DIY: Stair Wall Lighting From Oak and LED Strips





Introduction: DIY: Stair Wall Lighting From Oak and LED Strips

This time I'll make stair wall lighting from oak board and LED strips.

How I did it - you can check by looking DIY video or you can follow up instructions bellow.

For this project you will need:


Oak board (or any other wood piece)

L shape aluminum profile

LED strip ~1,8meters

LED drivers (12W @ 1.25A)

Clear varnish for finish



Soldering iron Knife


Table saw or hand saw

Drill and bits

Metal saw

Router with bits

Step 1: Preparing Oak Boards

I had left this glued oak board from previous project. It is 37 by 30 centimeters.
The idea is to make three equal, 9 by 35 centimeters, pieces. I cut them with my home made table saw to 9 centimeter width and later on shortened by cutting to 35 centimeter length.

Sanded edges with 120 grit sandpaper to remove any saw marks.

Step 2: Router in Work

With palm router made a groove to sink aluminum profile with LED strip.
Marked and routed a hole to sink LED driver. I made a few passes by increasing dept at each pass.

Step 3: Aluminum Profile

Cut 6 pieces of L shape aluminum profile. Drilled two holes for screws. Because I don’t have countersink bit for metal I countersink them by using regular bigger bit.
This aluminum profile will make two functions. First - will work as LED heat sink, and second - will rise oak board from a wall. That’s allow me to fully hide LED driver inside.

Step 4: Step by Step

Marked, predrilled and screwed aluminum in place.
I want to hide all wires, so I made a groove with palm router.

Step 5: LED Strip

I choose 12 volts and 18W per meter LED strip. Those are really powerful and gives good amount of light. In one lamp I’ll need two of 30 centimeters length LED strips. So that will be around 11W in total.
Cut 6 pieces in 30cm length and glued in place.

All LEDs are almost flush with board surface. That’s exactly what I want.

Step 6: LED Driver

Each lamp will be powered by separate LED driver which gives 12V and up to 1.25A. Regarding my LED setup I’ll need around 11W. That means I have to give around 1A of current to fully power it up. At this point I’ll recommend to choose a little bit more powerful LED driver than you’ll need. That’s will give a small power reserve. It will be great to have 20% higher amperage rating than you'll need.

Striped, pretined and soldered wires to LED strips.

Step 7: Final Assemble

Used hot glue, to fix LED driver in place.
All wires nicely hided in routed groove as an LED driver too. Made a hanging point from a piece of wire and two holes in aluminum profile.

Shorted power wires and connected connector block.

Step 8: Finishing Wood

For finish applied two coats of clear mat look varnish. Plus give a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper between coats to remove ant roughness which pops out after first coat of varnish.

Step 9: Result

I really love that different boards color combination, especially at end grain. Time to hang them on stair wall and take a full view.

Step 10: Installed on a Wall

The best thing is, that oak boards color contrast is very close to stairs. I’m very pleased with that.
Plus they’ll give exact amount of light, that I need in this place.

I hope this article was helpful:)



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    19 Discussions

    I'd kind of assumed that he hung them where existing wall sconces would go as I see no cabling to and from. In that case the existing switch would do the job. But I would be wary of hanging them with bits of wire like pictures. Unless there is some kind of junction box behind to cover the connectors you might end up with bare terminals in your connector block. I think a more positive attachment to the wall would prevent this.

    That is a valid question, and the OP never addressed it. Possibly because it's an Instructables unto itself, and I'm not sure on the rules here of posting DIY electrical work. It's also about four times as much work as just building these lights.

    Most stairways (at least in modern North American homes), are preconfigured with 120V lighting consisting two three way switches, one at top and one at the bottom of the stairs, and one, possibly two, octagon boxes typically mounted in the ceiling, that holds a light fixture(s).

    Getting line voltage to the wall lighting in the OP's layout using existing switches would typically require disconnecting the 120V feed to the existing lighting and rerouting it to the LED wall lights. It sounds simple enough, but since three way switches can be configured multiple ways, it isn't necessarily so.

    In order to get a 120V line to the new fixtures, you will need to cut holes in the wall and pull wires. In a late 20th century home that means cutting into drywall and then patching and painting. In an early 20th century home, that means plaster over wood lath, and about five times as much work to repair, more if the wall is in mediocre shape or you are careless.

