Introduction: How to Make a Wooden, USB Powered, Angle-poise LED Lamp

Picture of How to Make a Wooden, USB Powered, Angle-poise LED Lamp

Hi there! In this instructable, I'll show you how to make your own USB-powered LED angle-poise lamp out of wood. You could upcycle some ripped down pallet wood to add character or just use strips of pine like I did. This project requires minimum skills and a handful of tools. Let's get started!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

At the heart of this lamp is the 24 LED 5V 'Piranha' LED board which I found on Ebay for around £2. The data sheet says it draws around 200ma, but that seems a little lot and my laptop's USB port switches off which implies it's over 500ma. However, it runs fine off a 1A USB wall charger or a powered USB hub.

As well as this, you'll need these tools and materials:

Tools

  • Drill and drill bits
  • Wire strippers (or scissors)
  • Saw
  • Clamps (optional but very helpful)
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Soldering iron (optional)

Materials

  • 25mm x 5mm cross section wood (ripped-down pallets work fine for this)
  • 3 nuts, bolts (or wing nuts) and 6 washers (I picked mine up from Poundland as part of a mixed box of nuts, bolts and washers)
  • Around 1m of bell wire (or two strand wire)
  • A 2-way DPDT switch - 'Piranha' 5V 24 LED bank (around £2 from ebay uk) - Optional (small piece of perspex for diffusing the light)

Step 2: Cutting Your Wood

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The project is split into 3 main sections: The head, the arms and the base.

Check the 2nd photo for the measurements you need to cut the wood to.

Step 3: Drilling the Holes

Picture of Drilling the Holes

First up, grab one of your 29cm arm lengths and measure in and mark at 2.5cm across the width of the wood. This should give you a square shape at the end of your piece of wood.

Next, draw two lines joining the opposite corners to mark the centre of the square. This will be our drill hole. Grab a drill bit that's just wider than the width of the thread of your bolts (4mm for mine).

Clamp down all 4 pieces of wood together (with the marked piece on top) and drill through all the pieces, making sure the drill is vertical. Repeat for the opposite ends of each piece so you have a hole in either end.

Next, take your marked piece and line it up on top of the 3.5cm pieces (see photo 13), clamp them in place and drill through once again using the same drill bit.

Step 4: Constructing the Head

Picture of Constructing the Head

To form the head, glue the two 9.7cm pieces together along the edges. Next, line up the LED board in the middle of the glued piece and mark where the red 5V wire and black GND wire come out.

Clamp the piece down and drill a hole through your marks using a drill bit just wider than the wires themselves.

Feed the wires through the holes and use hot glue to secure the LED board to the piece of wood.

Next up, glue the other 4 pieces of wood to the edges of the wooden board underneath the LED board. I'd suggest starting with a long piece and working your way around the edges.

Once you've glued each of the four edges in place, the head is complete!

Step 5: Attaching the Head to the Upper Arm

Picture of Attaching the Head to the Upper Arm

To secure the head to the upper arm, we're going to make a support. For this, you'll need two of the 3.5cm pieces and two of the 29cm pieces. You'll also need one of the bolts, two washers and a nut

See the photos for a more visual guide to this step!

Thread a washer onto one of the bolts and thread it through the holes of the wood in this order:

  1. 3.5cm
  2. 29cm
  3. 3.5cm
  4. 29cm
  5. Washer and nut

This gives us a flexible, freely rotating pivotable joint, ideal for poising your lamp at any angle!

Tighten the nut to finger tight as we'll tighten this up later (if you used wing nuts, these are easier to tighten more or less).

Use hot glue to attach the 3.5cm pieces to the head of the lamp, adding glue around the edges (not the arm pieces!) to help hold it in place. I also added a piece of wood across the top of the lamp (see later step photos) to hold the head in place as it was a little weak.

Step 6: Connecting the Upper and Lower Arms

Picture of Connecting the Upper and Lower Arms

To join the upper and lower arms, we'll use the same technique we just used with the nut, bolts and washers.

Thread a washer onto another bolt and thread it through the holes of the wood in this order:

  • Lower 29cm
  • Upper 29cm
  • Lower 29cm
  • Upper 29cm
  • Washer and nut

Finger tighten the nut and the joint is complete!

Step 7: Creating the Lower Arm to Base Support

I don't know why I didn't take photos of this step, but it's exactly the same as the support we made for connecting the upper arm to the head. Here's a recap of two steps ago:

You'll need two of the 3.5cm pieces ,one of the bolts, two washers and a nut

Thread a washer onto one of the bolts and thread it through the holes of the wood in this order:

  1. 3.5cm
  2. 29cm lower arm
  3. 3.5cm
  4. 29cm lower arm
  5. Washer and nut

This gives us a flexible, freely rotating pivotable joint, ideal for poising your lamp at any angle! Tighten the nut to finger tight as we'll tighten this up later (if you used wing nuts, these are easier to tighten more or less).

