Double Function Rail: Hang Paintings and Indirect Lighting

Introduction: Double Function Rail: Hang Paintings and Indirect Lighting

About: Openproducts' focus is on design of new products and on innovative approaches towards improving existing products. An example: the CountClock, a concept facilitating children to learn telling the time. Purpose…

This wooden rail has two functions:

 1. Allow to hang paintings without the need of hammering a nail into the wall; and
 2. Provide light indirectly illuminating the ceiling: atmospheric lighting.

The rail has been fixed to the wall at approximately 50 cm (20 in) from the ceiling. With a thin and colorless cord paintings can be hung easily from it, without the hassle of nailing every painting. Moreover, it allows to adjust the location of the paintings once they have been attached.

The indirect light is being provided by a rope light, which has been countersunk in a slit. The depth of the groove is enough to make the rope itself invisible when looking at it from the room in a standing position. In order to reduce electricity consumption, preferably use an LED rope or an LED strip. Using LED is safer, since it doesn't heat as much as conventional filament rope light (see Step 1: Safety and risks).

The rail described in this instructable is the second product released by openproducts that involves indirect lighting, and considerably less work than the Giant Ceiling Light with Multiple Functionality a.k.a. the UFO, which has been released (under CC-BY) on September 13th 2012:

The design, the making, and the installation of this rail light has taken a few hours. The effect is fabulous. 

The next steps discuss safety and risk issues (Step 1), detailed design features of the wooden rail (Step 2), tying a cord to the rail (easy way, Step 3), tying a cord to the rail (more elaborate way, Step 4) and licensing (Step 5).

Step 1: Safety and Risks

The following issues are important with respect to safety and risks:

 1. Risk of fire: use low-power LED rope or LED strip to avoid heating the wooden rail. Pay special attention to the accumulation of dust in the rail, which might catch fire. Preferably use LEDs that are covered with a transparent sheet (see picture).

 2. Risk of electrical shock: make sure that wiring is not accessible to the users. Ensure that the installation is shut off when no people are in the room.

 3. Risk of damage to your paintings: the quality of the workmanship will determine whether the paintings are safe. Preferably use strong rope and light (and not so valuable) paintings. 

 4. Environment: for purchasing the wood be sure to opt for certified and labeled products ensuring socially and environmentally responsible forestry.

In case you don't opt for LED but decide to use conventional filament rope light (which I advise against as explained above, but also because conventional rope has an excessive electricity consumption) only do this in combination with a dimmer-switch to reduce the heat production.

The next step discusses detailed design features.

Step 2: The Design of the Double Function Rail

The dimensions of the rail in this example are: length 7.5 m (25 feet), height 67 mm (2.6 in) and width 27 mm (1.1 in). The rail has been fixed to the wall at approximately 50 cm (20 in) from the ceiling.

The slit has been made with a milling cutter. Its depth should be enough to make the LEDs invisible when standing in the room. The milling cutter has also been used to produce a rounded edge.

An important feature is the standing back ledge, which ensures that no light trickles downward via the wall. In this way, light will only be emitted upwards, thus providing indirect lighting.

Tying a cord to the rail for hanging the paintings is facilitated in two ways: an easy way (noose and toothpick, see Step 3) and a more elaborate but still elegant way (noose, notches and a crack, see Step 4).

Step 3: Hook Up a Cord the Easy Way: Noose and Toothpick

The easy way is to loosen the rail, push up a noose via the wall-side and secure it with a toothpick (or a similar object). Then screw the rail back onto the wall and the rope will be stuck. This method requires a straight wall and a straight rail. Possibly more screws are needed in case the toothpick slides through.

Preferably use a transparent cord for hanging the paintings: it will be practically invisible. The purple rope in the pictures has been chosen only to make it visible.

Step 4: Hook Up a Cord the More Elaborate Way: Noose, Notches and a Crack

The more elaborate way is with small notches, distributed evenly along the wooden rail. An important design element is once more the toothpick (see fourth picture), by which a crack between the wall and the wooden rail is being created. This setup allows to move the location of the paintings without unscrewing the rail. The crack allows to move the rope freely, in order to hook it up on the notches with a noose.

Step 5: Licensing

The concept described in this instructable is made available through a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY,

The design and concept of the double function rail has been described in Steps 2 to 4 of this instructable. Safety issues and risks have been addressed in Step 1. If there is a demand for more detailed consultancy regarding the construction process openproducts can provide additional services, both to commercial and non-commercial parties. For contact send a Private Message through the instructables member page (

If this design infringes any rights then refer to Article 28 in the Terms of Service (

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    6 years ago

    Nice project! you may want to check this out as well: