One of my resolutions this year was to do more artwork. Toward this end, I ordered a large coffee table with lots of storage to put art supplies in so I could draw while relaxing in front of the TV at night. I wanted a light box as part of this "art station," and at first was going to cut a part of the table top off and replace it with plexiglass, but came up with this easier solution instead: a built-in light box using one of the drawers.
This light box is wireless, using battery-powered LEDs purchased at the Dollar Store (making this a very affordable solution as well). In playing with the lighting, I discovered that placing a white foam board at an angle under the plexiglass gave me the most light "bounce," as it reflected the LEDs upwards. This angled board in turn created a "secret compartment" for storing paper, pens, etc.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Brilliant white foam core or cardboard
Translucent white Plexiglas to fit top of drawer
Several touch-operated LED lights from the Dollar Store
AAA batteries (3 per LED light)
1" wood screws (2 per LED light)
Small rare earth magnet
Ferrous metal piece (about 1/2" x 1")
Step 1: Bank of Lights
For my light box, I screwed in a bank of seven LED press-to-operate lights to the back side of the drawer--each with three LEDs. I could have mounted them with the sticky back of the LED light, but I wanted to minimize bulk (and trim them to fit as high up as possible), so I stripped off all the extras on each light, flipped the light around to the battery side and screwed them into the drawer permanently.
All I have to do when the batteries wear out is pull them out and replace them.
The video in the intro shows how I did the above.
Step 2: Light Box / Storage Structure
The structure of the light box is composed of:
1. Three foam core pieces for the two sides and the front of the drawer measuring 1/4" from the top.
2. One foam core piece for the front of the drawer measuring 1 1/4" from the top.
3. One foam core piece that sits at the rear bottom of the drawer and lays at an angle on top of the shorter foam core piece at the front of the drawer (see video at 4:15).
4. One piece of plexiglas that fits snugly inside the drawer (it will rest on top of the foam core pieces and the LED lights).
Glue the first three pieces directly to the drawer, and the shorter front piece to the first front foam core piece, bottom side touching.
Step 3: Magnetic Latches
This light box has two magnetic latches. The first latch is made by hollowing out a piece of the bottom side of the slanted foam board and inserting a small rare earth magnet. Put glue in the hole, drop the magnet in, and glue a small piece of paper on top. This magnet will be completely invisible.
The second latch is made by gluing a piece of ferrous material (steel, iron) to the top of the plexiglas. I used a random piece of metal that was screwed onto the bottom of a full-sized door. Glue it onto the plexiglas with epoxy.
To open these latches, make a pull by gluing another strong magnet to the end of a wine cork (I had to use epoxy, as school glue just pulled away).
Step 4: Hidden Light Box
Tuck your finished light box back into the coffee table. Use as needed.