This back-lit LED wall art piece came from pure imagination of what I could make with scraps another person would've thrown away. The whole piece cost me $30 (price of the LED strip), and about 10hours of labor.
Step 1: Acquire Materials and Tools
To begin, I frequent craigslist's free section often. I found an add that was offering 1/4" trimmings from pine boards and other scraps for free, so I went and picked up a good handful not actually knowing what I was going to do with them yet. A few sketches later, and I had a short idea in my head with what I wanted to create. I wanted something long and somewhat tall that would decorate a long/barren portion of my apartment wall that would be appealing in both the light, and dark.
For the tools, The very basic is needed... hammer, wood glue, manual miter saw, hot glue gun, sanding block and sand paper, tweezers, and finish nails. Upon finishing the project, using staples to support the LED back lighting is encouraged.
Step 2: Do What Makes You Feel Good!
Layout the materials in a very general pattern (no gluing or nailing) to get a concept of the composition you like. Cut some pieces that you think might look complimentary to another, but keep it in concept until you can stand back and say to yourself, "That's it!!"
Then test some stain colors. I went with "Carrington" for the base and larger accent pieces, and "Golden Oak" for the 1/4" horizontal strips. By all means, test multiple colors until you find something appealing to you!
Step 3: Assemble Base
When I found a pleasing composition, I removed the facade of the art piece, exposing just the base. I am planning on separating this piece from the wall about 3" using spacers that will attach at 90 degrees from the parallel-to-wall base. I applied a shallow but even coat of glue to the portion I was assembling, and used a finish nail to further secure the members. Once all pieces were assembled, I sanded it lightly and razor bladed off any glue excess.
After wiping it down with a damp wash cloth to remove any excess sanding dust, I laid out a drop cloth, and applied the darker Carrington stain to all surfaces of the base.
I did this step in my apartment with doors and windows open for ventilation. Do this in a well ventilated area!!
Step 4: Stain and Assemble Facade Members
At this point, I used some scrap to hold the members up from the drop cloth so I could stain the horizontal members. I decided I wanted to bring in some more darker pieces into the facade to break-up the color composition. After staining, I re-worked the layout until I had the, "That's It!" moment. At that point, I started from the top, and worked myself down. I used one of the 1/4' pieces of scrap as a spacer to create consistent spacing of the horizontal members. I ended up adding more pieces to add character to the piece to make it feel like it wasn't enclosed in a frame. I applied glue to the underside of each member and secured it to the base with a finish nail. I used the tweezers to hold the tiny nail so I didn't crush my fingers with the hammer.
Add 2 layers of Satin Polyurethane, and I have those colors beautifully sealed in!
Step 5: Light It Up!
I purchased a universal LED kit off Amazon for $30 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006K0JYD8/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Highly recommend this company since the LEDs work flawlessly. I first Laid out where I wanted the strip routed and used the 3m backing tape to secure it. I don't know if it was the quality of tape, or what, but it did not want to stay attached... So, I used a little hot-glue to persuade it to stick. Worked like a charm. Looking back, I probably should've used some metal staples to secure the LED strip more securely, but, I haven't had a problem since....
Step 6: Add Some Hangers and Enjoy
I used just some typical picture frame angers at each end of the 3" spacer pieces, and the center of this 10' wide art piece. It didn't weigh more than 10lbs, so I used drywall anchors just to be sure it wouldn't fall. The remote that came with the LED strip allowed for multiple light functions and effects. In the end, I am very happy with the piece! In the future, I will think about possible modifications for transportation since I live in an apartment and will need to move this 10' wide art piece eventually. Luckily, I have a truck :).
In conclusion, don't try to copy this verbatim. Take the idea, and run with it! Make it your own... feel it... Have the composition, color, lighting all work to your taste. And at the, end, if you can say, "I enjoyed that." That's all I wanted in creating this instructable, and hopefully it inspires you to create something else!