Super Bright LED Lamp Made From Exotic Zebrawood




Introduction: Super Bright LED Lamp Made From Exotic Zebrawood

About: I'm a newbie to the world of electronics so I'm learning how to combine it with my love of woodworking. It should be a fun ride!

Hello! I've been very interested to learn more about electronics--circuits, soldering, resistors, microprocessors, you name it--especially how I can combine it with my primary hobby, woodworking. I was lucky enough to connect with Lili (lb_20) last year and collaborate with her on our first project, a motion sensor-activated LED strip with timer, to help my older parents navigate from their bedroom to their bathroom at night. That helped me leap feet-first into electronics and I wanted to do more, but what should the next project be? I received my inspiration from one of Lili's previous Instructables, a super bright USB-powered LED lamp. I thought it would be fun to take what she did and kick it up a notch, and as soon as I came across Yanko Design's wooden concept light... jackpot.

I wanted to make it very functional. Using a linear potentiometer, an ATTiny85, and some Arduino code, I can change from dim mood lighting to 1,000 lumens of solid white light with a simple flick of the slide. I also wanted to make it attractive, so I built the lamp out of exotic African Zebrawood, a durable and very distinctive wood. I love how it turned out and encourage you to make one yourself.

I'll turn it over to Lili to explain the electronics, and then I'll jump in and tell you how to make the lamp. Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Step 1: Electronics - Gather Your Materials

Thanks, David. Below is the list of tools and parts that you'll need for the electronics.


Required Tools:

Soldering Iron

Wire strippers

Side cutters

Metal ruler

Hobby knife


Required Parts:

1 * Slide Potentiometer:

1 * ATTiny85:

1 * Tiny AVR Programmer:

1 * 5V DC-DC converter:

1 * Barrel Power Connector 2.1mm ID:

2 * 12V LED Panel:

1 * TIP102 Transistor:

1 * 5k1 Resistor:

1 * Right angle 2 pin JST connector:

2 * 2 pin JST connector socket:

4 * JST connector crimps:

OR: pre-crimped JST wire lengths:

1 * 3 way Male Header:

1 * barrel connector with screw terminals:




Step 2: Test the LED Panels

It's good practice to test that all of your electronics work before putting everything together. So take the led panel, insert some temporary wires into the PCB and connect the other ends to your power adaptor via a barrel connector with screw terminals. Hopefully, the LEDs will light up! It goes without saying, but make sure that you connect positive to positive and negative to negative...

Once you're happy that the LEDs are working, go ahead and solder on the right angle JST connector to the board. You might find that you need to drill out the holes on the PCB to make the JST header fit. Use a small drill bit of around 1mm diameter to drill out the holes. You might also have to trim some of the plastic housing of the JST connector. Also, prepare your JST cable using the two 2-pin female housings to terminate both ends of the cables.

Step 3: Program the ATTiny85

Insert the ATTiny85 into the IC socket on the Tiny AVR Programmer and plug it into your computer. If you haven't programmed an ATTiny85 before in Arduino, you'll need to download the ATTiny addon. A really comprehensive guide to the Tiny AVR Programmer and using it to program an ATTiny is provided here: I highly recommend following this guide if you're new to this kind of microcontroller!

Upload the attached code to your ATTiny85 and you're ready to connect the input (potentiometer slider) and output (LED panels) in the next step when you make the prototype circuit on a breadboard.

Step 4: Set Up the Circuit on a Breadboard First

Take the provided circuit diagram and set up the circuit on a breadboard. It's a pretty basic circuit with minimal components, so there shouldn't be many things to troubleshoot.

If all is connected correctly, you can power on the circuit with a 12V supply. As per the 5V DC-DC converter datasheet (, you can technically supply the circuit with any voltage between 7-36V. Just be careful with the supply you choose as you don't want to blow the LEDs in the LED panels by using too high a voltage! For this circuit, I selected 12V panels so am using a 12V supply.

Assuming you have correctly programmed the ATTiny85 in the previous step and hooked the circuit up correctly on the breadboard, you should be able to control the intensity of the LED panels via the slide potentiometer!

Step 5: Solder Up the Circuit on a Veroboard

Once you're happy that the circuit is functioning as expected, simply transfer the design across to a veroboard. I had a small offcut of veroboard already so I decided to cram the circuit in to minimise the size. When I transferred the circuit from the breadboard to the veroboard, I had to cut an extra track on the back of the board so I could wire up the header to the slide potentiometer correctly. Note from my last photo, where I cut the track on the underside of the board.

If you've got a larger sized veroboard to begin with, solder up the circuit nicely on that first then use a metal ruler and the hobby knife to scale the surface of the board, then you can place the board on a table edge and snap along the scaling. It's not always a clean edge when you snap it, but you can always clean it up with the hobby knife or some sandpaper.

Also, remember to cut the tracks down the middle of the ATTiny85, otherwise you will be shorting the pins across the rows of the IC. If you think it might be useful to re-program the ATTiny85 at any point in time, you should use an IC socket so that you can easily remove the IC from the board to reprogram it. Otherwise, you'll have to desolder the chip every time and clean it up before plugging it into the AVR programmer... what a pain!

So, plug it in and give it a test run. Hopefully, all is good and you're ready for David's portion of the project - the lamp construction. Check out David's recreation of this circuit in his photos too, he's done a really nice job!

