Introduction: DIY PIXAR: Luxo Jr. Lamp

About: "Almost Toast"

Hey Instructabrarians!

If many of you didn't know, last week was August 17th and the anniversary of a very momentous, historic occasion that inevitably revolutionized animation and redefined the outlook on computer science. It was on August 17th, in 1986, that a small Bay Area computer graphics company led by Ed Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, Bill Reeves, Tom Duff, Eben Ostby, Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter, and John Lasseter released an animated short film at SIGGRAPH which was instantly heralded as a modern day masterpiece. Well today, I'm paying honor to this film's 24th Birthday and presenting an Instructable to one of my most popular and requested PIXAR Builds.  This is how to make PIXAR's most iconic character, Luxo Jr.

Editor's Note: This instructable was meant to be posted on Tuesday, on August 17, but due to schedule constraints it was posted at a later date.

Step 1: Abstract

Just a bit of an introduction to my homemade Luxo here.  I created him a year ago when I was just about to head off to college at UBC.  I really wanted an awesome lamp that I could take with me, keep in my dorm, and keep my motivated while I was studying late at night.   It was a summer project I had been formulating since June 29, and I had done a lot of scaling down from images I found online to build him. The entire build time, however, was 4 days (the fastest I've ever built something like this).  He's life- sized and roughly 1/30th the dimensions of the giant Luxo Jr. statue currently residing at Pixar Animation Studios, of which I based it on.  

Step 2: Materials

 Here's what you'll need to build him:

  1. Anglepoise Lamp (I got mine at Target for $25) 
  2. Circular Lamp Base (depending on your type of anglepoise lamp you purchased, you might not need this.  Since mine had a different base, I needed to buy another one at Goodwill)
  3. Plexiglass (for the different "V" shaped connectors.  I prefer this over sheet metal since it's easier to cut)
Other Materials
  1. Long Screw (I used a  5'', I used a #10-32)
  2. 3 Medium Screws (ie 3'', #10-32)
  3. 4 Short Screw (ie 1 1/2'', #8-32)
  4. 9 Stainless Steel Flat Washers (#8)
  5. 4 Nylon Lock Nuts (#10-32)
  6. 4 Machine Screw Nuts (#8-32)
  7. Rectangular steel bar (has to be thicker than your lamp light's bars)
  1. Dremel Tool and drill bits 
  2. Metal File
  3. Hacksaw and Power Saw
  4. Power Drill w/ drill bit (at least 9/64)
  5. Sheet Metal (not pictured)
  6. Wire Cutters
  7. Metal Vice
  8. Gorilla Glue (or unless you can weld)
  9. Aluminum Silver Paint (or Off White, depending on whether you want your Luxo to look like it did in the short or in the PIXAR title sequence, respectively)
  10. Computer Printer or Copier (with resize/scale function)
  11. Optional- Gray Power Outlet Cable

Step 3: Reference Images/ Grab Dimensions

Start by measuring the diameter of your lamp's head.  Since this as well as the base are the only things that can't be resized/ scaled, depending for your Luxo Jr. will depend on the size of the diameter of your Lamp's Head.  Everything else the leg sizes, screw lengths, V connectors, spring size should follow.  For instance, the circumference of my lamp's head was 5'', so each of the connecting rods were around 3''. 

The diameter of the head will always be used as the common denominator, when calculating the various size ratios.

For reference, The ratio from Head diameter to Body and Leg rods~5 in/ 3.15in

In order to make my lamp as film accurate as possible, I ended up doing a lot of research into Luxo Jr's specific dimensions and size. Also, apart from the head, I knew that the rest of his "legs" from my existing anglepoise lamp could be cut down to scale, in order to fit my needs. I found the below image from Flickr and it was perfect, since it gave a nice structured overlay for entire statue. I printed it out from my computer, did some basic ratios, and roughly estimated that my lamp would stand at around 1/30th the size standing at 1 foot tall.

Step 4: Disassemble the Lamp

This step should be relatively simple enough.  Just remove the screws from your anglepoise lamp, separating each of the various rod sections from each other, as well as the lamp stand base.  You'll need to remove the head first, by using the wire cutters and then removing the excess wire from the lamp head.

Step 5: Rescale Straight Brackets

Or neck sections, arm sections, whatever you'd call those four metal bars that connect the lamp together.  Now, the size of these will depend on the diameter of your lamp's head.  As you should have already gotten the measurements from Step 3, simply use the ratio you've estimated when scaling (mine was 5in-3 1/2 in.)

For reference, there will be three straight brackets that you will rescale (2 for the neck, one for the bottom).  The Neck Sections (which connects the head to the body) will be cut from the existing lamp brackets, and the lower straight bracket (used to connect the body to the base) will be cut from the thick steel bar.

I used a hacksaw and a metal file to do my work.

Once you have finished, you will need to drill two holes (one at either end) into the cut bars.  This will function as screw holes, in order to keep your lamp together and flexible.

Step 6: V-Shaped Hinges

OK, the next step is to create the neck, body, and leg V hinges for the lamp.  Again, the size of these hinges will depend on the diameter of your lamp's head.  Fortunately,  I've put all of the various templates (Neck, Mid Joint and Leg Joint) on one page, so all you have to do is scale the page with your printer/copier to fit your needs.  The ratio I used for my head- Mid Joint is 5 in: 2 3/4 in.

