10 Watt LED Task Lamp W/ 3rd Hands





Introduction: 10 Watt LED Task Lamp W/ 3rd Hands

About: Hi I'm Linn and on my Youtube Channel I have lots of great videos about building, construction and fun projects. You can also check out my site @ http://darbinorvar.com

This awesome LED task lamp is super bright and features a 10 watt LED bulb. It also has several 3rd arms for soldering, or for working on small projects. It's made with walnut and aluminum and features a cool, modern look. Check out how I built it!

Step 1: The Base

So starting out, I'm using a thick 2 inch piece of walnut, however if you don't have access to that, you can laminate several pieces together to accomplish this depth. The walnut I'm using measures 5 x 7 x 2 inches.

I want the aluminum to sit as an inset in the walnut, so I used the xcarve which is a CNC machine to carve out a 1/4 " indention on the top of the walnut.

Once that was done, I flipped the piece over, and designed another section on the xcarve. This area is for housing some electronics for the light.

Step 2: The Aluminum

For the inset I'm working with a thick 1/4 inch piece of aluminum and I'm using a really fine bit to carve out the area I need cut, where the holes need to go.

While you could carve all the way through the aluminum, I decided to just scratch the piece to show the areas that needed to be cut and drilled, because it's a lot faster. So once I had my outline, I cut it up with the bandsaw and then I did a fair amount of sanding on the beltsander to smooth the edges.

Step 3: The Arms

Next I proceeded to drill out the holes in the corners. So I started with a small drill bit, then got a slightly bigger one, an even bigger one and so on, until I reached the half inch I needed.

For the arms, I'm using 3/8 inch aluminum rods, as well as hollow rods with an interior dimension of 3/8 inch, so one fits within the other. I debated for a while how to design the arms, finally I settled on using small pieces of aluminum rods connected with screws through holes and tightened with wing nuts.

To create this I first need to cut up a whole bunch to size, and I'm doing this on the bandsaw. You can make these any size you'd like, as you're piecing several pieces together to create one arm, I choose to make most sections 3 inches long.

And then I need to drill holes in them on each end and it really helps to have the pieces secured in a metal vice here. You can either use a drill press or a drill.

For the ends of the 3rd hands I'm going to attach some alligator clips, so I need to drill some holes down those solid aluminum rods as well. I'm using the drill press for that.

Step 4: The Electronics

So for the light, I'm going to use a super bright 10 watt LED. I'm going to attach it to a piece of aluminum measuring 2 x 2 inches. I cut this section out on the bandsaw, however you could certainly carve it out on the xcarve. 10 watt LEDs require 30 volts, so I'm going to need a booster to up the voltage.

To hold the light, I have the 2 x 2 inch piece of aluminum. I also have one of the solid rod pieces and I cut a groove using the bandsaw (about 1/4 inch down, cutting a couple of times to accomplish a 1/4 inch depth), and then I'm fitting the square piece into the groove of the rod. To secure it in place I have a screw through with a nut on the other side.

Now on the side of the walnut I need a hole for the power cord and I also want a switch to turn the light on and off. So I'm drawing out the size of the switch, and first I drilled two holes, one for the switch and one for the power cord. Then I'm chiseling out the area for the switch to fit in perfectly.

Step 5: Connecting the Arms

To connect the arms together, I'm putting a machine screw through the holes I drilled, and then securing that with nylon washers in between. To tighten everything I'm using wing nuts and that way I can adjust whatever angle I need. Then I have some alligator clips that I can fit in the holes drilled in the top aluminum pieces here.

Now time to attach everything together. So I'm mixing up some epoxy and I'm fitting the alligator clips in the rods. And I'm also gluing the aluminum to the walnut.

Ok, so here we have the pieces, the walnut and aluminum, arm pieces, light. Then I'm epoxying in the hollow aluminum into the corners. And I have cut the one on the far left a little shorter, that's for the light. So just carefully gluing them all in.

Step 6: Connecting the Electronics

So to connect everything, first I'm tinning a wire with some solder. I'm using a continuity tester to see where to solder the power to on the switch. And then attaching the wire to the switch and soldering it in place. Now there's a hole drilled through the section where the light will go, so I'm feeding some wires through that. And then I'm connecting them to the booster which will fit into this carved out area. Then I'm attaching the switch through the hole here with some hot glue.

I have a power cord here attached to the booster, so that is going in the second hole I have prepared here. And then gluing the booster down. Now all the electronics are in place.

To get the whole unit off the ground, I'm cutting off some pieces of rubber here to make little feet and hot gluing those on as well. So the wires are coming up through one of the hollow tubes, so I'm just going to test the light here, and it works. It's super bright.

Step 7: The Light

Let's work on the light. The 10 watt LED gets pretty hot so I decided to attach some heatsinks on the backside. I did numerous tests to determine how many heat sinks I needed, and I even anticipated using a small fan which I didn't end up needing. So here I'm cleaning up the metal to prepare the surfaces. To attach the heatsinks to the aluminum I'm using thermal adhesive. So I'm mixing the two tubes together, and putting on a light coat on each heatsink, then it should be clamped so I'm carefully putting on this piece of osage orange because it's pretty heavy.

I let that dry for another, then I turned it around, and glued on the LED light to the other side. So here you can see I have the wires going up through the light part here through holes I've drilled. And I choose to leave these exposed because I thought it looked pretty cool.

