The Saga of the Light-box

I’ve wanted a light-box for a long while now, and after doing some quick research I soon decided that making one myself would be the best way to go. I found a few DIY and How-to sites but when it came down to it I really just made most of it up and followed my own plans. I tried to take as many pictures as I could throughout the process but I often got caught up in things so I didn’t get a picture of every step.

The first thing to do was figure out some dimensions. I found a nice piece of plexiglass at Scrap (a donation-based creative reuse store and donation center) and used that as a basis for the dimensions of the light box. The finished box is roughly 12 1/2 by 18 inches with a height of 4 inches in the back, sloping down to 1 1/2 inches in the front, giving a total lighted surface of 16 1/2 by 12 inches; more than enough for a standard piece of writing paper (landscape or portrait).

My original plan turned out to be too complicated and when I finished cutting and gluing all the pieces it all didn’t quite fit together right. So I had to come up with a new plan which, in the end, turned out much better.

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Here’s most of the tools I used. Not pictured: table-saw

With new designs in hand I found a piece of ply wood big enough to serve as a base and various other pieces of poplar that would work as sides. I used a table-saw to cut them down to size and to cut out the necessary joinery. A Japanese handsaw allowed me to do some fine tuning and lastly I smoothed it all out with a rasp and sandpaper.

Here are all the wooden pieces laid out all nice

Here are all the wooden pieces laid out all nice

And here's another view, because why not

And here’s another view, because why not

Next are some close up shots of the cuts, so you can admire my skills with a table saw and maybe  see how this will all fit together:

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It was time to glue it all together! I had to improvise a bit because I couldn’t find a fourth clamp but it worked out all right in the end.

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Just look at that admirable clamping job.

Just look at that admirable clamping job.

I decided that I was going to paint the box to protect the wood and so I could put a bit of decoration on the outside. That meant first putting on a coat of primer:

Such a nice paint-job

Such a nice paint-job

DSCN0065And another coat of primer, because one just wasn’t enough! (You could still see the grain of the wood showing through)

All primed and ready to go!

All primed and ready to go!

This is what it looks like from the side, you can see the nice gentle slope

This is what it looks like from the side, you can see the nice gentle slope

And lastly two coats of a nice burgundy color:

I tried to be careful and not get any on the inside

I tried to be careful and not get any on the inside, but I wasn’t quite careful enough!

what a nice color!

what a nice color!

I still haven’t put any decoration or designs on the outside, I need to plan those out a bit more before I add them.

Now for some electrical work. I had purchased a strand of waterproof LED’s from RadioShack, but they needed an adapter to plug into the wall which I didn’t know because the lady at the store didn’t say anything about it (even though I asked). I ended up using a spare laptop charger cord that had the right specifications. I cut off the part that plugs into the computer and separated out the wire so I could attach it to the positive and negative of the LED cord.

Here is a not-so-good photo of all the electrical tools/components that I used

Here is a not-so-good photo of all the electrical tools/components that I used. Note the cut off end of the computer cord!

The LED had this weird plastic covering on it that would supposedly keep out water but since I wasn’t planning on using the light-box as a sink I carefully  removed the covering with a utility knife.

Next I tested out the LED’s. They were super bright (!) and I did some experimenting to see how best to lay them out inside the box. Next it was hot glue time! I used a hot glue gun to glue down the LED’s around the inside perimeter of the box and that was that, I had a functioning light-box!

Ta-da! Almost done!

Ta-da! Almost done!

All that was left was fitting the plexiglass into place:

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It was so bright the camera had some trouble photographing it.

Maybe this is a better shot

Maybe this is a better shot

It has been super helpful so far! I no longer have to make hundreds of pencil lines before I write; it’s really sped things up. Plus I can get back to writing out the Hobbit, which was the main goal all along!DSCN0088 DSCN0089 DSCN0093

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