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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
And lastly two coats of a nice burgundy 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.
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!
All that was left was fitting the plexiglass into place:
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!