Introduction: Make Your Own Illuminated Signs

About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

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.

Step 1: 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

The possibilities are endless, of course, but for this instructable I will use CREATE.

Step 3: 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 4: Paper Is Painted Black

I just spray painted the cardstock black as shown.  Paint dries very rapidly.

Step 5: 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.

Step 6: Make Box to Contain Sign

I used a piece of corrugated cardboard as shown to make the housing box for the sign itself. Follow pictures to make this box.  The sizes can all be changed to fit the word or message that you are making the sign of.   A depth of 2 and 1/2 inches is a good size for the box as the lights take up quite a bit of space and need  this space as a minimum.

Step 7: Make Lightboard for Lights

Here, a piece of cardboard is cut to fit inside the sign box.  It is painted white to reflect light, and holes are made to accept each of 20 lamps of the string of christmas lights.  For other signs, strings of lights can be joined for more light, or longer strings are available.  I bought a string of 100 today for $2.00. 

Step 8: Install Lights in Box

Following the picture, cut a small "trap door" at one end of the box so that the light cord can be routed out the back of the box.

Step 9: Place Front of Sign in Place, and Tape Closed.

Here is the completed sign. Note how the acrylic plate is enclosed by taping with craft paper glued around the perimeter of the box.  This could actually be duct tape if desired.  Other samples of completed signs are shown.  Each sign is individually constructed so that no two are alike.

Step 10: Plug in and Enjoy...Done!