How to Build a Cheap Light Box

Pictures are typically a big part of any website – but if you’re planning on offering items for sale via either a cart or catalog, then pictures can take on a whole new importance. As discussed in a previous post, ‘how to get a ‘white background‘ – you want to start with the best-lighted original picture you can get. While very few of us can’t afford a well lighted studio set-up, most of us can afford to build a good light box out of PVC that will give excellent results.

Before you begin the building process, you should decide where you are going to be using your light box. Preferably this will be somewhere you can leave everything set up. If you don’t have a place like this, then building your light box out of PVC is even better since you can take it apart and reconstruct it easily. Once you’ve selected where you want to take you pictures, you should measure the maximum space available for the light box. In my case, I had a table that would accommodate a 2′ x 2′ area. Once this was decided, I sketched my diagram and listed the needed supplies.

To build a 2′ x 2′  light box, you will need the following. I might add that regardless of the size of light box you decide to build, the number of pieces needed are the same. Simply replace the length of PVC pipe you need for your light box for my 2′ sections. The diameter of PVC used was 3/4″.

PCV Supplies
  • 2 back pieces – top & bottom (2 foot each)
  • 8 side pieces – (2 foot each)
  • 4 back extender pieces (4 inches each)
  • 8 PVC ‘L’ pieces
  • 4 PVC ‘T’ pieces

You’ll also need a measuring tape and a PVC pipe cutter.  Once you have the correct lengths cut, the light box is as simple as connecting the dots.


1.  Connect the back top and bottom pieces using the 2′ center sections, 2 T’s and the 4 extender pieces.

2.  Finish the back section by placing an L on each end and then connecting the sides together with a 2′ section vertically. You now have a rectangle.

3.  To complete the sides, place a 2′ section into the open end of the T – top and bottom.

4.  Place an L connector on the end of each section

5.  Place a 2′ section between the L’s vertically. You now have a completed side.

6.  Repeat stepd 3-5 for other side

Picture Taking

You are now ready to drape a white sheet over the framework and take pictures. For my light I chose a 500 LED Light Panel with dimmer switch by Fancier 500A available from Amazon. So far – for all the pictures I have taken over all these 15 years, I have found that this light gives the best light of any I’ve used when compared to outside light.  Best part is I can dim the light to suit the subject.

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