What is a light table?

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A light table is used to make it easier to


You can buy or make many kinds of light tables, from very simple to sophisticated.


A light table is a device used for seeing through paper or other materials. It has a surface of translucent glass or plastic with a light source underneath or behind it. It allows light to pass through the paper, plastic, or other material placed on the table.

  Here are some kinds of light tables:
  • A box with a glass top that uses a flashlight (torch) or daylight as the light source.
  • A box with a glass top that uses light bulbs (preferably fluorescent) inside as the light source


    A hinged glass top makes it easier to change the light bulbs.

  • Any of these boxes could

    • be of lightweight materials to make it portable
    • have a sliding ruler attached, or have measurements marked on the frame
    • be set on a table or any surface of the right height to make it comfortable to use, or
    • have legs and be a self-contained table.

Here are some alternatives to a light table:

  • A window with daylight shining through it
  • A piece of glass propped up on one end in a location where daylight or any strong light will shine through it

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