Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Logo 2


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    For an artist a light box can be an essential. Light boxes are rarely needed, but when they are needed, nothing can really take their place. I had a need for one, but the price asked for even a simple box was beyond my pocket book. As usual, need plus lack of funds means putting the old brain in gear. What I came up with is what you see in the picture to your left.

    The first thing you have to do is decide what size the working surface has to be. Once that's decided you have to find a working surface that's strong, will diffuse light sufficiently so there's no hot-spots and dark areas, and something that can be cut to size. You may be able to find something at a thrift store, but I suspect the likelihood of such a find would be very thin. Somewhere I found this piece of thick opaque plastic which works quite well for the purpose. Remember, the surface has to be opaque, something that lets light through, but that you can't see through if it's going to be successful. Otherwise you might as well just put your work against a window when the sun is out.

    When you attach the top to the sides, countersink the screw holes if at all possible so the screws don't interfere with your work. I broke out a couple holes on mine, the material not liking to be drilled with the bit I was using. It still works however, and that I suppose is the main thing. Also, when you install the screws, make sure you don't get them too tight. You're likely to crack the surface material.

    If you're unable to drill the material you've decided on, you might consider using little "L" brackets (you might have to make them yourself out of thin metal or even tin cans) and let the lip ride over the top while installing the screws on the side.





    Once you have your plastic top, and you've cut it to size, then you'll need the sides of the box. I used pieces of 4 inch shelving for the purpose. This is fairly easy to find in stacks of lumber or maybe as scrap from a housing development or thrown away at a lumber yard. Nail the box together making sure the edges of the working top fits well over the top of the box so you'll have something to fasten the top to.

    Boxes give off heat and they have to breath. For this I used a piece of peg board that already had plenty of holes in it. Then I used some rubber "feet" to hold the bottom of the box off the table. Keep in mind that the bottom of the box will get quite hot, so don't rest it on any valuable surface that might be damaged by the heat..



    Here we have the inside works of the box. Simple light fixtures can be used as seen here. However, if you can manage it, florescent lights would work better and be cooler. I built this box long before these new energy-efficient bulbs were even thought of. I suspect they would work better than the frosted standard bulbs I'm using here.

    You'll need something to line the inside of your box with, something that will reflect an even light to the entire working surface. I found this thick cardboard that has a reflective surface. I stapled it along the top of the box to hold it in place. Then I drilled more air holes in the side of the box, making sure I drilled through the reflective material as well.

    Being the perfectionist I am (pardon me while I turn and laugh) I varnished the box before assembling it, and put a handle on one side. I also used a light cord with one of those little circular switch thingies, which makes it look more professional, and allows me to turn it on and off without having to unplug it each time.

    There you are, that's the basics. Now it's up to you to fill in the blank spaces, and figure out how to improve upon what I've presented. 




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