There are many different lightboxes out there to choose from. There’s even a tablet available that will light up in different shades. You don’t need anything fancy just functional. In fact, the hardier and bulkier the better because that way you don’t freak out if you scratch it. It’s meant to be worked on. And you might even progress to the point where you will cut straight on top of the light box and not just use it for tracing the lines.
You will need a box that you can press down on. Wood and clear glass work the best.
If you have a box with plexiglass change it out for real glass, preferably ¼” thick and clear. The reason is because plexi flexes when you press on it. When you score glass you don’t want any bowing when you press down and glass won’t do that. If you were to use plexi it can cause uneven scoring and even cause your glass to break prematurely.
You can easily get a sheet of glass at your local window glass store. They will even cut it to your specifications and polish the edges for you.
The reason you want the glass to be clear is because your pattern paper will be your diffuser. Brightness is your friend when you want to see through the pattern and the glass. Some dense glass will be hard to see through if you don’t have intense enough light. Florescent lights are fine but if you have a choice I would get LED strip lights (as intense as possible) because then it won’t be so hot to work over.
What size lightbox do you need?
Well, I’m very spoiled, I have a very large 5’ x 7’ light table for any and all size panels I might build. But you really don’t need it. Simply have a small lightbox, slightly bigger than your biggest pattern piece around 12” x 12”.
When you use your lightbox have two full sized patterns, one for your lightbox and have the second pattern on a worktable nearby. As you cut out a stained glass piece put it on your worktable pattern. That way your cut pieces are out of the way and you can see your pieces fill your pattern. This will allow you to nearly eliminate piece numbering which can speed up your process as well.
What if I don’t have a lightbox?
You can make a lightbox out of anything that will hold glass above a light. Have an old glass top table? No, go down to your local recycle store and find one. All you need is the glass top table and a portable shop light, a table lamp (with shade removed), or even a strong flashlight under the glass. Be creative: coffee table, end table, dining room table, table with removable tiles (replace with glass).