How to Make a Solar Powered Stencil Light Box




Introduction: How to Make a Solar Powered Stencil Light Box

Hi everyone, this is a school project that I have made and decided to submit as a step by step. The aim of the project was it helps toward the environment and/or to improve our personal skills and/or to put back into the community and I have chosen to do all three, I have used a solar panel to put back into the environment. I am improving my personal skills by learning how to make new things, and I am also putting back into the community of Instructables. So here it goes.

Step 1: Whats Needed


Some type of thin sheet steel (I have used an old stainless steel bench-top for recycling purposes)
A bright solar LED light (the solar panel and the light were detachable from each other on mine so it make it easier to work with)
Wood or whatever material you want to use for the frame.
Cellophane or something along those lines (any colour you want I have chosen yellow for mine though)
The stencil that you’re going to use.
Spray-Paint or a Paint roller (spray paint is easier and creates a more even coverage)
Permanent Marker (keep this on you at all times you never know when it might come in handy)
Frosted plastic film
Sand Paper 120-2000 grit
Wood Varnish

Angle grinder
A Drop saw or hand saw (drop saws are a lot easier to work with)
Palm sander or Sand-paper Block
P.V.A glue
Chisel (optional but I needed it)
(friends for modelling with the Materials.. a.k.a Conner, Ashy, Bone and Dad)

Step 2: The Steel and the Stencil

The first step is to find a piece of steel to use. The type that I have found is an old stainless steel bench-top from somewhere...(it was on our junk pile).
After you have done that you need to choose a stencil... I have chosen is a maple leaf. Cut out the unwanted bits of the stencil so it can be prepared for spray painting.
After you have done all this get some Sticky Tape and some Spray Paint and get prepared for some Graffiting... this is very simple to do, get your stencil and some sticky tape and tape it to your steel, then spray.. after you have let it sit to dry (don’t move it when it’s wet or it may smudge or smear excess paint) remove the sticky tape and the stencil and there you have it.

Step 3: Cutting and More Cutting

After you have done all the stencilling your next step is to cut it out to the right size. Mine was Approximately A4. This is where the Angle Grinder comes in. You may want an adult to do this for you, but you can do it yourself if u are capable of doing so.
After you have cut this out you will need to check it over and see if there is anything that you can do before you start cutting out the excess parts. What I did was file down the edges and got rid of all of the glue on the back of the steel.

After you have done this it’s time to cut out all of the steel that you don't want (the bits where you want the light shining though). It is quite hard to get it all precise by angle grinding so you may have to do it roughly, which is what I had to do, and then file to neaten up the edges.

Step 4: Removing the Excess Steel

Now you need to remove the excess steel. To do this get your angle grinder and cut out the unwanted bits. Cut it out as close to the line as possible.
You may need to re-spray the stencil so you can see the lines more clearly.

Step 5: And So the Filing Begins

This is the thing that will take up most of the time when you are making this project. The filing takes a long time to do and I suggest you invest in some quality files if u are going up against stainless steel. This step is straight forward to do. Just file until there is no black paint showing . Try not to do something too complex as the steel may snap or break.
It will end up looking something like the end picture.

Step 6: Polishing

Now that you have filed all of the excess you can polish the side that will be visible. I used a palm sander from grits 120 to 2500 to give it a mirror finish.

Step 7: The Backing

This step involves putting the backing together so with your coloured film or cellophane, frosted plastic film, scissors and sticky tape it’s time to get to work.
First of all cut your Frosted film to size and then your coloured film so it fits the stencil (do it slightly smaller than the stencil so that you can slot your steel plate into the final frame without the backing getting in the way).
Now stick it all together so it stays on securely.

Step 8: The Box/Frame

This step involves making the box that the steel stencil will sit in. I am making this out of leftover cedar lining boards.
Cut a 4mm groove in the lining boards so that the stencil can slide into them. Cut and mitre to the right size and nail and glue the bottom and the two shorter sides together.
Leave the top side for now. Check and see if the stencil fits.

Step 9: Fitting the Light

I had some complications with my light so hopefully you can choose one that suits yours better.
With my light I could easily mount the base of it by screwing some small screws into the wood and mount the base onto them. I had to make my own holes in the light so i could mount them to the top of the box which was where the light was most evenly spread (this is why I told you to leave the top off so it’s easier to screw the screws in).
After you have made the holes in the light and put the screws in the top of the box you are ready for the final assembly. So make sure that your stencil fits well and that when you're ready to glue and nail the top on it fits perfectly.

Step 10: Almost Ready to Roll

To finish it up I decided to sand it so it was smoother and coat it in a wood varnish.

Step 11: Done!

You have now finished making your Solar Powered Stencil Light Box. You can use this as a wall decoration or a Plate for dinner parties if you decided to put a clear plastic sheet over the top to prevent damage.
The only change I made to mine was allow more light to shine though by using a different coloured film so it now looks like there is a greenish tinge to the light.
But there you have it, your own Solar Powered Light Box.

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    4 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Guys, and your right the file work was worth the effort

    Makita Club
    Makita Club

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work! Great finish. Looks like a job doing the filing but that's what makes it better in the end.