Introduction: Little Portable Desk Lamp

Picture of Little Portable Desk Lamp

The little desk lamp was born after I discovered these bamboo sunglass cases on eBay. I wanted to create a lamp that you could put away after use and I knew that the bamboo case would be perfect for the job.

The ible’ isn’t difficult and only needs a minimal of tools and parts. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible but at the same time fun and practical. Initially I was going to use just some white LED’s for the light source, and then I remembered that I had these LED’s left over from another project. This made it even simpler to make! The LED's come with a remote and have a heap of features and different colours.

I also added a lens that I made from a container to help diffuse the light. The remote fits into the bamboo case so it is out of the way and the LED’s can be positioned anyway you like them.

Hope you enjoy and if you have any questions, please let me know.

Step 1: Things to Gather

Picture of Things to Gather


1. Bamboo case – eBay or eBay. You can also just type "bamboo sunglass case" into eBay.

2. M3 Nut inserts – eBay or eBay. You can also type "Flat Head Threaded M3 nut Insert" into eBay.

3. Knurled, hand turn screw (M3, 12mm long) – eBay or eBay, or eBay. You can also type "knurled head screw M3" into eBay.

4. Brass rod (thickness that I used was 1/16") – Local hobby shop or eBay. You can also type "brass rod 1/16" into eBay

5. Diffuser. I used a lid from a small snack box. You can buy them on eBay . You can also type in "nude food container" and you should be able to bring them up

6. LED's - eBay or ebay. You can also type "10 LED Multi Color Submersible Underwater" into eBay


1. Super glue

2. Drill

3. Vice

4. Brass wire buffing brush – dremel. (this is to give the knurled screws a brass finish. Not necessary but it helps with the finish)

5. Small hammer

6. Pliers - needle nose

7. Soldering iron

8. Small blow torch

Step 2: Drilling the Holes for the Nut Inserts

Picture of Drilling the Holes for the Nut Inserts

First thing you’ll need to do is to drill the holes for the nut inserts. The inserts that I used are M3 sized. You could use larger ones if you want to but just remember that the screws need to be the same size. I have added links to the parts list for the ones that I used.


1. Mark on the bamboo case where to make the first hole. I made my holes 40mm from the lid. You could make them lower if you wish. The hole needs to be slightly smaller than the nut inserts you have chosen to use.

2. The next hole needs to be opposite the first hole drilled and at the same height. Measure and mark where to make the hole and drill away

3. Do the same for the lid. The holes need to be opposite from each other and line-up with the 2 holes in the body. Just do your measurements and you shouldn’t have any issues.

4. Next you need to add the nut inserts. Push them into the holes (tap with a hammer if necessary) and super glue them on the inside.

Step 3: Adding the LED's

Picture of Adding the LED's

Adding the LED’s is quite simple and should cause you any issues.


1. Remove the screws holding the case together

2. Remove the circuit board. There is a couple screws holding this onto the case so these will need to be removed as well.

3. Add some batteries

4. Push the battery section of the LED’s into the bamboo case lid. I didn’t have any issues with doing this some I’m assuming you won’t too. The fit is tight but this is a good thing as it means the LED’s won’t fall out and you don’t have to work out a way to secure them into the lid. There is a little flex in the metal battery holders, so if necessary, squash these in a little to make it fit into the lid.

5. Now that you have the LED's inside the lid, you'll find that the edge of the LED's sticks out a little too much and you can't close the lid into the bamboo case. To fix this, you need to trim a little off the edge from the LED's. Mark with a black highlight the areas that are sticking out and with a dremel, carefully remove these areas. I used a sanding drum which worked perfectly. Just take your time and measure constantly. You don't want to cut too much away or you might damage the circuit board.

Step 4: Making the Diffuser

Picture of Making the Diffuser

As mentioned in the parts list, you don’t have to add a diffuser if you don’t want to. I do find however that the LED’s spread the light better and give off a softer glow. If you wanted to, you could just modify the diffuser that comes with the LED’s and attach this if you wanted to.


1. Find a lid which is translucent. It should also be sphere like as well.

2. Modify the lid so it fits onto the circuit board. The diffuser also needs to fit through the body of the bamboo case, so make sure you check this as well before attaching to the LED’s. I just used a sander and reduced the size of the lid until it was the correct size.

3. Next you have to stick in place. I used super glue but it probably wasn’t the best choice. Super glue lets off fumes and these leave white streaks on the inside of the diffuser. To remove these I had to get an ear cleaner inside and carefully wipe away. I got rid of most of it but there are still some white marks near the join. A better solution would be to use some hot glue and attach with that.

4. Test and make sure everything still works.

Step 5: Brass the Screws

Picture of Brass the Screws

This is a cool technique to add brass coating to any surface.


