Today we'll be building an LED lamp out of reclaimed wood, using a large sheet of acrylic as a diffuser. The design is very simple, and can easily be changed to make it fit your style better.
- Wooden planks (I used some reclaimed pallet wood)
- Sheet of transparent acrylic (40% opaque if you want the diffusing job done already)
- Strips of both cold and warm white LED-strips (we'll be using SMD5050)
- A thin surface to mount leds to, e.g. plywood.
- Not opaque acrylic? Then a can of white spray paint.
- Table saw
- A drill to make things easier!
Step 1: Preparing Your Frame
We begin our project by deciding how big we want our lamp to be. As I don't want to go through the process of cutting acrylic glass properly, we'll just be making the lamp as big as the sheet of acrylic we have. It seemed like a nice size anyway.
So now we need to cut the correct lengths for our edges. Spoiler alert: we're going to have to make tracks for the acrylic glass to slide into later, and to know how long the plank edges are going to be we have to account for the depth of these tracks. In addition we have to take into the calculation that the planks will also have 45 degree mitered edges.
For the long edges, the glass was 120cm. The 45 degree mitered edges are going to add 2.5 cm on the length on each side, that gives us 125 cm. Lastly we subtract the depth of the tracks on both sides, which will be 0.5 cm. Thats 1 cm on both sides, and that gives us a total length of 124cm.
The same equation applies for the short sides, but here the acrylic is only 80cm, which gives us 84 cm long planks there.
Step 2: Building the Frame
Once the calculations from the previous steps are done, this step is just executing everything.
First we trim the thickness of the planks down to how high/thick we want the lamp to be on the ceiling. I think we went for about 8cm or something like that. Thinner is smoother and looks nicer, but it also becomes harder to diffuse the LEDs enough so that it's not possible to distinguish individual light dots.
Then we cut out the mitered corners on all four planks, making sure to be correct about the measurement from the last step.
Now we can adjust the saw blade so that only 0.5cm of blade sticks up from the table. Then we run every plank through it, making sure we do the cut on the same side of the planks every time, so that they all line up in the end. If your acrylic is especially thick you might have to run all planks twice through the saw, shifting the cut a couple of millimeters on the second run.
Finally sand them down. As we went for a reclaimed wood kind-of style, we didn't remove all imperfections from the surface, but enough that it is smooth and nice to touch.
Step 3: Assembling the Frame
Now we can make two slots on each side of every plank, using a miter spline jig like the one we built here. You can even see part of the lamp at the end of the video, as this is the first project it's being used for.
Now we can simply apply wood glue on both sides on a corner, insert some small bits of wood (I used paint mixers) with glue on, and then let it dry. The most important step here is to leave out one of the short sides when gluing on the joints. We want one side to be detachable, as we want to slide the acrylic in later. Let's just make the slots and insert the wood joints as on all the other sides, but not apply glue on the part of the joints that connects to the short side we want to leave out.
When dry, we can cut off the excess wood from the joints, and sand it down so it is flush and smooth, before applying some nice stain to the entire flame.
Step 4: Preparing the Acrylic
If you already have opaque acrylic, this step can be skipped. This step is here to show you how you can make your clear acrylic look white opaque (not frosted, there's a little difference there).
First remove the protective film on one side, then sand it down using some lower grit sandpaper.
If you have some plastic primer, use a thin coat of it first. If not, it's not a big deal. In my experience the paint sticks very well nonetheless. Then finally apply a thin coat evenly on the acrylic glass. If you make it too thick, it will be hard to get light through, and if you apply it unevenly it will look cloudy and well, uneven. When looked through from the other side (the side we haven't removed the protective film from) it will look smooth and opaque white. Trust me, it works, and its really nice! :)
Step 5: Adding the Final Plank
So we left out one plank when we glued the frame together, this plank will be glued directly onto the edge of the acrylic, so that we have a nice handle to pull it in and out with. Slide the acrylic in, apply some strong glue (I used polyurethane glue, epoxy would work too) in the track, and then stick the edge on. Apply pressure for some time when drying.
Step 6: Preparing the LED Lights
Here we're simply making a big LED panel. Cut the LED strips in proper lengths, and stick them to a piece of, for instance plywood. If you're using wood, make sure to insulate well between open wires and joints so that there's no fire hazard. Solder them in parallelI or series (they are internally in parallell, so it does not really matter). 'm not going to take the detailed steps on how to make the LED panel here, but it is very simple. We have a video for that as well, if you're curious : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lNCkHtUdqw
Step 7: Mounting
I went for some simple angle brackets and drilled them into the side of the frame. Now we can simply stick it to the ceiling using a couple of screws. In the middle of the frame we insert the LED panel. I pulled the power cable out of the backside, and attached it to a power supply I already had on the wall. At last we can finally remove the front protective film from the acrylic glass, and look at the shiny surface! Slide the acrylic into the track on the frame, and we are done! In the end its not very complicated, and it allows for easily modification later, by for instance changing the LED strips or adding color.
Hope you found this helpful, and if you liked it maybe you'd like our YouTube channel as well, take a look!
Until next time!