Friday, June 8, 2012

DIY Lightboard

We made our own lightboard!  It wasn't that hard and comes in at about $30 if you have to buy the wood.  Often we have scrap, but not enough this time.   I looked at several DIY light boards, or light tables, but sort of combined ideas and made it up as I went. Something that works, sometimes not so much.

Here's what you need:  (My lightboard is 18x24)

wood to make the frame-  I bought a 10 foot 1x6 board.  I bought pine and it was $5.50ish
wood for the bottom- luckily I had scrap- it's thin, lightweight wood
plexiglass- I bought mine already cut 24x18 (that's what determined my lightboard size).  It was $9.75 ish
lightsource-  I've seen people use those rope lights and push button lights. I wanted lots of light.  I went with a $9.90ish under the counter light.  It has a cord. It was the biggest and brightest I could get within budget.  
Screws and nails

I decided to have my plexiglass fit down in the frame so there was a little lip around the edge.  I bought a bag of those shelf holders, like that come with bookshelves you put together yourself.  The bag of 12 was $1.80ish. I used 10. I also saw you could purchase them individually for 49 cents each, which would have been silly.  

something reflective- I've seen people use silver spray paint or foil, but I went with a mylar emergency blanket. I used just a corner and have more left for other projects.  Oddly enough, this is the second project where I've used this product.  This was $2.25 ish in the camping department. 

Also, not pictured:  clear packing tape, wax paper, and colored tape

Tools needed were a drill, screw driver, saw, hammer, little snips (not the appropriate tool but it worked) 

 Now, I've seen a lot of lightboards made out of plastic tubs, but I wanted something bigger and sturdier, for 3 or 4 little ones to work at, at one time.  I went with wood.  It's sturdy but not too heavy.  I drilled some small pilot holes and then screwed the box together.

I marked a line 1/2 inch from the top edge and drilled holes for the shelf holder things.  That's their official name. I needed a bigger drill bit for that one.  I just tried until I got the right size.

The little shelf holders are where I ran into trouble.  I didn't account for the extra room they took up.  The plexiglass fit on one side, but not the other.  I was off by 1/8 an inch or so. 

I decided to think about it and keep on going.  I traced the size I needed for the bottom and cut it out and nailed it on. I ended up using a pair of siding snips to chip away at the plexiglass until it was 1/8 inch smaller on both the length and width.  It was messy and left sharp pieces of hard plastic for out feet to find later. 

I hot glued the mylar blanket in the box. I also used some clear packing tape to help attach at the edges.

Here's where I went to work by the pool while the kids were swimming.  There are no pictures of these steps:

-I taped wax paper to the back side of the plexiglass (I used 1 piece of clear packing tape to connect the two pieces it took to cover it. 
-I taped a border of colored tape around the edge of the plexiglass.  This was to take care of any sharp or jagged edges and also to help hold on the wax paper.

A large hole was needed for the cord to poke through.  It was the first time I used the drill bits that does holes that big.

I positioned the light in the center and placed the plexiglass on top of the little shelf holders.  It was ready to play!  I found these colored stones in the fish tank accessories section of our big box store. The clear dishes are from Joanns in the jewelry making area.

We added the water beads and were very glad to have that little wooden lip. These beads are from Joanns, in the floral department.  We've also purchased them from the dollar tree before.

I finished this at night after the kids were in bed, but I heard Bee still up in her room so I went and got her.  I let her play a few minutes.

We got out the glass beads and clear bingo chips.

Then Bee asked to go get her new rocks.  Some of them were pretty neat with the light. They were clear enough to let some light through.  She got these from Holiday World.  They had a bin and you got the fill up certain sized bags for different prices.

Then I sent her back to bed and had to clean up.   Lou can see it in the morning. Good thing we get to play with it all summer before I have to share with the kiddos at preschool.  My kids get jealous occasionally!

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