Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY Light Table

The light table around our house is in full use. Kailyn LOVES it, and Colton has gotten some time on it as well. The whole light table idea was inspired by a blog I follow called Play at home mom. I loved the idea of a light table, but they are so expensive to buy. However, I felt that were so many educational, cognitive, fine motor, and imaginative benefits to it, that I was going to save up the money and buy one. I had been talking to Ryan about it a lot, and one day he had an idea to turn our train table into a light table!! I was already making a chalk board for it, so he figured we can get even more use out of it. Coincidental a few days later Play at home mom made a post to their blog about turning their train table in a light table. Great minds think alike right? So we got to work constructing our light table.

First we needed a large enough piece of plexiglass to cover the entire train table. Well you can't find white plexiglass at any hardware store, you have to special order it. We found it was getting very expensive as I was calling different places to price them. So we came up with an alternative. We bought a clear piece of plexiglass from Lowe's, and sized it to the table. We needed 32"x48".  They only way we could get a piece thick enough was to get two separate piece to size. All the other full sheets that would fit were way too thin. So we purchased two 24"x 48"x.225"sheets. Thankfully Lowe's will cut the sheets for you. So we got each piece cut down to 16"x48". You can't have a light table with clear plexigass! I decided to use frosted window privacy film to cover it. So off to the window department we went. Well whats a light table without lights!! We purchased 4 Ge florescent plug in lights, you can see here. We went with plug in just because it was easier for us. If you are really good with working with wiring, then there are other options as well. We just bought a power cord and connected them all together. Here is what it looks like inside the table.

We now have the cord wrapped around the edges, and not going through the middle of the table. We were just testing the lights out in these pictures.
Next we needed to apply the window film. This is definitely a two person job, and you MUST purchase the application kit. Read ALL directions first, and very carefully. It is easy to mess it up. I helped Ryan separate the film and put it on the plexi glass, but he did all the hard work prepping it and working out the air bubbles.
When we were done with the film, it was time to add the plexiglass to the table and test it out!!


Here it is in the playroom. Next to it, I put a shelf that holds all of the light table activities. Being on shelves allows Kailyn easy access to whatever she wants to play with. We have Waterbeads, Magna Tiles, Crystal Climbers, Translucent  tiles, etc.

There you have it, my DIY train table tutorial. It's something the whole family enjoys. K plays with it everyday. The only thing we will eventually change is I am going to save up to get one big piece of plexigalss for the table. Having two pieces does create some weakness in the middle of the glass since that is where the two pieces meet. Overall it works great and we hardly have any issues. Leave a comment and link if you decide to make one yourself. I would love to see what you create!!


  1. Great DIY project, the waterbeads look great on the table, lots of fun I'm sure. Ellie

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you very much! I feel honored that you took the time to look at my blog post and comment. I have been following you ladies for a while, and you are such an inspiration to me!

  3. Thanks for posting this this is the same exact table I just bought to convert and I was price checking and was going to go with the cheaper clear acrylic at lowes or home depot but after reading your post and looking at the pieces you used plus the window film and the added work that is $107.96 for both pieces of clear plus the cost of the window film and the time, now the cost to get a piece cut from the local glass specialty store doesn't sound so bad. My only thought is that later I might remake the table frame itself with real wood since the used train table we bought has more wear to it than the photo showed and for all the expense of the light table top I think I would like to make the frame stronger and look nicer, but I love the two big drawers underneath. I am wondering if there is a reason you put the lights in the drawers rather than attached them to the table frame or added a board to support them up higher? my plan was to add a board to have them up higher and be able to use the drawers for table toy storage... not sure yet if that will work but I hope it will

  4. I've been looking at different light table designs for a while now and this is the first train table conversion that I've seen. The other designs I've seen were plastic containers. Does this table design get hot? The plastic box designs have expressed issues with becoming hot after a long use.

    1. Thank you for checking out the light table. We do not have any issues with it getting hot. We have even left the lights on all day by accident, and it was still not hot.

  5. What thickness did you need for the plexiglass?