Introduction: Backlit World Map Coffee Table

I'd been inspired by a combination of things I'd seen online, one was a large, backlit world map, wall mounted in an office, the other was a glass top table where a stationary company had used coloured pins to "draw" a picture of a Stormtrooper from Star Wars. I decided to combine the two.

Step 1: The Parts

Not wanting spend loads of money I opted to base the table on a standard IKEA lack table, and cut the world map from a 6mm MDF sheet. The parts are listed below...IKEA Lack coffee table (£16): Off Fixings 17X27 mm (£1.99 each, I used 6) LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights (£9.59, 2 sets, explained later) glass table top, 6mm toughened glass, 900x550mm (to match the table top), 6 holes drilled. This cost £40 from a custom glass supplier.Dowel rods, cut into 2cm lengths (a few £ from local DY store)1 sheet of 6mm MDF (£7) handful of screws and a couple of off-cuts of wood, plus some old paint we had from a recent home project.

Step 2: The Map and Supports

I found an outline world map on the web, and printed it to the proper scale, and taped the sheets together, then glued it to the MDF sheet and used my scrollsaw to cut it out. A bit of sanding and all the continents and islands were ready for their paintjob.

I had to obviously not use some of the smaller islands, and also combine some island ranges into one piece of mdf. Still, islands like Ireland and Tasmania proved to be very small.

For the supports for each piece of MDF I started to hand-saw 2cm lengths of dowel, but very quickly realised I would get a much better and quicker result by using my bandsaw.

Step 3: Adapting the Table

I knew IKEA tables had solid corners to support the legs, but thin top and bottom pieces sandwiching a card/paper honeycomb pattern. I scored the underside of the table, then pried the bottom bit of hardboard away, then I had some assistance to remove the cardboard and leave a hollow base.

On the top side I marked the holes for the glass table top stand-offs (using the glass itself as a guide) then secured the stand-offs. When I was deciding the placement of the stand-offs, I deliberately put them in the corners, so there is good purchase from the long screws, in to the corner blocks that support the legs. For the two middle stand-offs, I glued some old scrap blocks in between the table top's thin surfaces to give it more security.

Step 4: Putting It All Together

I laid out the world map on the table top, and drew around them, then marked where I wanted the dowels to site. I glued them in and once dry, I then marked the locations of the LEDs. I originally figured I'd need about 70 lights, but got carried away adding them and when I counted them up realised I had about 160!

Luckily I had ordered 2 sets of the 100 LEDs (thinking that I'd perhaps make another table after this one). I realised therefore that I could just wire them together to give me enough bulbs.

I drilled all the holes from the top, to give the cleanest finish, and then pushed the LEDs in from underneath and secured them with my hot glue gun.

I made sure I kept testing the lights, as I did not want to get to the end to find them no longer working.

The final assembly was following the IKEA instructions to complete assembly of the legs and lower shelf, then gluing the (now painted) land masses to the dowels.

Finally, the glass was secured to the table using the chrome screw tops of the 6 stand offs.

Step 5: Review

Things I would do differently:

1. The dowels were 2 cm long, too long in this case (too easy to see some of the bulbs underneath). I would halve this next time, as this was still plenty to clear the LED bulbs.

2. I'd work out the alignment of the land masses better and not use hot glue to secure them, simply because there isn't the time/scope to re-adjust before the glue cools and goes hard enough to prevent fine adjustment.

3. I'd use fewer dowels, and even smaller (narrower) ones to avoid them being seen.

So, I hope you enjoyed the project, I certainly did, and I have plenty more ideas now for what to put under the glass.