Instructables
Build a 27 3/4" x 23 3/8" exterior (22 1/2" x 18" illuminated area) wall mounted light box... I worked at a print shop a long time ago and pulled some negatives of a bat out of the garbage one day. That was about ten years ago. I finally got around to building light boxes to display the images. But you could use the same box to display any number of different things, including drawings on rice paper, negatives, inkjet prints on mylar... pretty much anything that light goes through, you know.
 
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Step 1: Get the materials

i made three of these, but you could make four with a little extra hardware.

4x8 sheet of 9/16" chipboard - $11
4x8 sheet of 1/8" clear plexiglass - $53
4x8 sheet of 1/8" masonite - $11
three 24" "preheat" fluorescent bulb holder thingies - $9.50 each
three 24" fluorescent tubes - $4 each
three power cords with no ends - $6 each
three switches - i used cool looking push button ones - $3.80 each
three packs of hook closer thingies(eye hooks with little arms) (3 per pack) - $1 each pack
four packs of 1" hinges (three per pack) - $1.75 per pack
three packs of 1/4" weather stipping (17') - $1.87 per pack
two foam brushes - $0.75 each
three 1x2x8' pine boards - $3.40 each
one tube of construction adhesive - $2.30
three sheets of rice paper (i didn't look at the size) - $2.50 each
two packs of 50' picture hanger gear (two sets of eye hooks and hangers plus wire in each pack) - $2.25 each
three bags of 1" corner braces (three per bag) - $1.75 per bag
adhesive felt pads - $3.28

total - $195.04

that's a lot of dough! but it really makes pretty much four lightboxes of this size. you'd just need a few more hinges and whatnot. there's enough of the big stuff (plex, masonite, chip board) for four.
Carly_Meik4 years ago
 great thanks so much I cant afford to buy and need a box for a project printed but couldnt figure out pfd download for free?  but great thanks
Im working on similar project. www.loudervisions.com has some awesome 3d paint frames that will make the project all the more creative. THX for the info and project kernel.
maxwelltub5 years ago
how did you cut the plexi glass?
shonnarchy (author)  maxwelltub5 years ago
 i used my circular saw. be sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection... the plexi shards can mess you up. 
Ya in the past when I used saws like that it shattered
Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for! I'll probably do this on a much smaller scale, and maybe use a row of hidden LED lights or maybe one color-changing LED bulb. Thanks! and 5*s
shonnarchy (author)  PatentPending5 years ago

 LEDs would definitely be an awesome addition to the box. In fact, if I had to build these again, that's probably the route I'd go. You could get a lot nicer light with less power and thinner box. 

 
ilovetea6 years ago
Looks good man, I was thinking of building one myself, a simpler model since I don't have all the tools to make this one, and post an instructable up. Hope you don't mind?
shonnarchy (author)  ilovetea6 years ago
go nuts and have fun! like i said, the kernel for this came from a readymade article that i could never find anywhere... hope it works out!
I found everything but compact fluorescent lights, I can't find wireless ones that are shorter then 12 inches. If someone can heres what I was going to do: 1.Build or get a simple wood frame 2.Stencil a design on with freezer paper. 3.Wrap Fabric tight around frame and staple it on opposite side. 4.Install 2 opposing fluerestent lights and hang up.
I raked the net for something like this! THANKS! Can you give a cost estimate for the project?
shonnarchy (author)  xxxafterglow6 years ago
There's a complete parts list and cost breakdown on step 1. The total came to $195.04. you could probably get things cheaper than home depot, though. or recycle parts from other things.
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Would love to see you add this to my new group.
Hope to see you there.
Home Repair, Refurbishment, and New Projects
Darkshot7 years ago
holy crap! freakin awsome luv the idea but its too costly for me :)
Nano_Burger7 years ago
Great Instructable! To get around the bottom weighted lighting, I'd use one of those circular flouresent tubes you commonly see in Kitchens. Mount it in the center and the reflector is no problem. A nice peice of white tranlucent plastic would make a good diffuser so there would be no Hot Spot in the middle. Although your rice paper looks like it does a nice job.
I remember seeing a similar project in ReadyMade a while ago. I like your documentation better, though. Even with the reflector, it looks like the light is a bit bottom-heavy. Is the effect better in person? Also, why not paint the frame? I'm not a big fan of the chipboard look and I don't think it works well with the black and white images.
shonnarchy (author)  fungus amungus8 years ago
i was told that readymade did something similar, but i could never find documentation of it online... so i built my own. i'm sure they're probably relatively similar. the light is much smoother in person than it looks from my photos. and it's a cool blue (due to the rice paper and the "cool white" bulb). i'll try to take a shot without a flash to see if it comes out better. as far as the chipboard finish... i'm a fan of raw materials. i like seeing what things are made of. and i happened to have a sheet of chipboard laying around. for like $20-30 more, this could be made from birch ply and would probably look much more "finished". and nearly anything would be a more paintable surface than chipboard. it's got all sorts of pits and valleys in it.
I think it's an excellent choice of materials. Very deconstructivist-like. Reminds me of the famous Gehry house in L.A. Frank Gehry would dig your work I'm sure! The only thing I dislike is the cords that hang down from the box. And I personally might have made the wood front extend out a little bit from the side panels instead of being flush with them...so it looks like a matte frame. But you obviously have a good design sense.
ArcFlash7 years ago
The wire joints should be made inside a metal box, either an electrical junction box or inside the lighting fixture. Exposed wire joints in a wood box is a fire hazard, this includes the switch. I would put a switch box throught the side of the box and use a regular room light toggle switch or drill a 1-1/2" hole through the bottom of the box and a 7/8" hole throught the fixture bottom and set your push-button switch in it. The cord needs to be pulled through a 1/2" romex connector or cord grip placed in the hole of the junction box or the fixture. The unprotected wires running through the sharp edged holes in the fixture is dangerous and a violation of the National Electrical Code. Safety First!!
That should be a 3/8" hole for the push button switch, not a 7/8" (1/2" conduct hole size), but always check the dimension of the switch that you are using before drilling the hole.
drips7 years ago
Re: Choice of reflective material

I've been faced with this decision before and recalled that foil is generally considered a poor choice due to both its % reflectivity and the difficulty in keeping it flat and installing it. Checked 2 sites on the net and got these numbers (na=no additional info). Flat white paint is probably easier to apply and isn't electrically conductive. Yeah it takes a while to dry but that just gives you more time to think about girls (or boys)!

% Reflectivity
Mylar: 90-95/90-95
Flat white paint: 85-93/75-80
Semi-gloss white: 75-80/na
Gloss white:70-75/na
Flat yellow: 70-80/65-70
Aluminum foil: 70-75/60-65
cry_wolf8 years ago
Wow, this could liven up any room. And your pictures are well done, except for a few, but still very good documentation. It is a bit pricey, but then again, a real lightbox could cost alot more. U could also use these for drawing, well without a picture, but alot of artists like to use lightboxes for tracing. So this is a multiuse item. Good job!