Tuesday, May 13, 2014

End Table to Light Table

I really, really, REALLY wanted a light table. Like this one.
That unfortunately costs $435. [OUCH!]

I planned. I waited. I looked...

Then we received some castoffs from the in-laws that just happened to include a nice coffee table and buffet, along with a single end table that was missing its glass top.

Woo hoo!

The table was scratched up, but solid wood and HEAVY. It could stand up to childhood abuse, and not be the worse for it. There would be no guilt or anger over it being beat with Lincoln Logs.

The table is 20 inches tall, 21 inches wide, and 27 inches long. The insert space is 14 inches wide by 20 inches long. As you can see, the height is perfect for the children to get their chairs under.

So to re-purpose the end table into a light table, I first added a piece of 1/4 inch MDF cut to size to fit the bottom. I had this lying around the garage. 

This is simply to provide a platform for the light(s) to sit upon. I cut it to fit around the legs using a saber saw, but you could just cut the corner across to fit on the supports.

I screwed it with sheetrock screws into the corner supports. 

Since there are no other supports, I ensured I cut it small enough to leave a gap that I could run the light cord through on at least one side.

I used an LED rope light from Home Depot for $20. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I liked that it would last forever without needing replaced, that it wouldn't draw a lot of current ($), and wouldn't produce a lot of heat.

You can use under-the-counter fluorescent fixtures or even dollar store tap lights. The choice of light source is up to you. Just remember that the more light, the better.

Since Doug is the video game guru, he was junking a few oldies and I asked him to save the acrylic plexiglass for me. It was in decent condition, and FREE! [LOVE that word!]

I cut it down to size, making sure that it fit snug. If you've never cut plexi, FYI that you should always tape it and run the saw as slow as possible. I used my table saw with a VERY fine "finish" blade. They make special blades for cutting plexi, but hey, if I bought one, then the plexi wouldn't be FREE.

The light needs a diffuser. You could use a light coat of white paint to the back side of the plexi, but I used spray adhesive to adhere white tissue paper that had been salvaged from birthday parties. Not sure why I ended up using two pieces, and yes, it looks awful like this. 

But in the table, it looks fine.

and when the light is on, it's magical.

I cut these shapes from translucent index dividers. 

We have a drawer dedicated to the collection of translucent materials. Most of these have come from the Dollar Tree.

It may not look like much, but you'd be surprised how much they can do with this.

And frisbees are fairly translucent.

It's a wonderful addition to our learning and play space, for a total out-of-pocket cost of $20 for the light.

Additional light table activities can be found on 
my Light Table Activities Pinterest board. 
Tags: light table, preschool, translucent, salt writing, writing, light, table, re-purpose, budget, cheap, thrifty, childcare, daycare, child, care, end, table, 

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