After a recent trip to Ashley Furniture, my girlfriend and I walked out of the store purchasing a bedroom suite that had a contemporary, modern look. One of the benefits of the sale was two free lamps of our choice. Considering the size of the lamps they had available, we opted to swap the lamps for an accessory set that came with candle holders. Being a DIYer, I told my girlfriend that with a little ingenuity and hard work, I could transform the two useless candle holders in the set into cool lamps for the nightstands.
Things you'll need for this project:
1 Ashley Maxine accessory set
2 Bags of clear decorative gems
1 Bag of colored decorative gems
2 LED nightlights (or 2 LED AC kits)
1 Twisted or step drill bit
1 Electric drill
1 Phillips head screwdriver or bit
1 Hot glue gun and stick of glue
1 Soldering iron & solder
1 Electrical tape
2 Replacement lamp cords (switched preferred)
Step 1: Purchase the Accessory Set
You can find this set at most Ashley Furniture stores, as well as a few places online. Prices range from $80-110 USD. Search terms include "ashley maxine accessory set."
Step 2: Grab the Candle Holders
The set includes several pieces, but the pieces we're interested in are the two candle holders with the glass covers. The glass isn't glued to the base so be careful not to drop them.
Step 3: Remove the Glass and Flip the Base
The base has a soft covering that's slightly glued to the bottom of the base. Be careful not to tear apart the padding as its resistive surface keeps the base from moving easily.
Step 4: Remove the Four Screws and the Concrete Weight
The base has a concrete filled weight screwed into it. There may be pieces of cardboard wedged between the weight and the walls. It's ok to remove these shims as a power cord will make up for it later. Remove the weight from the base.
Step 5: Drill Your Holes
Now that you have the weight removed, drill two holes in the middle of each base. You'll need to use a twisted bit or step bit for drilling through metal. While the base is plastic, the candle holder sections are a thin metal. Be patient and careful not to press too hard on the drill or you can bend the metal.
I also used the drill to draw out a small notch in one corner that will house the power cord later.
Step 6: Prepare the LED
You can purchase LEDs online or almost anywhere now. I didn't want to bother with buying rectifiers (diodes), resistors, and LEDs, mapping out a simple circuit, and assuming that I have the engineering skills to know which direction these pieces go, so I bought two nightlights at Walmart instead for about $2 each. These cheap LED lamps have all the pieces together and the circuits are ridiculously simple to follow.
Step 7: Disassemble the Night Light LED
Take the lamp shade off and flip the the device over. Find the phillip screw on the back and remove it. Remove the cover, switch, and circuit board from the casing. Be careful not to destroy the circuit board, especially if you're using a different LED lamp than the one I used.
Step 8: Disassemble the Circuit Board
Each board is different, but if you've purchased the cheap nightlight from Walmart, then you'll be right at home. This board consists of four pieces (excluding the board and plugs): the resistor (bottom), a power diode (left), a simple switch (broken), and the LED light (top). You'll have to keep an eye on the direction and marks on the electrical components to put them back together later. Otherwise you could start a fire, blow a circuit/fuse, or simply not get a working light.
You'll need to use a soldering iron to remove a lot of the components from the board. Be sure to be in a well ventilated area when working with solder.
Step 9: Arrange and Assemble Your Simple Circuit
Once you've removed your components from the circuit board, pre-arrange them on a table or flat surface with their polarized ends mapped out. This will help ensure you've got the circuit right the first time and reduce the risk of electrical hazards. In this example, the resistor and power diode connect to the positive end of the LED, with the power diode connecting to one of the AC lines at the anode end (the end without the stripe). The negative side of the LED connects directly to the other AC line.
Keep in mind, that the LED in the picture (and nightlights they came from) are SMD LEDs, so if you're using raw components, then you'll need to follow some other schematic (most use capacitors) instead of how I've laid out the circuit here.
Solder your LED to the resistor then resistor to the power diode. Don't solder any AC lines yet.
Step 10: The Power Cord
The power cord was found at my local Lowes hardware store, but you can find them almost anywhere. This set is entirely black, so there weren't many choices for the cord, but Lowes only had brown and white. White matches the black and grey style of the room, so white it is. Note, this cord comes with a switch attached. If you don't plan on turning the LED off (and consequently burn out your LED faster), then a plain cord will do just fine.
Step 11: Disassemble the Power Cord
The power cord I purchased came with a lamp socket that was unneeded and metal. I wanted to use the plastic cover to house the circuit I just created, so with a little work, I pulled the socket out, cut the cords, and kept the plastic cover. At this point, you'll want to complete the soldering process by soldering the AC lines to the LED and the power diode. Tape your circuits with electrical tape to avoid any shorts that would occur with shoving the components in such a small space.
Step 12: Glue Your Custom LED to Your Hole
Now that you have your LED soldered, taped, and shoved in the cover, it's time to line it up with the hole you drilled at the beginning. Once it's in your desired position, use glue to keep it in place. I used hot glue but you could just as easily use super glue for a more permanent solution.
Once you have the light in place and glued down, put your weight back in with the same screws you pulled it out of it, and put the sticky bottom cover back on. You shouldn't need additional glue for the bottom, but if you like to play with sticky glue, then apply your glue to the edges of the base.
Step 13: Glue the Glass
Using a hot glue gun, glue the glass to the base. Why glue the glass down? Well, I have kids and didn't want to risk my eleven month old daughter pulling on the glass, spilling small rocks everywhere. Plus, it makes it easier to transport.
Step 14: Add the Rocks
Now that we've got the glass glued down, it's time to add the rocks. For some reason, they're called "gems" at retail, but to me they're just pretty rocks. Anyway, you'll want 2 parts clear rocks, 1 part colored. While you certainly can experiment with the color combination, just remember that you'll want some light to pass through. Otherwise, you could have skipped all the soldering stuff and just glued your glass down then add your rocks.
I used clear rocks around the light first and darker stones around the edges of the glass. This will allow the light to make it to the middle and top of the lamp. I only filled each lamp about half full of rocks. The light doesn't make it to the top anyway but that can resolved by using a less resistive resistor to get a brighter light. We're using these lamps as accents so we didn't want too much light to begin with.
Step 15: Place Your Lamps
Now that pieces are put back together and the rocks are in place, it's time to place the lamps on their respective nightstands. I've taken a few pictures using both a Nikon and my phone, but nothing matches how great these look in the room with the lights dimmed.