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

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

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

Picture of 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
  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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


KapilS45 (author)2017-12-04

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

AdopteUnRoux (author)2017-11-20

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?

pankinoa made it! (author)2017-11-14

Great work! I made it too, but I had another steps

Cuch9901 (author)2017-09-16

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

EricE121 (author)Cuch99012017-10-30

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!

DanielleE24 (author)EricE1212017-11-09

Are you talking about the old CRT style flat screens?

art donovan (author)2017-11-03

Great job and a nice, clean design.

maja158 made it! (author)2017-11-01

Wonderfull idea. Just made it. The best compliment i just got from my wife. She wants the lamp inside the house!

AndréF100 (author)2017-10-24

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

burningsuntech (author)2017-10-01

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

emi1414 made it! (author)2017-08-07

Awsome Instructable!
I made mine with the WS2812-LEDs and an ESP8266 Arduino compatibel microcontroller.
At power up the lamp connects to the local wifi or opens an accespoint and serves an website. So you can control the lamp over every browser like your smartphone.

WakeUpLight, RGB-Color or chaning color effects are aviable.

Thanks for this great idea.

docman100 (author)2017-08-07

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

TimmyGray made it! (author)2017-07-23

Thank you so much for your Instructable ? I love the light.

MJohns81 made it! (author)2017-06-02

I doubled up the acrylic sheets and added a top piece. Wishing I hadn't and that I had stuck to the original design. Fun project though thank you.

timwarneka (author)MJohns812017-06-30

I'm curious - what do you not like about your design? It looks gorgeous.

cyrzee (author)MJohns812017-06-20

Looks great either way. Great job.

PremekK made it! (author)2017-06-28

This is the first thing I made from Instructables. Except for the drill it is all hand made. As cutting by hand is not so accurate I had to rasp quite a bit. Sanding was not so big deal. However applying bee vax as a last touch cause "filling" the smooth scratches by the vax resulting in the transparent acrylic. So I will have to very carefully sand only the acrylic to hide the inside.

Also if you are plannig to use it as a reading light I would recomend to use s strip longer than 50cm. As it is birthday present for my wife for next week I can't really tell how sufficient it will be after while when the eye will get used to the dark, but for sure it is more ambient light.

I am thinking about another one with thicker bottom piece of wood to hide a power bank in it. It could be handy for some "portable" garden table light.

MikaP5 made it! (author)2017-06-23

I made it!

docman100 (author)2017-06-21

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

BIVS2000 (author)2017-05-14

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!)

cyrzee (author)BIVS20002017-06-20

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.

TechKiwiGadgets (author)2017-06-04

nice work

cyrzee (author)TechKiwiGadgets2017-06-20


RudolfP8 made it! (author)2017-06-08

Angeregt durch diesen Artikel habe ich eine ähnliche Lampe gebaut. Ich habe aber mehr Acrylglasscheiben genutzt. Auch habe ich mit Multiplex (Plywood) gearbeitet. Der anderen Unterschied bei meiner Lampe ist das 12 Volt Netzteil mit dimmbarem Funkschalter.

Rudi - Aachen - Germany

cyrzee (author)RudolfP82017-06-20

Great job!

docman100 (author)2017-06-20

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

cyrzee (author)docman1002017-06-20

The acrylic is originally clear. But once you sand the face and sides, it becomes matte and diffuses the light/

Rickboy made it! (author)2017-06-18

This is my first attempt, I have not fully finished as yet. I used a digispark and 4 WS2812B 5050 LEDs in a square pattern at the base of the device.

I next plan to add a switch for changing the lighting mode

cyrzee (author)Rickboy2017-06-20

Wow. That looks awesome. I love the multi-colour!

RechoS (author)2017-06-15

This is a great idea! Thank you. I'm currently making one for myself

strooom (author)2017-06-04

Very nice! You've designed a piece of timeless beauty.

I'm extending the idea and putting NeoPixels inside instead of white LEDs, so it can have a color matching your mood.

BaptisteL8 (author)2017-05-30

I was looking for 5V USB leds for a while. Perfect match. Just received them today! thx

Tchefter. made it! (author)2017-05-25

Thanks for this Idea!!! I will do soon a floorlamp with the dimensions between 70-100cm :)

stamatelos (author)2017-05-22

is excellent very nice i will try it i hope to make it

Litkac made it! (author)2017-05-21

@Cyrzee: Thank you for great idea and really helpful instructions. As I do not have required tools, I had to improvise and this is the final product :)

brennus.fogarty-pryor (author)2017-05-18

This is so helpful! I am planning to do this for a school project. Wish me luck!

D_P_R (author)2017-05-17

looks awesome!

vachead (author)2017-05-16

I love the clean simplicity of the design. Very nice.

Bruce_T_NZ (author)2017-05-16

Great work, it looks amazing. You did an excellent job getting the glue to stick.
I tried to do something similar in a project a little while ago and struggled to get the glue to stick to the perspex. I even tried scoring the surface of the perspex and even the the glue would not hold.

drbsmithmd (author)2017-05-14

just a question about heat. Is there much heat from the leds?

mwilcox3 (author)drbsmithmd2017-05-14

No there is not geat from the leds if you use the proper power supply

cyrzee (author)drbsmithmd2017-05-14

Very little warmth given off by the LED's.

stan0102 (author)2017-05-14

Well done, this is very fab & groovy. Gonna make me one. Like it a lot. Oh yes!

ngadhno made it! (author)2017-05-13

check mine, very very similar

cyrzee (author)ngadhno2017-05-14

very cool, man.

Fathomlis (author)2017-05-13

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Thumbs up! I am liking this all the way...

cyrzee (author)Fathomlis2017-05-14


Ismegordo (author)2017-05-14

WOW I love the simplicity of your project and the fact it looks great and has a great use.

You mentioned that you were going to get your students to make some,that is a Fantastic idea. I really Love it.

So in the next school holidays I am going to help my Grandson to make one or two, and then get the Granddaughter involved.

So Thanks for sharing, and yes I amd about to vote now


c0de panic (author)2017-05-14

Amazing ! In my todo list ! :)

ThirdEarthDesign (author)2017-05-14

They look really stylish, good work.

About This Instructable




Bio: Teacher by trade. Student at heart
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