You can download a larger version of the template from my Flickr site here.

Once you are finished scaling, cut the pieces out of plexiglass.  I used an electric saw, but a dremel tool might also work.  Then drill three holes into the plastic, which will function as screw holes.

Your lamp should already be starting to take shape!

Step 7: Z-Shaped Bar

Whoo, boy, I remember this part.  Creating this part of the lamp was easily the most difficult of the project, and the most time I spent on it.  Not necessarily because it that hard to make, but just grabbing the specific dimensions for this unique piece was nearly impossible to find.  If you haven't noticed, the two leg sections that connect Luxo Jr's V-body hinge to his leg V hinge, is this kind of stretched out Z shaped metal bar.  It what holds his inner springs together, as well as his lower V- Hinges.

Anyway, long story short, I did a lot of image searching and finally used thisas the basic template for my image.  It gave a really nice detail of that specific leg shape, so I was able to create a template from it on graph paper.  I cut three individual metal parts from the remaining Straight Brackets, and filed them down to the specific angle.

The entire height of the bracket should be the same size as your  3 1/2'' straight brackets.

By the way, I don't know how to weld so I originally had no idea how I was going to attach this leg together. What I finally ended up doing was cutting out a Z shaped leg out of sheet metal and then attaching it to the back with some Gorilla Glue. That stuff is AMAZING for gluing metal.

Once you are gluing the pieces together, drill three holes into the bar (one at either end, and then one on the inner most side).  Two will be for the Screw Holes, and the middle will be to hold the Metal Dowel, which connects the springs together.   The metal bar separating the two Z Bars should be around 3'' across.

Step 8: Painting

Whew!  Now that you've rescaled all of the parts, cut out the various body hinges, and completed both Z Shaped brackets, it's time to begin painting!  You're almost finished!

Now, depending on what style you want your Luxo Jr. lamp to look like, you can either use White or Silver paint.  In the original animated short, Luxo Jr. is painted aluminum silver, but as seen in the PIXAR logo he is distinctly white.   I made mine silver, in honor of the short film, but you can do either one.

Just leave the parts up to dry when finished.

Step 9: The Springs

While the glues drying, I'll take some time to quickly go over Luxo Jr's springs.

As an anglepoise lamp, he has four different springs.  Two of them connect his Neck together to his upper Mid Joint, and his other two connect his Z bracket to his Leg Joints.  Both are extension springs, meaning they are designed to stretch when Luxo Jr is flexed. 

Now, to save money, I used the same extension springs as the one my lamp originally came with.  I merely cut it into a smaller shape (1'' across for me) and bent a loop at the end using a pair of pliers.  I made two of these for the straight bracket.

For the inner, shorter springs, which connects the Z bracket to the Leg Joints, I just used a rubber band.  It was really small, so they worked the best.

Step 10: Assembling Luxo Jr.

Alright, now it's time to finally begin assembling your Luxo Jr. Lamp!  For this step, I will be breaking it up into two different parts of assembly 1) Main Structure, 2) Wiring 

Main Structure
Start by connecting the Head to the main Neck Joints.  Attach the three short screws (1 1/2'', #8-32) as well as their corresponding screw nuts, through the Neck Joint's three screw holes.  Once you have measured how long the screws should be, cut the excess using a hacksaw.  Then connect the Straight Brackets to the Neck Joint (the bracket with the spring peg should be at the bottom).

Next, start by attaching the Mid Joint to the Straight Brackets and then to the Thick Steel Bar.  You will need to use the Washers, in order to provide enough space between the regular straight brackets and the thick steel bar. Then, attach the Z Shaped Bracket, to either side of the Mid Joint.  Connect this using the Medium Screws and Nylon Lock Nut .

Finally, connect the Leg Joint to the Base of the lamp, and feed the Long Screw through the Leg Joint at the bottom.  Keep the Leg Joints in place using the four Nylon Nuts, and attach the Z Shaped Bar to the Leg Joint using rubber bands.

Wiring for the lamp definitely isn't difficult, if you want to use the lamps original wire.  Attach the wire from the lamp's head and feed it through the straight bracket, and the thick steel bar until it gets to the bottom of the base.  Then connect the two wires using two Wire Connectors.

However, I went a little further and decided to give Luxo Jr. the exact kind of round-ish cord that he had in the original short.  I used a spare wire from an Extension Cord, in order to fit my needs.

Step 11: Finished!

And there you go, one Luxo Jr. Lamp ready for all of your necessary lighting needs!  You officially have the coolest desktop lamp in the universe!

Just don't leave any rubber balls lying around.  That or any "I"s.

Editor's Note: By the way, if there's any PIXARians reading this instructable, I absolutely adore your films!

Step 12: Additional References

Just some additional help for all of you:

Luxo Jr. at Disney World (found this video extremely helpful when building)

I didn't see this until afterwards, but this 3D model turnaround is extremely helpful in detailing Luxo Jr's dimensions: [[1]]

A Luxo Jr toy was also included in the Up Blu Ray Combo Pack.  Unfortunately they don't sell them anymore: [[1]]

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