Sunday, June 1, 2014

Homebrew Lightbox

I've been asked a few times about building lightboxes. For ease of reference I'm putting my directions here. They tend to be pricey, in my experience, but I built mine cheaply in a college dorm and have never felt the need to upgrade (the want, yes, the need? No.)

It's not pretty but it IS strong enough for me to lean on the surface while I work and portable enough for me to haul to events and classes!

Two 1"x6"x4' "standard" boards - 3.49 each.
3-4 "24"x30" Clear Glass Sheet" -
1 2" aluminum corner bracket (Optional - I use it for aligning/holding the surface)
1 Sheet of plexiglass (lexan, etc).
1+ fluorescent "kitchen light" at Walmart (I use two 12" and 1 18", models that chain off one another)
1 white garbage bag
Mirror shards/aluminum foil (Optional)

Cut, or have your lumber yard cut, the two boards in half so you have 4 boards of 2' length. Assemble them into a box (I chose a "pinwheel" format where the end of one board butts the side of another). Once sturdy, if desired attach the corner bracket to one corner for aligning the surface. Place aluminum foil or mirror pieces along the bottom to reflect light, if desired. Place the light(s) inside the box and run the cord under the edge to your wall outlet. Place one glass sheet on the top. Cover with a garbage bag (can be folded in half or cut open depending on how bright you need). Place the rest of the glass on top, then the plexiglass sheet. The glass provides strength and the plexiglass protection (for all those times your glasscutter goes right off the edge of the piece you are working). Turn on the lights and you are ready to go!

Because of the location of my outlets beneath and behind my work benches, I bought a remote controlled power strip (~$15 I think) at Menards. This lets me turn on my lightbox (and by extension my grinder and soldering iron) without climbing around on the floor beneath my work benches. You know, where all the glass dust and shards fall. I strongly recommend them!

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