Rings of Light: Bending u-channel stock


I'm trying to make rings of brass with a channel/groove on the inside to fit LED strips into. I want the LEDs lining the inside of the brass rings to illuminate the center, but I want them hidden from view for aesthetic reasons. I'm trying to get 7 different rings, varying in diameter from about 7" to 2'. I can't figure out the best way to do this though.

Here are some possibilities I've come up with, and I would love your thoughts on their feasibility, how I might tweak them for better effectiveness, or if you all have other ideas that might work better!

1) Bend U-channel stock in a tube bender. Would this deform the u-channel, though, and can rectangular stock go through a bender?

2) Mill a small trench shallower than a standard u-channel into bar stock, then bend it. See concerns in #1.

3) Somehow mill a channel into bar stock once it's already bent..?

4) Bend hollow tubing into a ring, then use a cutting disc or bit on a dremel to cut an opening on the inside, and snake the LED strip through the tubing.

5) Bend hollow tubing into a ring, then drill out holes at the interval of the LED lights, and snake the LED strip through the tubing.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, feedback and help! :)

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nealulrich (author) 1 year ago

Thanks for the comments, y'all! I've decided to take round tube stock, mill out a couple 2" slots at intervals, then just have three LEDs shine through each slot. For the time I have and the equipment I have access to, I think reworking the design makes the most sense. I'll definitely post pictures/an Instructable when I'm done!

Thanks again :)

Might be out of topic but:
Why not makes the circuit complete and cast it into resin?
Resin can be painted, colored and so on but most importantly it is far easier to get into this complicated shape than metal.
IMHO the only working solution for metal is to mill it out you to use bigger round stock and use a lathe.

Kiteman2 years ago

My personal temptation would be to go with option 5. Copper tube can be bent by filling with a pipe bending spring (a few dollars from your local hardware store), PVC tube can be filled with sand before bending (useful link).

If you're using a metal tube, be careful to make sure that your LEDs won't short out on the metal when you thread them through.

Other than that, I would be inclined to mill circular channels from a solid plate, and sell the waste pieces for scrap value. If you cannot mill them yourself, a local engineering firm should be able to do it for you (you might be able to negotiate a reduced rate if you offer to link to their website in your finished instructable).

Another alternative is to build channels from (laser) cut rings of plywood or acrylic, and then paint them to look like brass.

verence2 years ago

I'd think option 3 is your best way to go. Somehow (sorry can't help you much there - bend a ring out of full stock, cut a ring out of a full thick plate ...) get a ring of full material and then mill a recess for the LEDs.

Maybe some kind of stamp and press to form the ring out of a sheet and cut it out.

caitlinsdad2 years ago

I think you might be able to get odd shaped stock through a bender. You might want to fill in the void of the profile with some hard rubber or flexible plastic to help spread out the bending force and keep the shape from deforming too much. Good luck.