Introduction: DIY Illuminated Design Desk

Picture of DIY Illuminated Design Desk

I always thought that those designer desks with the glass tops and lights were pretty cool. I just moved into my new apartments, and knew such a desk was calling my name. And being a college student on a budget, the cost had to be low. It's VERY simple and VERY basic, but clean and cool.

this is my first instructable. Hope you enjoy!

Step 1: Buy Materials

Picture of Buy Materials

I had 2 glass panes laying around

The labels were $1 each, the IKEA Trestles were $15 each, and the 2' Light $10

labels were bought at a dollar store, trestles at IKEA, and the light at WalMart

Step 2: Stick 'em

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pt.1 Assemble the Trestles. IKEA can provide instructions on assembly. By the end, you should have 2 sexy thangs.

pt. 2. Paste the labels on one side of the glass pane. I recommend cleaning the glass panes with windex or other household glass cleaners to get rid of grease and dirt. I put 4 sheets on each pane. The pictures may help illustrate. Always apply starting from either one corner or the center, and work your way around that point to minimize air bubbles. Flip over the panes when you are done

Step 3: Let There Be Light

Picture of Let There Be Light

Basically, I wanted the light to be suspended under the glass, in the middle of the panes. I got some wire laying around, and attached them to the light things and trestle. The pictures illustrate the process. after that, put it in, and watch it glow

Step 4: Admire

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Sit there and look at how nice a $41 design table looks so much better than a !@#$ing huge and !@#$ing expensive light table thing. Enjoy it!


boh3m3 (author)2012-04-10

Without any kind of support in the middle, you're looking at a huge injury risk with leaning/putting weight on that glass. Just saying...

TashaDax (author)2011-03-17

Can plexiglass be used for this instead of regular glass?

skyburner (author)TashaDax2011-03-17

I wouldnt recommend Plexiglass. I replied to someone who asked the same thing. Basically, glass is good because its rigid and stiff (although prone to snapping and shattering). Plastics are too flexible, and will sag and bend under its own weight if used in this setup, unless you got some nice 1/2in -1in thick sheets, which 1)are also SUPER expensive and 2) they probably dont make sheets that small, most of the time acrylic that thick is used to make security walls between tellers and customers. Not a consumer option in my opinion. Sad story :(

On the bright side, you can get glass "shelves" (which is what I used) from some hardware stores. Another option, although uncommon is when stores close/go out of business (ie Mervyns), they try to sell their fixtures, including those nice long glass shelves (a toy store near my house was moving to a new location at the time, and I swooped on these glass shelves for around $5-10ish i think? Although I hate to wish bad luck on small businesses in this crappy economy, be on the look out for closing stores?

Good luck! and post what you come up with :)

rolandacali (author)skyburner2011-10-10

There is plexi that is very this and as strong as glass. It lighter weight.
If you go to a plexiglass warehouse, you can purchase scrap pieces and save.

the_burrito_master (author)2010-10-16

I built one a little differently than you but mine is for animation purposes.

It's funny i anchored the lights the same way you did but this is the first time ive seen this ible. nice work.

reynwrap582 (author)2008-09-20

As an alternative to the labels, if willing to spend a few extra bucks to make something like this, you can pick up a can of Krylon white glass frosting spraypaint, or glass etching acid at a craft store. This might be a bit more permanent solution than the labels, though the labels were definitely a creative solution. Reminds me of when I couldn't afford a white board, so I used a cheap 24x36 poster frame with plain white paper beneath the plastic instead.

brain_bomb (author)reynwrap5822009-10-12

 Yeah that's what I was going to recommend.  It has the added benefit that you can mask off any shape or pattern you want so you are not stuck with simple or square shapes.  But also as you mentioned it would be permanent.

ly101 (author)2008-10-22

I'm gonna make one ... I've always needed a light table and this is by far the most easiest and cheapest in my opinion And nice pictures to.

tw7003 (author)ly1012008-12-14

Even cheaper is to use a vertical light-"table": a window or glass door. You tape the things to the window and start tracing. Cheap, easy, and quick to build. Disadvantages: you have to work vertically and in winter at least one hand will get cold :-)

handidad (author)2008-09-28

Good idea. If I were to build one I would make a simple wooden box to hold the light and glass. It would not be as minimalist, but it could be moved and stored a bit easier

clamoring (author)2008-09-20

Excellent work! I made something similar out of an Ikea Lack table a while back but yours looks so much nicer!

skyburner (author)clamoring2008-09-21

That's still pretty nice. And probably more stable than mine. The table i made is VERY minimalistic and bare

wolfsingleton (author)2008-09-20

Well done. Just wanted to suggest as a way to save money, try using the light bar from an old scanner. Works well on my drafting table and most of the net jockeys on here can rustle up an old scanner or two for free. Keep up the good work!

skyburner (author)wolfsingleton2008-09-20

Scanner lights are about 1', this light was 2' long. the wiring and electrical stuff would also be a small problem. 3-4 scanner lights aligned vertically would provide better illumination, and might look a lot better. haha thanks for the suggestion

shwa (author)2008-09-20

Cool,my only advice is to place thin reflective sheet of metal beneath the light slightly curved upwards(concave) to make light stronger on the sides. hope this make sense.

skyburner (author)shwa2008-09-20

haha i thought about it, but i also thought that it would over-complicate things and throw off the look. I wanted a very neat, minimalistic look to it. thanks for the advice though

=SMART= (author)2008-09-18

FTW lol

Scammah (author)2008-09-14

Pretty cool idea. I was looking into making one of these however I was going to go way over the top. Now that I see this I just might do it this way instead.

shooby (author)2008-09-13

You may want to mention what size the labels are. It looks like they are 8 1/2" x 11" or size A4, but I'm not sure...but that's trivial.

Great design and implementation. Do you know roughly how much the glass would cost otherwise (assuming 1 piece total size = combined size of your two pieces)? What are the dimensions of those panes, for that matter?

tchiseen (author)shooby2008-09-13

I think you can buy the glass tabletops at IKEA as well, but they may be more expensive then if you just had glass panes around. Also, I'm guessing plastics such as Acrylic or Polycarb would work too.

shooby (author)tchiseen2008-09-14

Yep, buying something is def. more expensive than not buying it. Even super thick (and more expensive than glass) acrylic would sag under its own weight in this setup. That's why you never see any acrylic table-tops like this, even though you do see acrylic window panes.

skyburner (author)2008-09-13

The size of the labels are 8.5 x 11 I was looking at IKEA glass before I found the panes laying around. A 2' x 4' surface would go for about $70-$80 because of various designs. I didnt look into plastics because this table is very fragile already, and the plastics might sag more than the glass, meaning you would need reinforcements or a smaller surface.

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