Introduction: DIY PIXAR: Luxo Jr. Lamp

Picture of DIY PIXAR: Luxo Jr. Lamp

Hey Instructabrarians!

If many of you didn't know, last week was August 17th and the anniversary of a very momentous, historic occasion that inevitably revolutionized animation and redefined the outlook on computer science. It was on August 17th, in 1986, that a small Bay Area computer graphics company led by Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, Bill Reeves, Tom Duff, Eben Ostby, Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter, and John Lasseter released an animated short film at SIGGRAPH which was instantly heralded as a modern day masterpiece. Well today, I'm paying honor to this film's 24th Birthday and presenting an Instructable to one of my most popular and requested PIXAR Builds.  This is how to make PIXAR's most iconic character, Luxo Jr.

Editor's Note: This instructable was meant to be posted on Tuesday, on August 17, but due to schedule constraints it was posted at a later date.

Step 1: Abstract

Picture of Abstract

Just a bit of an introduction to my homemade Luxo here.  I created him a year ago when I was just about to head off to college at UBC.  I really wanted an awesome lamp that I could take with me, keep in my dorm, and keep my motivated while I was studying late at night.   It was a summer project I had been formulating since June 29, and I had done a lot of scaling down from images I found online to build him. The entire build time, however, was 4 days (the fastest I've ever built something like this).  He's life- sized and roughly 1/30th the dimensions of the giant Luxo Jr. statue currently residing at Pixar Animation Studios, of which I based it on.  

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials
 Here's what you'll need to build him:

  1. Anglepoise Lamp (I got mine at Target for $25) 
  2. Circular Lamp Base (depending on your type of anglepoise lamp you purchased, you might not need this.  Since mine had a different base, I needed to buy another one at Goodwill)
  3. Plexiglass (for the different "V" shaped connectors.  I prefer this over sheet metal since it's easier to cut)
Other Materials
  1. Long Screw (I used a  5'', I used a #10-32)
  2. 3 Medium Screws (ie 3'', #10-32)
  3. 4 Short Screw (ie 1 1/2'', #8-32)
  4. 9 Stainless Steel Flat Washers (#8)
  5. 4 Nylon Lock Nuts (#10-32)
  6. 4 Machine Screw Nuts (#8-32)
  7. Rectangular steel bar (has to be thicker than your lamp light's bars)
  1. Dremel Tool and drill bits 
  2. Metal File
  3. Hacksaw and Power Saw
  4. Power Drill w/ drill bit (at least 9/64)
  5. Sheet Metal (not pictured)
  6. Wire Cutters
  7. Metal Vice
  8. Gorilla Glue (or unless you can weld)
  9. Aluminum Silver Paint (or Off White, depending on whether you want your Luxo to look like it did in the short or in the PIXAR title sequence, respectively)
  10. Computer Printer or Copier (with resize/scale function)
  11. Optional- Gray Power Outlet Cable

Step 3: Reference Images/ Grab Dimensions

Picture of Reference Images/ Grab Dimensions

Start by measuring the diameter of your lamp's head.  Since this as well as the base are the only things that can't be resized/ scaled, depending for your Luxo Jr. will depend on the size of the diameter of your Lamp's Head.  Everything else the leg sizes, screw lengths, V connectors, spring size should follow.  For instance, the circumference of my lamp's head was 5'', so each of the connecting rods were around 3''. 

The diameter of the head will always be used as the common denominator, when calculating the various size ratios.

For reference, The ratio from Head diameter to Body and Leg rods~5 in/ 3.15in

In order to make my lamp as film accurate as possible, I ended up doing a lot of research into Luxo Jr's specific dimensions and size. Also, apart from the head, I knew that the rest of his "legs" from my existing anglepoise lamp could be cut down to scale, in order to fit my needs. I found the below image from Flickr and it was perfect, since it gave a nice structured overlay for entire statue. I printed it out from my computer, did some basic ratios, and roughly estimated that my lamp would stand at around 1/30th the size standing at 1 foot tall.

