You should know that an LED lightbox can be used for a variety of creative purposes, so let’s get started with how you can make an LED light box!
Step 1: Make the box / Cut out all of the pieces
Begin by cutting the wood to the size you desire for the box. To get better light refraction inside the box, we recommend not constructing it too shallow.
We recommend 10mm plywood for the material, which will be linked with 45º miters and internal splines for strength, but you can also use solid wood or 1/2″ or 3/4″ plywood that you may have on hand.
We utilized a table saw sled designed specifically for 45º angle cuts to perform the cuts.
After you’ve cut all four sides to their final dimensions, you’ll want to make two rabbets all the way around. One is for the backer board to sit properly later. The other is for the white opaline acrylic sheet (translucent) to slide in and out if it requires to be replaced at some point. We like opaline acrylic sheets that are 3 mm (1/8″) thick.
Step 2: Reinforce the miters and glue them up
Because we’re utilizing tall miters, it’s critical to reinforce them, and there are a few options for doing so. It’s so simple and quick once you install a stop block on the 45º table saw sled that it’s a joy to do.
After all of the slots have been cut, we’ll need to produce some solid wood splines from a strip and tune them up just a little bit loose in the slots to make room for the glue.
We can now glue the four sides of the hidden splines together, with the help of a picture frame clamp. Check that everything is square and that the acrylic sheet is properly seated in its rabbet.
Step 3: To close the slot, create a top frame
To keep the acrylic sheet trapped inside the groove, you’ll need to create a barrier.
Since this will be highly visible, you can simply achieve this by creating a border frame out of solid wood strips and cutting some miters to make them great in appearance.
Remember that one piece of the border should be thicker than the others to fit the final height of the light box. That is the section that will not be glued and will be able to come out if the acrylic sheet needs to be removed or replaced.
It’s a good idea to cover the edges of the acrylic with plastic wrap before gluing it up so that the glue squeeze out doesn’t fill the groove and attach to the sheet. When removing the sheet with the plastic wrap, take your time. If you take your time, it will come out beautifully.
Step 4: Apply finish and reflective material
To prepare the box for finishing, give it a light sanding. We like to use a wood sealer and spray lacquer, but you can use whatever protective finish you like.
Once the outside is complete, we must focus on the interior and make it as reflective as possible. Sticking aluminium tape to the interior of the sidewalls and (most importantly) the backer board is a fantastic idea (we prefer using a piece of thin MDF).
Step 5: LED’s and closing the box
We’re getting closer to the finish line!
Now, all we have to do is attach some LED strip to the sides as far as possible from the front acrylic sheet so that the light can spread evenly and the box can be closed. The bright line will be more visible the closer the LED strip is to the acrylic. And if you stick it to the backer board, you’ll get bright light stripes, which we don’t think are especially useful in this case.
If you don’t use a lot of strips to cover the entire backer board, you’ll always see those visible bright lines while looking at the light box from the front. Hence, we’ve discovered that applying them to the sides yields a superior outcome. However, if your box is really large, you will eventually require a large number of strips, therefore reduce the black space in the center or consider utilizing an ultra-bright and powerful LED strip.
You’ll need to drill a few holes in the movable border piece to insert screws from the front after you’ve closed the box and attached some wooden holders to the bottom.
Now all you have to do is plug it on and start making interesting stuff with it!