Introduction: Light Up Shadow Box

About: I am just starting to make these boxes for more than myself. I am looking at making custom boxes for people as well. This was a hobby that is taking a new life on its own.

I am going to give you a fun way tocreate an advertising sign and/or a decoration piece that will not only get attention, but also create fun conversation. I have been making these light-up shadowboxes for advertising for a company I am part of, but also for fun promotional items. I am now expanding into creating customized shadowboxes for those who are wanting something different in their businesses or homes.

What is a shadowbox? Why would I want one that would light up? A shadow box used to be a box that would create a shadow figure in the front. I chose a light-up version to create because lights attract attention and they are actually fun to create.

I am going to be showing you step-by-step an easy process that even a 10 year old could do. This is a fun project that even the kids would enjoy being a part of. This is also something that is sometimes cheaper for an advertising piece for those stay-at-home moms that are starting their home businesses and need a cheap way to attract attention at vendor events.


1. Spray paint (any color you prefer, but would recommend lighter colors)

2. Screw driver (this is if you have to assemble a box or have brackets for lights)

3. Straight blade ( you will need this to score Plexiglas if you have a wooden box)

4. LED light strip (this can be a rope light or flat LED light strip at any hardware store)

5. Vinyl to apply design (can create a design with painters tape as well)

6. Drill (Use this to create a hole if needed)

7. Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: Choose Your Box

First thing that you will need to do is figure out the type of box you want. You can design one and build it from scratch, or, if preferring an easier method, go to a local hobby shop and find a box that is solid and the shape wanted. I would recommend finding a wooden or Plexiglas display case. There is no size that I wouldn’t recommend. In this demonstration I chose a model car display case that is a clear Plexiglas material.

Step 2: Drill a Hole

Take the box that you chose and drill a hole in back or a corner. You will use a drill to create a hole large enough for the lights to go through. A straight blade to cut through the material depending on what the box is made of. The type of light strip chosen and the cord that comes with it will determine the size of hole. As can be seen by the following photo, I placed my hole in the corner of my box. I used a drill to start it. Be careful with a Plexiglas case as it is easier to break more off than may be needed.

Step 3: Paint and Lights

This next step is a two-part step. First, paint the inside of the box. DO NOT paint the outside yet. The paint needs to done inside before you place your lights. After the paint dries, the lights will need attached. Every box will be different so decide where they need placed. In the case I am showing, I am placing the lights on the bottom. The light strip used has tape on the back to attach it to the box. NOTE: the lights do not like corners so some issues may rise getting them to stick.

Step 4: Plexiglas and Vinyl

Now that we have most of the prep-work done for the inside, it is time to start making the outside of the box. Get the Plexiglas for the front of the box that was listed in the items list earlier. Make sure it is cut to size. The straight blade will help create a score mark so it breaks cleanly. Take the Vinyl that you have for the design and apply it as smooth as possible. The vinyl is being placed on to be prepared for painting.

Step 5: Paint Outside

Take the box and paint the outside. You will want to paint the Plexiglas on the side that had the vinyl as well. Get a good enough coat of paint to cover everything. Even if it is thin in areas it’s okay because it give some nice effects when the lights are on. Make sure you have all the sides of the box painted.

Step 6: Vinyl Removal

Once the paint dries, it is time to peel the vinyl stickers off your glass. If you used painters tape that is okay too. Use a tweezers or some type of small point to get under the stickers. Get under the edges gently and pull up. This will leave a clear opening where the design is. This creates a nice effect for the lights to shine through.

Step 7: Glue Plexiglas to Box

Time to attach the Plexiglas cover to the box. Use a hot glue gun to glue the Plexiglas to the box. Put a bead of glue around the edge of the box quickly. You don’t have a lot of time to do this so work quickly. Grab the glass and place it on the glue. NOTE: make sure your design is facing the correct way.

Step 8: Finish

Turn on the lights and enjoy. These boxes are amazing at night in the dark. They look beautiful and are so fun to make.