Instructables

Small eco-footprint living room light

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Picture of Small eco-footprint living room light
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This instructable demonstrates three processes:
1. How to build an attractive and efficient main light source for the living room.
2. How to perform the life cycle assessment to quantify its advantages.
3. How to relate those improvements to a person's ecological footprint.

Too often living rooms are dimly lit, or use a central ceiling-mounted fixture that creates an unwelcoming atmosphere. This design provides a remedy by casting a lot of light through an effective diffuser, and can be set on a table for more pleasant effect.

However, the larger ambition of this project is to create a light fixture that minimizes the environmental impact of its manufacture, use, and disposal, so every task is considered with this in mind.
A life cycle assessment is used as a tool to analyze the design decisions.
To conclude the project, I estimate the fixture's ecological footprint.

As you can already see, this will be a wordy instructable.
I promise that you will find something of interest.
Each step tackles a discrete phase of the project, so skip around to see what interests you.
To help you choose, please scan each step's summary and take a look at the pictures.

 
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Step 1: Construction of the base

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SUMMARY:
This step details the construction of the wood base. I use short explanations, drawings, and some photographs. The base material is oak reclaimed from packaging material.

DETAIL:
I have attached drawings to supply full dimensional details.
The construction steps are as follows:

1. Prepare two pieces of wood, square across all surfaces:
-the larger piece is 2.5" x 2.75" x 15"
-the smaller piece is 2.125" x 2.375" x 9"

2. Cut the 55 degree slots to get a tight fitting joint.

3. Cut the chamfers on the bottom corners. When cutting the chamfer on the smaller piece, fit it to the larger piece to ensure you do not cut past the point of chamfer intersection.

4. Cut the slots for the the shade mounting pieces.

5. Drill the holes for the light socket assemblies.

6. Drill the hole to house the wire connections.

7. Drill the pilot holes and counter-bores for the screws that will fasten the shade mounting pieces.

8. Rout the slots for the wire runs.

9. Now is a good time to do most of the sanding, as prep for finishing. I found it easier.

10. Glue the pieces together.

11. Clean up the chamfer intersections with a chisel.

12. Drill the wire exit hole.

13. Sand any remaining blemishes.
jerhpk3 years ago
check to see what the disposal requirements of the tung oil are. (The can should have some of this.) If you can add the rag to a compost heap, go ahead. Some finishing items (like Boiled Linseed Oil) are exothermic, meaning they give off heat (which is great to start a compost pile - until they spontaneously combust) and can only be disposed of after thoroughly drying and airing. (Clotheslines work well, I've been told.) This assumes, of course, you have no experience with finishing. I believe everything else you have as refuse can be recycled, but it depends on your municipal arrangements. My local municipality, for example, is only now starting to recycle, so it does not accept everything.
marc_alain (author)  jerhpk3 years ago
The recyclable status of materials is always changing, it seems, as municipalities find or lose outlets for the materials they collect.
Apparently, polyethylene bags are now recyclable in our area.
I suppose the tung oil rag could be composted; it would be interesting to see if/how much the oil protects the rag in that environment.
This particular formulation tung oil does not contain any drying agents. Others, and especially linseed oils, do contain drying agents which are metals such as cobalt... toxic.

Thanks for your comment!
moogeez914 years ago
 another idea is that you could use the new LED light bulbs. They are rather expensive by only draw about 5 watts per bulb and produce the same amount as a standard bulb. plus these curly lights have some nasty chemicals in them including mercury. 
Rich994 years ago
what are chicago screws?
 
yoyology Rich994 years ago
Rich99 yoyology4 years ago
oh, those things... thanx 
Will98954 years ago
Hi, i was wondering if anyone had considered doing this with a mirror replacing the PVC on one side? i don't know how much extra light you would get from this but I thought if anyone was going to end up putting one of these directly against a wall it might help for me to throw this out there. I'd imagine it'd reduce the heat on that surface quite a bit too, i don't know how much the PVC transmits. great instructable!
AwajiMan4 years ago
 Perhaps aluminum chips could be slipped into a beverage can, crushed, then snuck into municipal recycling?
Wow. You're thorough. You don't see too many instructables with associated LCAs. Bravo. I'd buy it.
Why not make one? 
 No time these days.
ax894 years ago
Very nice job with an attractive and functional light as a result!