1. Place one of the knurled screws into the vice (I first screwed it into a nut insert and then tightened the vice on that.

2. Heat-up the screw with a small blow torch. I left it on the screw for about 20-30 seconds.

3. Next, hit the hot screw with the brass wire buffing brush. My dremel died recently so I had to use a drill instead. Make sure you go over all of the areas you want to be brass.

4. Repeat if necessary and do it to all 4 of the screws

Step 6: Making the Arms

Picture of Making the Arms

I’m calling these the arms but I guess they could be considered supports. I went with some brass rod was I found it was the easiest way to make the arms.


1. Grab a piece of brass rod and make a 180 degree bend. I used a pair of round, needle nose pliers to make the bend. Don't make it too big though.

2. Work out how long you will need the arms by placing the bend into one of the knurled screws in the lid. Pull the lid up and work out where the next bend needs to be

3. Make the next bend and trim the brass rod so it meets up with the other end.

4. Solder together using some flax and a small blow torch.

5. Do it all again so you have 2 of them.

Step 7: Attaching the Arms

Picture of Attaching the Arms


1. Un-do the knurled screws and attach the arms

2. Replace the screws and tighten.

Step 8: Done

Picture of Done

That's it!

slightly un-do the arms and pull up the LED lid up. Angle the lid and tighten the screws into place. Now turn on the LED's with the remote and your away!

You won't be able to have the light section too forward as the lamp will get unbalanced. You could however weight the bottom and this would solve the issue. The remote can be kept inside the bamboo case and when your finished, just un-do the screws and close the lid.

You can also keep pencils or whatever inside the bamboo case.

Step 9:


TwinDaddyD made it! (author)2016-10-18

Thanks for the great Instructable!

Mine didn't come out nearly as polished as yours, but it was a pretty easy build, and kind of fun to make.

I definitely need to weight it down, and come up with a way to stop the arms from slipping, but I enjoyed the process, and have some ideas for future projects with those nifty little lights!

Thanks again!

Nice work! Did you have any issues fitting the LED's into the bamboo? Maybe for the arms you could add some internal tooth washers like in the image below. It would def help lock the arms better. For weight you could also add a few flat lead sinkers...


Actually, yes, I had two main problems inserting the lights.
1. The batteries kept sliding around in the holder and falling out. This I fixed with a bit of tape.
2. Even though I tried to carefully bend the metal battery casing, I managed to crack the bamboo lid. its not too noticeable, but the light unit does tend to slip out at times.

I still haven't come up with a good diffuser for the light yet, but I'm working on it.

Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2016-09-14

Loved it my friend. Great show :) and Voted :)

RickG5 made it! (author)2016-08-31

Great design, and really easy; the parts are practically purpose-made I'm still waiting on the colour-changing lights but I got impatient and dissected a disc light from Wilkinson's.

I wanted to keep the weight out of the lamp head if I could - and I hate AAA batteries with a passion - so I stripped out the battery box and wired it directly through the support rods to a USB connector that lives inside, where you can hide away a power bank. The voltage is sufficiently low that touching both supports with one hand has no visible effect on the circuit, although I'd advise being a little careful with it to prevent short-outs! Otherwise it works perfectly.

Unfortunately, 3xAA = 3x1.2 = 3.6. Which is not the same as 5V. The 12V-rated rocker switch seems to provide enough resistance to stop the LEDs from frying themselves. That means the lamp isn't as bright as it perhaps could be, but ho hum.

The power bank tucks away into the base to provide counterweight for the head, and the charge seems to last a good long while.

I'm looking forward to the remote control lamps arriving so I can make a #2 version.

lonesoulsurfer (author)RickG52016-08-31

Nice work. Cleaver job on using the support arms as the conductors.

The remote control LED's are very cool. Can't believe that they can make them for so cheap! You'll need to slightly reduce the size of the circuit board on the LED's when you get them or the lid won't fit into the body of the lamp. I used a dremel with a sanding drum but you could use a file as well. Just be careful though as you don't want to cut any of the tracers inside the circuit board. They're pretty hardy so you shouldn't have any issues.

RickG5 (author)RickG52016-08-31

Oh, hey, and a tip for the thrifty; copper welding rod is about 1/20th of the price of brass. Possibly not as nice looking, but you've still got that brass brush, right?

Buso (author)2016-08-13

Another perfect instructable. Thank you!

KellinC (author)2016-08-10

Thats really cool!

Congrats on a great instructable!

I'll have to make this soon...

lonesoulsurfer (author)KellinC2016-08-11

Cheers. If you do make one, make sure you post a picture of it as I'd love to see what you came up with.

