Small (9 inches) Light Box

I made a new Thing.

It all started when I kept making cool earrings out of scraps. At first I just gave them to nieces, friends, my daughter, etc. My daughter was really happy with hers, and started bugging me for pricing and photos so she could show her friends and sell them for me. So I sent her some quick snapshots, and her husband saw them and said I needed a light box, and offered to help me pick one out. (They have a photography business, and he’s the resident perfectionist in that realm. :wink:)

So while I was waiting for a chance to collaborate with him, I browsed through Amazon and thought (of course), “well, shoot, I could MAKE one of THOSE!” So I did. I had a pile of wood / MDF pieces I’d found for free on Craigslist that used to be parts of a kid’s bed, and there were three nice flat 0.19" thick fake woodgrain-covered MDF panels that were just begging to be lasered, so that’s what I used, along with some thin diffuser stuff I got from Inventables.


Once it was assembled, I gathered up a bunch of craft lights and desk lamps to bombard it with light, and started sending photos to my daughter. I thought they looked pretty great. She tactfully suggested that I bring my box over and let my son-in-law help me with the lighting setup.

Oh, well. I can’t be good at EVERYTHING, I guess. So today I went over for a visit, and this happened:


So, yeah. He sent me home with my truck stuffed full of things he says he doesn’t really need now that they’re doing more on-site photography rather than studio work. So now I have a 9" light box surrounded by probably 120 cubic feet worth of lighting equipment. (Each of those umbrella thingies contains a light bulb almost bigger than the light box itself!)

He wanted me to use his spare camera too, and professional photo-editing software, but that’s the point where it started sounding a little too much like Work. It’s not like I’m trying to compete with Zale’s or anything; I think iPhone photos edited in iPhoto will be just fine, especially with all that light. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

He confessed to me that he had kind of scoffed when my daughter told him I’d built a light box, but once he saw it, he was actually pretty impressed with it. The only thing he changed was to put in bright white paper to cover up the white backing I’d made from watercolor paper – it’s nice and stiff, and long, but apparently not white enough.

Anyway, I guess if my design is good enough to (mostly) pass muster with him, it’s good enough to share with y’all. :slight_smile: So here you go:


There are 5 layers in the file; 4 of them are hidden so the image won’t be too confusing, and they’re named for what’s in them:

  • BackBottom: The back and bottom of the box. Also includes the 3 little hooks that fit into the slots at the upper back, for hanging the backdrop from.
  • TopFront: The top has 3 holes on each side of the opening, for attaching diffuser panels. The front is the one without those.
  • Sides: Contains the left and right side panels, as well as 12 strips for fastening in the diffuser panels on the top and sides.
  • Diffuser: Cut 3 of these. I used this material from Inventables.
  • Backdrop: Cut from something thin and flexible and of appropriate color.

Notes and observations:

  • This is sized for 0.19" stock.
  • I painted the inside of each piece white before assembling, to help bounce light around.
  • The tabs are tight. You’ll need to hammer them together. The only place you’ll need glue is for the strips that hold in the diffuser panels, and maybe the hooks on the back.
  • I put my diffuser panels on the inside, but they’d work just as well on the outside, if you want that tiny bit of extra space.
  • If you want to photograph flowers and stuff out in the world, you could cut out (or just leave off) the bottom so you can just set the box down over whatever you want to capture.
  • Right now I’ve just got the lower edge of the backdrop taped in place where I want it. A classier system of holding it in place might be nice, but tape works too.



If you don’t have a photographer SIL with a bunch of spare lighting lying around, get yourself 3 nice bright LED gooseneck desk lamps, and just brighten up the photos in iPhoto or whatever. I very quickly found a pretty standard set of tweaks that look quite acceptable as long as you don’t stick them next to one done by my SIL. If you have iPhoto, here’s what works for me:

  1. Slide the following settings up to about 0.30:
  • Brilliance
  • Exposure
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Brightness
  1. Click the “auto” button next to White Balance

  2. Manually adjust the White Balance slider about 3 clicks farther to the right to make it look a tad warmer (unless you like the cold white)

  3. Crop appropriately

And done. :slight_smile:

Here’s what mine looked like with my cobbled-together lighting, after edits:

And with the full OCD photographer lighting package:

[Edit: Oops, sorry. I thought I had photos of the same pair for comparison, but I didn’t. The coloring is right; one pair is cherry and one is maple. Also, NOT included is the super amazing photo my SIL took with his fancy camera that made both of these look–well, amateur. ;)]

_Also, aren’t my birdies cute? I’m very proud of them :slight_smile: _


Very cute!

Very nice! Personally, I favor the first photo. :heart_eyes:
Got a good source for those findings you wouldn’t mind sharing?

On a side note, I really like your name, I think if you looped that little curly-q in the "S’ to kind of match the way the ‘Y’ loops around the finding, I think that would give a nice balance.


Aww, thanks. :smiley: I think it’s that last tweak, sliding up the warmth a tiny bit. :slight_smile:


Yes, the birdies are very, very cute. Nice work, nice write up and thanks for the file.

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The birdies are adorbs! (And I like the cooler tones of the first pic too…guess I don’t shop enough to have a discerning eye for that sort of thing.)

Anyway, thanks for sharing the file! :grinning:

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Really cute little birds, and a very nice light box!

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Really nice build and even nicer for you to generously share it with us. I can use this!

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Sorry, I missed this the first time around! I got the ear wires from Fire Mountain Gems.

And I’ll play with the “S,” that’s a nice idea! Both of my mental health businesses have “Serenity” in their names; it’s a good mental health sort of word with a sneaky nod to my geek roots. :wink:


Thanks for the link.


One of the reasons I bought the Glowforge was to do photography related projects. This never crossed my mind, and it’s awesome! Nice job. Great project.

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Thanks for the file and the instructions. Your birdies are cute. Just wondering, is the back card a wood looking cardboard or are you using a piece of real wood or plywood?

Thanks so much for the design! I would totally make one if I didn’t already have one. Your other tips are worth the price of admission though!

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Very nice. I found a couple of cheap desk lamps that were tired of hanging out at Goodwill. Matched with 200 watt bulbs and you can always back them off a bit. I do love the ear rings. I think you will be making quite a few.


Your earrings are beautiful.

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It’s my earring card design, but cut from PG Maple instead of the watercolor paper I usually use. :slight_smile:


First off, LOVE the earrings, nice work!


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Sounds like you addressed a need people didn’t even know they had. Thanks so much for sharing!


Those are so cute! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes::astonished:

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