Like many kids, my son loves Minecraft, so I decided to redo his bedroom in a minecraft theme for his birthday, and replace his current night light with a 2'x2' block of glowing ore. With a little wood, paint, and some LED strips, I was able to make a block that can be controlled by remote to glow like diamond, red stone, or whatever your favorite ore is.
I had lots of the materials just lying around the garage, but the biggest cost was definitely the flexible LED strip that provides the glow. The cost for the whole project can be under $100, depending on the quality of the led strip you buy. Since this was going in my son's room above his bed, I opted for a higher quality LED strip with a remote control and lots of color options.
Step 1: Gather Tools and Materials
- 2'x2' piece of hardboard (also called "hdf")*
- ruler (at least 2' long)
- one 8' 1"x2" board
- replacement lens for a flourescent light (at least 2'x2')
- 8 wood screws
- wood glue
- wood filler
- paint (light gray and black which can be mixed to the four gray shades needed)
- masking tape
- foam board strips
- 16' flexible led light strip (non-waterproof, which is easier to work with and lasts longer than waterproof; if these strips have adhesive tape on them, it will be much easier to attach them to your project)
- jig saw (for cutting out holes in the ore face)
- miter saw (or other way to cut 1"x2" at an angle)
- drill and drill bits (for drilling starter holes for jig saw and pre-drilling holes for screws)
- hot glue gun
- putty knife
small paintbrush and foam roller
*One note about the size of the block face: I have seen others claim that a life-size minecraft block face is a meter on each side (a little over 3ft across). The more important measurement in my mind is that your avatar in Minecraft is two blocks high. So, one block should be approximately half your height. Since my son is almost exactly 4' tall, a 2'x2' block seemed perfect.
Step 2: Making the Face
- Mark the 2'x2' hardboard with a 16x16 grid (each square should be 1.5 inches wide and tall)
- Mark the squares to be cut out using an image of an ore face as reference.
- Drill holes in each area to be cutout so jig saw blade can be easily inserted.
- Cut out each section using the jig saw.
- Sand uneven edges.
Step 3: Build the Frame and Attach the Face to It
- Cut the 1"x2" into four sections, with each end being cut at a 45 degree angle so they will all fit together to form a box. The long side of each section should equal 2'.
- Screw and wood glue the sections together. I used a 90-degree angle clamp to hold the pieces together while I drilled the holes for the screws and screwed the sections together.
- Once all sections are connected into a box, glue the frame and face together. Some clamps or weights will help keep everything together while the glue dries.
- Once the glue dries, you can fill any cracks or screw holes with wood filler and sand them smooth.
Step 4: Paint the Box.
- Apply a base coat of light gray to the face and sides.
- Mix up three more shades of gray.
- Using a reference image, or the pattern provided, paint each block area (each single "pixel" is still 1.5"x1.5")*. To make the exact lines shown here, I did the following:
- Surround each area to be painted with masking tape.
- Using a small paintbrush, paint the enclosed area.
- Roll over the area with a foam paint roller (optional, but I thought it looked nicer).
- Remove the tape before the paint dries.
- Repeat process until all areas are painted desired color.
* Note: the first dark gray I mixed ended up being too dark, so I mixed up another lighter gray batch of paint. Since I had already painted one of the other lighter shades of gray, replacing this dark gray color with a lighter shade made me alter the pattern shown here slightly. Basically, I switched the location of the 2nd lightest gray areas with the 3rd lightest gray areas. I don't think anyone will really notice the difference.
Step 5: Install the LED Strip
- Cut the lens to fit the inside of the box. Hot glue it in place. You can also see in the pictures that I added some simple L-brackets to hold the frame and the face together with something besides glue.
- Place the pieces of the LED kit in the box so none of them will be visible through the holes from the front. Note: the room I was placing our light in had an outlet up high on the wall. If you need your cord to run down to a plug near the floor, you may want to cut a groove in the frame for the cord to run through.
- Cut strips of foam board a little shorter than the depth of the box and hot glue them into place so LEDs will be close to the holes when attached to them.
- Peel the backing off the LED strips and stick them to the foamboard. I was able to use the whole 16' LED strip by stacking two rows of LEDs next to each other on the foam board strip as I went around the inside of the box.
- Test your LED strip to make sure everything is still working correctly.
Step 6: Mount Your Light
- Using whatever mounting hardware you prefer, attach the block to the wall and enjoy your new nightlight!