DIY Lightbox Build With Ikea Lack Table.




Introduction: DIY Lightbox Build With Ikea Lack Table.

I have  wanted a lightbox for years, I live in a small flat and don't have the space to store a large lightbox. I decided to build a photo/tracing lightbox into my Ikea coffee table. I picked up all of the equipment on ebay and put the whole lot together in a couple of hours. The table is an Ikea 'Lack' and cost about £5, they come in many different colours. 

Step 1: Choosing Correct Acrylic

-Ideally I would have made the top from one single thick sheet of acrylic with a routed out step around it's edge. However to do this I would need a router and a acrylic cutting router head... which I don't have. Instead I ordered two sheets of Acrylic. One 8mm thick transparent  sheet and one 3mm thick Opal coloured sheet. I had the clear sheet cut slightly smaller (which the acrylic company did free of charge).
-Lack table top measures 550x550mm
-Clear Acrylic 8mm 480x480mm
-Opal 3mm Acrylic 500x500mm 
-I purchased these materials on Ebay from, they gave me cheap combined postage and next day delivery. 

Step 2: Measure and Cut

-Carefully Measure out the aperture on the top of the table. Check your measurements and offer up the thickest sheet of Acrylic, make sure it will fit correctly as the chance are it probably wont be perfectly square. 
-Use a brand new stanley blade and a non slip metal ruler to carefully cut through the table top. Be patient because it takes quite a few cuts to break through. 
-Peel off the cut away section and remove the cardboard reinforcement. 
-Check the acrylic fits and cut/sand away more if it doesn't.
(tip. Mark one side of the table and acrylic sheet with small strips of masking tape, this will make sure you relocate it the same way when you put it back) 

Step 3: Recessing the Corners

-Each corner has a chipboard reinforced corner. You need to Recess these to the thickness of the first sheet of acrylic. I used a stanley knife but a chisel would probably have been much safer. Keep measuring as you go and check each corner by replacing the clear Acrylic sheet. If you chisel any of the corners to much then you can always build them up again with the cut away section of table top and some PVA. 
(Tip: Use the protective coating from the acrylic to help you remove it from the table top)

-When the corner reinforcements are complete paint the whole thing white with emulsion or gloss. It might not seem that important but it makes a HUGE difference. 

Step 4: Electrical Components

-I picked up a 5 meter strip of adhesive LED lighting from ebay. These are intended for use inside cars so I also bought a 12 volt adapter kit from the same seller. The lighting is available in different tones of white but I went for Cool White as I thought it would probably be brightest. 

-I thought about adding a switch but in the end I couldn't be arsed. 

-I drilled a small hole for the power cable and attached some cable ties to stop it slipping through. 

Step 5: Attaching the Lighting

-Make sure you lay out the lighting before you start sticking it down. Start from the end near the power cable so you don't end up having to re-drill the hole. The adhesive is pretty strong although I added some double sided padded tape at the corners just to be sure. You have to sort of curve the strip around each corner. 
I used up the entire 5 meter strip. 

-Connect the LED strip to the power supply and tape/glue gun in place under the lip of the table top.

-Test everything is working

Step 6: Drilling and Finishing

-Mark and drill the holes in the first sheet of clear acrylic. Use this as a template for the Opal top sheet by laying both flat on the floor. Make sure the holes are large enough for the screws you have chosen otherwise it can easily crack. 
-Round off the corners of the Opal sheet with a metal file.
-Choose your screws, you could probably counter sink them so they are neat and tidy but I quite like the look of the rounded head ones I've chosen. 
-Screw the whole thing together and you're done! Try and keep the sheets clean because dust and dirt will show through when you turn the lights on. 

Step 7: Finished Piece

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to do this but my finished result is very neat, tidy and effective. It provides an EXTREMELY bright and even light which is perfect for viewing negatives and tracing. 

6 People Made This Project!


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61 Discussions

Do you know how thick that particleboard is? I’m trying to figure out a way to use hollow door anchors to secure something to it, but I’m not sure it’s thick enough to use these. Do you think it is at least 1/8” thick?

What size screws did you use?

What is the function of the 8mm Clear Acrylic? Would the table look bad without it?

There happens to be a plastics and rubber shop in my city, so I can get it cheap. I'm just wondering if it's necessary.



