Ghettofabulous LED Tracing Table on a Budget

Introduction: Ghettofabulous LED Tracing Table on a Budget

About: Light Sculptor, Maker, Drummer, Permaculturalist, Citizen Scientist, Gardener, Cook, Inventor, Tinkerer and Nature Lover

Ever want to recreate an Albrecht Durer, Davinci or trace some of your favorite images, botany pressings or original artwork?

Well, then the Ghettofabulous LED TRACING TABLE on a Budget is for you!

I wanted to create a copy of one of my favorite Albrecht Durer images as a form of physical therapy, practice and training for my hands after 2 years building cars on the night shift. Had always wanted to learn how to build LED tracing tables for my nephews' and nieces' creative endeavors.

So, one day I put on a pot of Mr Bialletti espresso and began gathering any useful materials for building a decent size LED tracing and drafting table out of upcycled stuff: an old window, salvaged 2'x4's, some found fibrerock in the garage, LED strips, AC adapter, led dimmer knob.

The next step was to gather basic tools, layout and think through how the raw materials could be fabricated cheaply into a useful backlit drafting table. Please keep in mind this was done on the fly, with salvaged materials and basic tools to show it can be done.

But there are many ways to go about creating a quick and easy version of LED tracing table. When you build one, think through what you will be using it for: are you tracing botany field samples? Small, lightweight and energy efficient is for you. Or are you stationary and want a bigger work volume for tracing larger parts, designing prototypes, tracing landscapes, Art, portraiture or textile patterns? It's good to take these factors into account before starting your first table.

There are some outstanding Instructables on how to go about creating affordable LED tables, soldering and wiring LEDs, adding dimmer control and I would like to thank everyone on Instructables for the generosity of spirit and guidance as far as building my Ghettofabulous LED tracing table on a Budget.

Find Inspiration, Gather Materials and Basic Table Layout:

Salvaged Materials:

recycled 2 x 4's

an old window

sheet of fibrerock

2 carriage bolts, washers

LED strips from

AC Adapter: INput: AC100-240V-50/60 Hz 0.8A Output: DC 12V 3A

LED Dimmer


Work Table


Woodworking Clamps

Corded or Portable Drill


Woodworking router Bits: various sizes depending on table build

Drill Bits, Boring Bits,

Soldering Iron

Safety Razor

So, Let's gather our salvaged materials, tools and get to it!

Please remember be safe when working: be sure to wear the necessary protective gear, dust mask or respirator, safety glasses, dust collection and ventilation when soldering. Be kind to yourself and be careful. :)

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Step 1: Basic Layout, Trace & Score Window Onto Fabricated 2x4's, Router Inset for Window

So, after gathering materials and tools, it's time to layout the old window on the 2 x 4's. Take your time with measuring, spacing and laying out the window on your salvaged material. this will save time and energy down the road)

I traced the window with a pencil, and used a safety razor to score my lines in around the window into the 2 x 4's.

Once i had things laid out, i squared my salvaged 2 x 4's and secured them together by drilling pilot holes and countersinks and screwing the wood 2 x 4 frame together.

Then i brought the newly made square frame down to the basement, secured it with a vise and clamping vises and used the router to carve out the inset where the upcycled glass window will be placed later on.

(my apologies for lacking good documentation: video of routing out the inset for the window or good images. It's tough to rout and film at the same time! but i hope to build a small tripod mount and bracket for better action video/ process documentation!)

Step 2: Clean Up and Double Check Router Inset and Place Window

At this point, it's a good idea to double check your router inset for the window and make sure the window sits properly into the frame of wood. Clean up the router line with a safety razor, wood working flat chisel, and sanding sponge. (preferably in better shape then the sanding sponge pictured) a good hand planer or rabbit planer can come in handy as well.

Once the router inset looks good, fit the recycled window into the frame.

Now it's time to get started on cutting fiberboard and creating the LED back panel!!! We are almost there!

Step 3: Scoring and Cutting Fiberboard and Gathering Illumination Materials

Now grab your found fiberboard, mark a straight line according to your dimensions with a T square and pencil to fit the back of the the 2x4 frame. Be sure to take your time and measure twice to ensure enough fiberboard to secure to the back of the table.

Use a safety razor to score the marked line across the fiberboard. This will require several passes, let the razor do the work, with light to moderate pressure. Be careful and patient when working with extremely sharp tools. Once the fiberboard is scored properly and deeply enough it can be cut or you can apply pressure and snap the board for the backing. Be careful to not damage the fiberboard.

Next gather or order your LED strips, AC Adapter and LED Dimmer, jump cables and soldering iron!

It's time to Illuminate our Ghettofabulous LED Tracing Table in the next step!

Step 4: Layout, Adhere and Solder LED's to Backpanel

Now it's time to layout and attach our LED strips. First, measure, cut and layout your LED strips so they will evenly light your tracings.

(By the way a sheet of vellum or tracing paper can also help to diffuse the light if you don't have time to sandblast the glass. Or you can use a sheet of acrylic or opaque plastic. Which is better for structural strength, tracing and durability than a glass window. But this was the challenge of the ghettofabulous Tracing table as far as working with what I had on hand.)

Next use the adhesive backing, take into account heatsinks and adhere the LED strips evenly along the fiberboard.

Now use your jump cables and solder your leds together. Be sure when laying out and adhering the LED strips that each strip is in proper position for soldering and that jump cables of the right length to allow for ease of soldering as well. use a hot glue gun to seal your solders for more longevity.

Once it's soldered together you can bore a side hole in the 2x4 frame to connect the LED's to a dimmer switch and power source! Choose a good access point in the frame and mark with a pencil.

Next take just the frame and use a work table vice to secure it. Use a boring bit and a drill to bore out the hole for your power source.

Step 5: Level, Secure Frame in Vice, Bore Power Hole, Secure Tracing Surface

Use your Vise and a torpedo level to make sure the frame is secured and level. Grab a drill, a 1/2" to 1" boring bit and bore through the frame to complete the hole for the power source. I also took an extra moment to bore out two evenly place side holes to run carriage bolts, washers and countersinks so the table could be rotated and locked down but this is a separate process/project/instructables i'm hoping to do).

For now, let's be sure to secure our tracing surface to the 2x4 frame with 2 -4 found metal corner brackets which miraculously fit perfectly over the inset glass window and secure our LED back panel with 1 1/2" screws.

Step 6: Plug In, Power Up and Start Tracing, Designing and Creating

Now just plug your LED tracing table in a power source and start Creating, Tracing and Designing!!!
All for less than 40.00 dollars!!!

I chose to try tracing landscapes, Albrecht Durer, Rembrandt and Davinci artworks.

But the best part of the table is finding things to trace or design. Exploring and looking at the world with new eyes and the means to trace, copy and create things that inspire us with a bit of Illumination!

Botany, Schematics, Prototypes, Designs and Textile patterns are also quite a bit of fun.

Thanks for checking out this Instructable!

ENJOY and Ever Onwards!!!

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