Introduction: Reclaimed Oak Beam Light

I got the idea for this project from a lamp I saw at a restaurant. After going to a few light stores and not really finding what I had in mind and seeing some of the absurd prices they were asking for these simple lights, I decided to give this a go myself.


  • Materials:
    • Old wooden beam
    • 2 x Steel U-profile (6mm thick)
    • 4 x Steel chain
    • 8 x Shackle to attach chains to ceiling and beam
    • 4 x Wedge bolt with eye
    • 1.5m LED strip + 2x 1m LED strip + aluminium profiles
    • 2 x LED dimmer (optional)
    • LED power supply
    • Some type of wood finishing oil
    • Spray paint
    • Plexiglass
  • Tools:
    • Sander
    • Router
    • Hammer drill
    • Pliers
    • Soldering iron
    • Jigsaw

Step 1: Find a Wood Beam

The first but quite important step is to find a suitable wood beam. I found mine on a secondhand site. I used an old oak beam that used to be part of someone's fireplace. The beam itself was about 100 years old and measured 20 x 24 x 170 cm. It was also quite heavy at approximately 50 kg.

Step 2: Remove the Old Nails

There were still some old nails in the beam. Luckily, they came out pretty easily using some pliers and some pulling, twisting and wiggling.

Make sure you remove all the nails/screws/metal bits before using any power tools. If there's still a nail in there you might destroy a drill bit or router bit in one of the later steps or potentially launch metal bits at yourself.

Step 3: Sanding

Given that there some ugly discolorations from where the beam was mounted, I decided to buy a belt sander and sand the entire beam. I made sure to sand just enough to remove the marks but not too far so I could preserve a bit of the weathered look.

Step 4: Hollowing Out the Top

As the beam was quite heavy and I needed some space to hide the wiring I hollowed out the top of the beam. I did this by using a drill with a speed drill bit with a 38mm diameter. First, I marked out the part I wanted to hollow out. About 5cm from the sides and 10cm from the edges. Then I started drilling the holes. This was quite a lot of work and took a good few hours of drilling. The oak was quite hard so in hindsight I would suggest using a smaller drill bit since the one I used required quite a lot of force to get it in the beam.

After drilling the holes, I used a chisel to take the edges and the rest of the material out.

In the end this took about 6-7 kg out of the beam.

Step 5: Route the Channel for the LED Strip

The bottom LED strip is 1.5m long so I routed out a space to place this strip. First I marked where the channel would be routed. Then I used a piece of straight scrap wood as a glider and using several shallow passes routed the channel. Finally, I used a chisel to clean up the round corners.

Step 6: Get the Steel U-profiles + Chains

I knew I wanted to hang the beam from two steel U-profiles but wasn't sure about how to bend the profiles to the right shape. I ended up simply buying the profiles in a metal shop and asking them if they could bend them to the right shape, which they did, free of charge. I then drilled a hole in the top of the profiles where the connectors would go.

The chains used for hanging the beam from the ceiling where bought at a DIY store. I bought 4 x 1m long chains. I didn't know the exact height I wanted the beam to hang, so I made sure the chains were a bit longer than necessary so I could shorten them in a later step.

Step 7: Spray Painting the Metal Parts

To give everything the right look (+ some rust protection), I spray painted all the metal parts (chains, connectors, U-profiles) black. Be sure to do this outside.

Step 8: Apply Finishing Oil

To preserve and protect the wood I applied two coats of teak oil. Simply apply with a brush* and remove the excess oil after 30 minutes. Then let it dry for a day and repeat.

* You could use a cloth as well, but since this was rough wood, I find a brush easier.

Step 9: Drill a Hole for the Wiring

Drill a hole through the beam for the wiring of the bottom LED strip. I used the longest drill bit I had for this, which was about 14cm long. This meant that I still had to drill from both sides. So, I measured from the sides and marked where I had to drill and then prayed that the two holes would connect, which they did.

I also used a metal drill bit to drill a hole in the aluminium LED profile at the end where the wire would go into the hole in the beam. I also drilled three other holes in the LED profile so I could screw it into the channel that was routed in the beam.

Step 10: Wiring + Soldering the LED Strips

As you can see from the wiring scheme, I wanted the top and bottom LED strips to be separately dimmable. So I wire those in parallel and simply attached a separate dimmer to each part. The two led strips on top are wired in series. I'm not an expert at soldering, so my dad actually helped with this part.

Some tips when soldering these:

  • Cut the LED strips to length after you made the connection and tested them. This way if you mess something up you can simply cut some LED's from the beginning of the roll and try again.
  • Be aware of the order of operations. The dimmers I used had removable connectors, which meant I could solder everything before installing them. If this wasn't the case, I would have to install them before soldering certain connections.

After everything was soldered and tested, I installed the LED's in the beam. Simply peal back the sticky coat and press firmly in place.

Step 11: Make a Plexiglass Cover

To keep dust and other things out of the hollowed out top, I made a cover out of some scrap pieces of plexiglass I had. I used a jigsaw with a plastic cutting blade to cut it to size.

After mounting the beam and doing the wiring, I also cut a slot for the cable.

Step 12: Attach the Beam to the Ceiling

Since the entire construction ended up weighing close to 50kg I didn't feel comfortable using normal wall/ceiling anchors. Therefor I chose to use wedge bolts. These bolts, when mounted in concrete, are rated for around 750kg (x4 = 3 tonnes, which I know seems like overkill, but better safe than sorry).

However before installing the wedge bolts I had to mark the holes to drill on the ceiling. To do this I made a T-profile from some scrap wood. This way I could use the flat part of the T to place it against the wall and then use the markings on the end of the T to mark the ceiling. This way the beam would be perfectly parallel to the wall.

Installing the wedge bolts themselves is pretty straight forward:

  1. Drill a hole with the correct diameter, 10mm in this case. Be sure to use a hammer-drill to drill into concrete.
  2. Use a hammer to insert the wedge bolts into the hole until the washer is flush with the ceiling.
  3. Hand tighten the bolt and then use some sort of lever to tighten it further, I used a large screwdriver.

When the bolts were installed, I attached the first chain and marked the length I wanted it to be. I then marked this length on all four chains and cut them to length using an angle grinder. With this done I attached all chains to the bolts.

For the final step you will need some help from some strong people. Make sure you have everything ready as to minimize the time you actually have to hold the beam up. Then two people hold the beam in place while a third attaches the four points to the chains.

Step 13: Hide the Wiring

I used a cable tray to hide the wire against the ceiling. To fit the connectors in the cable channel I had to cut them down into individual connectors. I then measured the length the cable tray would have to be and used some scissors to cut it to length. The tray had some adhesive on the back, so I used that to stick it to the ceiling. I also placed a small piece of the tray before the hole in the ceiling so the tray would go over it and cover it up. After this I put the cover on it.

To hide the black cable along the chain I simply ran it through every shackle and then cut the cable to length and connected it back to the power supply.

To finish it up I painted the cable tray with the same paint I used on the rest of the ceiling. I did this because the tray had a kind of yellowish tint to it.

Lighting Challenge

First Prize in the
Lighting Challenge