My family has a passion for lights. Before Christmas each year, my dad loads our yard with all sorts of colorful LED lights in intricate patters. The lights, despite the hike in our electric bill each year, remain outside shining well into January and sometimes later. We are always sad to see the lights finally come down. With this in mind, I thought it would be a bright idea to continue this joy we feel during the holiday season to other times of the year. As it turns out, all I needed was a piece of quartz, an LED light, and a drill. What I had were inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and natural lights that could shine during any month. So, if you want unique accent lighting without the bill or a carbon footprint, keep reading!
In this Instructable, you will see highlights of my process creating 3 lights from quartz rock.
Diamond-tipped core drill
Bottle of Windex with water
Step 1: Finding a Rock
While it may seem trivial, finding the right rock is actually an integral part of this project. First and foremost, you must pick a rock that is translucent. Otherwise, the light will not shine, and it will not look interesting. However, this step is a little more complicated than just finding a translucent rock. As I learned, if the rock is too small, it will shatter. If the rock is too large, then it takes hours to drill. Ergo, it is important to find a decent sized rock in terms of thickness, width and in length. More specifically, the smallest of my rocks is 5" long, 2" wide, and 3 inches thick. Anything smaller than this cracked from the drill. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I would not drill a rock that is more than 5-6" thick.
Step 2: Begin Drilling
Finally, the fun part. But, before you get to the action, remember the following advice.
- Drill slowly! When I was drilling the rock, I had to cut millimeters at a time. I would recommend moving the drill up and down while taking away small chunks of the quartz. Simply line up the rock under the drill press, spray a little water, and drill away small pieces each time.
- Bring a bottle to spray the rock. I found that the rock and the drill heated up very quickly. In order to avoid damaging the drill and splitting the rock, they must be cooled constantly. Every 5-10 seconds, a partner needs add ample water to the drill and rock to prevent overheating. So, yes, this is a 2 person job.
- Be patient. During the process, I had 3 rocks split open. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking your time when drilling.
Once you get a couple inches into the core of the quartz, you can either choose to drill all the way through, or stop somewhere in the towards the end. There is a greater risk of breaking the rock if drilled all the way through, but it does add a unique effect. In my project, I dabbled with both.
Step 3: Finish Drilling
Sometimes when drilling, the going gets rough. As you can see in the first rock, the hole isn't completely consistent. A few times, I stopped drilling and chiseled out the middle a little bit. I would only recommend doing this for bigger rocks that won't break easily.
Regardless, when you feel that you have drilled enough, then it is time to see your new project light up!
Step 4: Choosing Lights
For this step, there are endless different options. The lights can be yellow, green, blue, flashing, dim, bright, etc. For my project, I chose yellow, flickering candle lights. They are inexpensive and can be found at any craft store.
The only things to keep in mind are that the lights should be able to fit into the hole that was created by the drill, and they should be powerful enough to shine through the quartz.
Step 5: Testing It Out
Now that you have finished drilling the quartz, take a look at how the rock shines. If it glows well, then go to the next step. If not, then either choose a new rock, drill more, or find a brighter light. From my experience, the quartz on the left shined very well through. The other rock, however, did not shine as well. Accordingly, I decided to drill deeper.
Step 6: Drilling the Base
For each of my bases, I drilled a 1 inch wide hole in order to fit the candle lights. I used the same drill press and drill as I did for the rocks. The wood I used in the picture was a pre-cut piece from an old cabinet. But, any type of wooden base will work as long as it looks good with the rock and can hold the LED in the center.
Step 7: Sanding the Base
For a more aesthetically pleasing project, I sanded each of the bases. As seen above, I just sanded enough to smooth out the edges. Mainly, I sanded the bases to prepare them for staining in the next step.
Step 8: Staining the Base
Like sanding, this is meant for the overall beautification of the final product. Simply take a paper towel or a rag, dip it in the stainer, and brush it along the base. In total, it only requires one coat, but feel free to add more. Even if the stain may look a little uneven, I feel it adds to the rustic feel of the project.
Step 9: Hot Gluing the Light
This is the shortest of all the steps; all that is required is to glue in the light to the base. Make sure that the rock will not crush the light when it is put on the base. Let the glue cool for a few minutes.
Now, I would not recommend trying to glue the base to the rock. It is a very arduous task to make the base stick to the quartz. The advantage of having a detachable base is that you can experiment with different colored lights. Feel free to mix and match the combinations of rocks and lights.
Step 10: Enjoy
Turn the LED on, and put the rock on top of the base.
Now take a deep breath. It looks cool, doesn't it? For an even better effect, go into a darker room and look at it glow.
Thank you for your time! I hope you have as much fun with this project as I did.