Introduction: Lightning Bolt Through Light Bulb

About: My name is Troy. I'm a Mechatronics and Aerospace Engineer. I make things out of wood and electronics and spend time outdoors (especially SCUBA diving).

After making the infamous Arrow Through the Coke Bottle six months ago, I wanted to make something similar but original. Having a fondness of electricity and simplistic minimalistic shapes, the combination of this solid wood lightning bolt and glass light bulb fit perfectly.

If you like seeing how impossible objects are made (and how to make your own), you will love this solution!

Step 1: Tools and Materials



Step 2: Wooden Lightning Bolt

Download the attached PDF template and adhere it to a 1/2 inch pine board. Cut it out on a bandsaw or scrollsaw. Remove the template and sand the lightning bolt smooth.

Step 3: Bulb Holder

In a small bucket, make a holder that will assist holding the light bulb underwater for the drilling and filing process. This step is shown with a real light bulb as that was the original plan for this project, I will talk more about why this didn't work in step 8.

Drill a two inch hole in a scrap piece of wood that fits in the small bucket. Double this up and cut out one side to create the holder that will allow the light bulb to nest in the wood.

Attach another board on the back of the holder to index the location of the hole through the stem of the bulb.

Hold a piece of rubber (bicycle inner tube) to the bottom of the holder to seal the bottom of bucket when attaching it with screws.

Step 4: Drill Holes

Fill the bucket with water and place it on the drill press. Keeping the glass below water, drill with a 9/16 inch or 14 millimeter diamond drill bit. Use light pressure with your drill running about 1000 RPM to cut the hole. When one hole is complete, rotate the bulb and drill the second hole.

Step 5: Lightning Bolts

Once you have a few lightning bolts made, boil one end for 45 minutes. This will make the wood extremely pliable. Using a strong clamp or vise, compress the wood until it is as small or slightly smaller than the middle of the lightning bolt. Use only one bolt per clamp so maximum force can be applied. If you notice that small cracks are appearing, that is alright. Small cracks will disappear later (large cracks will not disappear).

Set the lightning bolts aside and let them dry for 72 hours (48 hours minimum depending on your local humidity). If you notice that the lightning bolt is starting to expand again when opening the vise, clamp it down again and wait another 24 hours.

Step 6: Finish the Hole

Using flat diamond files, submerge the bulb underwater and finish the hole. Use the completely dry lightning bolt to verify the size (try to keep the arrow as dry as possible). Start with the coarse file from the set and once it is the right size that the lightning bolt can pass through it, polish it up with finer files.

Step 7: Boil the Lightning Bolt

Boil the tip of the lightning bolt. This will rehydrate the arrow and allow it to expand to its original size. This step can take up to 10 minutes. Once the lightning bolt is back to its original size, remove it from the water and allow it to dry for 24 hours. Once dry, hand sand the rehydrated end.

Step 8: Failures and Possibilities

I started this project wanting to use a real light bulb. After saving burnt out bulbs for the past two years, I started this project and ended up with a pile of broken bulbs. I attempted to follow the same procedure previously shown, and every bulb broke. I tried to use a Dremel with all variations of cutoff discs with no success. If anyone has an idea on how to do this project with a real bulb, I would love to hear it!

What are your favorite impossible objects?

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