Concept and basic idea

This little project was born as a result of several problems.
First: I have limited space in my study/hobby room. Second: I suck at taking good pictures and hoped a lightbox could help (spoiler, it doesn’t). Third: The lightbox I own was too cumbersome to set up and dismantle, aswell as too ugly to keep it set up in my study.
In order keep my lightbox permanently set up without being a sore to the eye, I wanted my DIY lightbox to be hidden in the decor. Salvation came in the shape of an old wine crate, whose main purpose was to store lefteover keychains and unread mail…

This DIY project took me half an afternoon (including drying times) and cost almost nothing.

Materials used

  • (1) The core of our DIY lightbox is an old 40x30x25cm wooden wine crate with a sliding lid. Any more or less decorative box will do the trick though.
  • (2) For the backdrop I bought several types of cardboard in different colours and shades, aswell as some foam sheets from the craft store. The foam sheet will have a more satin surface, but has the drawback that it easily gets scratches or other marks.
  • (3) No Lightbox will be complete without a source of light. This leftover LED strip. It has a mini USB port, allowing me to connect it to a small powerbank. The latter was bought at a local discounter
  • (4) Finally some balsa. Nothing special to say here.

Assembly and problems encountered

(5) I started by cutting some balsa to size. Two 10+ cm long bits will later keep the backdrop in place. I glued a third bit of balsa on the upper side of the box. (check the fancy red indicators in picture 5) The LED-strip will later be glued behind this bit. My idea was, that it should stop the light from the LEDs to flood my camera lens. In retrospect I should have used a broader piece of balsa.

(6+7) After the glue cured completely, I taped of the edges of my box. I then painted the entire interior white. Being lazy and avaricious, I did not buy propper wood paint. Instead I applied to more or less even layer of acrylic craft paint. It did not have to look nice. The purpose of the white paint was (hopefully) to create a cool-white reflextion and not a warm yellowish reflexion from the wood.

(8+9) Once the paint dried properly, I turned the box upside down glued the LED strip in with PVA glue. In hindsight, I should maybe have angled the LEDs towards the rear. A quick test revealed (a) that all works fine and (b) my paintjob was really sloppy.

(10) Finally, I added some felt patches to the bottom. The box is very old and has plenty of sharp wooden edges. So I wanted to avoid scratsches on whatever surface I place the lightbox.


(11-13) Before installing it, I cut a sheet of black Since I already used other wine crates to store rulebooks and other gaming related things in my study, it was fairly easy to find a spot for my fancy new DIY lightbox. My darling lady wife might not approve of my decorating skills, but in the overall picture, it works.

It is more or less a prototype. In a future build, I will change some things. First a nicer box 😉 I also consider using dimable and/or colourchanging LED strips.

I won’t say, that I will take better photos of my minis, but at least I have a lightbox ready whenever I need it.

happy crafting


  1. You gotta know your soldiers, general! That‘s not Captain Pritt, it‘s Scottex!
    But nicely done either way 🙂

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