Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Super Simple DIY Light Table

After reading a lot about DIY light tables, I was convinced I could simplify the process even more. I did not want to build a frame for the table. Nor did I want to paint or wrap with wax paper the inside of the box for better light diffusing. I also did not want it to be a plug in light, as I will take this into my preschool class this year.

Finding the right box is all the work you need to do, BUT that took me months of looking online and checking every store's storage section. Finally I found the perfect box the IKEA SNALIS BOX & LID.
It's completely opaque so no need for worrying about light diffusing and it's a great size. The lid also has a lip which I wanted and it has no branding or see thru stripes like all the sterlizer boxes I considered.

For the lights I used six adhesive ENERGIZER LED TAP LIGHTS in the bottom of the box.

The only time it takes is to put the batteries in the lights, so easy! The box cost $8 and the lights and batteries cost approximately $25.

Here's the top of the box.

Here's another view of the box with a good representation of how bright it is. I'm pleased with the brightness, but there is plenty of room to add more lights if you want it brighter.

Here's what it looks like inside with the six lights.


  1. I love how simple this is to put together. What I really love is that it can all be pulled apart easily again and used for other purposes. Nice job!
    Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

  2. Fantastic!! Never once until now, have I seen a DIY plastic tote light box made that I was impressed with!! It looks really good, you really did your homework with that box search!! I have always and I mean always turned my nose up at DIY plastic tote light boxes, but this one looks beautiful and worth spreading the word about! I will be making one later this week and also making a second one for a good friend. We have light panels from constructive playthings but I will be using your DIY lightbox idea for messy lightbox play as well as one to transport for playdates!! I will feature you on my blog next week!!

  3. thsi has been on my list forever! it looks so great! i can't believe how bright it is!!! thanks so much for linking up to my tip-toe thru tuesday party! i hope to see you again next week. new gfc follower, too!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this! I am going to try it! So excited.

  5. That is a great idea. I love that it is fun and easy---and can be repurposed later.

    : 0 ) Theresa

  6. Making a light table is on my summer project list too. Yours looks great (and easy to make).
    I am a new follower.

    rubber boots and elf shoes

  7. Great idea! So simple! Thank you for linking up at Saturday Show & Tell. I hope you'll be back again this week with more great ideas.

  8. Just pinned this onto our Afterschool Pinterest Board... what a fun way to explore after a busy day at school. http://pinterest.com/educatorsspinon/after-school-activities-adventures/

  9. Love, love, love, the lid on this! I've been searching everywhere for the right box too:) The light seems to escape the sides of this box though. I think I would still need to paint it on the inside so the light only goes through the top which would make it even brighter on top. Do you find you need to change the batteries often? Does this work on a table top or is it too tall? Thanks so much for this post! I'm doing tons of research on this as well for my preschool. I would love to know how this is working out...size wise for preschoolers. Is it on the floor of your preschool or a table? Thanks!

  10. I use the box on the floor in my classroom. It only can be used by 2 children at one time so you may want to do two boxes. I'm happy with the lights they are only on about 1.5 hours a day 3 days a week so they last a long time. I am considering drilling a small hole for xmas lights instead so it will be brighter and no batteries. Hope this helps!

  11. i've been wanting to make a light table for my preschool class. I love this and I'm off to IKEA:) Thanks
    Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales
    PS - I'm so glad I found your site. I'm a new follower!

  12. I looked online for the ikea box and it looks like ikea no longer carries this box:( anyone have any others that they have found?

    1. Yes:) I'm just using a Sterilite storage conatiner I got at Walmart...it is the 7 gallon/28 qt size. The lid is white so I taped a led rope light inside the lid and turn it upside down using the bottom as the top. The bottom is flat so it works well. I hope that makes sense! The lid stays on even with the cord coming out. It does need to be plugged in when in use, but the lights will last "forever!" But you can use whatever lights you want:) I don't like the light to escape the sides because I want it all to go out the "top" surface that's being used. So I'm lining mine with a mylar emergency blanket you get in the camping department at walmart. Some people have spray painted theirs white or silver for this purpose as well. It works well and the kids love it! I do love this snalis box too though. Bummer Ikea no longer sells it:(

    2. I wonder if IKEA has the snalis in stores only. Thank you for the tip on the sterilite. I think I may order it off amazon :)

    3. I would look at the storage container in person if you can. The bottom is flat, but there is some kind of bumpy logo. It's small and I doubt the kids even notice it, but still...Also, there is a bit of a ridge on the edges. I like that though as it keeps things from falling off.