(This webpage was written in May, 1999. Prices shown are not current.)
Here are two ultra-simple DIY enclosures that are easy to make. They're simply assembled with brads, no glue, no mitered corners, nothing fancy. Order FREE Tips #36559 for some details.
The black unit was made with wood that is readily available at Home Depot and some inexpensive spray paint we picked up at Big Lots. If you have some small nails on hand, you can make an enclosure like this for around $7.57. Here's a list of the materials we used:
One can Black Spray Paint - .99
One can Spray Primer - .99
One 1"x2"x4' Pine - 1.90
One 1/2"x4"x2' Aspen (ends) - 1.37
One 1/4"x6"x2' Aspen (front angles)- 1.35
One 1/4"x4"x2' Aspen (back) - .97
For the stained enclosure we splurged on fine grade poplar but used some stain and sealer we had on hand. The total cost of materials was $9.47.
Since you have to buy a 2ft. piece of 1/2"x4" wood for the ends in these examples, you could actually make a double-wide version of either of these enclosures for less than a dollar more. Just get a 1x2 that's 6 feet long instead of 4 feet and you'll have the wood you'll need for the additional top strip.
Each enclosure pictured here measures 24"long x 5.75"wide x 3.5"high and can be used for one 36w or one 55w bulb. The slanted front on the black unit results in a low profile appearance. The stained unit will sit over a glass top or could easily be used suspended. Best of all, these units stay remarkably cool, prolonging ballast and bulb life as well as maximizing light output.