DIY: Back-lit canvas night light

This great project from handyman Chris Palmer is a piece of art and a night light, all in one! Try this out in your child's room.

This great project from handyman Chris Palmer is a piece of art and a night light, all in one! Try this out in your child’s room.

DIY Back-lit canvas night light


  • 1 x 4 white pine
  • Wood glue
  • 2″ screws
  • Drill and driver
  • Light socket assembly from an old lamp
  • Canvas material (primed or un-primed)
  • Wood clamps
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Tracing paper
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • LED bulb or fluorescent bulb


Disassemble your old lamp, and keep the bulb socket and wire with plug intact. (Note: When searching out your light, make sure you find a lamp that has an external on- and off-switch somewhere along the cord, not the ones that turn off directly on the bulb socket.

Plan your image onto a piece of tracing paper that’s the same size as your frame — this will allow you to plan where your bulb will be placed. (Note: Paint is not going to let your light through, so make sure your key elements are not shaded.) The size of your frame can vary — Chris’ frame was 14″ x 19″. He recommends keeping it under 24″ as the light source will have to increase to two lights as the surface area increases.

Pre-drill your frame pieces to prevent the wood from splitting when it’s screwed together. Dry fit your pieces together, then begin gluing the ends and clamping the frame together. Once these are all set up, take your 2″ wood screws and secure the frame together. You can now remove your clamps and the glue will dry as you work.

Take your frame and lay it onto the canvas material. You’ll want enough overhang so that the material wraps to the back of the frame so the staples won’t be visible from the front of the sides. Trim the material and set it aside. Always cut it larger than you think because the material can be trimmed after you’ve wrapped the canvas.

With your light socket already apart, decide where you think it will best be placed to illuminate the image. Lay your sketch over the frame and take a measurement of where you think it should be. Cut another piece of wood, same as the ID of your frame, but put a hole through it to allow the bulb socket to nest into. Mount this piece into the frame where you ideally want the bulb and secure the bulb socket in place.

Wrap the canvas material to the frame. Start along one edge, holding it firmly in place and staple it along the edge. Tap the staples down with the hammer gently to make certain they’re in securely. Move to the opposite end and repeat the step. Corners are tricky, so try practicing your corner folds like a present, until you get it the way you would like it to look. You may want a clamp to hold it in place. Remember, the excess at the back can be trimmed away with a pair of scissors or a utility knife. Don’t worry if you have a lot there, just don’t short change yourself! Once you’re done, you can paint your image as desired.

Courtesy Chris Palmer


Join the conversation

What do you think?


Please read our commenting policies

Hide the conversation