The inspiration for this was taken from a combination of ideas from HERE and also our own findings.
First off… let me tell you that converting a train table is not cheap! LOL It is cheaper than a light table this size purchased in a store but there is nothing cheap about it.
I am going to explain what you need to make a light table in general… not necessarily a train table.
1. A table – This can be a train table, a coffee table, a table you make yourself, etc.
2. White plexi glass – You can learn a little bit about plexi glass HERE. We used #2446 3/16″. This will make more sense when and if you call a plastic place. White plexi glass is hard to come across at a local hardware store. You most likely will have to call a specialty plastic place.
3. A light source – There are a TON of options out there. I know a lot of people have used rope lights but there is a HUGE difference in the brightness of light. Please see pictures below to see the difference.
We used daylight fluorescent bulbs. There are all different types of tube lights. They vary by size and length, and can be hard wired or plugged in. The three different sizes are
The lower the number, the smaller the bulb in diameter.
We used T8 18″ hardwire. We chose this set up for a number of reasons.
1. They fit side to side the length of the train table.
2. I was able to change them out with daylight bulbs
3. I am also able to change them out with black light bulbs. I plan on converting this to a black light table as well with a piece of clear plexi.
4. My husband is handy enough to have them hardwired… that way we don’t have to plug 4 lights in.
When you buy the lights they always come with a dim bulb. You have to buy an additional daylight bulb. Daylight bulbs do NOT come in all sizes, at least at Home Depot anyway.
If making the table yourself I would buy your light source first… and then build your table around the dimensions of the lights you are using. If you are converting a table you have to do a little engineering and find sizes and lengths that will work with what you have. Which is not always an easy process!
Our finished light table! This is bright! We can use this with the lights on during the day and still get an awesome glow. You can still use this as a train table as well. Just lay the train table boards on top of the plexi.
Rope lights… HUGE difference.
How we installed the lights (These still need to be screwed down). My husband cut a piece of plywood to set in the open space under the train table. Since the boards were slanted, we could just lay this in without any hardware.
Close-up of the light fixture we used.
Close-up of the bulb we used.