Introduction: Live Edge Biscuit Ceiling Light
This project stemmed from the dark corners of our apartment.... We live in a converted barn apartment, with lots of weird corners and poor lighting. This particular corner, in front of our pantry and by the kitchen breakfast counter, was particularly dark. We were looking for a nice accent piece to provide a little more light to the corner.
This is where the cross cut live edge biscuits came into play. Many moons ago, I cut these off of a fallen ash tree that was destine to be fire wood. They have been air drying for over a year now and are ready for any project. I hope in future Instructables the rest of the slices come out to play!
This project uses only hand tools and little rigging and jigs, as I only have an apartment workshop. It is also a great way to get into resin, basic wiring, and LED's.
The following steps are set up generally as follows. They start with a short description (like this!) They each have a video of the steps we took. The opening is followed by tools, supplies, and steps.
- Router: I used my Dewalt trim router. This little beast has more than enough power
- Spiral router bit
- Flush router bit
- Rabbit router bit
- Flattening/Planing router bit
- Belt sander
- Finish sander
- Blow torch/Heat gun
- Wire cutters
- Hammer (I always need a hammer)
- Dixie cups
- Popsicle sticks (For mixing!)
- Large measuring cups: Amazon
Step 1: Procuring Wood
Time to shop around, or make some friends! Personally, my parents and relatives use a fireplace to heat their homes during the winter. This means they have plenty of firewood to cut. I sliced the ends of some logs before they were processed into fire wood. I had no indication of what to do with these logs at the time, but knew I wanted to save them from the fire pile!
If you do not have access to large quantities of fire wood, or the use of a chain saw, here are some other options!
- I live near an Advantage Lumber location that has vast quantities of live edge slabs. Often they have dozens of biscuit cut slabs to choose from. You can also search www.woodslabs.com to view their inventory and order online!
- Locate a local wood processor. I live near a gentleman who kiln dries hundreds of board feet of lumber.
- Contact a tree felling service. They often collect the wood from these trees to be sold as firewood.
- Grab an axe and fell a tree. (be sure to plant another!)
I left the log slices on a shelf inside the garage to mature and dry. If you are stacking them, be sure to place slats between each slice to allow air movement. I left these slices alone for 6 months, every so often rotating them around and keeping an eye on them. By air drying, slices will often form a split from the bark to the logs center. (Personally, I love this effect!)
Step 2: Flattening Slices
After six months, I was ready to flatten the logs. My job slicing the logs was sub-par, so there was a rather ruff surface to flatten down. The process I am going to use uses a router with a flattening bit, along with a routing sled.
- Router: I used my Dewalt DWP611 router
- Flattening bit: I used a Dado bit, which is cheaper. However you can spend a little more and get a surfacing bit with replaceable teeth
- Router sled: This can be easily built. Here is a great Instructable from TheCuttingBoard. The basic concept uses a board to slide the router along two rails in order to elevate the router above the cut piece.
Since this was months ago, I have no video or images. It might as well have never happened....
However, referring to step 10 will help you along the way, it follows the same process.
Step 3: Before Routing...
I left the log aside again for several months before this step. Over this time the piece dried a bit more. Before using the router to cut out the channel in the slice, I wanted to secure the bark to the side of the log. Over the time the log has been drying, it has also been shrinking. Due to the diffrent density of grain between the bark and rings, the bark often falls off or becomes loose.
- Acrylic Resin
- Applicator (I used a syringe)
- Dixie cups
- Popsicle sticks for mixing
- Mix the resin according to the directions provided. I used a dixie cup for the amount of resin I was going to use for this step.
- Commonly you measure part A and part B separately, then incorporate one into the other. mix for 3-4 min until clear
- I filled the syringe with the mixed resin and began to apply the resin into the cracks and crevices along the bottom of the bark.
- I also applied resin to the exterior of the bark using a disposable foam brush.
Step 4: Routing the Slice
It is important to now take some time to think about how you want the lamp to look. Consider how large you want the circle of LEDs to be, this will determine where the cut is made. I followed the growth rings around the slice to determine where to cut.
- Spiral bit
- Flush trim bit
- Mark out where to cut out of the spiral. Using a marker, I traced the growth rings that I wanted to cut along. The marks show the inside and outside line of the cut.
- Set the spiral bit in the router. Lower the router between 1/8 and 1/4" for the first cut. This shallow of a cut will allow you to trace out the path you want to cut without the router walking to far outside the lines.
