Introduction: Rechargeable LED Cardboard Night Lamp

About: I'm an aspiring entrepreneur, currently working on renewable and environmentally friendly building materials project. A designer at heart, just unleashing my creativity on Instructables for the time being.

Creating a modern decorative night or bedside lamp made from cardboard is fun, using materials you already have, saving the environment and your wallet. There are 3 stages to this project so let's get started.


  • Cardboard box
  • Tissue/paper towel centerboard
  • 10 LED bulbs
  • Solder Iron and Wire
  • 2ft of Wire
  • Translucent Paper/Baking Paper
  • Rechargeable 5v Battery
  • Charger circuit/Charge controller
  • Power switch
  • 12 pieces of Ridged support wire
  • Scissor
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Step 1: Marking LED Locations (Stage 1)

In order to create the centerpiece lighting, we need to connect the LED lighting to the tissue cardboard center. Mark out the order your led bulbs will be located on the centerpiece.

I used 10 LED bulbs, 3 each for the top, middle and bottom, evenly spaced around the circumference of the centerpiece and 1 for the top of the centerpiece. You can use as many bulbs if you would like the lamp to be brighter.

Step 2: Making LED Strip

If you have an available LED strip then this step is not necessary. This step shows how to make a custom LED strip using LED diodes.

  • If you intend to use LED's that are soldered to a circuit board, you will need to remove then with the soldering iron. Use the soldering iron to loosen the solder joint and remove the LED from the circuit board.
  • Strip your wire on both the positive and negative ends.
  • Connect your LED diode on each terminal with a piece of wire. Take note of the way the build is wired, the other bulbs that will be added will need to be connected the same way.
  • Once you've double-checked that the wire is connected to the correct terminals of the LED and the wires are not touching, solder the wire to the LED to secure it.

Step 3: Check LED Spacing

To ensure the spacing for the LED is correct, we will align the first LED wired with a mark made on the centerpiece and measure the distance between the first LED and where the second LED will be located.

  • Align you're first LED with the mark made on the centerpiece.
  • Measure the distance between the first LED and where the second LED will be located.
  • Strip the wire at the measured distance of the Next LED.
  • Connect the next LED to the wire in series with the positive and negative wires in on the same terminal as the previous LED.
  • Check to ensure the spacing of the LED is correct then solder the LED to secure it.
  • Continue to measure the distance between the points and join the LED bulbs in series until you have enough LED to cover the surface of the centerpiece evenly.
  • Once all the LEDs have been wired, test them to ensure they are working correctly and are connected correctly. If there are any bad LED's, replace them.
  • Once the spacing is correct and all the bulbs work, secure the wiring in place with hot glue or school glue.

NOTE: If you have an LED strip this step is not necessary as you would just need to apply the LED strip on the outside of the centerpiece and use the spacing of the bulbs by default from the factory.

Step 4: Joining LED and Centerpiece

For a cleaner aesthetic, I ran the LEDs on the inside of the centerpiece, only exposing the bulbs and hiding the wiring. NOTE: If you have an LED strip this step is not necessary.

  • Cut out the points marked on the centerpiece large enough to fit the LED through.
  • Run the LED through the center of the centerpiece with one or two bulbs at the top.
  • Fit the LED from the inside of the centerpiece through the holes that were cut out earlier.
  • Once all the LEDs have been fitted into the spaces in the centerpiece, secure them with hot glue or school glue.

Step 5: Finishing the Centerpiece

To finish up the centerpiece, we need to cover the top.

  • Cut out a piece of cardboard large enough to cover the top section.
  • Cut holes into the piece of cardboard that will cover the top to accommodate the LED.
  • Fit the LED through the hole and glue it in place.
  • Glue the cover onto the centerpiece.

Step 6: Creating Lamp Shade (Stage 2)

To create the lampshade design, we cut even strips of cardboard. The strips used for this lamp are 10cm long and 1 cm wide. You can make the strips longer and wider if you want a thicker look for the design.

  • Mark out the strips on the cardboard to the desired dimensions.
  • Cut out the strips with the scissors

Step 7: Shade Design

To create the shade for our lamp, we will use our metal rods and the cardboard strips we cut earlier.

  • Take 2 cardboard strips and 2 metal rods. The strips should be 11cm apart, the rods are then placed on top of the strips. Ensure the edges are aligned and the rods are at least 0.5cm away from the edge of the cardboard strips.
  • Glue the rods in place.
  • Place the third rod between the 2 rods and glue it in place.
  • Add an additional strip to the top and bottom where the rods are glued to the lower strips with glue.
  • Run a strip under the center rod in the middle of the shade assembly.
  • Add strips above and below the center strip which will go above the center rod.
  • Continue the over and under pattern until the space between the upper and lower strips are filled out with each strip being in an over and under pattern.
  • Repeat this step 4 times to create the 4 corners of the wall for the lampshade.