20rmendoza (author)2016-08-11

what specifically did you use fur the D-fuse-R

Took me a minute to work out what you were asking! Got it now though. The Diffuser is just a lid from a small food container. I brought mine from a supermarket but you can also get them on eBay. I have added a link in the parts step for you as well.

You could also just modify the top of the LED so it can fit inside the bamboo lid.

20rmendoza (author)2016-08-11

what specifically did you use fur the D-fuse-R

20rmendoza (author)2016-08-11

what specifically did you use fur the D-fuse-R

penguin4hire (author)2016-08-10

This is such a cool instructable. I will be building this shortly. Waiting for the brass bars. Just a friendly suggestion be sure to post a minimum length of the knurled head screws. The ones I bought 6mm were too short. I suggest maybe using something longer than 9mm to be able to catch the threads and tighten down the brass rods.

Thanks! I'll update the length of the knurled screws in the ible'. The ones I used were 12mm. Can you also post a pic of your lamp once you have completed it? I'd love to see what you come up with.

Wartim (author)2016-08-08

Congratulations on the design.

coco6 (author)2016-08-08

Lovely idea and design!

coco6 (author)2016-08-08

Lovely idea and design!

DinoD12 (author)2016-08-08

This is a great 'ible ! I think I'm going to go Military on it for my build by changing to bamboo to a brass shell casing. it should & could make a nice reading lamp or lamp for my desk.

Thanks for your work, I'll come back here on a "I Made It" when I get to it.

KittyLover16 (author)2016-08-07

This will come in handy....

deluges (author)2016-08-04

Very smart combination of different items

lonesoulsurfer (author)deluges2016-08-07

Thanks man

Easy Make (author)2016-08-04

awesome !

lonesoulsurfer (author)Easy Make2016-08-07


SeamusFrederick (author)2016-08-04

Cool ible ! Fyi step 2 is blank

Thanks for the heads-up. I've removed it now

JON-A-TRON (author)2016-08-04

Nice project!


push_reset (author)2016-08-05

Love the simplicity of design and that it can be configured different ways. Great job!

yeah that's what I really like about it too. Thanks

PaulW234 (author)2016-08-05

I made a similar one that was made from a carved out branch at the bottom and green pipe cleaners coming out of the top with green leds on the ends.
The transferable part is the transformer I used which was 240v to 3v dc 1amp output and cost £7 4 years ago. It powered 24 leds via 4 220 ohm resistors that I fitted. And looked good. The only drawback in this case is that its hard wired so not as portable as your great looking lamp that is so much better than what I made.

lonesoulsurfer (author)PaulW2342016-08-07

I try and keep away from mains power if I can help it. Not confident enough with using it and I'm sure i'd burn down the house or the neighborhood. The LED's though last for ages and you can always keep some spare in the case as well.

Fathomlis (author)2016-08-06

Well done! Nice...indeed...awesome. I really like it!

lonesoulsurfer (author)Fathomlis2016-08-07


lglira (author)2016-08-06

Simple, awesome and useful

lonesoulsurfer (author)lglira2016-08-07


shazni (author)2016-08-07

Lovely! I actually saved an imge from online similar to this for me to try and make from scratch...but yours came up! Love the wireless part

lonesoulsurfer (author)shazni2016-08-07

Howdy. Yeah I have seen this version before. Very nice and clean.

fuzzyguy (author)2016-08-07

The bamboo cases are out of stock from the supplier you listed.

lonesoulsurfer (author)fuzzyguy2016-08-07

I've added some more information and an extra link. Should be ok now.

Bongmaster (author)2016-08-03

you could probably put a larger battery pack in the base and maybe even a recharge circuit and use the arms to transfer the power to the lamp. just a thought :)

RickG5 (author)Bongmaster2016-08-05

I'm collecting the stuff to make one, but I'm planning on putting a cheapo 2800mAh power bank in the base. They're the right voltage, have built-in charging with a common micro-USB connector, and in a pinch you can steal the power from your lamp to keep your phone alive. The really cheap ones are £2.50 on ebay. I'll let you know if it catches fire.

lonesoulsurfer (author)RickG52016-08-07

good luck with it. Like the idea of also being able to use it as a back-up charger

Bongmaster (author)RickG52016-08-07

hope it works :)

That's not a bad idea actually. It would also help stabilize the base with the extra weight in the bottom of the bamboo case. You could use 4 AAA rechargeable batteries to power it as well.

charles543 (author)2016-08-07

3 of your eBay links in the parts list say, "Doesn't post to United States". What are we supposed to do?

I've updated the links and added some more information so you shouldn't have any issues now.

StaceyL30 (author)2016-08-07

I want one but of all the junk and pieces i have around my house, i havve none of that stuff, sounds like more trouble than its worth. Making it solar would be good, like a calculator that turns itself off.

YoKidz (author)2016-08-04

Hats off to your creativity :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with.
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