DIY Lightbox for Tracing

For less than $100 I built my own lightbox for tracing, drawing or inking. It’s awesome and building it myself allowed me to customize my lightbox to fit my needs perfectly. Here’s what I did:

Specs:

13″ x 16″ (x 6″ deep) DIY Lightbox perfect for tracing, drawing and inking. Five foot power cord with a dimmer & on/off switch attached to the box via velcro. Holds my paper in place without paperclips or a clamp. LED lights to prevent overheating– also much more pleasant, less headache-inducing light than fluorescents. All for under $100.

What I bought:

– White Acrylic Sheet 13″ x 16″
– Thin MDF 13″ x 16″
– 1″x6″x6′ Plank cut into 4 pieces (two 14.5″ & two 13″). I used a hard pine because its pretty and decently durable.
– LED puck lights (3 for $40 at Lowe’s– cheaper ones exist, but I wanted the dimmer switch and lights that were already chained together)
– Plastic Tile Edge Molding (for holding your acrylic in place)
– Contact Cement

Tools I had:

– Scissors
– Power Drill & Bits
– Hammer + Nails
– Clamp
– Pencil
– Ruler
– Protractor
– Latex or Rubber Gloves
– Sandpaper
– Velcro

STEP ONE: CUT YOUR WOOD, MDF & ACRYLIC TO SIZE

I wanted a 16″x13″ drawing surface, so I cut my white acrylic sheetMDF to be 16″x13″.
The plank of wood I bought was labelled 1″ x 6″ x 6′. What that actually means is: .75″ x 5.75″ x 6′. So in order for the sides of my box to overlap perfectly, I cut the plank into 4 pieces: Two pieces 13″ long, & two pieces 14.5″ long. This accounts for .75″ overlap at the corners.
All these items can be found in Lowe’s or Home Depot and they will cut them for you as well. However, they don’t guarantee precision so you may opt to cut them yourself. I had all my pieces cut in-store. The edges weren’t perfect, but after a little sandpaper, no one’s the wiser!

STEP TWO: BUILD YOUR FRAME

Drilling pilot holes is important to prevent your wood from splitting. To do this, clamp your side pieces to a hard surface, mark your pilot holes, and drill! Make sure to consider the width of your plank. Since the thickness of my side pieces was 3/4″, I drilled pilot holes 3/8″ from the short edge. This is important for ensuring the corners of your frame are flush.
Next you will want to clamp two sides to make a corner, and nail them into place. (This required two people, one to hold and one to clamp.)
Do this with all four corners, and you should end up with something like this!

STEP THREE: ATTACH YOUR BASE

On the bottom side of my frame, I used the power drill to boar a small hole along the back, bottom edge. This took a really steady hand and a little sandpaper.
Now you can string your LED lights’ power cord through. Make sure to put your controller & plug on the outside, and the lights on the inside of your box!
Using the same table-clamping method for my last pilot holes, I drilled some holes along the edge of my MDF– which will be my base. These holes were also 3/8″ from the edge.
Hammer some nails into this sucker, and you’ve got a box!

STEP FOUR: ATTACH TILE MOLDING

This tile edge molding is awesome and was really just a lucky coincidence that we noticed it at the hardware store. It fits our acrylic sheet perfectly and can even be used to hold your paper into place while your tracing. We got an 8′ piece for less than $3.

Cut into 4 pieces: two 13″, & two 14.5″. Make sure you cut at 45 degree angles, and measure from tip to tip.
To attach, you will want a good adhesive for both plastic & wood. We used contact cement: but make sure you use gloves! The stuff is really really sticky and doesn’t want to come off. It also smells bad, so good ventilation is a must here.

STEP FIVE: PLACE YOUR LIGHTS

Finally, you’ll want to either glue or velcro your LED puck lights to the base. We started with sticker velcro, but the adhesive wasn’t very strong, so we eventually glued the velcro to our lights & base.
We did the same thing with the light controller on the outside of the box.
Slide your acrylic into place…
And voila! A beautiful lightbox and a sense of accomplishment.
Success! And the only casualty was this bent up nail.
So there ya go. You should do it! It’s fun!

The Year Was 2014…


Typically, resolutions are a sentence: I will work out more; I will watch less tv; I will clip my fingernails and eat more pie; etc. Maybe those sentences are helpful for some people. Or maybe a resolution is an excuse to make promises you don’t have to keep. My new theory is that for a resolution to work, it can’t be a sentence. It has to be a fire under your rump. It’s gotta burn, baby. If you don’t fulfill your promises, you’ll feel it…bad. 

-~-

I’ve been a recluse the past 12 months. There are no excuses, really. I’m sorry. Chances are: I wanted to see you but some kind of laziness got in my way. This is the trouble with complacency, I guess.

This year I’m going to try something new.