Step 8: Securing Design

Securing the pattern to ensure it stays in place and creates a more rigid shad design.

  • Glue the inner side of the under strips.
  • Glue the strips that go over the metal rod to the rod at the edge.

Step 9: Create Base Design

The base will support the shade and house the electronics and battery for the lamp.

  • Place 2 strips 11cm apart
  • We will then glue 2 strips on the opposing side to join the 4 strips together.
  • Place 2 more strips, alternating the sides they are glued to and repeat this step 3 times. This is done to create a sturdy base and make the base hight before the design tapers inward.
  • Place 2 strips slightly inward, alternate to the previous 2 strips secured below.
  • Continue placing strips inward as you move upward with the design, alternate to the previous strips placed.
  • Once there is a 2cm square space in the middle, end the design as this space is needed to allow the wiring to pass through.

Step 10: Bringing the Lamp Parts Together (Stage 3)

At this stage, we need to assemble all the parts to create the lamp. We'll start by attaching the translucent paper to the lampshade.

  • Cut out a piece of translucent paper large enough to cover all the lampshade pieces side by side.
  • Apply glue to the top, bottom and edges of the cardboard and stick the paper to it.

Step 11: Shade & Core Support

We need a base for the lighting core and the shade to sit on. To ensure it is the same width as the base, use the stand to outline the dimensions of the base.

  • Use the base to outline 2 pieces of cardboard which will be used to support the shade and cover the bottom of the base.
  • Cut out the shade support and make a small hole in the center to run your wire through.
  • Place the LED core assembly on the base and ensure the wire goes through the hole.
  • Glue the LED core to the base.

Step 12: Making Shade Corner Support

We will need to hold the 4 sides of the shades together so we will need supporting tacks.

  • Cut out 16 pieces, each 1cm square.
  • Glue the 1cm square strips together, 2 by 2 to create 8 V-shaped supports.

Step 13: Strengthening Shade

We will use the shade support to strengthen the walls of the shade.

  • Glue the V-shaped support to the edge of each shade wall.
  • Glue the opposing wall to the support and hold it in place until the glue has set.
  • Repeat this process until you have glued all 4 corners together at the top and bottom.

Step 14: Installing Switch

To install the switch which will allow you to power the lamp on and off I needed to extend the wire coming off the LEDs. You may not need to do this if you used a premade LED strip, which may also have a power switch.

  • Glue the shade to the base of the LED core. Apply glue around the 4 corners and place the shade on to it.
  • Extend the wire for the LEDs if they are not long enough. Secure with glue to protect the wire.
  • Attach the positive side of the LED wire to the power switch. Secure with glue to protect the wire.
  • Glue the switch to the base.
  • Tuck any excess wire up into the light core.

Step 15: Charging Circuit and Battery

For the rechargeable feature, we will attach a rechargeable battery and charging circuit. If you want to do just wall power then you can connect a 5v charger in place of the battery and charging circuit. The charging circuit used for this project was an old Bluetooth headset circuit board but only the charging capabilities were used in this project.

  • Connect the 5v battery to the positive and negative terminals on the circuit board. This can be done with a soldering iron or if the board has wires coming off the terminals, the wires can be twined together.
  • Feed the wires for the LED through the hole in the stand. Center the stand in the middle of the base support for the shade.
  • Solder the LED wires to the battery wires and secure with a little hot glue.
  • Then glue the battery in the center of the base to secure it.
  • If you used a charging circuit, glue the USB port to the base where it is accessible through the space in the base on a preferred side.
  • Tuck any excess wire under the battery or through the hole in the base that leads to the LED core.

Step 16: Lamp Cover

We now need to cover the top of the lamp. This is also where we will cover the hole in the base and complete our lamp.

  • Glue 2 strips on opposing sides of the top of the lamp.
  • Cut a strip of transparent paper wide enough to cover the top of the lamp and glue it in place on the 2 strips you just pasted to the top.
  • Glue 2 strips atop the transparent paper.
  • Follow a similar design used to make the stand to complete the top. You can make the spacing between the layer of strips wider to allow more light to escape from the top.
  • Paste the second layer of cardboard based on the width of the base you cut earlier to the bottom of the base to cover up the wires and battery.

Step 17: Time to Watch the Glow

At this point, we are all done. Your night/bedside lamp is ready to rock and roll. it's rechargeable. portable, bright and unique design. Best of all, it can be made for less than $10 or even free if you have most of these items laying around.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, have a great day.

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