- Continue down 1/4 to 3/8 inch per cut till the router bottoms out. My final cut left about 3/4" left to cut out.
- Trace the same growth rings on the flip side of the slice. Cut from this side of the log much like the other side until you cut through to the other side.
- Due to the nature of growth, the rings on either side of the log will not line up. This is fine, as long as the cut is close enough to separate the inner and outer.
- Once both sides are trimmed to the same depth, I used a hammer to knock the center slice out.
Step 5: Cleaning the Cut
After separating the inside and outside, the two cuts were a bit off of each other. The flush bit makes quick work of cleaning this up.
- Flush router bit
- Using the spiral bit, I trimmed off another growth ring from the inner chunk. Only one side of the slice needs to be trimmed, as the flush bit will clean up the other side rather quickly.
- Chuck the flush bit in the router. Set the depth so the full length of the blade makes contact with the wood.
- Rout around the edge of the wood, using the bearing to roll around the surface of the wood.
- Flip the log and do this for the other side.
- Do this for the outer slice as well.
Step 6: Adding the Rabbet
The plan was to inset the LEDs into the inner ring of the wood. This would hide the lights from being seen, along with diffuse the direct lights of each individual LED on the strip. Choose a rabbit bit that fits your router and the size of LED's. I am using LED's with a plastic outer coating for water proofing, so I wanted a slightly deeper cut.
- Rabbet bit
- Set the rabbit bit into the router. Set the depth to approx 1/4 inch from the face of the wood.
- Cut around the wood using the ball bearing to roll against the surface.
- Increase the depth of the bit in order to fit the LED strip and rout around one last time.
Step 7: Inserting the LED's
This is rather straight forward. The LED's that I purchased came with a silicone waterproof cover and sticky backing. The backing makes it easy to set into the rabbet cut.
- Box cutter (or other sharp knife)
- Wire cutters/utility scissors
- LED strip
- LED Connector
- Using the wire cutter/scissors cut the LED at the desired length along the marked separator. Read the instructions for the specific style of LED's.
- I them used the knife to cut the silicone cover off the conductive edge of the strip.
- Grabbing a LED connector, snap the open edge onto the trimmed conductive edge of the LED's. Be sure the positive aligns to the red wire.
- Peel of the back of the LED, then set the strip into the rabbet of the inner slice. I used the scissors to tap the sticky back onto the wood.
- Tuck the wire connector into the split of the log and pull the wires out to the back.
Step 8: Prepping for Resin
Tape. Lots and lots of tape. Oh, and a bit of glue.
- Packing tape
- Glue (Silicone or other gel type glue)
- Set the log down so the exposed side is up.
- I applied the glue around the edge of the inner and outer parts of the slice. This binds the glue well to the tape, making sure it does not leak onto the finished edge.
- Apply the packing tape in one direction on the entire face. Then apply a second layer in the opposite direction.
- I used a ink printing roller to roll the air bubbles out of the tape and ensure it was fully adhered.
Step 9: Pouring Resin
Time to add the extra flair that comes with resin projects. We ran a few tests with different pigment colors before this pour to test different colors and transparencies. Turns out everything but a few drops of white acrylic renders the resin completely non transparent.
- Mixing cups
- Mixing sticks
- Blow torch/heat gun
- White acrylic ink
- Determine how much resin to make. To do this, take the area of the outer ring, and subtract it by the area of the inner ring. Multiply that by the depth you want to pour, and convert this to your volume measurement (ml, cups, ect)
- Follow the directions provided with your specific resin. The following was provided with our brand of resin.
- Measure out half the total volume of part and, and the same for part B in separate cups.
- Pour A into B. Mix for 3 minutes.
- Mix in a few drops of the ink. Mix till combined. Add more if needed.
- Carefully pour the mix into the slice. Try to prevent incorporating more air bubbles by pouring too quickly.
- One finished, use the blow torch to pop any air bubbles on the surface.
- Repeatedly blow torch the surface for the next few minutes. Then come back every so often for the next half hour to pop the remaining bubbles.
- Allow to cure for 24 hours before interacting with the piece, and 48 hours before continuing to the next step.
Step 10: Finishing the Surface
After waiting in anticipation for 48 hours its time to finish the piece! I find waiting to be the hardest part of every project. I have to avoid starting a new project during this time, because I will fail to finish the project I am waiting on, and so it will go onto the pile of forgotten things.
