Introduction: DIY LED Plexiglass Heart

Picture of DIY LED Plexiglass Heart

Ever since I saw this awesome doorthis awesome door awhile ago, I wanted to make something like it for myself. Well, i decided I would try on something on a smaller scale, so a framed heart for a special someone is perfect.

Step 1: Decide What You Want to Make

Picture of Decide What You Want to Make

For me, this was easy, a heart. But you're not stuck with a heart, you can make whatever you want, a flower, a star, a tree, anything. I would suggest you keep whatever you are making simple at first, this way you can get a hang for etching the Plexiglas.

Step 2: Gather Your Parts

There's not really many things you need for this project. A sheet of Plexiglas at least 5x4 inches and at least1/8 inch thick (but thinner is acceptable). LEDs, any color you want, and as many as you want, but it depends on the length of your etching. Power supply, (mine came from an old router that we accidentally bricked), Dremel with 3/32 inch engraving bit, 1x2inch, and 1x3inch pieces of wood (whatever type of wood you like), and the usual hot glue, and solder.

Step 3: Etch Your Design

Picture of Etch Your Design

This takes some practice as to how deep you should put the tip of the bit, and how fast you should have your Dremel on, but it's easy to learn. I found that going at least halfway down into a 1/8 inch thick piece of Plexiglas gives the best result. Unless you are an artist, you will want to put a template on the bottom of the Plexiglas to use as a guide.

Step 4: Make the Frame

Picture of Make the Frame

Because I'm giving this to someone, I choose much nicer wood then the <a href="">pine I used on my table</a>, but you can use whatever you want. I used Red Oak.
We need to make a groove in the 1x2 piece to hold the Plexiglas. Another thing we learned with the table is to use the circular saw for this. So set the depth to 3/8 inch deep, and line it up centered on the wood, and cut a groove.

Check to make sure the Plexiglas fits in the groove, and you're set. Now, you need to measure you're etched design. Mine is 5x4 inches. Since we don't have a miter saw here at school, I went for the simple overlapping sides. Another thing learned from the table, <em>do not do math in your head</em>, and measure at least 3 times.

That being said, I only made one mistake cutting this time. When you have your 4 sides, take put them on you're etching to be sure they all line up, and look pretty:

Nail the top, and the two sides together, be sure to leave the bottom one free, for this is where the LEDs will be going into.

Step 5: Make Holes for the LEDs

Picture of Make Holes for the LEDs

Now that the top and sides of the frame is made, and the etching fits in, it's time to make the bottom of it which will house the LEDs. I have a 16.4v power supply, and because I want to make this simple, I just wired eight(8) 5mm red LEDs in series for a total of about 16v used. I decided to space my LEDs about 0.5 inches apart. To start I used a 3/16 in bit to make the holes to the groove, and then used a 1/4 in bit to make them a little wider to get the LEDs to be recessed a bit.

You see, the LEDs are nice and recessed, and the wood kinda chipped away to let the leads be recessed also, how awesome!

Step 6: Make the Base

Picture of Make the Base

The 1x3 piece I am gonna use as a base for the frame. I left 1 inch overlap on all sides. In the center I took the dremel, and carved out an area to allow the two pieces of wood to be flush (the LEDs aren't perfectly flat). I also made two 1/2 inch holes on the side for the power connector, and the on/off switch. I drilled these about halfway through, and then made another small hole through the top for the wires.

Connect the wires together, and test it out

All the LEDs work, now we can permanently fasten the top to the base. I used hot glue, but wood glue works too. After that it's time to hot glue the switch, and the power connector in. This uses alot of hot glue cause I made the hole soo large. But it's ok, I love hot glue.

So much hot glue, I actually put it in the freezer for a few mins to cool.

Step 7: Put It All Together

Picture of Put It All Together

This is where I made my crucial mistake. I completely forgot that I was planing on nailing the top half to the bottom half, and glued it together. I thought of a few ways to do it, get some longer nails, maybe use screws, then I said screw it, hot glue time.
So i hot glued the two ends together, it works.

