Introduction: LED Illuminated Les Paul Engraving

The following instructables will show you how to make a unique LED illuminated gift powered with a simple, replaceable 9V battery.

The story behind this project is, that one of my colleagues is a hobby CNC enthusiast and likes to manufacture all kind of great stuff, like LED illuminated engravings. Since I wanted to make a really cool and unique gift for this Christmas, it was obvious to ask for his help.

The engraved polycarbonate slab is illuminated with a short LED strip which is fastened at the bottom edge. When the light is on the engraved graphic becomes visible in the dark.

Now let's proceed to the next steps...

Step 1: 3D Modelling

I've always preferred to plan ahead just to avoid a lot of trouble which may occur during the assembling phase, so before manufacturing, I made a 3D CAD model.

Some of the models (like the 9V battery, rocker switch) were downloaded from sites like GrabCAD, the other custom parts were designed in SolidWorks.

I've also downloaded a full model of the famous Les Paul guitar. This file was the source for the .dwg and .dxf files which will be needed for the engraving.

Some words about the construction:

  • the water clear polycarbonate sheet will be pushed into the wooden base which has to have a tight fit
  • the wooden base will enclose all the electronics like the rocker switch, 9V battery and the LED strip
  • the battery is accessible from beneath by removing the two screws at the sides

You can find all the necessary files right below. It contains .step files and 3D PDF for people who don't have any CAD software.

Step 2: Milling and Engraving of the Polycarbonate Slab

I've bought a 115x75x5 mm polycarbonate slab in one of the local shops and gave it to this colleague of mine, who was mentioned in the intro. He also received the models and the .dxf, .dwg files for the engraving.

The polycarbonate slab and all the elements for the base were manufactured by him and I have to say that he did a really good job with his hobby CNC milling machine, just check out the pictures. I would like to thank for his excellent work.

Note that you can use plexi slab instead of polycarbonate.

Step 3: Components

You will need the following components:

  • manufactured parts (polycarbonate slab, based body, base foot
  • wood glue
  • hot glue
  • electrical wire (single core)
  • rocker switch
  • 9V battery
  • 9V battery connector
  • wire connectors
  • LED strip ( I used 10 cm red one)
  • 2 screws
  • soldering equipment

Step 4: Getting All Together - Prepairing the Base Foot

If you got all the necessary components, then the first step is to fasten the base foot elements with the wood glue.

Before applying the glue, you should always read the instructions. Some of them need 24 hours to reach the required bonding strength.

Next put some glue in the sockets milled in the wood slab, than push the small parts into the right place. Wipe away the residual glue and lay the whole thing to rest for the required period of time.

Step 5: Getting All Together - Prepairing the Body

Now proceed to the main body of the LED engraving.

If the components have been manufactured well, the polycarbonate slab should fit in the milled base body and remain there. To achieve this a slightly tight fit is required.

Step 6: Getting All Together - Prepairing the Electrical Circuit

The electrical circuit is a really simple one: the LED strip is connected to the 9V battery with a battery connector and one of the wires is interrupted by a simple 2-leg rocker switch. Note that the switch is connected with wire connectors. This will play a serious role during assembling.

Solder all the things together carefully and pay respect to the right polarity.

Step 7: Getting All Together - Fixing the Inner Elements

If the circuit is finished, heat up your hot glue pistol and glue the LED strip onto the bottom edge of the polycarbonate slab. I've applied some glue on the strip first and pushed it onto the right surface as fast as I could. After it cooled down I've reinforced the strip on the sides with additional glue.

Before applying the glue make sure the following:

  • the polycarbonate slab is in the right position ( the switch should be on the back side, the engraved surface should be on the front)
  • the wiring coming from the LED strip is in the right position

After the strip is fixed, pull out the two wire connector through the hole of the base and connect them to the rocker switch. The switch should be pushed into the hole.

After these steps are done, connect the 9V battery to the connector and test the circuit. If no problem occurs proceed to the last step.

Step 8: Getting All Together - Closing the Base Body

After the wood glue applied to the base foot has reached its maximum strength, push gently the foot into the milled base body. If everything is in place, apply the two screws on the sides.

Step 9: Finish

That's all!

I hope you will have great time doing this instructables and let me know if you have any questions.


Make It Glow! Contest

Participated in the
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Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015