Instructables

Custom Nameplates: Glowing Alien Pods

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It is a bit of a custom I started, to create nameplates for children of family and close friends.  The first ones I made were very simple, just wooden letters cut out on a scroll saw.  With each new nameplate I create, I get a bit more ambitious. 

This is a custom nameplate I made for my nephew Owen when he was born.  It has a sort of  "alien pod" theme, due to the choice of font and use of glow-in-the-dark paint.  The design can be easily modified for almost any name, by changing the letters and adding or removing "pods" as necessary.

This project makes a great gift for kids or adults - it could even serve as signage in a shop.  It's also a decent project for a shop class, if you're in school and looking for something to make!
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Here are the materials I used to make the nameplate.  Note that you can easily substitute almost any wood, though I prefer to use Baltic Birch because it's dimensionally stable and easy to work with.  Plus, the stripe pattern on the edges looks really cool.  Note that this material list is for making four "pods," adjust as necessary if you need to make more.

- about 1 square foot of 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood (Home Depot)
- about 1 square foot of 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood (Home Depot)
- about 1 square foot of 1/4" lexan sheet (Home Depot)
- about 1 foot of 1/2" acrylic rod (Ridout Plastics)

- glow in the dark paint or glow in the dark powder  (Glow Inc.)
- epoxy
- white paint
- clear acrylic finish (I prefer Minwax Polycrylic)


The tools are pretty basic.  I did everything "by hand" but a lot of the cutting could be done on a laser cutter or CNC machine.  Use what you've got!

- a variable speed scroll saw (I use a DeWalt 788)
- a drill (preferably a drill press)
- a small vertical sander
- skip tooth scroll saw blades (for cutting wood)
- crown tooth scroll saw blades (for cutting plastic)
mickgoth3 years ago
idea!, electroluminescent paint
Revalize3 years ago
I don't have Adobe Illustrator. What free programs would work?
jeff-o (author)  Revalize3 years ago
http://inkscape.org/

Have fun!
Ell-e3 years ago
I had no idea that it took so much planning and work jeff-o, I just thought it looked cool! Thanks again for all your hard work!!
jeff-o (author)  Ell-e3 years ago
You're very welcome! :)
M_10083 years ago
N3MO! How long lasts that glow?
jeff-o (author)  M_10083 years ago
A few hours. This is the powder I used: http://glowinc.com/detail.aspx?ID=15
Ell-e jeff-o3 years ago
If you expose it to light for about 2-3 hours before your child goes to bed it lasts all night, even if it's a 13 hour night!
mikoto3 years ago
Great instructable. You have my vote. I'll have to give this a try .
jeff-o (author)  mikoto3 years ago
Thanks! Be sure to let me know what you come up with, I'll post it here and give you a patch. :)
mikoto jeff-o3 years ago
I think I might use a variation of this process after painting a mural of the Modern Warfare 2 Call of Duty on my Son's wall , he has grown out of Scooby doo and the gang. I'll post pics when I'm done
jeff-o (author)  mikoto3 years ago
Looking forward to seeing your results!
luishfialho3 years ago
Hi, when I saw your nameplate I just loved it, so I started to think in one for me to make. I found me with problems finding the tools to cut the materials. So I transform your idea in my brain to a simple nameplate, simple but interesting (I think). The idea is to create a wooden plaque with a name, cut the letters, then create a wood box behind it and put an acrylic plaque over the plaque with the letters. Creating a simple but nice box, where I could put the glow to show me the letters. What do you think about it, is it possible? May exist any problem with the glow contact with the wood? Thanks for your help, and for sharing this brilliant idea! ;)
jeff-o (author)  luishfialho3 years ago
I think I know what you're trying to do, and it sounds like it should work just fine! The glow-in-the-dark paint will stick just fine to wood, and if you use the powder you can either mix it with transparent glue, or mix it with some sort of transparent paint.
jpnagle593 years ago
A very good build! I was wondering, and I am most likely shooting myself in the foot, so to speak- would it do any good to use both the powder GITD, and the GITD paint? Or, do some multi-colored letters...Anyway, thanks for sharing...
jeff-o (author)  jpnagle593 years ago
Multicoloured letters would work fine! The only thing you have to watch our for is that the various colours will glow for different amounts of time, so some letters will fade before others. As for using both powder and paint at the same time - that would be a waste of money. Choose one of the other! If you're doing multiple colours, use the powder - it's much cheaper.
nevdull3 years ago
Very cool! Great idea!
jeff-o (author)  nevdull3 years ago
Thanks. :)
Desael3 years ago
This is really cool! I SO want to try it! Your freakazoid pic is AWESOME, btw. :D
jeff-o (author)  Desael3 years ago
Haha, thanks. Yeah, the effect is really neat. Even if you don't make pods, the glow powder can be used to make all sorts of things glow. It can even be mixed into paint or glue and used that way.
(removed by author or community request)
jeff-o (author)  DELETED_gregliardo3 years ago
Owen, you mean? Yes, it's a nice name indeed. :)
Awesome stuff, I'm very impressed. I had tried a similar thing for my Ford grill badge with blue LED's but it was serious hard work. Good clear step by step instructions and for sure the powder glow gets my vote. Gets my clear vote on this one.
jeff-o (author)  CodfishCatfish3 years ago
Thanks very much! :)
HeaDCase3 years ago
There's no such thing as overkill... When I first saw the title picture I imagined building it and thought "lexan disks with a connecting rod, an LED at the end, and masking tape" but you went the really REALLY hard way :) Respect man!
jeff-o (author)  HeaDCase3 years ago
Actually, glow in the dark paint is probably easier, in a way. At least it doesn't need batteries! And yeah, I am a big fan of overkill...
zack2473 years ago
i might try this with some of those EL nightlights...