- Flattening bit
- Router sled setup
- Belt sander
- 60 grit belt
- Finishing sander
- 80 grit to 220 grit sand paper
- Danish oil
- One cured, remove the tape. I used a knife to remove the silicone from the surface, this can be removed with the router just fine.
- Set up your router sled. I have a poplar frame that I have used many times before, with a piece of rigid pine attached to the router. When a piece is to tall for the sled, insert some boards to raise the sled up off the works surface.
- Using the router with a surfacing/flattening bit, take remove the resin until flat, approx 1/16 at a time.
- Once the surface is flat, use a belt sander to remove the lines/marks left from the router bit.
- Switch over to a finish sander with 80 grit to remove the lines left from the belt sander.
- Work your way up the grits till 220. Apply water with a damp rag between sanding to raise the grain of the wood, and polish the resin surface.
- The desired look when finished will leave a smooth wood surface with an opaque resin.
- Using a rag, apply the danish oil to the wood. Being an end grain piece, the wood will soak up a considerable amount of oil. Apply more oil over the next few hours will the grain stops absorbing oil.
Step 11: Setting the Wire and Hooks
This part was not thought out as thoroughly as I would have liked. For instance, did you know there are swag tools when using wire connectors? I did not. however, some ingenuity and a little hammering solved this problem.
- Wire cutters
- Drill w/bit
- Picture hanging wire
- Wire crimps
- 1/8" Eye hooks
- Set the eye hooks into the wood equidistant from each other. The point is to try to balance out the load.
- Measure out a length of wire, based on how far down you want the light to hang. For example, if you want the light 6" from the ceiling, measure out 8 inches of wire. 6 for the hanging, and 1 inches for either end for crimping.
- Slide one side of the crimp sleeve onto the wire, slide the wire through the eye hook and then back into the sleeve. The back of the sleeve packaging often diagrams this action.
- Now, if you have a swagging tool.... well I don't know why you do. But you can perform this step with that. If not, grab a skinny set of needle nose pliers and a hammer. Grip the sleeve with the pliers in the center.
- With a few strikes of the hammer on the head of the pliers, the sleeve will close around the wires.
Step 12: Wire the Power Converter
I have a lot of extra electronic junk saved in a big box. There I was able to find the exact power converter to work with the lights. However, a quick amazon search for a 12v 5 amp converter will give many cheap options.
- Wire strippers
- Blow torch
- 18 gauge wire
- shrink tube sleeves
- 12v 5amp power converter
- Check to be sure you are using the correct operational power for the LED's. If too much power is provided, you can short out the strip.
- I started by cutting off the power adapter end, and splitting the hot and ground wires. Strip off the outer jacket about 3/8" from the end. For black cords, the cord with white stripes is the hot/red connector.
- Split and strip the end of the 18 gauge wire.
- Fray the two ends of the hot side of the wire. Twist them around each other to form a solid connection. I lay the cables in the same direction and then twist. Having them sit parallel to each other makes for a stronger connection.
- Place a shrink tube over the connection and use the blow torch to set.
- Repeat step 4 and 5 for the negative connection.
- I left the rest of the 18 gauge wire uncut and on the spool until I hung the light, so I know how much I needed.
- Cover both the positive and negative wires with heat shrink tubing to hold them together.
Step 13: Hanging
This step will be on a case by case basis. Everyone will hang lights differently based on the type of framing, type of ceiling, how they are hooking them up to electrical...
- Ladder/step stool
- Blow Torch/Heat gun
- 1/8" eye hooks
- Small drywall anchors
- Shrink wrap wiring covers
- I started by planning where I wanted to place the light. I planned on covering the harness for the smoke detector. It was also around the area we where looking for more light.
- Taking measurements off where I placed the hooks in the log, I marked those on the ceiling and set the anchors. Depending on log size, you may be able to set the hooks directly into the studs.
- I then hung the light up to the hooks. I hated how low it hung on first attempt, so I looped the length over the hooks in the ceiling, to shorten how far it hung from the ceiling.
- Measure how much wire is needed to connect to the preferred outlet, and cut that for the power converter prepared before.
- I laid out the cable along a discreet path in the corner of the wall and ceiling.
- Once the other end of the cable is at the light, cut and fray the 18 gauge wire.
- Much like in the previous step, I spun the two ends of the wire together and covered them with heat shrink tubing.
- Once done, plug in the light and hope that all your hard work pays off!!
First Prize in the
Indoor Lighting Contest