This project was one I had been itching to do for a while now. I finally completed it and received many comments on it. After getting so much positive feed back, I decided an Instructable was in order.
Step 1: Making the Cedar Blocks
In the making of this artistic, split cedar LED wall lamp, I used:
- Cedar Planks (5/4 radius edge decking). One plank will be enough for a project of this size.
- Acrylic Sheet 3/16”
- Titebond 3 wood glue
- LED strip lighting - 8’ length of multi-color LEDs.
- TV Mount - there are many different ways to mount the lamp to the wall and I would do it differently if I did it again.
I shaved the radius edges off the cedar planks. Because these were waste cuts, from a decking project I helped my brother with, their overall lengths were varied.
I then ripped the boards into 2 1/2” strips and from there I cut the strips to lengths of 6, 7 and 8 ½” blocks. These lengths were my preference, but there was nothing calculated about it. I pretty much set the fence on my miter saw and cut away.
Step 2: Splitting the Blocks
It was then onto splitting the blocks.
I tried to split them just off center – meaning I purposely avoided placing my chisel equidistant from each side. I also twisted my chisel right or left to get varying degrees of splits. This was important to me because I was looking for topography in my overall project – which is also why I call this a work of art. The most rewarding part of this was when I happened upon a knot in the wood. The split takes the path of least resistance and often went around the knot in a radius to it. This really added dimension to the overall piece of art.
All told I probably used 16’ of wood (maybe a bit more). After ripping it in half, cutting them into blocks and then splitting those in two – I made over 100 split blocks. I still have several left over after making my lamp 40” wide and 20” tall.
Step 3: Assembly
Gluing all the pieces together took patience. I wanted the lamp to be random, but trying to be random is a lot harder than following a pattern. I wanted to vary the length, thickness, angle and natural color of each piece as I glued them together. Truly, this might look like the easiest part of this project, but I found it difficult to be so random with so many variables.
I would glue up 5 courses of lengths and then clamp it together. Then I would continue clamping sections together as I finished them - taking care to not glue the sections together yet.
Step 4: Acrylic Strips
I used 3/16" acrylic. I bought it in a 36" x 48" panel. I ripped the strips down using a 200 toothed saw blade. If I had used 40 or 60 toothed blade I most likely would have chipped the acrylic as I attempted to cut it. I also sanded/buffed the sides of the strips to diffuse the lights as much as possible as they shined out from the back.
The strips are 3/4" in width and I cut them just shy of the shortest length of the ends I was going to butt together. As the acrylic was always shallower than the depth of the wood blocks, I placed (not glued) another strip of acrylic, in the slot, to act as shim during the curing process. They were easily removed later. I shimmed the slots because I worried the clamps would fold the sections up on top of each other.
As an after thought, I should have run the finished edge of the wood blocks through a joiner, because later, as I glued the acrylic strips to the lengths of cedar, any varying height between the wood pieces and the acrylic made for a poor bond. This project is extremely light and cedar is soft so this wasn't a huge issue for me, but especially if I were to make it out of oak or another hard wood, I can see were this could become a large issue.
Step 5: TV Mount and LED Lights
After all was glued up and cured (I gave it a little over 24 hours). I installed the TV mount and the LED lights. The TV bracket was extended an additional 1/2" off the back of the wood to create more space for light to escape. This step is by no means required.
***I noticed - and I will CAUTION you to do the same – because my cedar block splits were so varied in depth, had I screwed down the TV mount in certain locations, my wood screws could have erupted out the front of my work – ruining it (in my mind). Be aware of how deep you can go when drilling/screwing into the back of the lamp and/or consider your length of screws.
I used simple thumbtacks to mount the LED light strip. I was concerned about splitting the soft, cedar wood as well as again, erupting a screw out the front. The tacks worked perfectly. The picture hangers were already recessed to the exact depth of the LED strip and the tacks allow me an ability to customize the lights in the future, if needed. For more permanence, the tacks could be glued in place.
The LED light strip could have been mounted several different ways. I chose to place the light directly on top of the acrylic strips so that it diffused out through it and into the room. Admittedly, while I call this project a “lamp”, the light is not ideal to read a book under, but you could easily add more acrylic strips and LEDs behind them to illuminate a room better.
Step 6: Wall Mounted
I screwed the receiving bracket to the area of wall I wanted my lamp on. I was sure to find a stud to lag my bolts into. This project is maybe only 10 pounds, but I do not like to take chances with wall hangings.
I think the project turned out very well and I already have additional thoughts on how to both change and improve a different one. The first change that comes to mind is dipping the blocks in varying colors of stain washes. The project would become that much more "random" and allows for further customization (think team colors or shades of natural stains).
I would also mount this with a french cleat next time. The bracket I used has some wiggle to it and as the center of the lamp is not necessarily the center of it's gravity, a french cleat would allow stability and take away any gravity induced tilt. To overcome the tilt on this project, I simply shimmed the bracket a little.
Step 7: Video
I also made an instructional video for this project that you can see here:
Please let me know what you think of this project in the comments below and if you happen to recreate this project yourself send me the results.
BTW - here is my inspiration for the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAK8BEsslhs