Here are some more picturesHere are some more pictures, and some more detail and stuff about it


LastDevil (author)2009-04-12

i think it looks good, you done well there. If next time to do one (this takes a little more time) if you print out a picture then cut it out, glue it to a bit of ply board and saw the shape out. then place the ply on the perspex and use the engraving tool on a slow setting (if not by hand) and slowly go round the shape you plan on a few times it will have a clean indentation of the shape but looks good.

chubbykai (author)2009-01-02

Here is my version.

chubbykai (author)chubbykai2009-01-03

haha i cheated a little. i bought RGB LED strips and a RGB controller from heres some pics. i wanted this project to be something like "every time you look at it there's something new about it" type of thing. So i made a slot at the top of the frame so you can slide out a design and put in a new design. i used cherry wood and a stain and two coats of finish.

chubbykai (author)chubbykai2009-01-03

oh i forgot to mention there are 9 LEDs per side. haha theyre super bright. the LED controller can adjust brightness, color, speed, and different modes of changing color. It also comes with a remote haha (might as well). Since the LEDs run off of 12V i had to get a converter to convert household 120V to 12V. So i went to Ikea and they have this LED lighting thing and has a little circuit board that does the job. cut off the cord and installed a dial switch to make it on off. I used the remaining LEDs for my car since the car runs off of 12V and wouldnt need a converter. tools i used: -compound saw that can miter and angle -table saw -super bonding wood glue -lots of clamps -orbital sander -router to make the slots -soldering iron any other questions feel free to ask!

oh man, that is a nice one, I am impressed. Lots of detail, and the wood looks amazing, great job. How many LEDs did you use? it looks like theres quite a few there.

the_better_nacho (author)2008-12-05

this is what i did.. it originated as the "door" idea, using two pieces and two different color LEDs, but soon realized my then wiring method wouldnt work, so i did a 'mirrored' version more like yours. this is pre-spraypainting the frame, and 'Sikie' is my little sisters nickname; im making this for her xmas present and plan to make several more for friends and maybe one for myself.. just waiting on more colored LEDs _

PM or email me ( if youd like to see an 'ible on how i made this and how i will make more.

oh, and the color is actually 'purple' or 'ultraviolet', not blue as it looks in the pics - and the whole thing runs off of a 9volt battery i dremeled a cubby for in the bottom _

HiddenKenshin (author)2008-04-04

I love it! I'm going to try this and gather the parts tomorrow. However, I'm "technically challenged", meaning, I don't have acces to proper tools. So, are there any, more primitive ways to etch the heart? Manually? What would you reccommend?

i don't know any way to manually etch plexiglass, sorry

No problem. Guess I'll have to resort to some tools. What exactly would I need and what kind of engraving extension? (got any international brands?) I'm sure we have one of those lying around, problem is, I'm Belgian and the technical terms aren't easy to translate.

urbosssez (author)HiddenKenshin2008-09-21

oh um ive done it with a hole puncher thingy i found it in a sewing kit it has a round wooden handle that curves into a metal lance like pin or u can just use a sharp pin head and if u have good hands, etch with that however the etching wont be that deep

Well, I used a Dremel with an Engraving bit. I've been using a 3/32 inch diameter bit, and it seems to work fine (I've since made about a half dozen other designs).
I don't know about prices there in Belgian, but, here in the US all this costs about $60 USD, and its worth it because Dremels are always usefull.

good luck

arnoldt (author)2008-02-14

Heres what i made

Deadly Computer (author)arnoldt2008-02-15

wow, that came out really nice. I like the frameless design of it, it's actually rather pleasing, maybe i'll use that design for my next one. The arrow is a nice touch too. Hope the person you made it for liked it.

arnoldt (author)Deadly Computer2008-02-15

She loved it

Deadly Computer (author)arnoldt2008-02-16


Kazooie (author)2008-02-13

So um, the acrylic really likes to melt around the engraving bit. It does this at all speeds. It's a pain because i have to keep wiping it off the caked up acrylic on the bit before it digs into the pane itself (leaving a blemish). Did you have this sort of trouble with plexi? Maybe i'm just drilling in too far?

