DIY Light Table

This project took a little bit of luck and a little bit of time, but it’s one I’ve wanted to do for AGES. As a former preschool teacher, I love light tables. There’s so many possibilities for play – color mixing, shadow making, x-rays and more. I had figured I would have to use either a clear under the bed tub or an IKEA table hack, but when I did some research, it looked like even the IKEA one would cost close to $100, and I had my heart set on a table vs having a tub on the floor. Thankfully, I got lucky at Goodwill.

The table had everything I needed – a hole in the top, a drawer to put a light in AND enough space to thread an electrical cord out the bottom without drilling. And it was only $20!

I measured the hole on the top and went to a hardware store. We purchased a piece of plexiglass and asked them to cut it in store (most places will!). We also purchased a toggle latch (to keep the drawer shut) and frosted glass spray paint (to make the plexiglass opaque). Now obviously, you also need a light source for this. We were originally going to use Christmas lights but my husband had a lamp he didn’t want anymore and wanted to break it down and use that instead.

First thing we did at home was to spray paint the plexiglass with the frosted glass spray paint. It took about two coats and we let it dry overnight.

While it was drying, my husband attached the latch underneath the table. When the plexiglass was dry, it looked like this:

The table we found has a little bit of a lip, so we didn’t even need to glue the plexiglass down. Little fingers can’t pick it up. Once the plexiglass was in the table, we experimented with the light bulb set-up. Put the lights in the drawer and thread the plug out the back. We found that if we covered the drawer with aluminum foil, the reflection off the foil evened out the light.

Just a reminder – make sure you are using an LED light that doesn’t get warm to the touch when it’s on for awhile. Especially with the tin foil in the drawer. We have to plug the table in to turn it on, so we only let the kids use it while we are supervising. I wouldn’t leave it plugged in. I think it would be fine, but knowing myself, it would be something I would worry about.

We are doing Veterinarian Week, so are currently using the light table as an x-ray table. It’s SO CUTE. And it was pretty easy to make! Once we got supplies it was mainly screwing the latch in, then spray painting the plexiglass and assembling.


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