As a designer, Stefan Fahrngruber of SFA understands how nice it is to have a light table. I can attest to how nice they are when picking out tiny vinyl cut shapes after plotting. Unfortunately, light tables can be hard to come by inexpensively, and difficult to make. Sure, you can put a light under a glass table, but it doesn’t always work well, the light isn’t distributed evenly, and can still be expensive if you don’t already own a glass table.
Stefan designed a light table that you can make for under $80 using standard decorative LED strips. The idea is to arrange them in a small grid which gives off even lighting while also keeping the construction of the table lightweight. You’ll also have the ability to dim the lights and change the colors.
The table is made with an A3 tempered glass cutting mat, size 16.5″ x 11.7″. Stefan writes that you’ll also need:
-LED strip approximately 10 feet long. Make sure to pick one which generates the light out of one LED surface, really cheap ones use three separate LED’s to mix the light, which doesn’t work at close distances. Also make sure the control unit of the LED strip fits in the box, and the strip is able to be arranged to fit inside your box.
-5 foot LED strip connection wire (those are special wires with four color coded lines in the right distance, you can also buy ready made ones but they are rather expensive)
-2m of wooden rectangular profile in 5x30mm and 5x35mm (actually you can go crazy on the box, I tried to build it as slim and light as possible)
-One aluminum plate 2.5mm thick, 490x310mm (the stronger the plate the better the heat is derived, this has to be metal, believe me!)
-One milky acrylic glass plate (5mm strong, 450x300mm) make sure to plan a gap so the glass falls in place easy. Make the glass at least 5mm so it can support your weight while drawing on it. Thicker is an option, it will make the light more diffused but also weakens the brightness.
-Glue or paste to fix the wooden profiles (fitting the edges with a mitre is nice but more advanced, up to you)
-Small screws to fix the baseplate to the frame.
-Four rubber feet