Deadly Computer (author)Kazooie2008-02-13

i didn't have this problem with plexi, no. And it's at all speeds huh, thats interesting. What size bit are you using? maybe you want to use a larger diameter one? You also may be putting the tip in too far, i found that if the speed was too high, and i went in too deep, i got build up the bit like a screw. Try first only going a tiny amount deep, if thats the same, try a larger bit. something else i figured out was that its sometimes easier, and better to make multiple runs with different sized bits at different depths, naturally, you start small and shallow, and go up. hope that helps

Kcole93 (author)2008-02-11

Your directions were perfectly easy to follow, and coupled with noahw's LEDs for Beginners I have begun my first project. I have been sifting through Instructables and now I'm hooked. I'll try and upload pictures as soon as I add the finishing touches. I stayed true to your designs as this is my first project. Thanks for the inspiration, I think my girlfriend will love it.

Deadly Computer (author)Kcole932008-02-12

thanks, and good luck, hopefully she will enjoy it, that was the purpose of why i made this project

bduffman (author)2008-02-10

oi one thing wood glue would have worked better another thing looking at this and looking at a proget befor he sprayed it back and then re engraved the picture depends if u want the see thro look or if u just want the picture would also probley block u from seeing the leds at the bottem would look nice i think turned out well dude who ever u give that to will be pritty happy

Deadly Computer (author)bduffman2008-02-11

i thought of painting the Plexiglas black, or even getting colored Plexi, but i decided against it, I wanted it to be clear see through, i like that. As for the LEDs, I have a few other things I'm gonna try on my next ones I make.

bduffman (author)2008-02-10

u could have used the table saw to cut 45* angles and join them that way like a normal picture frame better finish just make sure u measure the inside first then go 45 from that point

was this for valentines nice idea

Deadly Computer (author)bduffman2008-02-11

yea, i thought of using a table saw, but we don't have access to one here in our dorm at school. that, and i kinda don't like mitered corners too much. and yes, it was for valentines day

bduffman (author)2008-02-10

another thing watch wat switches u glue some arnt sealed ive seen a proget he glued a switch in and the glue leaked in the switch and wouldnt turn on lol so watch that ( sorry to pick at ur project i like it tho its nice work i probley wouldnt have done all this if i was building it its just if u sit back and watch some one u see wat they should have done )

bduffman (author)2008-02-10

trick with drilling place a scrap bit of wood under it when u drill thro it wont cause it to crack it wil just drill into the next bit of wood or drill smaller hole then start drilling one side but only a quater way then flip it over ( and follow the smaller drill hole like befor but all the way thro ) personaly first way is easyer and the holes will be perfect 2nd way they can be out a bit

qultiq (author)2008-02-06

I wonder if etching liquid and a stencil would light up

Ora (author)2008-02-05

Another reason to make a CNC router. Great instructable!

Deadly Computer (author)Ora2008-02-05

actually, funny that you mention it, but, we're in the process of making a CNC router, and I can't wait till I can put some big designs into it!

Kazooie (author)2008-02-05

acrylic works too right? (just not as strong?)

Deadly Computer (author)Kazooie2008-02-05

yup acrylic works too, and since you're not using it to support, or hold back anything, strength doesn't matter

GorillazMiko (author)2008-02-05

This is really cool. I like how things can do this, it's awesome. Nice job, +1 rating. Also, your blue flashlight mod rules.

there's endless things that can be done, I have three or four more ideas I want to make, but the 3mm LEDs I want to use for those havent arrived yet. and yes, i love my blue flashlight.

klemci (author)2008-02-05

The product is nice, i like the idea. Its very useful for all sorts of decorations. I might try this as soon as i get plexi :D

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