How to Build a Tabletop Light Box

Craft & Design Photography & Video
How to Build a Tabletop Light Box

John Park has posted a great how-to on the Adafruit Learning System for building a simple foamcore-based tabletop light box that can be broken down for convenient storage.

Clear, well-lit photos of your projects are among the best ways to share your work with others. Few techniques highlight your project as well as an all white light box with soft, even, shadow-free lighting. Not only is the white background distraction free, it will also serve to bounce your light source onto your object from nearly all angles.

This is an effective, inexpensive, and easy way to build a light box for project and product photography. Plus, you can quickly break it down for flat storage, and set it back up in seconds!

The box employs a simple but ingenious magnet-based assembly system. Rare earth magnets attached to small blocks of wood are affixed to the edges of the foamcore sides and back of the box.

Here you can see the magnetic connectors in action.

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You can adjust the side walls and front opening by folding the side wall panels. Then, place a large, diffuse light source at the top of the box. I’m using an LED softbox light, but you can get a similar effect by draping a white piece of shower curtain liner fabric over the top of the box to diffuse a couple of bright lights.

Anyone who has tried to photograph small items on a tabletop knows how hard it can be to get smooth, consistent, and adequately bright light. Having a light box like this can make all of the difference. And having one that easily breaks down for flat-pack storage is even better.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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