Introduction: LED Back Lit Sign
Hello and welcome,
I'm Dean Makes and this is my first Instructable, I've recently started a YouTube channel dedicated to my hobby of making. I have decided that I need a sign to display in the background of my new videos. In this Instructable I will document the building process and the tools I've used, I've also put alternate tools incase you do not have access to a CNC machine.
So without futher a do lets get into it.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
In this step I will list the materials and tools that I have used to create my sign. Materials
- 18mm MDF (this is used to create the 'box' the electronics sit in)
- 6mm MDF (this is used to cut out my logo)
- 3mm MDF (I use Melamine in the video but if I did this project again I'd use MDF)
- Opal Acrylic (this acts as a diffuser for the LEDs to make them look like one light)
- LED Strip (Mine was from Amazon but home improvement stores also sell them)
- Aluminum Tape (This was to reflect the light around the box)
- Glue (I used a cheap PVA to seal the MDF edges and Gorilla wood glue to adhere the corners)
- Grab Adhesive (I used this to adhere the 'logo' to the plastic)
- Spray Paint (Colour of your choice, I've used black as my logo is black and teal)
- X-carve CNC machine (if you don't have access to a CNC you can use a jigsaw)
- Circular saw (this is to rip the MDF into strips, most home centres can do this for you)
- Mitre saw (if you don't have access to one you can use a handsaw with a mitre block)
- Band clamp (there are many videos on YouTube that show how to make corner clamps)
- Drill (To drill and counter sink the pilot holes)
- Impact driver (used for driving the screws in but you can use a screwdriver)
- Router (with a rebate cutter)
Step 2: Cutting Out Our Logo
In this step we will cut out our logo.
I'm fortunate enough to own a CNC Machine.
First I drew my logo up in Inkscape and exported it as a SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
I then imported the SVG into easel, this is Inventables own browser based software, here we can select our material, material depth, cut depth and if we need tabs to stop the work piece from flying off the machine and getting ruined.
I then find the zero of my work piece, hit the carve button and wait.
* Alternate method*
If you do not have access to a CNC machine or a makerspace that can help out, or you can always use a jigsaw. You can still design your logo in Inkscape / illustrator or any drawing programme of your choice then print it at full scale. I would then use some spray mount to stick it to your MDF and use a jigsaw to cut it out
Step 3: Cutting the 18mm MDF to Size
I used my circular saw to rip my 18mm MDF into widths of 60mm, if you have access to a table saw this would be even better!
If you can't get your hands on a circular saw or use a table saw most home improvment stores will cut this for you for a small fee (or maybe free). In the UK B&Q will ofer the first 15 cuts for free and then its 50p per cut after that (at the time of writing this). In the USA Lowes and Home Depot offer a cutting service but I'm not sure if it is free or a small fee.
Step 4: Mitre Cutting the Joints for the MDF Box
I then used my Mitre saw to cut a joint on each end of the 18mm we just cut, I did this by setting my saw to 45 degrees and cutting the first side of the joint, I then set my saw to 45 degrees in the opposite direction and finished the cuts.
If you can not use or have no access to a mitre saw you can use a mitre block with a handsaw, this will allow you to joint the MDF in a similar fashion. Alternatively you can use another joint of your choice. A word of caution though, if you decide to use screws pilot hole first or you run the risk of splitting the MDF. (see next step)
Step 5: Gluing Up Our Joints
In this step we will glue up the joint and reinforce it.
Firstly I seal the edges of my MDF with a cheap PVA Adhesive. This is to give the wood glue something to adhere and stop it from being absorbed by the MDF, please note that if you are using actual wood and not a man made board you can skip this part.
Once the PVA has set I apply Gorilla wood glue to the joints that are to be attached, once I have aligned the mitres I use a band clamp to hold the work piece together whilst the adhesive dries.
Once the adhesive is dry I remove the clamp, drill pilot holes and counter sink them, I then use a Impact driver to insert screws into the MDF to reinforce the joints (this isn't needed but I did it as an added insurance just in case). If you don't have an impact driver you can use a screwdriver drill bit or a good old fashioned hand powered screwdriver.
Step 6: Rebating for the Acrylic
In this step we will cut a rebate for the Opal acrylic to sit in
To do this I used my router with a rebate cutter installed, Rebate router cutters normally come with either a pin or ball bearing guide located beneath the cutting edges. These are often used for framing applications.
Step 7: Spray Painting the Box and Frame
Now its time to paint
I used spray paint to paint the box, logo and frame black. You can use whatever colour suits your logo or decor in the room the LED light box is going in, you could also paint the box in a more traditional method using paint and a brush.
Step 8: Attach the Back Board
In this step I attached a back board to the box we have just made. This is done with wood glue and small 18mm panel pins, I spread the glue around the box and then pin the 3mm MDF down with a hammer.
Step 9: Aplying the Aluminium Tape
We will now put the aluminium tape inside our box to act as a reflector. After I did this I realized that painting the interior of the box white would have the same effect.
Step 10: Nearly Finished
Nearly there now!
In this step we will be installing our electronic controller for the LED Strip. First I measured how tall it is and where the input (output ?) is, I then drilled a hole for the cable to go through, this is where I measured wrong....
anyway, I then used screws to secure the controller in place and drilled another hole for the IR sensor for the remote control features, this was a tight fit so didn't need securing in place (I may hot glue this in the future)
Step 11: Insert LEDs Into the Box
Now its time to put the LEDs into the box we have just made.
Most LED strips come with a self adhesive backing attached, simply peel the paper off and place your LEDS where you want them then just give them a quick rub over to make sure they are stuck.
I brought a 5 metre strip of LEDs from amazon but the size should depend on what size you logo and box are.
Step 12: Installing the Acrylic
Now we will install the 3mm opal acrylic, this diffuses the light so that the LED's do not look like individual lights, I first rounded over the corners using a file and then test fitted it. Once I was happy with the fit I used some grab adhesive (no more nails) to seal the Acrylic to box.
Step 13: Gluing the Frame on and Setting the Logo in Place
To fit the frame I used Gorilla wood glue and 18mm panel pins. I then masked off the out cut with paper and tape and gave the box one final coat of black spray paint.
Finally I used my grab adhesive to place the logo in place and with that....
We are done !
Step 14: Final Word
I've now mounted the lightbox on the wall in my workshop. If you have made one please post it, I would love to see what you have made!
Ive also posted this video on my Youtube channel so if you enjoyed the build video please consider giving it a like.
Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest