Intro: DIY Lamp With LED Strips and Plumbing Parts
This projects should take no more than an hour or two after you get the parts together depending on your experience level. The parts should be fairly commonplace in any neighborhood or big box hardware store with the exception of the LED strips. You may find the strips in a local store, but I encourage you to buy them online because they are so much cheaper. By the end of the build you should have a nice homemade lamp that is functional and just a little different. Best of all, you’ll have built it yourself!
Necessary Skills and Tools
This project doesn’t necessitate any advanced skills. Anyone with a decent amount of experience with small power tools and a general idea of electrical safety will do just fine with these instructions. As far as tools go, you will need the following:
- Electric Drill (Hand or Drill Press)
- A Range of Drill Bits That Will Work on Metal
- A Round File (Optional but recommended)
- Small Screwdriver
- Wire Cutters and Strippers (Can also strip with a knife)
BE ADVISED: I will be assuming you know how to be safe with all tools and parts in this build. Please exercise safety precautions at your own discretion.
Bill of Materials:
- One large black flange
- One threaded bushing
- One male pipe thread to compression adapter
- Approximately 3’ of hard copper pipe
- One copper elbow
- LED Strips (I have used Hyperikon LED strips from Amazon.)
- Wire and connectors or solder
- 12VDC wall adapter (salvage works perfectly)
- One single pole toggle switch
- Three countersink headed wood screws
NOTES: Fit the parts together before purchasing them to make sure they all fit together. Also be sure to get the pipe cut at the store if you don’t have a pipe cutter. I cut mine 20” tall for the vertical piece and cut the light bar 14” long. Also, if you aren't familiar with the names of these parts, ask someone at the store you buy them from. They should be able to help you.
Step 1: Drill a Hole in the Flange for the Switch to Fit Through
- Mark the appropriate spot to drill. To find this spot, look for a thin section of the flange between the threaded holes.
- Start with a smaller bit and work your way up with 2 more bits to the approximate size of the threads on the switch.
- File the hole with a round file to where the switch just barely fits through. (This keeps it from wobbling after installation.)
Step 2: Assemble the Base
- Screw the bushing into the flange and the adapter into the bushing as shown in the above images.
Tighten each threaded connection as necessary. (Not terribly important for this build.)
Step 3: Install the Vertical Piece of Copper Pipe
- Make sure that each end of the pipe is free of burrs and sharp edges which may wear through wire insulation. These can be removed with a round file.
- Slide the nut from the compression adapter on the pipe followed by the compression sleeve.
- Insert the end of the pipe into the adapter and tighten down the nut.
NOTE: Keep the nut loose until you know you are finished positioning the pipe. Once the compression sleeve has been crushed onto the pipe, it is impractical to remove.
Step 4: Prepare the Light Bar
- (Optional) Flatten the pipe in a bench vice. If you choose not to do this, make sure you have at least 1/2" pipe so that the LED Strips will adhere to it well.
- Drill a small hole in the pipe near the end which will go into the elbow and attach to the vertical pipe. This will be where you route wires later so make sure that the hole won’t wear through wire insulation.
- Solder two wires to the end of your LED strip which are 6”-8” longer than the height of the vertical pipe and base. (Lower Left Image)
- NOTE: If you do not wish to solder, you’ll need to use the pre-connected wires on the led strips with a butt connector to some other wire. The total length requirement will be the same here.
- Apply an insulator of some kind between the copper pipe and LED strip. I used electrical tape. The LED strip is probably insulated already, but the highly conductive materials this project uses made me want to be cautious.
- Now you can feed the wires through the whole you drilled and stick the LED strip (Upper and Lower Left Images) (Cut to the nearest length to your pipe) to the pipe with the adhesive backing. (Almost all LED Strips have this. If not, some kind of glue will be in order.)
- NOTE: Use two LED strips if you aren’t using particularly bright ones. The lamp will provide a dim light if you don’t.
- Feed the wires through the base and hook the pipes together with the elbow. (Lower Right Image)
Step 5: Finish the Wiring
- First, get the 12VDC adapter ready by cutting the small end off of it so that you can terminate the bare wires to the switch and wires.
- NOTE: Leave as much wire left as possible to make sure it is long enough.
- Separate the two wires and strip ¼” or so from the ends.
- Next thing is to connect the wires to the switch and the negative wire on the LED strip. Be sure to trim excess from wires while making connections.
- The positive wire from the LED strip can go on either terminal on the switch.
- The positive wire from the 12VDC adapter will go on the other terminal.
- The negative wire from the 12VDC adapter will be connected to the wire coming from the negative terminal on the LED strip.
- NOTE: If using solder for this connection, use heat shrink tubing to insulate it…this lamp is made of copper after all.
Step 6: Put a Base on Your New Lamp
- Use the countersink wood screws and the screw holes in the flange to attach a base to your lamp.
- I just used a piece of wood with a notch chiseled out to fit the switch’s body and a groove for the wires to fit in.
- TIP: It is a good idea to make this base out of something heavy to add stability to the end result.
There you have it. A pretty simple build, but it should result in a cool looking and power efficient DIY lamp which will last a long time and cost about the same as buying a boring old store bought one.