Sunday, March 17, 2013

My son's new light box

My 9 year old has taken a real interest in drawing lately. He's not great at it, so he wants to start out by tracing some things to get the feel for how to draw certain things. But tracing is hard when you can't really see what you're tracing through the paper you're drawing on! So I decided to try building him a light table. I thought if we could find inexpensive pieces that we can use for other things if he decides he doesn't need it (or he does, and we get him a better one!)

So here's what I did. We were at Home Depot, and we found a clear plastic storage bin with a clear blue lid. It's almost flat, but the middle is indented slightly so pencils won't roll off. Then today, my husband found a 250W halogen work light for $8. We added an extension cord we already had, put the light inside and put the lid on. And here's what we got!

The back picture shows up super clearly through the top paper, and since the lid is blue, it keeps the light from blinding you too much when you move the paper. I might add some kind of shielding to the lid to protect his eyes a little more though. And it's a nice big surface, the only tricky spot is right in the middle, but his notebook sized papers fit fine on one end, with the light in the other end.

That's my frugal project of the day!


  1. That light will get VERY hot. please make sure he understands to never leave it unattended. I'd be inclined to only let him use it in a public room.

  2. It does get warm. I told him to turn it on to do his tracing only, and then turn it off and take the lid off to let it cool, and if it starts to get warm before he's done, take a break. And he never walks away from it with the light still on. I thought about adding some sort of cooling system, but honestly, he'll probably get a real light box for his birthday if this one continues to get the kind of use it's already getting, so he can follow the rules till then :)