Step 8: Finishing

Then I'm sanding the edges here to create a light chamfer and then I'm finishing the walnut with some of my tung oil wax polish and it really brings out the color.

Now for the underside, all the electronics are exposed, so I want to add some protection, yet have plenty of air flow, so I picked up some fine wire mesh at the craft store. So cutting to size, and then just attaching with a couple of small screws, and that looks good.

Step 9: Attaching the Light

Then finally I'm soldering the light on. Let's plug it in and see if it works.

OK, and you can move the arms around, move the light around, place it wherever you need it. And of course this is really nice to have when you want to hold something in place, for soldering or whatever.

Step 10: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a much more in-depth view of how I built this unit, make sure to check out the video!



  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest
  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest

34 Discussions

wahh! fantastic!

great job

isn't 10 watts so close to the object a bit overkill? I used a 2W flashlight (with C123A battery) mounyed on my shelf and it was almost too bright already...

3 replies

it is. i use a single 1W led for small - 3W for medium sized pots and its plenty of light.


10 watts is enough to light up a small bench. I would definitely use an led driver with a dimmer.

Another quick thing with the LED's is that they need a little "Parenting"

You MUST add a resistor in series with the LED to limit the current consumption of the LED, You can ignore my comment if you want want your LED to burn itself out pretty quickly.

Another option which I think is better and I think will work better for you too is to under-volt the LED, For example: With my 12V 10W LED's, @9V they draw 200Mah and don't heat up at all, @11.5V they draw 1+A and get extremely hot in less that a second.

Most of that 800Mah difference in that current draw is being converted in to heat, I can tell you myself that the LED doesn't emit a lot more light @12V compared to 9V.

The reason I said that this could work for you is because you're using a voltage booster, So just lower the output of the booster a bit.

According to my calculation: (30/12=2.5), 2.5X(12-9)=7.5, 30-7.5=22.5V For example try around 22.5V

3 replies

I recommend watching DIY Perks video:

It's not what you made but he used what I explained...

Yes, a circular led ring with a magnifying lense in the middle would be great for small soldering jobs and other precision tasks.

I just got a grand idea how to fix my problem which is a 3rd hand + magnifier I have. I can never get the light to illuminate the area under the round glass of the magnifier. I am going to build this. It shouldn't cost much since I have a bag of UltraBright LEDs left over from fixing LED PARs.

Where has this been all my life? :)

It is a beautiful result.

Since you are using regulated voltage instead of regulated current to maintain a 10W maximum, using a booster that allows a variable voltage to be set is essential. You could also add a form of 0-100% dimming by slightly modifying the trimpot circuit, adding an external potentiometer with a knob outside the case such that the trimpot sets the maximum voltage but the external pot varies the output between 30V and maybe 25V. There will be a smaller range of voltages for which the LED current will then vary from 0 to perhaps 300 mA (or whatever the maximum safe current for the LED being used is).

Heatsinking is an issue worth further consideration. There's a range of tolerance built into the LED, such that you can trade hotter LED chips inside the 10W package for either a brighter light or a shorter overall life for the LED. If the thermal specifications for the LED package, the thermal adhesive (x2), the aluminum plate and heatsink are known, a simple equation and a thermocouple on the heatsink will allow the Maker to back calculate the theoretical junction temperature of the LED chips. Some LED manufacturers publish a graph showing the tradeoff between the junction temperature and the expected lifetime of the LED.

I can say (from experience designing and testing LED fixtures) that the size of heatsink used for this LED package is smaller than I would be able to safely use for 10W heat dissipation without a fan, unless it was never going to be used for more than a minute. I know that it will still work without apparent harm, but excessive junction temperature will degrade the light output much faster than it was designed for.

In an extreme scenario, lifetime could easily be reduced from 30,000 hours to 300. That may not be important to a Maker who could easily replace the LED package at low cost, or if it was used in a cheap mass-produced version of this tool. But if this were sold as a premium artisanal helping hands tool, I would choose a more efficient heatsink to ensure the LED also lasted for a person's lifetime.

great build, great video and the result looks awesome too. Apart from the other improvements people already sugested before, I would recomment grounding the whole units metal parts to protect against ESD... just in case.


2 years ago

Absolutely great! I love it!

Making something, whether useful or useless is not the point, what counts is the satisfaction you get by making it.

I did enjoy the build. It is aesthetically pleasing and from all appearances, very well made. However, I would be more interested in the router CNC. I, myself, would have used the build to extol the utility of the CNC.

Despite it being an absolutely fantastic build, I fail to see why. There are a plethora of "helping hand" devices out these days ( http://www.harborfreight.com/jumbo-helping-hands-w... , http://www.amazon.com/SE-MZ1013FL-Magnifier-Flexib... , http://www.staples.com/Stalwart-Helping-Hand-Magni... , etc.) and to go to this extent to make a custom device, seems to be a waste.

My opinion, of course.

3 replies

If you've ever used a tool you've made yourself, you should know why. If not, all I can say is that it's a very satisfying experience to make something that's really useful, and then use it :)

I have made a number of tools. Almost all due to necessity. I have been a machinist, an aircraft modification mechanic, a carpenter and a nuclear inspector. Tools are good. I am quite the fanatic when dealing with tools!
I did not find fault with the making of this. It is a wonderful piece of work.
My only reservation was with what was built. Just a minor question. All else is great.


2 years ago

wow....I like the Milling Cutter too

Awesome!!! Perfect!