After nearly two years of theater enjoyment, I felt the need to finish the exterior look by building the remaining poster lightboxes. (Actually, the wife pressed me to get them done, but once I started, I was on a mission.)

Around the time I had originally finished the theater, I had purchased a poster lightbox off eBay from a company called RiverCity Theaters. The RiverCity lightbox basically sandwiches the poster between a sheet of clear plexiglass and a white plexiglass diffuser, and then slides into the frame and rests in front of a couple fluorescent bulbs. The RiverCity boxes also use a spring loaded side panel to make opening and changing the posters a relatively simple task. These boxes cost approximately $265, shipped. In the spirit of DIY, (and saving $$, of course) I set out to duplicate these boxes as best I could.

I had settled on building four additional boxes to match the remaining outlets our electrician had already installed. Building the frames were relatively simple. I first had to cut groves in each plank for both the plexiglass and the backer board. Not wanting to have any indication of screw or nail holes from the outside, I needed to strategically use supports to ensure the backer board and planks were secured to each other. I also needed a way to allow the box to open and close for changing out the posters, but didn’t want to use springs like the other box, as the side panel ended up marring the wall whenever I opened it. Instead, my dad had the brilliant idea of using cabinet magnets. Once the frames were assembled, I proceeded to paint them. I used a metallic silver for the inside, and a semi-gloss black for the outside. A few coats later, the boxes were ready for hardware. Initially, I had planned on using fluorescent bulbs similar to the RiverCity boxes, however, I had been reading other people’s accounts of their lightbox building experiences and they all decided to use standard ropelight. After installing the ropelight in the first couple boxes, I mounted them on the wall, and inserted the posters, but was sadly disappointed at the end result. The light output wasn’t very bright, and there was an orange glow, making the posters looked washed out and dull. I decided to rip out the ropelight and go with fluorescents. Now the posters are bright and colorful!

Amazingly, this whole project only took me a couple weeks to complete. The boxes look great, and I saved quite a bit too!

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