Step 8: Constructing the Base

Picture of Constructing the Base

The base is a nice, easy build as we'll be making a square with a pair of supports underneath!

First, lay out 5 of the pieces of wood for the base in a square. Next, glue one of the extra pieces across the top (see photos) and the other across the bottom. Flip it over and you'll have the base!

Step 9: Fixing the Arm to the Base

Picture of Fixing the Arm to the Base

First of all, use a pencil to mark out where you want the arm to sit. I chose just behind the middle of the base to help with balancing later on and to allow space for the switch in front.

You could add an extra piece of wood to the side of the support to add structural rigidity.

Glue the arm support (on the end of the lower arm) to the base where you marked out and secure with hot glue around the support on the base once it's cooled.

Step 10: Wiring Up the Lamp

Picture of Wiring Up the Lamp

First up, drill a hole in the base (the same width as the bell wire) just behind where the lower arm support was glued. Feed the bell wire through the hole and along the arms of the lamp up to where the exposed LED board wires are.

Strip the ends of the bell wire and twist them around the red +5V and black GND wire of the LED board. Add a dab of solder to secure the connections and ensure a permanent, conductive join.

Use the photos to guide you over the next few steps!

Add a dab of glue to fix the bell wire to the head of the lamp just before it joins the upper arm. Bend the head of the lamp down so the LED side of the lamp head touches the upper arm.

Glue the bell wire onto the top part of the upper arm, just before the hinge. Now, when you lift up the lamp head, you'll have a small loop of wire hanging above the hinge. This'll mean the wire never stretches so far that it snaps.

Repeat this for each joint where the arms meet and where the lower arm meets the base.

Finally, add a dab of hot glue to secure the bell wire in the base of the lamp.

Step 11: Adding the Switch

Picture of Adding the Switch

Next up, mark out where you want the switch to go with your pencil. Drill two holes to enough space for the switch to push through and widen the hole using a small file to make the switch fit snugly.

Add a dab of hot glue to secure the switch in place.

Step 12: Wiring Up the Lamp

Picture of Wiring Up the Lamp

Now comes the fiddly part!

Check the wiring diagram for how the lamp wires up together. In essence, the ground wires from the USB cable and LED board and wired to the same contact on the switch (I went for the right contact). The +5V wires from the USB cable and LED board and wired to the other 2 contacts under the switch. This way, when the switch is moved to the left, the +5V contacts are connected, completing the circuit and lighting up the LED board!

You can simply twist the wires through and around the switch contacts (which would be sufficient for the circuit) or, if you have a soldering iron, you can add a dab of solder to the switch contacts to create a more permanent join.

Test the circuit before you continue!

Step 13: You're Finished!

Picture of You're Finished!

Congratulations, your lamp should now work and you can test it out!

Step 14: Reflections and Improvements

Picture of Reflections and Improvements

On reflection, I thought of a few improvements to tweak the lamp and improve it in a few ways:

  1. Adding fuzzy surface-saving feet (from the pound shop) to the base would help to keep scratches off surfaces
  2. Desoldering the LED board wires and directly soldering the bell wire onto the board would look a bit smarter
  3. Using wing nuts (instead of regular nuts) would make loosening and tightening the bolts a lot easier!
  4. Adding a small sheet of sanded clear perspex/styrene to the lamp head has helped to diffuse the light a lot more and make the light glare a lot less!

Thanks very much for checking out the lamp instructable and I hope you feel like going off and making your own!

Comments

Heyup (author)2016-11-09

Great tutorial, thank you very much.... John :)

mosmond (author)2016-02-21

Anglepoise lamps are a little different from what you have created here. They use a combination of spring-tensioned linkages, (that's what the inventor had patented). The linkages enable the lamp to counteract the force of gravity when extended, while still remaining easy to reposition. It's actually a pretty sophisticated (perhaps overly complicated?) system. Your lamp achieves the same basic result by a much simpler mechanism: friction between the strips of wood at the pivot points. Still, it's a very nice build. Thanks for sharing!

Cairdy Crafts (author)mosmond2016-02-21

That's very true, Mosmond. I looked at the spring tension model and decided to go for a simpler model in the end, given the audience I designed it for. The friction definitely does the trick!

a-forghani-y79 (author)2016-02-16

داداش ترکوندیییی

rafununu (author)2016-02-16

Nice work. FYI, Anglepoise is an english trademark created last century (maybe before). Today, these industrial lamps are very expensive. They are declined in lots of sizes and colors. There is a 2 meter high one !

Cairdy Crafts (author)rafununu2016-02-16

Thanks Rafununu. I didn't realise that Angle-poise was an English TM! I know how expensive they can be, hence making one from wood! A 2m high lamp would be very cool for the lounge though!

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.
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