Step 4: Disassemble the Lamp

Picture of Disassemble the Lamp

This step should be relatively simple enough.  Just remove the screws from your anglepoise lamp, separating each of the various rod sections from each other, as well as the lamp stand base.  You'll need to remove the head first, by using the wire cutters and then removing the excess wire from the lamp head.

Step 5: Rescale Straight Brackets

Picture of Rescale Straight Brackets

Or neck sections, arm sections, whatever you'd call those four metal bars that connect the lamp together.  Now, the size of these will depend on the diameter of your lamp's head.  As you should have already gotten the measurements from Step 3, simply use the ratio you've estimated when scaling (mine was 5in-3 1/2 in.)

For reference, there will be three straight brackets that you will rescale (2 for the neck, one for the bottom).  The Neck Sections (which connects the head to the body) will be cut from the existing lamp brackets, and the lower straight bracket (used to connect the body to the base) will be cut from the thick steel bar.

I used a hacksaw and a metal file to do my work.

Once you have finished, you will need to drill two holes (one at either end) into the cut bars.  This will function as screw holes, in order to keep your lamp together and flexible.

Step 6: V-Shaped Hinges

Picture of V-Shaped Hinges

OK, the next step is to create the neck, body, and leg V hinges for the lamp.  Again, the size of these hinges will depend on the diameter of your lamp's head.  Fortunately,  I've put all of the various templates (Neck, Mid Joint and Leg Joint) on one page, so all you have to do is scale the page with your printer/copier to fit your needs.  The ratio I used for my head- Mid Joint is 5 in: 2 3/4 in. 

You can download a larger version of the template from my Flickr site here.

Once you are finished scaling, cut the pieces out of plexiglass.  I used an electric saw, but a dremel tool might also work.  Then drill three holes into the plastic, which will function as screw holes.

Your lamp should already be starting to take shape!

Step 7: Z-Shaped Bar

Picture of Z-Shaped Bar

Whoo, boy, I remember this part.  Creating this part of the lamp was easily the most difficult of the project, and the most time I spent on it.  Not necessarily because it that hard to make, but just grabbing the specific dimensions for this unique piece was nearly impossible to find.  If you haven't noticed, the two leg sections that connect Luxo Jr's V-body hinge to his leg V hinge, is this kind of stretched out Z shaped metal bar.  It what holds his inner springs together, as well as his lower V- Hinges.

Anyway, long story short, I did a lot of image searching and finally used thisas the basic template for my image.  It gave a really nice detail of that specific leg shape, so I was able to create a template from it on graph paper.  I cut three individual metal parts from the remaining Straight Brackets, and filed them down to the specific angle.

The entire height of the bracket should be the same size as your  3 1/2'' straight brackets.

By the way, I don't know how to weld so I originally had no idea how I was going to attach this leg together. What I finally ended up doing was cutting out a Z shaped leg out of sheet metal and then attaching it to the back with some Gorilla Glue. That stuff is AMAZING for gluing metal.

Once you are gluing the pieces together, drill three holes into the bar (one at either end, and then one on the inner most side).  Two will be for the Screw Holes, and the middle will be to hold the Metal Dowel, which connects the springs together.   The metal bar separating the two Z Bars should be around 3'' across.

Step 8: Painting

Picture of Painting

Whew!  Now that you've rescaled all of the parts, cut out the various body hinges, and completed both Z Shaped brackets, it's time to begin painting!  You're almost finished!

Now, depending on what style you want your Luxo Jr. lamp to look like, you can either use White or Silver paint.  In the original animated short, Luxo Jr. is painted aluminum silver, but as seen in the PIXAR logo he is distinctly white.   I made mine silver, in honor of the short film, but you can do either one.

Just leave the parts up to dry when finished.

Step 9: The Springs

Picture of The Springs

While the glues drying, I'll take some time to quickly go over Luxo Jr's springs.

As an anglepoise lamp, he has four different springs.  Two of them connect his Neck together to his upper Mid Joint, and his other two connect his Z bracket to his Leg Joints.  Both are extension springs, meaning they are designed to stretch when Luxo Jr is flexed. 