Step 6: Lamp Construction

What you'll need:

Approximately 3 board feet of your favorite wood (my choice is Zebrawood)

Table saw, jig saw, or band saw



Drill press or power drill

Forstner drill bits and standard drill bits

Hammer and chisels


Wood glue


Arm-R-Seal topcoat


Thank you, Lili. Great job, as usual.

A lamp consists of three main parts: the base, the neck, and the head. I started with the neck because I needed to fish the wires from the base to the head, and they needed to travel through the neck without being seen. I took one piece of wood, split it down the middle using my bandsaw (if you don't have a bandsaw, you can use a table saw), dadoed a groove in the middle of each piece, and glued it back together. This gave me a handy chase for the wires while providing a consistent grain pattern from the outside. After gluing the two halves back together, it's completely seamless.

Step 7: The Lamp - Decorative Angled Pieces for the Neck

In the Yanko Design concept, I love the geometric angles that are incorporated in the neck and head and wanted to create something similar. I decided to cut the angles on pieces of wood that were separate from the main neck assembly; not only was it easier to cut them separately, but in case I made a mistake I didn't have to start over with everything. After cutting them on my table saw, I could simply glue them onto the neck assembly and blend the pieces together using standard woodworking techniques.

The decorative angled pieces turned out really nicely. I created two, one for the front and one for the back; the back one is flipped end-over-end so it looks like an inverted mirror image to the front. I then glued all the pieces together... as you can see, and as every woodworker knows, you can never have too many clamps!

Step 8: The Lamp - Base Assembly

Now that the neck is completed, it's time to work on the base. I used a gorgeous hunk of Zebrawood with a striking and distinctive grain pattern. As far a durability goes, it's almost twice as hard as oak!

On the underside of the base, I needed to make room for all the electronic components: the potentiometer, circuit board, and wires leading to the neck and power supply. I used a series of different sized forstner bits to hog out most of the wood, then cleaned up the channels with my chisels. The blue tape was used to lay out the pattern for the wood removal, and to eliminate any tear-out. Each of the sections have been carved out at different depths... you'll see why shortly.

Step 9: The Lamp - Head Assembly

For the lamp head, I decided to make it wider than the thickness of the wood that I purchased at my local wood shop (8/4, or about 46mm thick), so I made two consecutive cuts from the same piece of wood and "bookmatched" them so that the grain pattern looks like a mirror image, as you can see in the first picture.

The second picture is the inside part of the head - the part that won't be seen. For the inside part, I needed to make room for the wire coming up from the neck, as well as the LED panels. I used my router and hand chisels to carve out these channels. Once I have confidence all the electronics are working perfectly, I'll glue a bookmatched decorative angled piece, similar to the ones I created for the neck, on top of this so everything is seamless.

The third and fourth pictures show the glue-up and final cuts for the decorative angled top for the neck head. Doesn't that bookmatched grain look cool? Oh, and don't worry about that minor tearout on the left side; I made it about a couple of millimeters larger than the head base and can easily blend the tearout so it can't be seen.

Step 10: The Lamp - Adding the Electronics

In the first picture, I took two of the LED panels and soldered them together. To make sure they stayed straight, I superglued a short piece of bamboo to the back side. Once it fit the way I wanted it to in the lamp head, I hot glued it in place.

The second picture shows all the electronics stuffed in the underside of the base and in the channeled-out side of the head (before the decorative angled piece has been attached). You'll also notice the neck has been epoxied to the head and the wires have been fished down through the bottom of the neck.

The third picture is a closer view of the underside of the base. You can clearly see the areas where I removed more wood than others. I carved out most of the wood for the potentiometer because the lever needed to stick out of the top and it's a pretty short lever. Everything else was carved out just enough so it would rest below the lowest surface of the base. I didn't want to hog out too much wood because it would take away the weight of the base, which would raise the risk of the lamp tipping. Thankfully, the Zebrawood is dense and heavy so tipping is not an issue.

The last picture in this section shows the top of the base with the potentiometer sticking out. It came with an ugly red slider button so I replaced that with one that I made out of the Zebrawood. You can see I also installed the power connector. The hole on the left side is the access port to fish the wires from the neck into the circuit board.

Step 11: The Lamp - Putting It All Together

At last! The base, neck, and head are finally connected and it's starting to look like a lamp. You can see (or more accurately, can't see) how the wires are going from the neck into the head. The final assembly will be to glue the decorative angled piece to the head, perform some final sanding, and add a durable topcoat.

Step 12: Final Sanding and Topcoat

For my sanding regimen, I started with 100 grit, then went to 150, and finished with 220. Everyone hates sanding, but unfortunately there is no substitute for doing it right. If you skip grits, it will show and you'll be disappointed with the results. Sanding sucks but it's your best friend... the money is in the finish.

Finally, I applied 3 coats of Arm-R-Seal satin finish topcoat. lightly sanding with 500 grit after the first coat, then moving to 1000 grit between the second and third coats. I couldn't be happier with the results, and that grain pattern is spectacular.

The project was super-fun, and with the right know-how and patience you can have similar results. Special thanks to my friend Lili, who is without a doubt the smartest person I know. We'll be working on another project again soon, so stay tuned!

Be the First to Share


    • Cold Challenge

      Cold Challenge
    • Block Code Contest

      Block Code Contest
    • Baking Contest

      Baking Contest



    4 years ago

    I won't say that 100 lm is "super bright", 1000 lm is.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    This looks great. And if it is sturdy enough, it would also be a small footprint shelf.