Introduction: Easy to Make Mid Century Modern Chandelier
After so called "loft" style, another design aesthetic, called "Mid Century Modern" is slowly gaining back popularity. This design movement started in 50s and lasted approximately till 70s. It is characterized by it's relatively simple, but abstract shapes, heavy use of then novel materials, such as acrylic and other plastics, along with traditional materials like wood and metal. Visually, this chandelier focuses on late period of MCM design era – the 70s, but internally, it is built along all modern hardware – LED modules instead of incandescent or fluorescent lamps.
To build this chandelier, you will need to have access either to CNC router and(or) laser cutter. Theoretically, it is possible to do all the works with hand tools, but end result won't be as nice as pictured.
Let's start with bill of materials. You will need the following:
Sheet of orange acrylic, sized 50x41cm and 1/8 (3mm thick)
Sheet of yellow acrylic, sized 37x35 cm 1/8 (3mm thick)
Sheet of white acrylic, sized 31x26cm and 1/8 (3mm thick)
Sheet of transparent acrylic, sized 16x10cm and 1/8 (3mm thick)
Sheet of aluminum, sized 31x29 cm and 1/8 (3mm thick)
Two sheets of aluminum, sized 17x14 cm each and 1/8 (3mm thick)
500mm (0.5m) long, 10-15mm diameter hollow shaft, white color, with matching set of nuts.
3 pieces of M10 hollow rods, 100mm length, with pair of matching nuts for each.
3 pieces of M10 ball shaped end caps, white color.
3 pieces of M5 ball shaped end caps, white color.
3 pieces of M5 flat head screw, 80mm length, with matching set of nuts.
6 pieces of 3W 25mm round LED modules.
15-25W output power or similar, round (diameter less than 80mm) LED driver.
Small amount of epoxy glue.
Flexible wire, 20-22AWG, 2 meters will be enough.
Rosin core solder.
Some M2 and M3 screws and nuts.
Optional materials, in case you decide to diy shims, instead using of spacer nuts.
Sheet of transparent or white acrylic, sized 11x4 cm, 10mm thick.
Sheet of transparent or white acrylic, sized 12x5 cm, 5mm thick.
Access to CNC router and(or) Laser cutter.
Hex wrenches for M10 and M5
Step 1: Exploded View and Getting Overall Idea How to Put It All Together.
From top to bottom:
Chandelier starts with top aluminum plate, which has holes both for mounting on the ceiling, passing the AC wires, holding the driver and remaining electronics. This part should be sturdy enough, because it has to hold all the remaining parts, so it is advisable to not skip on material for this. If you can’t afford aluminum of desired thickness, you can replace it with at least 10mm plywood or acrylic sheet. There are 3 M5 screws going thru that aluminum plate, and I’ve put transparent washers I’ve cut from acrylic across them, for better aesthetic. If desired, you can skip them, and just use hex nuts to provide desired spacing. Driver is mounted on that plate via standoffs, so ac wire can pass underneath.
Next comes intermediate acrylic plate, yellow color, which hides driver, while providing enough exposure for proper air circulation for cooling purposes.
After that, there’s a “sandwich” of 3mm aluminum plate and 3mm orange acrylic plate, which have holes for main chandelier shaft and M5 screws. Screws passing thru this layer are then secured with M5 round nuts.
Shaft in my case, has length of 50cm (500mm) and has a hole thru, for wires. It was available only in glossy gold or matte black in nearby store at the moment, so I’ve painted it white with spray paint.
Then comes the main aluminum plate. It is mounted on the shaft and holds remaining parts and leds as well. There are total 6 round led assemblies, 3 on top and 3 on bottom. The top leds are shielded with acrylic caps, which also provide additional light diffusion and also provide basic protection from the dust.
The remaining acrylic plates, with their spacers, are mounted on that plate using M10 shafts, which have hex nuts on the top, and white color ball nuts on the bottom.
Step 2: Getting Familiar With the Included Drawings.
I'm attaching files that contain all drawings for the parts to be cut using CNC router or laser. Files are in SVG format, so there should be no issues with importing them. These files are optimized for K40Whisperers, so it's users should have no issue opening them.
\TOPPART.PDF – This is outline for top parts to be made from aluminum. You will need two of them.