What you are reading here, obviously, is a blog. I’ve never been a fan of them. In my experience, they are self-centered, boring, insignificant, and yadda yadda yadda. And quite frankly, the thought of having one seemed embarrassing. So why is this happening? It feels necessary. I can be determined, but default to lazy. I can be creative, but unfortunately, I tend towards complacent. So I need a resolution and I need a fire. Get ready, it’s a 3-Part-er.

MY RESOLUTION:

Part 1.
I live in the woods and would watch movies in my cabin all day if nobody stopped me. However, I want to stop me. ‘Cause I want to do things with my time; real things. My goal here is to share my activities with the inter-verse, which means, I need to build/create/explore by necessity. And if I don’t, I will feel a (perhaps false) sense of embarrassing failure to said inter-verse. Hey, I never claimed to be strong-willed.

Part 2.
My link with the outside world has been totally broken since I moved out here. Being an hour and a half from the city means no one is hanging out. I want to stay connected with friends and family even though I’m not around, so maybe this could be a good way to remind you all that I exist and that I’m doing stuff you might want to talk about. (See what I mean about the self-centeredness?)

Part 3.
As an entrepreneur, I have (essentially) no income. As a person naturally hateful of authority figures, I don’t have traditional money-making options. This year I am trying to diversify my income. I have a lot of interests and hobbies, and if I’m lucky I can live off my curiosities. (I get the feeling luck doesn’t have much to do with it though.)

SO, you are probably wondering, why should I care?

The answer: I have no idea. You probably shouldn’t care right now. I haven’t done much to speak of yet. But I guess that’s the goal: I want to live a life worth writing about.

~ ~ ~

Not very inspirational after all. But if you’re curious, stay tuned. My goal is to update 3-4 times a week– we’ll see what happens ;P

Upcoming Posts:
– How To: Build Your Own Light-Box for Tracing
– Spicy Pineapple Stir-Fry Recipe
– Take A Look Inside Our Cabin! (Spoiler: it’s adorable)

How It Started

The idea of running away, escaping into the woods, always interested me. Great scenery, plenty of inspiration and excess time for relaxation. You always think it. You never think you’d actually do it. Until one day, we woke up and realized…..

We did it. Not boldly, so much as inevitably.

My boyfriend and I were living in BedStuy (Brooklyn, NY) when our landlord discovered we had two guinea pigs. Long story short we were out looking for a new place, and soon realized, as any New Yorker can testify, that the current real estate scene is just awful. Overpriced, overrated and sometimes just plain weird. To give that statement a little context: the most appealing apartment within our price range had a closet-sized kitchen, including a stove sitting directly in the center of the room and a landlord who insisted we would “be like a little family” since she would collect our mail and lock us into the apartment at night.

In May 2013 we had formed a post-production company (editing, color grading & animation for film & video) and consequently had essentially no income and very modest savings. Basically, no one (but the crazies) in Brooklyn wanted us. We were reluctant to submit to an such an odd fate so we started looking for alternatives.

Jump ahead and we are homeless, staying at a relative’s empty house in Atlantic City (not the most pleasant place to be) and on a never ending hunt for somewhere to call home. After about four months of uncertainty, we passed by a real estate office in upstate NJ and decided to stop in. An hour later we were standing inside a little lakeside cottage in the middle of the woods. To the agent’s surprise, we shouted that we wanted to move in (if you don’t get your paperwork in for an apartment in Brooklyn within 12 hours, you most likely won’t be considered).

Jump forward again about 1 month– and we live in the woods. It was a somewhat impulsive, somewhat desperate decision– but here we are. One minute you are trying to grow a small business in the largest metropolis in the country, and the next minute you are in the middle of the woods overlooking a snowy lake and realizing that there are hours in the day which never before existed. Every spare moment of my life in Brooklyn was spent “coping” with assholes at the supermarket, and crazy people on my front steps.

We have been here for less than a month and I have realized that despite what I previously believed, I don’t really have interests or opinions or feel like anything “really matters.” Up until now I have lived for complacency– the desire for life to not completely suck. And well, that’s just plain boring and not where I want to be.

My family said I was brave for exchanging the city for the country before establishing my career. I know what they really meant was naive. But I’m okay with that because my life before wasn’t exactly challenging me. Sure, it was tough to get by (lord knows it will be even worse out here with no local client base), but it didn’t challenge me as a person. I wasn’t challenged to be productive with every hour of the day; challenged to take on new experiences; challenged to rethink my reluctance to “downgrade” my life or career; challenged to really evaluate who I am and what I can achieve.

But now there is nowhere to run from that reality. And I don’t think I even want to run anymore. I just want to try– to see if I can really live up to those challenges. So that is what this (blog) is all about. Maybe it will help keep me on track; keep me trying. From now on I will indulge my curiosities, push my comfort zone, refuse my boredom, and maybe I won’t have time for complacency anymore.

So this is where I start. If I’m lucky this won’t just be where that “big life” ends, but rather where the perfect life begins. Here’s to discovery, comfort, bravery and getting a life– a good one.