Now, to save money, I used the same extension springs as the one my lamp originally came with.  I merely cut it into a smaller shape (1'' across for me) and bent a loop at the end using a pair of pliers.  I made two of these for the straight bracket.

For the inner, shorter springs, which connects the Z bracket to the Leg Joints, I just used a rubber band.  It was really small, so they worked the best.

Step 10: Assembling Luxo Jr.

Picture of Assembling Luxo Jr.

Alright, now it's time to finally begin assembling your Luxo Jr. Lamp!  For this step, I will be breaking it up into two different parts of assembly 1) Main Structure, 2) Wiring 

Main Structure
Start by connecting the Head to the main Neck Joints.  Attach the three short screws (1 1/2'', #8-32) as well as their corresponding screw nuts, through the Neck Joint's three screw holes.  Once you have measured how long the screws should be, cut the excess using a hacksaw.  Then connect the Straight Brackets to the Neck Joint (the bracket with the spring peg should be at the bottom).

Next, start by attaching the Mid Joint to the Straight Brackets and then to the Thick Steel Bar.  You will need to use the Washers, in order to provide enough space between the regular straight brackets and the thick steel bar. Then, attach the Z Shaped Bracket, to either side of the Mid Joint.  Connect this using the Medium Screws and Nylon Lock Nut .

Finally, connect the Leg Joint to the Base of the lamp, and feed the Long Screw through the Leg Joint at the bottom.  Keep the Leg Joints in place using the four Nylon Nuts, and attach the Z Shaped Bar to the Leg Joint using rubber bands.

Wiring for the lamp definitely isn't difficult, if you want to use the lamps original wire.  Attach the wire from the lamp's head and feed it through the straight bracket, and the thick steel bar until it gets to the bottom of the base.  Then connect the two wires using two Wire Connectors.

However, I went a little further and decided to give Luxo Jr. the exact kind of round-ish cord that he had in the original short.  I used a spare wire from an Extension Cord, in order to fit my needs.

Step 11: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

And there you go, one Luxo Jr. Lamp ready for all of your necessary lighting needs!  You officially have the coolest desktop lamp in the universe!

Just don't leave any rubber balls lying around.  That or any "I"s.

Editor's Note: By the way, if there's any PIXARians reading this instructable, I absolutely adore your films!

Step 12: Additional References

Picture of Additional References
Just some additional help for all of you:

Luxo Jr. at Disney World (found this video extremely helpful when building)

I didn't see this until afterwards, but this 3D model turnaround is extremely helpful in detailing Luxo Jr's dimensions: [[1]]

A Luxo Jr toy was also included in the Up Blu Ray Combo Pack.  Unfortunately they don't sell them anymore: [[1]]



Alexa258 (author)2016-07-02

Hello, I am looking for this lamp. Where can I buy one and import it to Europe? Hard to find one which is original pixar. All others are different. Wanna have that pixar. Please help.

jcapili made it! (author)2014-08-22

This Instructable rocks! I love Pixar so much and this project gave me the perfect opportunity to make a functional item that represents my obsession. Here he is posing with my Funko Nemo. I couldn't find a base that looked exactly like the real one, so I made my own with some wood and some tubing. Thank you so much for posting this!

SHIFT! (author)jcapili2014-08-22

Woah, that is truly amazing work! Are those joints laser cut? Also, kudos on the great color!

jcapili (author)SHIFT!2014-08-22

Nope, I cut the joints with my band saw and sanded A LOT. And thank you, I wanted the lamp to be as close as possible to the one at pixar hq.

Porda (author)2014-05-23

I've wanted my own Luxo Jr. for years now! I'm reading "To Infinity and Beyond" right now and I wish I had a proper night light to read it with.

The next time I see an anglepoise lamp, I'm going straight into maker mode. Thanks for the great instructable.

SHIFT! (author)Porda2014-05-26

Awesome! Post pictures when you make it and I'll give you a badge!

art.z (author)2011-04-13

Excellent job!!
I`ll tray to build one.
But where can I find the lamp base??

SIRJAMES09 (author)art.z2011-12-21

they have more lamp parts than the American Gov't. has Bull Shirt. :P

Seriously, they will have everything you need & then some.

