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A light box to help sort a carousel of slides.

A light box to help sort a carousel of slides

When you have slides to sort or a slide show to arrange, this light box makes the process a pleasure instead of a chore. With room for 80 slides, it holds enough to fill the traditional carousel tray. And it's small enough to store in a closet or a deep drawer. (A 140-slide version is described on the facing page.) This project goes best with a table saw or radial-arm saw. You'll also need a hammer, screwdriver, nailset, drill with a 1-inch bit, and these materials:

* 2 18-inch single-bulb fluorescent lights

* Extension cord

* 8 feet of 1-by-6 (any wood)

* A 16- by 20-inch piece of 1/8-inch perforated hardboard

* A 16- by 20-inch piece of 3/16-inch translucent acrylic plastic

* 4 1/2-inch rubber bumper tacks

* 24 1-inch finishing nails

* Wood glue, filler, string or wire twist ties (the kind used as plant ties), and white enamel First buy the lights. We used under-the-cabinet units; these have their ballast and internal wiring alongside the bulb, and so fit into a tight space. Sold at home improvement and lighting supply stores for $8 to $16, they come complete with bulb and wiring. You'll also need an extension cord to run from the light box to your wall outlet. If the fluorescent lights come with polarized plugs (one prong wider than the other), be sure to buy a suitable extension cord.

Making the 80-slide box First, rip the 1-by-6 to make the 4-1/2-inch-wide side boards. For the hardboard base, cut a 1/8- by 3/8-inch rabbet in one edge of the side board. For the plastic top, cut a 3/8- by 3/8-inch rabbet in the other edge. Then cut the side board into two 16-7/8- and two 20-7/8-inch lengths, with ends cut at 45[deg.] to form mitered corners. Check for squareness, then glue and nail the joints. (If you like, use corner clamps or a stretch cord to hold them while glue dries.) Countersink and fill nail holes.

Glue the hardboard base in place. Meassure the top opening (to edge of rabbets) carefully: it should be 16-1/8 by 20-1/8 inches. Have your plastic supplier (look in the yellow pages under Plastics--Rods, Tubes, Sheets, Etc., Supply Centers) cut a 16- by 20-inch piece of 3/8-inch translucent acrylic plastic. (If the opening is slightly more or less than 16-1/8 by 20-1/8 inches, have the plastic cut to 1/8 inch less than the actual measurement.) You can choose "lighting" (less opaque) or "sign" plastic (more opaque); we found sign plastic diffused the light better.

For best light reflectance, paint the box's inside surfaces glossy white. Add 1/2-inch rubber bumper tacks at the corners to raise the box for air circulation. Check to make sure lights are working, then place them at opposite sides of the box, 1/2 to 1 inch in. Tie them to the base using twist ties or string.

Drill a 1-inch hole in one side of the box, sand any rough edges, and thread the extension cord through the hole. Loop short lengths of string or twist ties through the perforated base to anchor the extension cord in the box. Add a short tab of tape to one side of the plastic top (for easy lift-out) and drop the top into place.

To use the light box, simply plug in the cord. If you'll be using it frequently, consider adding an in-line switch to the cord.

Making a 140-slide version

With a 20- by 28-inch viewing surface, this version will hold 140 slides--enough to fill a large-capacity carousel slide tray. Construction is similar to the 80-slide version, except as follows:

--Use a 10-foot length of 1-by-6 (without ripping it) to make 20-7/8- and 28-7/8-inch sides; cut plastic and base to suit.

--Install a double-tube, 2-foot-long light fixture down the center of the box; try it with and without its reflector or diffuser for most even lighting.

If the light comes with its own cord, you may be able to use that to reach the nearest wall outlet; if not, use an extension cord.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1986
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