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Shining a Light on Commercial Light Tables for Drawing

In a world where unlimited product choices abound, it’s no secret that your search for a commercial light table to handle your drawing responsibilities and assignments could present you with too many options! That’s why it’s important to make a list of tasks you perform, the amount of time you spend drawing and even the office environment in which you work before you go shopping for the one ideally suited to your requirements.


Commercial light tables have enjoyed a rather colorful evolution to get where they are today. The earliest versions were comical contraptions that positioned slabs of glass over table lamps. Starving artists still improvise this way—-but popular demand propelled the idea into a full-fledged necessity for those dependent upon them.


Once referred to exclusively as “lightboxes,” these handy essentials are indispensible for people working in a variety of industries and companies, including teachers who use them to encourage young children to be creative and—-well, literally think out of the box (https://enablingdevices.com/files/content/50_WAYS_TO_USE_A_LIGHT_BO...)!


Why buy a lighted drawing table?


Investing in this type of table has everything to do with your job title. Whether you’re an architect, sketcher, designer, artist (that includes forensics artist) or you just require a surface that allows you to trace shapes expertly and without distortion, this essential can save you time, money and effort for these reasons:


1. They’re efficient. Work on a smooth surface that illuminates every detail to get results no amount of natural light can provide.

2. They’re convenient. Buy the size table that suits a majority of your projects and you won’t have to reduce, enlarge or otherwise adjust original art to trace them correctly.

3. They’re roomy. Keep your tools of the trade within reach of your fingertips--reason enough to choose a table with drawers, shelves and storage capacity.

4. They’re durable. Choose a table made by a reputable manufacturer and expect decades of use, though trading it in for a newer model down the road may mean it's in good enough shape to sell it when the time's right.

5. They’re budget pleasing. Yes, you can find a sturdy table made of long-lasting, easy-to-maintain materials at a price that’s affordable.

6. In some cases, they're transportable. Take your portable light table for drawing everywhere you go!


How to use your table


It’s always a good idea to take a few trial runs so you get to know the lightbox environment in which you intend to work before you tackle your first project. Examine the shipping box to make sure nothing's damaged, remove the table and follow manufacturer’s assembly instructions.


Install your own LED lightbulb. These tables don’t come with bulbs included because the risk of shattering while in transit is too high. Plug the cord into the outlet and switch on the power toggle. You’ll see a uniform spectrum of light that splashes across every inch of the frosted glass on which you will work.


To use a stationary or portable light table for drawing, place a sheet of illustrated paper atop the glass. The high contrast of sharply etched lines and details will be apparent. Use tracing paper to replicate all or part of the design. You don’t have to be an artist to find plenty of use for one of these tables, by the way. Among the businesses and entrepreneurs who purchase illuminated tables are:


  • Calligraphers working on formal, custom invitations and certificates.
  • Animators say their work has been transformed by lightboxes that allow them to churn out cells fast.
  • Interior designers use them transform and customize stencils that grace client’s walls.
  • Both hand and machine embroiderers rough out designs before they’re applied to cloth.
  • Forensic artists quickly transform and update suspect photos.
  • Stained glass artisans are able to manipulate designs on light tables before they start cutting!


How to choose your table


Unless you’ve an unlimited budget to purchase a commercial unit for your office or business, it’s wise to have a game plan. Peruse our four selection suggestions before you shop.


1. Set a budget. It goes without saying that you should search for the most number of features you require with a specific price ceiling in mind. Whether your idea of lightbox nirvana is a $3,850.00 model manufactured by Office Pope or a used Craft Station set-up suits your needs at $200, a little homework will serve you well.


2. Match your space. That grandiose Office Pope table requires lots of space, so if you can only dedicate a small area of office to host the table, choose a size that won’t require you to put your work desk in a closet. There are so many sizes on the market, you couldn’t fail to find the perfect one if you tried.


3. Choose the best material. Browse used tables and you can't help noticing the ones that weren’t cared for. You might see rust on metal, chips on the glass surface (that defeat the purpose of this equipment) and table legs that could use sanding and staining. If you have time and skills to do repairs, enjoy the bargain. Otherwise, keep looking.


4. Weigh product bells and whistles carefully. If all you need is a smooth surface that’s uniformly lit, it’s never worth spending extra money on features the look great while bumping up the retail price or are ill-suited to the work you do. Show your boss that you’re not a spendthrift by coming in under budget!


In Summary


You have every reason to be delighted by the wide availability to tables on today’s commercial market because they allow you to pick and choose from the features you want and the ones you don’t need. It always pays to comparison shop before you buy—-particularly if you’ve discovered uses that are new and inventive.


Remember that you can always upgrade in the future and use a resource like Craig’s List or local sale sites that appeal to people who are in need of equipment that they can’t necessarily afford if they must pay retail. Don’t forget to ask your accountant to amortize your drawing table purchase over as many years as possible. We like to think of this sort of tax break as the gift that keeps on giving!

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