SIRJAMES09 (author)SIRJAMES092011-12-21

this link DOES work by the way....I checked it personally.

SHIFT! (author)art.z2011-04-13

uh, Goodwill? That's where I got mine.

art.z (author)SHIFT!2011-04-14

Ok cool, but the thing is: I'm in Brazil...

I don't know what is Goodwill!!
I googled it and I found a company that finds job for people and a auction website for antique stuff...

I need a store that sells stuff online...
I'll keep searching for it


SIRJAMES09 (author)art.z2011-12-21

Goodwill is an American business exists nowhere but here in America(as far as I know anyway).

They sell used stuff that(usually) still has life left in it....things like clothes, electronics, furniture, books, you name it. If 1 or 2 people can carry it, they sell it.

SHIFT! (author)art.z2011-04-14

Hmmmm, that complicates matters a bit.

Do you have a Paypal Account? Ebay might have some listings.

SIRJAMES09 (author)2011-12-21

just to let everyone know, Here in America, if you need something cut to size(wood, metal, plastic, etc) there is almost always somewhere you can take your material & get it cut to size....for a price(usually $5 for the whole job or less). If you know someone with the proper tools, they just MIGHT cut it for you for free. talk REALLY REALLY sweet to them. LOL

lbrewer42 (author)2010-08-29

Great project. We Commodore Amiga computer users from years gone by remember first seeing Luxo JR on our light-years-ahead-but-publically-rejected platform!

SHIFT! (author)lbrewer422010-08-30

Oh man, you are so lucky! I'd give anything to have seen Luxo Jr. back when it was first released years ago! Awesome!

lbrewer42 (author)SHIFT!2010-08-31

This was back in the late 80's! IBM (Windows) machines were still greenscreen, Mac's were still black and white, and the AMiga was capable of 100,000 colors (using halftone mode I believe) onscreen at once! In fact when these companies started making life-like graphics, the Amiga was the only platform capable of this kind of graphics. They used an item called a "Video Toaster." The IBM world whined about Newtek not making them a video toaster. So, since the IBM machines were not capable of this kind of power, Newtek sold them to the IBM world by literally making a deal with Commodroe where they put a "NEWTEK VIDEO TOASTER" sticker over an AMIGA computer's AMIGA sticker, installed the Toaster (it was a card), and called te whole unit the video toaster! Basically when they plugged the toaster unit into the IBM, it bypassed the IBM and did the work as an AMIGA.

terrancio (author)lbrewer422011-01-08

i have an Apple IIe and it was not greenscreen it had and still does 16 colors... or i think you are talking about the Macintosh models but that was a little bit later...

lbrewer42 (author)terrancio2011-01-08

yup - you are right. I never could have foreseen back then that eventually I would end up in the Mac world as I am today. They finally have caught up to the old AMIGA system in user friendliness, stability, and and ease of use.

However, I am fickle. I do not care which platform i am using as long as it is fast, logical, and i have control over what i want to do.

I am fairly competent in Windows and Mac as I have used both extensively through the years - going back and forth between them until a good machine finally was re-invented. After being on an AMIGA so many years ago, I was spoiled. Right now I know Windows 7 is stable (finally!), but Microsoft's approach to things is so much more complicated (wasted time/effort) to get simple tasks done that I am in OS X for now. I would like to see a Windows that is truly as logical and user friendly as OS X to be made (and I believe they can - they just need to get someone involved who is used to REALLY simplifying things instead of their usual "simplifying" by adding 3 more steps to a simple task). A good competition between Mac and Microsoft could only bring better machines to market.

I see they are getting ready to release a new Amiga (or so they say - again) - I miss a lot of the little extra things it had - especially not needing to go to a menu to shutdown - just hit the power switch and your done - an almost 30 year old trick to be re-invented in modern times!

I have the honor and privilege to say that this lamp looks just as awesome in person! Congrats on being featured in a newsletter!

Aw, Thanks Danger is my middle name! But you know, the MF definitely wouldn't have been as enjoyable for me without you there! Have a good time at Olin!

