Solution: A light box. I Googled on how to make one and saw that most people used a cardboard box and cut out the sides and added lights. Well, I wanted something that I could take outside for when there is a little sunlight in my yard and carry it inside for the other 95% of the day.
So here is what I did:
Two 8ft lengths of 1/2 inch PVC $1.88 each = $3.76
Four 1/2 inch side outlet PVC elbows $1.18 each = $4.72
Four 1/2 inch PVC elbows $0.30 each = $1.20
2 Clamp lights $9.81 each = $17.66
1 Pack of 2 100W Reveal bulbs $4.48 each = $4.48
1 1/4 inch thick 2x2 piece of oak $4.18 each = $4.18
1 large piece of foam board - about $2.00 at Walmart
Stain or paint
Can of spray polyurethane - about $6.50 at Walmart
So I cut the PVC pipe in two foot lengths. I had a table saw but they cut easily with a hand saw. I assembled the PVC pieces together without gluing in case I wanted to take apart or change for some reason later. The lights clamp on so that was easy enough although, I think I am going to put some foam or something on the PVC to help keep the light from moving.
So all that is left is the "decorative" features. I wanted my floor to look like an oak floor but wasn't willing to pay for planks of flooring. The next few pics show how I made my pickled oak floor.
Then I randomly added lines to look like two planks butted together. In a traditional floor, they would be staggered so be sure to do that here too!
So I had this idea to score the lines to make them look more realistic...honestly I don't think it made a bit of difference! I took a small headed screwdriver and ran it along my lines against the ruler.
Then I pickled my oak. I didn't by stain because I wanted a light floor. I mixed one part white with two parts water and painted it onto the wood. I wiped away excess.
I did go back over some of the lines with the brown pencil but lightly this time. Then I sealed it with a few coats of Poly.
So here is a sample of what my items will now look like in my light box.
Here is the same picture without cropping. Ok...I did brighten it a hair but I did a lot less to it than before!
Yep... I am out on my porch at night.
Such a difference! I hope that it helps you too! Oh! I forgot...the whole thing was less than $45 dollars. The bulk of the expense was the lights so if you have some already, you are ahead of the game!