    The National Electrical Code in the USA and the Canadian Electrical Code also requires that all connections be made approved boxes, so those LED wall lights would need to be large enough to cover the box.

    As another commenter said, you could run 120V to one large power supply, which would have to be in an accessible place such as the basement, then run low voltage to switch(es) and the lighting. That would still require cutting into the walls to fish low voltage lines. You also would need to install new switches at the top and bottom of the stairs unless you disconnected any 120V line voltage coming into the boxes containing the existing switches and reused them. You cannot have 12V and line voltage in the same box, as it is extremely dangerous.

    I give full marks to the OP for his creativity on the build and the video. If your house had existing wall sconces and you wanted to change to these LED lights, it could be easily done. Otherwise, it's many hours of work, and if you aren't familiar with electrical codes, house construction and repairs, you possibly diving into the proverbial "opening the of can of worms".

    A switch would work. You could put motion sensing 3-ways at top and bottom of the stairs.

    Motion sensing three way switches are about ten times the cost of just a standard three way wall switch. I'm aways cautious where I install motion sensor switches. I don't like them for stairways because they often are tripped when you don't want the lights to turn on (such as passing them in a hallway for a night time pee), and, depending on the switches configuration, can be overridden and left in the 'off' position.

    like that idea alot; what would you charge me to make 3 of these lights ?

    Looks awesome! Well done!

    You can use one central power supply to run all your lights, and then use low voltage wiring to each fixture. It is a lot simpler and safer than running 120VAC to everything. You can use a backup battery, intelligent controls, motion sensor modules, 12V dimmers, and low voltage switches. The power supply can go in the basement where it's easily accessible. I'd put a motion sensor on those stair lights, with a parallel always on night light setting of barely glowing (or a different color).

    3 replies

    How can you run 12v for a long distance? The wattage drops rapidly

    Go to this table and play with wire sizes vs. current.
    You may find that the drop through the light strip is much more than the feed cable drop. You shouldn't run a 5 meter spool from one end because the far end is going to be dimmer.

    Note that to follow 120V code you'd have to use #14 or #12 wire anyhow, just to run ten milliamps to a light. So for light loads it makes sense to run #18 or 22 to a night light. I have a couple in dark corners that stay on. It took less current to run them continuously than running a motion sensor.

    have you measured the current draw of the led strip you have used? 1.25 A seems way to much and may result in cooking the LED. Just a thought.

    4 replies

    LED stips have resistors to limit the current, he could've used a 100A PSU for that matter. The resistors will always limit the current flowing trough the LEDs as long as the voltage is between the acceptable limits.

    Indeed they do. Although on some of the cheaper ones avaliable I do question how effective they are.
    I only speak from experience using these type of LED strip and I have had a few meters fail from being over driven from the power supply in only a few weeks.
    Since then I will always check the current draw and match the supply or depending on the situation under drive them.
    Just my experience and thought I'd throw it into the mix. It's such a pain having to re work finished items.

    Another thing to be wary of is cheap PSU's. I recently installed some under cabinet LED strip lighting for a customer. I quoted him materials based on prices from Lee Valley, a Canadian supplier. He was somewhat concerned about the cost of materials, and I briefly pondered buying a suitable PSU from eBay that was 1/5th the cost of Lee Valley's. Then I did some research, and I found this article:

    Best case scenario with that eBay junk; I have to replace the PSU after it fails. Second best scenario; I have to replace the PSU and all the LED strip lights after the PSU fry everything fails. Worst case scenario; his house burns to the ground.

    Needless to say the customer paid for the Lee Valley PSU.

    As a side note; the Lee Valley 120 LED/metre natural white strip lighting is fantastic!

    The colour temperature and the lumens are excellent for that application. I wish I'd done an Instructable on the installation, but it's hard to do when you are billing a client. :)

    Yeah, it's a good practice to make sure the voltage of the PSU and the current drawn by the LEDs are between acceptable limits.

    High power LED strips run pretty hot if they're mounted on a surface that isn't heat conductive, some PSUs have a potentiometer to increase or decrease the output voltage a bit, increasing their life. I think using a PSU with a similar current rating could reduce the life of the PSU, since it would be working close to 100% of it's capacity.


    Excellent tutorial. I'm going to make a few wood lamps myself. I really liked how you hanged the lamp with a metal wire, using a driller and a rotor.


    Those look really nice :) We've been thinking of putting something similar in our stairwell to provide low light at night without lighting up most of the house.