How to Make a Light Box for Screen Printing

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Screen printing is a process by which ink is pushed through an open pattern on a screen and onto fabric or paper. To create the screen pattern, you will need a light box, which will shine light onto light-sensitive ink through a printed transparency. When the light-sensitive ink is hit with water, the pattern which was on the printed transparency will reveal itself. The light box is a crucial part of the process and can be relatively easy to make. It is a great wood working project. This tutorial will help you produce a light box for a 20-by-24-inch screen but can be adapted to make larger light boxes.

Things You'll Need

  • 24 by 28 piece of glass with no UV protection
  • Wood panels
  • Two fluorescent light strips with white black light bulbs
  • Surge protector
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Tape measure
  • Marker or pencil
  • Timer
  • Measure and saw off five different panels. You will need two 24-by-18-inch panels, two 28-by-18-inch panels and one 24-by-28-inch panel.

  • Combine the panels to create a rectangular box with a 24-by-28-inch opening on top. The 24-by-28-inch wood panel should go on the bottom, while the other four panels should create a rectangle and be hammered into the base.

  • Drill a hole into the box big enough for wires to fit through, and place your fluorescent light strips into the box. See the Resources below for the kinds of light bulbs you can use for screen printing. Normal fluorescent lights will not work in this situation.

  • Connect the strips to the surge protector, and pull the wires through the hole you drilled earlier.

  • Place your non-UV protection coated glass on the top of the box. It is now ready to be used. Test your box to see how long you will need to keep it on to burn a screen. You will be able to turn your lights on and off using the on/off switch on the surge protector.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also add a photo timer to your box to help with turning it on and off.

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