How to Make a Light Table

A light table is a versatile and valuable tool that can be used for various creative and practical purposes, from tracing and drawing to crafting and photography. Whether you’re an artist, designer, or simply looking to add a unique piece of furniture to your workspace, learning how to make a light table can be a rewarding DIY project.

A light table consists of a translucent surface illuminated from beneath, allowing you to see through objects or documents placed on it with enhanced clarity.

How to Make a Light Table

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to create your own light table, tailored to your specific needs and preferences. With a few readily available materials and a dash of creativity, you can bring the magic of illumination into your projects, making tasks like tracing, sketching, and crafting more accessible and enjoyable.

What Is a Light Table?

A light table is an illuminating device used by photographers and film makers to create special effects, provide consistent lighting from multiple sources, and illuminate slides and negatives. A light table typically consists of a thin translucent surface illuminated from beneath with bright white light.

The effect of the illumination is such that items placed on the table appear brighter than they are in natural conditions. This makes it easy to take pictures, study slides and negatives, or view artwork more clearly.

Uses and Applications of Light Tables

Now that you know how to make a light table, let’s take a look at some of the uses and applications of this technology. Light tables can be used for tracing drawings, examining transparencies, and creating patterns from colored film or glass.

Light tables also make it easier to inspect artwork before it is sealed or framed. Additionally, light tables are helpful in analyzing X-rays, checking electronic components, and viewing film and slides.

Light tables are also used in a variety of industrial applications, such as inspecting printed circuit boards or other kinds of electronic parts. They can be used to examine material samples or minute objects for defects or flaws. Light tables can also be used in the medical field to diagnose skin conditions, detect cancer cells in blood samples, and view microscopic slides.

Light tables are also very useful in educational settings, as they allow for easy tracing of artwork, exploring materials such as colored film or glass, and identifying patterns. By providing a bright illuminated surface, light tables can also be used to teach students about color theory and the basic principles of physics. Finally, light tables can be used in photography to create interesting lighting effects, such as light painting.

With so many uses and applications of light tables, it’s easy to see why this technology is so valuable in a variety of settings. Whether for educational or industrial purposes, making your own light table provides an accessible way to explore materials and patterns in ways that are simply not possible by other means.

Making Your Own Light Table

Materials You’ll Need

Before you begin, gather all the necessary materials and tools:

  1. Table or Work Surface: Choose a sturdy table or work surface that can accommodate the size of the light table you intend to create.
  2. Acrylic or Plexiglass Sheet: You’ll need a piece of acrylic or Plexiglass to serve as the translucent surface. The size of the sheet will determine the working area of your light table.
  3. LED Light Strips or Panels: Acquire LED light strips or panels with adhesive backing. Ensure they cover the entire underside of the acrylic sheet.
  4. Power Source: Depending on your LED lights, you may need a power adapter or a suitable power source to connect them.
  5. Dimmer Switch (optional): A dimmer switch allows you to adjust the brightness of the light table according to your needs.
  6. Pencil and Ruler: These tools will be used for marking and measuring.
  7. Drill with Bits: You’ll need a drill with bits suitable for making holes in your table or work surface.
  8. Screws: Get screws that are appropriate for securing the LED strips or panels.
  9. Wooden Frame (optional): If you prefer a raised edge for your light table, you can construct a wooden frame.
  10. Saw and Sandpaper (if making a frame): These tools are necessary for cutting and finishing the wooden frame.

10 Steps How to Make a Light Table

Step 1: Measure and Mark

Determine the size of the light table you want to create, considering the dimensions of your acrylic sheet. Mark the area on your table or work surface where you’ll place the acrylic sheet. Ensure it’s centered and level.

Determine the Size of the Light Table

Step 2: Prepare the Acrylic Sheet

Clean the acrylic or Plexiglass sheet to remove any dust or fingerprints. Leave it face-down on a clean, soft surface to prevent scratching while you work on the underside. Measure and mark the width of your light table to determine how large your acrylic sheet should be. Cut the acrylic sheet with a jigsaw, hacksaw, or other type of saw that will smoothly cut through the material.

Step 3: Position the LED Lights

Attach the LED light strips or panels to the underside of the acrylic sheet. Ensure they are evenly spaced and cover the entire surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for secure adhesion. Cut the excess wires or cords if necessary. Once in place, plug in the LED and make sure it works.

Step 4: Wire the LED Lights

Connect the LED lights to a power source or adapter according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you want to add a dimmer switch, wire it into the circuit as well. Test the lights to make sure they work properly.

Then, you can attach the LED lights to the edges of your light table. Use double-sided tape or glue for a secure hold that won’t damage your table when it’s time for removal. Once all the lights are in place and secured properly, connect them to a power source.

Step 5: Create a Wooden Frame (Optional)

If you prefer a raised edge for your light table, construct a wooden frame using the saw and sandpaper. Cut the wood to match the dimensions of your acrylic sheet, then attach the frame to the table around the marked area. If desired, use wood screws to hold the frame in place. Sand down any rough edges and ensure that all corners are even with one another for an aesthetically pleasing look.

Step 6: Drill Holes for Wiring

Drill holes in the table or frame (if applicable) to accommodate the wires and power source. Ensure the holes are large enough for the wires to pass through without being pinched. If the table or frame is made of wood, use a drill with bit that designed for hardwood to avoid splintering. Be sure to hold the drill steady while drilling and don’t rush it. Once complete, you’re ready to wire up your light table!

Drill Holes in the Table or Frame

Step 7: Secure the Acrylic Sheet

Carefully position the acrylic sheet on top of the LED lights, ensuring the wires pass through the drilled holes. If you have a wooden frame, the sheet should rest on it. Secure the acrylic sheet in place by using small screws or nails.

If you are using glue, make sure that the adhesive completely seals around the edges and periphery of the acrylic sheet. To ensure a smooth finish and to prevent any warping, use clamps to hold it in position while it is drying. Once secured, your light table is ready to use!

Step 8: Fasten the Acrylic Sheet

Secure the acrylic sheet in place using screws or other appropriate fasteners. Make sure it is snugly attached to the table or frame, with no wobbling. Then, plug in your light source and begin testing.

Depending on the size of your table, you may want to consider adding additional lighting sources for a much brighter appearance. When selecting extra lights, remember to select ones that are compatible with the type of table or frame you’ve chosen. LED strips work well for most DIY projects.

Step 9: Connect the Power

Route the wires through the drilled holes and connect them to the power source. If you have a dimmer switch, connect it in line with the power source and LED lights. Ensure all connections are secure and safe. Test the light table, making sure it is working properly before leaving.

Step 10: Test and Fine-Tune

Turn on your newly created light table and test its brightness. If you added a dimmer switch, adjust it to your desired level of illumination. Ensure the entire surface is evenly lit, without dark spots or flickering.

Turn on Your Newly Created Light Table


To wrap up, building a light table does not have to be complicated or intimidating. With the right tools and materials, you can assemble your own custom designed light table from scratch in a few easy steps.

The possibilities are truly endless! Whether you’re looking for an activity to do with your kid, or just want to add a personal touch to your photography studio, this tutorial should help get you started. We hope that you now feel inspired and know how to make a light table of your own design. Happy building!

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