This was an entirely new project for me. I’ve always been fascinated with edge-lit acrylic and I figured it would make for a nice desk lamp. The sanded edges of the acrylic pieces send off a diffused glow that works great for a desk or reading lamp. The LED strip inside is cheap and safe since there is no wiring involved.
As with all power tool Instructables, please use proper PPE and follow all safety protocols for each machine.
This Instructable is aimed to provide everything you need to make one for yourself. But if you have any questions, send them my way.
Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
- Mitre Saw
- 3/4″ and 1 3/4″ hole saw and forstner drill bit (Drill press or hand drill powered)
- Belt sander or palm sander
- Most of these materials can be sourced from scrap with the exception of the LED strip
- Wood: Any wood from aspen to zebra can be used for this lamp. You need about a board foot for a decent sized lamp, so even if you have to buy something, it isn’t that expensive. I chose some shorts of walnut that were planned to 1/2″.
- Acrylic: I got my acrylic from a local plastics manufacturer. They end up with plenty of offcuts and would likely be willing to part with it. If not, you can pick up acrylic sheet at most hardware stores. I used 1/4″ thick acrylic for this lamp. But anywhere from 1/8″ to 1″ would work.
- LED Strip: I used a 5v LED strip with a pre-wired USB end. 50cm will give you plenty of light to work with. I ordered several dozen since I am making these with my students and it really drove the price down. You can expect to pay less than $5 for this. Mine were sourced from Aliexpress. LED Strips On Aliexpress.com
- Dowel: 3/4″ dowel works best for wrapping the LED strip around. You will be able to find this at any hardware store.
- Glue: Gorilla glue is great for glueing dissimilar materials like wood and plastic.
- Finish: Wipe-on Polyurethane from Minwax is always my choice of finish.
Step 2: Cut to Size
The wood and the acrylic have to be the exact same size. This is especially true if you don’t have a belt sander to true them up later on.
I like the look of a square lamp. So all these pieces, both acrylic and walnut, were cut to 5″ x 5″.
Step 3: Drill Center Cavity
This is where the LED strip will sit and the light will come from. It isn’t super important to be dead accurate with your cuts since it will be hidden on the inside, but it is a good idea to make some centre holes to line everything up.
I used a 1 3/4″ hole saw to cut through the wood and acrylic. Acrylic is a tough material to work with and I made sure to take every safety precaution when drilling these pieces. They can catch and spin if not clamped down tight.
The centre dowel sits in a 3/4″ hole on the bottom piece.
Step 4: Attach LED Strip
The LED strip is attached to the 3/4″ dowel with the adhesive backing. Wrap it around and secure it. It doesn’t matter what the orientation of the bulbs are because the glow of the acrylic will diffuse the glow.
There is a little slit cut into the bottom piece of acrylic to allow the cord to exit the lamp. I used a bandsaw to make this cut, but a jigsaw, handsaw, or hacksaw will work.
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