In this instructable I make a new light box, which I intend to use for tracing out stencils and possibly some photography. My old one was smaller and didn’t diffuse the light very well. After watching a few YouTube videos I decided on my design. The lighted surface measures just shy 22 x 28 inches and is big enough for a full size poster board. I purchased some frames with glass from a thrift store for $9.00 each. For the box I used some scrap MDF to make support pieces and some other wood scraps to make the rest of the glass support pieces. I also used some 1x4x6 lumber to make the main part of the light box which was about another $8.00. I bought some foil tape to line the inside of the box to reflect more light the tape was about $8.00. Lastly I ordered some Bright White LED strip lighting for the inside of the box this cost $15.00. So for about $50.00 I was able to build this light box. Granted I did use some of my scrap pieces of wood so that helped keep the cost down.
Here is a link to the build video:
These are the two frames I purchased at a thrift store the glass is 22 x 28. I saved a little money by repurposing the glass in these frames as opposed to buying them from the hardware store. You need two pieces of glass for this so that you can make a glass/foam/glass sandwich (I will explain what this is later). This not only is for light diffusion but also to make the glass sturdier since its so big.
Next I cut down some 1 inch x 4 inch x 6 foot pine boards. The 2 short boards measure 23-1/2 inches long and the 2 longer boards measure 28 inches long.
I got this foil tape tip from Instructables member Get Hands Dirty here is a link to her build https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-an-LED-Light-Box/ I lined what would become the inside of the light box with the foil tape. This tape will help reflect the light.
I made sure to pre-drill all the screw holes, pine is very soft and will split easily. I assembled the box and made sure that all my measurements were correct. I did not use glue on any of the joints only screws, this way if anything breaks I can take the box apart and fix or replace it.
I made these support pieces from a scrap piece of MDF that was 3/4 inch thick. The pieces are 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch and then I cut them to length so that they would fit inside the box. They will hold the "light panel" that will hold the LED light strip.
This is a piece of 1/4 inch hard board or backer board that I cut from a larger scrap piece. I cut it to fit inside the box it measures 22 x 28 inches. I covered the entire surface with the foil tape.
I purchased a set of LED strip lights that had a self adhesive backing. I first tested the lights and then I attached them using the self adhesive strip. Don't be like me take the time to plan out the lay out so that the lights are more evenly spaced apart. The light box still works well, its just a minor detail I overlooked.
Here again using some scrap 1inch x 4 inch material I cut some 1/4 inch x 3/4 inch wide strips that would become the glass support pieces. I cut them to length so that they would fit inside the box using my miter saw.
I also added a piece of MDF in the center bottom of the frame to support the LED light panel it sits flush with the bottom support pieces. In the first picture I am scribing a reference line that I will use to attach the glass support strips. I made sure to add the depth of the glass pieces and the foam board as well as a 1/4 inch to this scribe line. In the second picture I am making a hole for the electrical plug.
Using my brad nailer I lined my support strips up with the scribe line and nailed them in place.
I got this tip from "Epic Fantasy" YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRhyaioJgWE he makes a light box using foam poster board and shows how it can be used to diffuse light. I used two foam boards that I purchased for $1 each. Basically you peel the paper from the foam board on both sides and then you sandwich this in between the two pieces of glass. I had to use two pieces of foam board because the ones I found were smaller than 22x28 inches. The last picture shows the test fit you can see the "glass sandwich".
Since the majority of the construction was complete I made sure to cover any exposed wood areas with foil tape. One of the last steps in the construction is to attach the small frame that will hold the glass in place. I used 1/4 x 1/4 inch wood strips that I pin nailed in to the top edge as the glass retainer. These last few pieces sit flush with the top edge of the box see the last pic.
The first pic shows what the box looks like after construction. I remove the smaller panel that has the hole for the electrical plug, then I slide in the LED light panel. I then slide in my "glass sandwich" and re-attach my small panel with 4 screws.
So how well does it work? The first picture is of a print out of Batman that I wanted to make a stencil out of, the second picture is of a piece of poster board sitting on top of the Batman print out. You can see from the picture that tracing the image will be very easy and that the light is well distributed.
This light box is on the heavier side but since I use it for tracing that is actually a good thing because it doesn't move around while I work on it. I really like the way this turned out and I have used it quite a bit. I hope you find this instructable helpful and thank you for reading this far.
Link to my build video.