A couple of comments:
step 3 finishing - you mentioned using the holes to support the base when it's being exposed to the vapours.  Your could start to drill your holes, stick screws into the bottom of the holes and put it in the vapour upside down.

step 6 waste: if your finishing oil is all natural, you should be able to compost it, likewise with the paper/cardboard, although recycling it may be a better reuse of it.  Also, you could stick the little twisty bits of aluminum in a can when you put it into your recycling.
andyp6754 years ago
Thats an awsome idea when i finally get some to to do some work for me im gone build me one im thinking on laminating a nice piece of wood for it walnut with some purpleheart and maple accents i will post some pics here the.

Awsome lamp thanks for sharing.

Andy!
Helder4u4 years ago
You surely know what you are doing! 
Nice to read!
DropScience4 years ago
CFL lights contain mercury. You break one and the mercury vapor settles all over the space it was broken in and then continues to off gas for years, slowly settling permanently in your brain.  Mercury, in short, makes you dumb enough to believe that its a good idea to pay carbon credits directly to Al Gore's bank account.

LED bulbs are hella costlier but in the long run use way less energy and last longer.....bonus, if you break one you do not have to break your bank hiring an EPA sanctioned contractor to clean it up.  But if you make the lamp out of what is basicly someone elses rubbish, you can splurge on a $30 bulb. 

I can see you speak from personal experience.  My sincere condolences . . .
not to mention that the CFLs emit a cold light, with a low CRI and have been linked to SAD and migraines.
startree4 years ago
thanks - very thought provoking ible, will check out more of the links you suggest re: footprint calculations...
WOW!
THis looks really good. Pitty im to lazy to make it, but keep up the good work
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Would love to see you add this to my new group.
Hope to see you there.
Home Repair, Refurbishment, and New Projects
kolrobie6 years ago
Real tung oil is kind of hard to find. Tung oil finish might not even have tung oil in it like Formby. I would just put Minwax poly or polyacrylic water based on it instead. Looks great/
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
OK I finally finished my light, this idea is a spin off of yours see it here http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Bottleabra-Accent-Light/
and thanks for the idea.
marc_alain (author)  Mr. Rig It6 years ago
It's great to see you've carried on. Good work!
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
That is a sweet light. I wonder what it would look like it you used frosted wine bottles (arbor mist) to cover each bulb, or frosted cylanders. I think I will have to save this a s a favorite. Good job!
marc_alain (author)  Mr. Rig It6 years ago
Thanks! As it happens, there is a recent instructable that shows how to cut up wine bottles and jars. You've got me thinking...
Yes that is exactly where I got the idea. I think it would look great. If I can finish the seven projects I have ahead of it I think I will make it. Oh hey I just had another idea. If you were able to somehow slice a bottle in half from top to bottom you could make two wall sconces. Then put the low level flickering bulbs inside of them to give that flickering flame effect, now that would be sweet. then sell them to some Italian restaurants. Actually it would look in my houses, darn now I have to make one also. Project number 8 estimated time of completion: Some time next year.
You could also use steel wool or even a scotchbrite pad to make the diffuser
Jouda Mann7 years ago
First, congratulations on a lovely project that is a unique and otherwise overlooked use of materials around you. I find it an inspiration to look at this, as it makes me see landfill-bound refuse around me in a far different light. We all could take your example on reducing our ecological footprint. Excellent project.
fairyshaman7 years ago
Wow! Great job! I'm very impressed, and a little overwhelmed. :-) How long did the whole project take, and what would you estimate the materials to cost?
marc_alain (author)  fairyshaman7 years ago
Thank you very much for your positive comment. I truly appreciate it after having put in this effort. Now that the design is worked out, and the work instructions documented, I think the fixture could be completed in two days. There would be several days of interruptions to wait for dye action and oil drying. As for the cost, since I used mostly found materials, I spent only about CDN $40 on the electrical components and the aluminum. For the lumber and PVC sheet, I encourage you to find local sources of recycled building materials.