Introduction: Projector Slide Table Lamp

A friend found a set of projector slides of someone’s Europe trip from the 1960’s at a thrift shop. They were encased in a beautifully retro aluminum holder, and we knew we had to make a lamp out of them.

This project was created in Solidworks and was made at Techshop Pittsburgh (

Step 1: Materials

Materials you will need:
• Projector slides and its case (from a thrift shop)
• Acrylic sheet, 1/8” thick (from a scrap materials shop)
• Wood panel, 3/16” thick (found a small piece at the Techshop scrap bin)
• LED Flashlight (from Target)

Tools you will need:
• Laser cutter
• Hot glue gun
• Drill press + 1” hole saw
• Sandblaster (optional)

Step 2: The Design

The first step I usually take is to create a CAD model of the components to visualize the end product. It also helps reveal small details that may normally be missed (e.g. how components will be connected).

For this lamp, the slide holder’s aluminum chassis will become the base of the lamp and also house the light source. A square tube of frosted acrylic extends upwards and holds 7 slides on each side. The frosting diffuses the light and gives each slide an even backlight.

Now onto the fabrication!

Step 3: Laser Cutting

The laser-cut pieces for the lamp include the frosted acrylic square tube and the two wood panels for the base. To make them, we need dimensioned drawings first which we can easily create from the CAD model. Once the rectangle drawings are created, we selected the correct laser settings for each material and let the laser do the work.

Step 4: Frosting the Acrylic

To get a diffuse backlight for the slides, we sandblasted one side of each acrylic panel. Wash the residual sand off, let them dry, and the panels are ready for gluing.

You could save yourself some trouble by buying frosted square tubing, but it tends to be more expensive and you’ll only be able to get standard sizes.

Step 5: Drilling a Hole in the Aluminum Chassis

To create clearance for the LED flashlight in the aluminum chassis, we need to drill a hole in the top. I center-punched the center of the top panel and used a 1-1/8” hole saw to cut the hole. The center punch is important to prevent the drill bit from walking during drilling and gives you a more accurate hole. Be sure to secure the aluminum chassis, ideally in a vise, before drilling.

Step 6: Make Front and Back Panels for the Slide Chassis

Once the slides are removed from the aluminum chassis, it leaves a big gaping hole. Two pieces of stained wood were laser-cut to the correct dimensions to fit in the openings of the slide chassis. The larger panel is hot-glued in place. The smaller panel has a small tab glued onto the back and friction-fitted into the back of the slide chassis. This smaller panel can be removed to switch the light source on and off, providing a sleek look on the outside with no visible wires.

Step 7: Assemble Upper Half and Install Slides

The lamp can be broken down into an upper and lower assembly. To assemble the upper half, first glue the four frosted acrylic panels to form a rectangular tube.

We then selected the slides that would be displayed on the lamp. Since the light source is located at the bottom pointed upwards, the slides were ordered darkest to lightest from bottom to top. This creates a more even appearance.

Step 8: Assemble the Lamp Base

Almost done!

First, hot-glue the flashlight to the bottom of the slide upper assembly. Then apply some more hot-glue to the bottom of the slide upper assembly, next to the area where the flashlight is attached. Before the hot glue sets, fit the flashlight through the hole cut in the top of the aluminum slide chassis and hold the upper assembly and slide chassis together for a few seconds.