Intro: DIY Led Desk Lamp
In this Instructable, I will show how to make an attractive and modern desk lamp using common supplies from Home Depot and IKEA.
It has a flexible and adjustable neck that is made from electrical conduit and stiff wire to keep its shape. The LED lamp was bought at IKEA Home Furnishings for $13.50.
Best of all, you don't need any experience with electricity and need only a few basic tools like pliers and a screwdriver. Also, everything you need is available at your hardware store and IKEA.
Step 1: Get Your Supplies
- Small Philips screwdriver
- Little Pliers (for bending and cutting wire)
- Big Pliers (for cutting through stiff electrical conduit
- Hole punch (not the kind you find in an office, the kind that looks like a screwdriver but with a very sharp end)
- Note: If you have a drill, you can use that instead of the hole punch. If you have a hacksaw or other metal-cutting tool, get that out as well.
- Small Clamp - This will be used to attach and mount your lamp on a desk, shelf, or wherever you need it. Be sure it has a hole in the handle (the part you would normally grip to open it). If you have access to drilling equipment, you should be able to make your own hole, no problem.
- Flexible Electrical Conduit - This is the part of the lamp that will make it flexible, look real good, and protect/hide the wires to the LEDs. Usually this stuff is used in commercial buildings to guard the electrical wires. You should get roughly 2 feet, but you can always trim it if it's too long. Unfortunately, this stuff is sold in rolls of 10 to 100 feet. So, if you want just a little bit of it, you'll have to either buy a lot of it and save the rest for another project, or peek in construction dumpsters for a few scrap pieces. Look for the type that's about a quarter-inch. the exact size does not matter.
- Stiff and thick copper wire - This will be inserted into the electrical conduit so it will hold its shape and not unbend. It will also be wrapped around a clamp so you can mount your light somewhere. Don't worry, you won't have to buy this in bulk because most hardware stores sell wire by the foot. Buy three feet of it because you will need some sticking out of the conduit to mount it. This will cost you $1 to $2.
- The LED lamp itself - these ready-made LED lamps came from IKEA's lightning department and can be purchased in several colors. Note that the color shown in this instructable has been discontinued --you can no longer buy the green lamps, which is why I got them cheap. The lamps come in packs of two with the the power supply. The lamps also come with brackets attached so you can easily press-fit them onto IKEA furniture. These brackets will be removed in a later step. Unfortunately, I do not know the product number and the price, so you'll have to use the pictures below for reference.
Step 2: Cut the Conduit
The first step is to take the electrical conduit and and trim it too length. I recommend about 1.5 feet long. If you go any longer, the wire will fail to keep the conduit's shape and the lamp will droop over. If it isn't already this long, take the big pliers and cut right through the conduit to trim it. (Actually, a hacksaw, if you own one, is much better choice)
Don't worry if you crushed the conduit a little bit while cutting it, that's okay.
Step 3: Remove the Lamp Bracket
If we want to attach the lamp onto the conduit and the rest of the lamp, we have to remove the bracket that came attached to the lamp when you bought it.
There is a small screw that secures the bracket onto the lamp. Use a screwdriver to ***carefully*** remove this screw. But do not through the screw away, you'll need this later in a subsequent step.
Note: I had a lot of trouble getting this screw out. I stripped the screw because it was in too tight and I was using the wrong size of screwdriver. To get it out, I had to resort to the drill press to drill out and destroy the screw. Of course, I did my best to replace the screw so I could finish this project.
Step 4: Attach the Lamp
Now that the bracket has been removed, we can screw the lamp on the conduit.
To make room for a screw, unravel a little bit of the end of the conduit. (see pictures below) and use pliers to flatten it.
Use the sharp hole punch to poke a hole big enough for the screw to fit through. This is tricky an a little dangerous because the punch could slip if its not held in place. If you have a drill, use that instead, it is much faster and easier.
Next, get the lamp and the screw. Stick the screw through the hole you just punched and position it over the hole in the lamp where the screw was initially installed. Using a screwdriver, turn the screw tightly so the lamp stays rigid on the conduit.
Now, let's insert the thick wire...
Step 5: Insert the Thick Copper Wire
Straighten out the conduit so you can easily slip in the wire.
Before you actually put it in, bend over a little bit on the end of the wire so that it cannot be pulled further into the conduit when you adjust the lamp later.
Next, simply slide the wire into the conduit. Make sure the end that you bent over is on the side with the lamp attached. You should have several inches of wire sticking out at the end of the conduit.
Now take your clamp and check if the copper wire fits through the hole. If it does, you're good to go. If it doesn't perhaps you could strip the wire to the bare copper and see if that fits. Or you could make the hole bigger, if you have the right tools.
All you have to do is stick the wire through the hole and wrap it several times around the handle of the clamp to get a good, rigid connection.
Note that this wire will not actually be conducting any electricity. It is only there for structural support.
Now there's just one step left...
Step 6: Get Some Electricity!
The lamp is nearly done now. The last thing to do is to pull the actual electrical wire that goes to the LED through. This wire should still be hanging out from the LED.
Unfortunately, because the LED thing is too wide and the other end has the power connector, you can't just pull the wire through the conduit... You will have to cut the wire, pull it through the conduit and re-attach it.
Start by cutting the wire that goes to the lamp that you're using. Cut it a few inches from the Y-junction where the two LED wires come together. If you did it right, one lamp should be free form the Y-junction and the other still attached. (see the picture)
Then just feed the wires through the conduit and out the other end.
The last and final step is to reconnect the wires. Using pliers, strip a little of the ends of those wires (you may have to pull them apart a little). Now, pay careful attention. You have to connect the wires the right way (polarity) or your lamp will not work. If you look carefully at the wires, you'll notice that one wire has writing/dots on it. Twist the wires back together using your fingers, making sure you got the wires with writing connected to eachother and the bare wires connected to eachother.
To protect and prevent the wires from touching (a short), wrap each one in tape and then bend them over and apply more tape, so the wires cannot slip apart. (see the pictures)
Now go hangup your lamp and switch it on!
One last thing: You have a second LED. If you wanted to you could go back to step 1 and do this all over again and make a second lamp --Or you could just set it into the corner and add some nice accent lighting to your room, like I did. : -)