Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DIY Light Box

I have wanted to make my own light box or light tent for a while now.  Since they are so expensive to buy, I wanted to try to make my own inexpensive version of a light tent.

Make a DIY Light Box or Light Tent -

I finally found a light box tutorial that would work for me.  Be sure to check out Cara’s blog to find out how she made hers.  I used Cara’s light box for inspiration and also used the instructions she linked to in her light box post.

DIY Light Box. Light Tent
Here is what I used:

Light Box Supplies
-1 Cardboard box, I used an unused wardrobe box I had left over from the move.  it is 24” x 24” x 34”.

-Scissors and exacto knife

-Tape (masking tape and I also used white duck tape)

-Glue stick

-White Bristol board or poster board, I used 3 sheets to cover the inside of the box and one sheet to place as the backdrop.

Sheet to cover light box
-Fabric, I used a bed sheet from Wal-Mart, on sale for about $8.00

Clip light

Clamp light for Light Box
-Lights, definitely the most expensive part of the light box.  I had trouble finding the lights I wanted.  I originally wanted 3 smaller reflector lights, similar to the large reflector light I ended up purchasing.  But unfortunately, Home Depot was sold out.  They only had one large clamp light (300 watt max) left, which I snagged.  Then, I also purchased 2 small clip lights (60 watt max).

Light bulb 60w

Light bulb 150w
-Light bulbs, also can be expensive.  I used two 60 watt, daylight (6500K) compact florescent light bulbs in the clip lights.  I used one 150 watt, daylight (6500K) compact florescent bulb in the large clamp light.

Here is how I made my light box:

I measured 2” from all edges, marked with a pencil and cut large holes in the four sides of the box, leaving the 2 inches along the edges of the box intact.  I didn’t cut anything on the bottom and I cut off the flaps of cardboard that make the top.

Light box construction
Next, I lined the inside with 2” strips of white Bristol board, gluing them to the inside of the cardboard box.

Light box construction, taping fabric
After I finished lining with the Bristol board, I started to attach the fabric.  I ironed the bed sheet to get most of the wrinkles out.  I tacked the fabric to the box using masking tape then I used white duck tape to fully secure it.

Light box construction 3
I left the top until last.  I attached the fabric the same way as on the sides.

White Duck Tape
The duck tape worked really well to attach the fabric.  Plus the white duck tape covered up the cardboard box so no writing was showing and the whole box was white.

Use Duck Tape to hold down material

Light Box Completed
Next, I needed to install the lighting.  Tricky.  I used a coffee table we had stashed downstairs to place my light box on to make it easier to take pictures.  I’d like to have something more permanent, but for now my steamer is holding up 2 lights and the kids’ chair is holding up the other light on the opposite side.

Since the large clamp light doesn’t have an on/off switch, I plugged all the lights into a power bar.  This way, I only need to turn on the power bar and all 3 lights come on.

DIY Light Box

Light Box Completed 2

DIY Light Tent

I used the metal piece that came with the wardrobe box to place across the top of the box so the large clamp light could lean on it and not touch the fabric.

Light box inside

So far the light box is working GREAT, last night I was able to take some photos for my shop.  I never would have been able to do that before!  I was always waiting for the perfect sunlight during the day, which really limited when I could take photos.  Now I have a lot more freedom!


Here is how my light box looks currently.

I clipped both the bottom lights to the table below the light box, and they are working well there.  I added a 4th light, which has also helped to decrease shadows.

As Always,

I shared this post at A Bowl Full of Lemons, Clean and Scentsible, Morganize with Me, Satori Design for Living


  1. It's beautiful! Now *I'm* inspired to make a new one for myself since mine is a bit bashed up from being dragged in and out of the closet.

  2. I definitely need one of these for those gloomy days when I NEED to take photos. Your shop photos look great. Did you take all of them with the light box?

    1. Thanks Shauna :) Yes, I'm currently working to retaking all the photos for all the products in my shop using my light box. It works GREAT! I can take pictures any time of day or night and the photos are consistent. I also spend a lot less time editing photos. So much easier, I recommend building one, well worth it!

  3. What a great idea! I could use one of these too. I will be adding this to my TO DO! Thanks for the breakdown on how to do it!

    1. Let me me how yours turns out, Morgan! Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Great tutorial! I've been needing a light box for certain shots, but didn't want to pay retail for one. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing~

    1. Thank you, Brandyn! You have a beautiful blog and photos in your posts :) thank you for checking out my blog!

  5. This is awesome! I have built a bit of a light box/studio in my basement for product pics, as these shots have definitely been tricky. It's made a huge difference - I love being able to take photos whenever I want, day or night, but that lighting piece has been a challenge for me. You should see the thrifted lamps I started out with! My lighting has gradually improved along the way, but I'm still figuring it all out. I really like what you've done here! Great job!!!

    1. I agree Sheila, the best part is being able to take pics anytime, whenever I need to. I also feel the lighting piece is the most challenging. I'm still experimenting, but still a huge improvement over my past photos. Thanks so much Sheila!

  6. Hi Sandra love your lightbox ideas. Just made one from recycled plywood and wondering about the Bristol card. Is it special because of the whiteness or reflective qualities? Was thinking about using photocopy paper? Any view you have that might ENLIGHTEN me is very welcome. Thank YOU. HAVE AN OUTSTANDING DAY! Bill

    1. Hi Bill, Thanks! I would love to see how your light box turns out! I used bristol board because it was large, easy to work with and thick. Since the bristol board is large I had less cuts to make and less seams. My only concern about the photocopy paper is that it may not be thick enough to get a true "white" color. You might be able to double up the photocopy paper to get a brighter white? I don't think it would hurt to give it a shot, if it is not working you can always recover it with bristol board in the future. Hope this helps, thanks for your comment. Let me know how it goes! Take care, Sandra

  7. Hi Sandra, found your lightbox tute via Krafty Cards etc. What a simpe solution for better photos! We in Canada get totally gloomy light all winter, so this will be a huge help for me. Thanks for sharing your post.


    1. Hi Val, thanks for letting me know about Maria's post. I appreciate it! Thank you for checking out my blog :)

  8. Thanks for sharing your approach on this subject! Now I have another idea to make my own. Keep it up!


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