How to Build a Better Light Box

As a photographer, I’ll admit that I sometimes have trouble working with non-natural light.  Yesterday I decided to build a light box and take some new photos of studio inventory.

Below is my DIY light box.  I made it with things I had around the house, a plastic shelving unit, two pieces of mat board, white muslin fabric, and two clip-on work lights:

First, I cut the top out of the plastic shelving with a knife.  (Be very careful if you try this.  Sometimes I do really dumb things and I’m pretty sure this qualifies as one of them.)  Next, I measured my fabric so it would lay over the sides, top and back.  Once I trimmed it, I taped the front with white duct tape and folded around the edges.  I had to monkey a little with the back part so it would lay flat and then I tied the excess in a knot under the shelving unit.  I trimmed the mat board to fit inside and give me a nice white space.  (I placed a book underneath the bottom board because some of the objects I photographed were heavy and made the mat board bow.)  I attached my work lights to the front poles and aimed them in.  The light above the box is my kitchen table light.  (My coffee was dark roast with amaretto, in case you wanted to know!)

A few before and afters with natural light vs. the new light box:

1. and 

2.  and 

3.  and 

(Okay, so I still have to play with the light balance but I think the new photos are an improvement.  What do you think?  Got any tips or tricks?)