Modern LED Desk Lamp...Powered by 5V USB

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Introduction: Modern LED Desk Lamp...Powered by 5V USB

About: Teacher by trade. Student at heart

This was an entirely new project for me. I've always been fascinated with edge-lit acrylic and I figured it would make for a nice desk lamp. The sanded edges of the acrylic pieces send off a diffused glow that works great for a desk or reading lamp. The LED strip inside is cheap and safe since there is no wiring involved.

As with all power tool Instructables, please use proper PPE and follow all safety protocols for each machine.

This Instructable is aimed to provide everything you need to make one for yourself. But if you have any questions, send them my way.

Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools

Tools needed:

  • Mitre Saw
  • 3/4" and 1 3/4" hole saw and forstner drill bit (Drill press or hand drill powered)
  • Belt sander or palm sander

Materials needed:

Most of these materials can be sourced from scrap with the exception of the LED strip

  1. Wood: Any wood from aspen to zebra can be used for this lamp. You need about a board foot for a decent sized lamp, so even if you have to buy something, it isn't that expensive. I chose some shorts of walnut that were planned to 1/2".
  2. Acrylic: I got my acrylic from a local plastics manufacturer. They end up with plenty of offcuts and would likely be willing to part with it. If not, you can pick up acrylic sheet at most hardware stores. I used 1/4" thick acrylic for this lamp. But anywhere from 1/8" to 1" would work.
  3. LED Strip: I used a 5v LED strip with a pre-wired USB end. 50cm will give you plenty of light to work with. I ordered several dozen since I am making these with my students and it really drove the price down. You can expect to pay less than $5 for this. Mine were sourced from Aliexpress. LED Strips On Aliexpress.com
  4. Dowel: 3/4" dowel works best for wrapping the LED strip around. You will be able to find this at any hardware store.
  5. Glue: Gorilla glue is great for glueing dissimilar materials like wood and plastic.
  6. Finish: Wipe-on Polyurethane from Minwax is always my choice of finish.

Step 2: Cut to Size

The wood and the acrylic have to be the exact same size. This is especially true if you don't have a belt sander to true them up later on.

I like the look of a square lamp. So all these pieces, both acrylic and walnut, were cut to 5" x 5".

Step 3: Drill Center Cavity

This is where the LED strip will sit and the light will come from. It isn't super important to be dead accurate with your cuts since it will be hidden on the inside, but it is a good idea to make some centre holes to line everything up.

I used a 1 3/4" hole saw to cut through the wood and acrylic. Acrylic is a tough material to work with and I made sure to take every safety precaution when drilling these pieces. They can catch and spin if not clamped down tight.

The centre dowel sits in a 3/4" hole on the bottom piece.

Step 4: Attach LED Strip

The LED strip is attached to the 3/4" dowel with the adhesive backing. Wrap it around and secure it. It doesn't matter what the orientation of the bulbs are because the glow of the acrylic will diffuse the glow.

There is a little slit cut into the bottom piece of acrylic to allow the cord to exit the lamp. I used a bandsaw to make this cut, but a jigsaw, handsaw, or hacksaw will work.

Step 5: Glue and Clamp

Once all your pieces are cut and the LED strip is in place, it is time to glue.

Gorilla Glue will work best for this because you are joining plastic to wood. Be aware that Gorilla Glue expands greatly and will leak out the sides if you use too much.

I orientated the boards so that the end grain was alternating. Clamp in place and allow to set.

Step 6: Sand the Sides

After the glue has set, scrape off excess glue and sand to finish.

Using the belt sander speeds up the process of finishing the sides, but a palm sander will suffice.

Be cautious of burning and melting the acrylic on the belt sander. Take small passes and allow the plastic to cool.

I used grits from 80-220 on the palm sander to get a great finish on the wood and acrylic.

Step 7: Finish

Minwax wipe-on poly gives a great finish to the wood and acrylic. Super easy to apply. Just wipe on, wipe off, Daniel san.

Let dry and then it's time to enjoy your lamp!

Step 8: Make Different Sizes

This project can be customized to so many different dimensions and styles. It's up to you and your creativity to stack different sizes of wood and plastic and create something unique.

The next stage of this project is to cut the pieces out a laser cutter.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. Please vote for me in the lighting contest!

Lights Contest 2017

Second Prize in the
Lights Contest 2017

17 People Made This Project!

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45 Comments

Hey, thanks for the instructable, I'm trying it right now !

Just curious about the glue, what do you mean by it fell appart using gorilla glue?

1 reply

How would I go about adding a place on top where you touch to turn on? Anyone has any idea?

2 replies

Also what you can do is get a cheap touch switch and a cheap arduino and c&p some code into it plug the TS into it add some foil to it and attach it to the top. Look for the recently featured touch lamp for more detal

Nice. Had to try it. I used some nice usb with mini controller leds I had on hand. And I had just been giving some thick plexiglass to play with

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Made two of these for my daughters for Christmas. Thanks for the inspiration.

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Awesome man. Hats off for your detailed explanation. I will making it soon.

Can anyome tell me where they are getting the acrylic? Im in Minnesota and it is crazy expensive. Thanks!!

2 replies

Hi, I recently learned that all old flat screen monitors have a large bit of acrylic inside of them! I found a 19" flat screen monitor in the garbage, took it apart, and sure enough there was a 19" x 19" x 3/8" thick piece of acrylic inside! They're not all that thick but this was a good one. It sure beats paying an arm and a leg for it!

Are you talking about the old CRT style flat screens?

Great job and a nice, clean design.

This is a nice project. I will be building one. Thanks for posting the instructable.RA

how large do I make the squares like the ones on the pictures on this instructable

I'm working on this project and am going to ad a color changer to it (I an LED strip with a color mode and power button

How bright is the finished product? Read a book with the room lights off?

Or is this more decorative than a usable light source?

I am a woodworker and I am going to Favorite this as it was a well done Instructable. Your woodworking skills are excellent (and you have all the right tools!)

1 reply

To be honest, it's more decorative than an efficient light source. However, you could make it larger and up the LED count to make a nice reading lamp.

Thanks!

Why on one picture of the acrylic its perfectly clear and next to it you can barely see though it?