\BOTTOMPART.PDF – This is outline for bottom aluminum part, which works both as structural part and led heat-sink too.
Both parts can be made from 2-3mm thick Aluminum. I've re-used top cover from an old washing machine. I do not suggest going below 2mm thickness due to strength issues and above 3mm – for weight issues. Any generic 1/8 aluminum alloy sheet will do just fine.
\5MMSHIM.PDF – These are 5mm inner diameter shims that are placed on M5 screws, to cover them. I made them from transparent acrylic, but you can any matching color (white will work best, in my opinion) In case of 3mm acrylic used, you will need 21 pieces of them (as in included file)
\10MMSHIM.PDF – These are also shims, but they go into bottom part. They were made from 10mm thick transparent acrylic, total amount is again, 21 pieces. Adjust numbers accordingly, based on thickness of material available.
\TOPPLATE.PDF – this is top plate, one which goes between top aluminum parts and has cutout for LED driver. I've made it from 3mm yellow acrylic – to mirror colors in the bottom part of the chandelier.
\TOPCOVER.PDF – this is cover that goes over 2nd aluminum plate. I've made it from 3mm orange acrylic, for color symmetry needs.
\POCKET.PDF – File for "pocket" for top sided led modules.
\POCKETCAP.PDF – File for the led "pocket" cover.
Names for these 3 files speak for themselves – they are respectively colored bottom parts. I've made them from 3mm(1/8mm) acrylic sheets. As with aluminum parts, I advise you to not change the thickness – thicker material will add extra weight and cost, without any additional benefits, and thinner material will reduce structural strength.
Step 3: Router Works.
You can either diy this at home, if you have capable CNC router, or
you can outsource this step – there are many online and offline services available that can do CNC cutting on demand. I did all parts on DIY CNC router at home. If you have noticed, top orange and yellow parts have same dimensions, as cutouts from the bottom parts, so you can save on materials a bit.
Step 4: Assembly.
Insert M5 screws into top aluminum part, add small amount of epoxy glue to countersunk parts, and then secure with M5 nuts. Set it aside and let it dry, while we assemble the bottom part. After it dries, you can also paint it white, for better aesthetic. Also, it would be great to mark top sides of plates with marker, to simplify the assembly process.
Using M2 screws, attach leds to main aluminum plate. Do not forget to put small amount of thermal compound underneath the leds. If plate is painted, as in my case, use sandpaper to remove paint under the leds. Solder wires, so all leds are connected in series. Put protective led caps above top side leds and secure them with M3 screws and nuts.
Attach shaft to top plate, route wires going to leds thru it.
Take M10 hollow rods, screw on them round nuts, and put rods thru the bottom white part. Put 3 pcs of 10mm shims over each rod. Now put yellow plate on these rods, again put 3 pcs of 10mm shims on each rod, guide them thru orange plate, add single shims to each rod, put on top aluminum plate and secure it in place with M10 nuts.
Meanwhile, epoxy glue for top part had dried, so you can continue with top part. Connect AC input wires to led driver, and guide them thru the center hole in top plate. Attach led driver to top aluminum plate via the M5 shims.
Take bottom (orange) plate of top part together with bottom aluminum plate of top part and attach them to shaft using nut included with shaft. Guide wires thru them. You also need to guide wires thru the top yellow part at this stage, otherwise, you can’t do it later.
Attach wires going to led, to output of the led driver. Put 4 pieces of M5 shims on each M5 screw, attach yellow plate, again put 4 pieces of M5 shims on M5 screws, attach previously assembled part , consisting of aluminum and orange parts, secure it with M5 ball nuts. You’re done, enjoy your chandelier!
You might ask here, “how should I mount it to the ceiling?” There is no simple answer, since ceilings can be different, and you’ll need individual approach in each case. Some ceilings have special hooks for lamp mounting (you can route such hook thru the central hole in top aluminum plate). In my case, there was drywall ceiling, so I used drywall screws to mount top plate onto ceiling (via pre-drilled holes). So it all depends.
Check next step to see how it looks installed and some possible color variations, too.
Step 5: How It Looks in Real Life + Some Ideas for Other Color Combinations.
Here are couple of pictures showing how it looks installed. Also there is a file with color ideas for other designs - I've made it considering the colors of readily available acrylic sheets, so you should have no issues with finding material for them.
Runner Up in the