2 years ago

love the light box table :-) I inherited Mums very large light box but it's so big it takes up all the table space :-( but after seeing what you did with your table I thought I would go the other way and turn my light box into a table :-) and this way it will be easy to use and usable all the time without taking up space on my desk :-)

Thanks for the Instructable :-) once I have my workshop finished I will work on that project next :-)

2 replies

Sounds like an excellent idea! Be sure to share your project when it's finished. I would love to see it.

I will :-) I have been looking for just the right logs to turn into legs for it :-) live in the outback of Australia so thought I would keep it close to natural :-)

Hello :) Nice Instructable. I was wondering about the power adapter you're using. It's 12Vbut how many amps does it output? I mean, the 5 m LED strip needs 1,5 amps if I'm not mistaken, and a 12V adapter would output max 1 amp, no? Does it still work for you using the adapter on the pictures?

1 reply

Hi Jomanidk,
I'm afraid I know literally nothing about electronics. I bought the adapter from the same place that supplied the LED strips. I'd take a photo of the transformer but it's all sealed inside the table. I used some similar LED strips to light the footwells of an old van I had years ago and they were hooked up to the car battery which was also 12V.
It definitely works though! Lol

I might be missing something really obvious but why are two sheets needed?

Why not one sheet just fully set into the table top?

2 replies

Depending on the thickness of the sheet you might find it doesnt provide enough stability near the middle of the table!

Hi RobP16,

There are a few answers to your question...

1. I wanted to attain a decent thickness for stability. (TimW82 is correct) Two sheets of thinner material was also cheaper than one very thick sheet.

2. The second sheet is slightly larger which overlaps and hides the rough edges of the whole that I cut into the table.

I used a clear acrylic for the lower sheet because it was cheaper than the opaque sort.

Hope that answers your questions :)

Absolutely! As long as the surface remains unscratched it would be easy to clean. I'm a teacher and we often use dry wipe markers directly on the school table tops as they wipe of anything laminated.


2 years ago

:O) Can't download---

Very nice job Mr Chutney. For those that don't want to use a boxcutter to cut the table a Dremel with their circular saw blade will make the job much easier :)

1 reply

I forgot to add that I would most likely try to use JB Weld to forgo the use of screws in the corner with the recessed application. I am thinking the use of Plexiglass / Acrylic as the top sheet if you are using the table as an end table would result in scratches. Maybe a clear glass top and the frosted acrylic underneath might be better?? Just a thought :)

I just spent the afternoon making one of these out of a white table.

I think painting it white inside is a must. I used 2 tester pots from b and q as i didn't want to buy a brush or pot of paint. Each tester pot (50ml) did one coat. I gave it two coats.

The hardest part was the drilling of the Perspex. I think I would go slightly bigger on the Perspex (maybe add 5/10mm all round to both sheets) as I found the fixings were very close to the edge of the clear Perspex, and so one corner broke off a little (makes no difference as it doesn't move on the plane as its sat in a recess so that fixing is only holding the clear one down).

The only changes I made were...

1. using washers under the fixings (I still used the dome screws like you as I liked the look of them) but I wanted to spread the load a little!

2. I didn't like the hanging cable connector, so instead drilled a hole the size of the connector just off one of the leg supports, so that I could just poke it through a little and then glue the rest of the connector to the leg support so that it was solid.

Got the LEDs and power cable from eBay. £12.

Paint pots from b and q. £2.20.

Perspex from Trent plastics. £29.

Table. Free.

So £45 total. Not bad for a light box that size!

All in all, was a good instructable, Thanks!

2 replies

Instead of painting the inside white I suggest using aluminum foil (shiny side up) next time. This will reflect the light even better and make the end result brighter.

But do note that aluminum foil is conductive, so make sure there is no short in the strip, for example by placing masking tape between the foil and the strip.

Congratulations on the build, would be fantastic to see a picture! I like the sound of your power cable modification. I would especially like to see what that looks like. I had considered at one point making the Perspex the same size as the whole top of the table and just glueing it down on top, I ended up deciding against this as I wasn't sure if the Perspex would be cut perfectly square. Id like to see someone do this with a white table as the light box would almost be entirely hidden. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!

Curious if there is another option for the white on top? Plastic? May sound weird...but...using a sheet of tissue paper under the clear acrylic? hmmm..

Making this for my classroom...