Gonzalo Ruiz (author)2010-08-27

Wow... Cool. Very good project.

SHIFT! (author)Gonzalo Ruiz2010-08-30

thanks Gonzalo Ruiz! Good luck with all of your future builds!

craziemutant (author)2010-08-28

Man! This is AWESOME! And would definitely make a great gift to a Pixar fan! Maybe I'll try my hand at this one. Doesn't seem too hard. Looks to be disassembling and reassembling with make shift parts. All I need is a place with plexiglass and access to a power saw.

SHIFT! (author)craziemutant2010-08-29

Oh yeah! This instructable is not at all difficult, the only tricky part is first getting the right dimensions for your lamp, and finding a good pre existing anglepoise lamp to use as a base. You don't have to use plexiglass, I was even thinking of using a thick piece of sheet metal a first. But yeah, plexiglass is much easier to work with.

craziemutant (author)SHIFT!2010-08-30

Yea, I've never made anything but totally love the DIY umm culture? I don't know. haha. I've just always liked how things can be replicated on your own. But have never tried to do any of it because of the lack of tools and/or skills. But seeing how this is pretty basic, I'm gonna try to get off my lazy butt and do something. I was thinking wood for the parts at first. But then thought wear and tear might settle in quicker.

jeff-o (author)2010-08-28

JB Weld would probably do an even better job of gluing the metal together!

SHIFT! (author)jeff-o2010-08-29

Hmmm never heard of that one before. But sure! I just used Gorilla Glue because it was highly recommended to me.

jeff-o (author)SHIFT!2010-08-30

JB Weld is like gorilla glue for metal. Definitely pick some up if you see it in a store.

RichardBronosky (author)jeff-o2010-08-29

I 2nd the recommendation for J B Weld

Nostalgic Guy (author)2010-08-29

I think this is great. I will have to make one of these sometime. Very well illustrated & explained I just hope mine come across as well as this :-)

SHIFT! (author)Nostalgic Guy2010-08-29

Thanks so much Kevpvc999! And good luck with all of your builds!

Tall_Tinkerer (author)2010-08-27

It seems that the price of your lamp dropped $5 within your instructable ;) Great writeup by the by.......

SHIFT! (author)Tall_Tinkerer2010-08-27

Well, it was between $25 and $20. Hey, what do you want from me- I'm old! But thanks nonetheless

zack247 (author)2010-08-26

but you see... the lamp in the box is made of plastic and is painted white, not silver... nice 'ible though! i always thought that lamp was kinda cool, but now wiht a real one its eveb better! im making one of these...

SHIFT! (author)zack2472010-08-27

GO-4 it! I agree, the Luxo Jr from the combo pack looked nice, but it wasn't a lamp. The plastic was pretty cheap and it doesn't even use a real lightbulb, it's battery powered. I like mine because it's a full size working replica, made from metal.

kelseymh (author)2010-08-26

What an awesome build! The detail, the mix of hand drawings, renderings, and photos, the writeup -- it's a truly impressive package.

SHIFT! (author)kelseymh2010-08-26

Wow, thanks kesleymh! I'm humbled that you like my instructable so much! Luxo Jr. is my all time favorite PIXAR short film, and I've been waiting so long for them to release a real replica, that I just made my own.

Ssslouter (author)SHIFT!2010-08-26

so you have time to answer a comment 8 minutes after it was posted but not to a personal message I sent you 8 DAYS ago???? No, jk. but seriously answer me, I need some help.

Otherwise, awesome ible, why not add some motors?

SHIFT! (author)Ssslouter2010-08-26

There's no need to be rude Ssslouter. I did receive your message, but I'm sorry that I didn't respond back to you. I was actually devising some plans that might be able to help with your project, so why not PM me again? Also, I thought about adding motors to make it hop and stuff, but ultimately decided that I just wanted it to be a lamp.

Ssslouter (author)SHIFT!2010-08-27

Im sorry, i didnt meant to sound rude. anyways I found someone who could help me with it. Thank you very much for your help

SHIFT! (author)Ssslouter2010-08-27

Alright, that's good then. Good luck with your project!

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