
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oooh!    i love it :)
Kaiven4 years ago
Another cool project! potential for a lighted globe idea? (poke holes in the globe where there are large cities and put lights inside)
Goodhart Kaiven4 years ago
Or maybe at the Capital cities ?
 
Kaiven Goodhart4 years ago
I was thinking of using needle sized holes for all of the major lighted areas... like if you were looking at a satellite image during the night time.
Goodhart Kaiven4 years ago
Sure,  and maybe tiny start shapes or diamond shapes ♦ for Capitals, and make it a "teachable moment"  ;-) 
Kaiven Goodhart4 years ago
Haha, I was just thinking it would be a cool nightlight :)
Goodhart Kaiven4 years ago
That it would be :-) 
 
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