In this instructable ill show you a few tips, on how to create a led lit plexiglass or glass etching/engraving.
In just a few steps you can create a awesome mantle piece or even a personalized gift. For any holiday or special some one.
Step 1: Materials
You wont need alot of materials, i made my first one from cover photo in about an hour or two. So this is where you decide between polycarbonate (plexiglass) Or just regular picture frame glass. . I find that a dollar tree near me. Is the best place. Go get 10 frames for $12-$13.
In the first picture youll see some dremel and SE rotary bits. If you chose plexiglass , youll want the highspeed cutting bits on right hand side. The sizes i have laid out are the most ideal to use. But you can go bigger. Just note its pretty hard to apply the same amount of pressure all the time. So you may go deeper in spots which is fine. You can use other bits to smooth and level. But to be honest as long as your lines are straight you wont notice the depth imperfections.
For glass you can use a variety of bits. I mainly use small pointy or small ball tip diamond carbide bits. Or The pale green silicon carbide grinding stones. Cone style works best for real fine detail.
Also you see two brushes, one brass one nylon. Good for clearing and cleaning of after word. Neat trick to. The brass will leave a gold hue add more flare to a design. I have two different sized collets as Dremel and SE have different sized shanks. The black dressing stone is used to clean and reshape other grinding stones. Do not over use. It Will cause stones surface to lose its grit. The green bit is for polishing metal. But it works great on glass for any spots you may have gone outside of the template's lines. You will need a rotory tool of your choice. Optional but highly recommended the flexshaft attachment. I dont have mine pictured. But those are the 3000 and 7300. Just know using the 7300 will cause bits to wear faster due to slower speeds. Alot of sites say wet the glass continuously to keep dust down. Yes it is not a bad idea, but technically its just being bunched together and thrown around the room. I recommend just using a respirator clean what little dust after. Even though I dont wear eye and ear protection i advise that you should do so. So to be clear if you live in an apartment. Might want to warn the neighbors. Or choose a time when you know they'll be out.
Added 6-14-2016.. Although you can acheive the effects of the light with a glass etching. Plexiglass glass tends to absorb and disperse the light a little better than glass. Also i recommend a thicker plexiglass. I bought some thinner stuff from a local big chain hardware store. And it wasnt very durable. Still works. But a bandsaw is pretty much the only way to make a clean cut. The one up top is a 1/4in thick piece bought some of amazon for not a bad price.
Quick materials list.
°Proper cutting or engraving bits for rotary tool.
° rotary tool i. e. Dremel.
°Any size plexiglass or picture frame glass
°Not mentioned above but preferably el wire for lighting. Also found blue fish tank light was the brightest.
° couple small 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick lumber. Cut at 45°angles on the ends. Like picture frames. Make pieces a little bit bigger than the glass going into it.
I havent tried the cover photo style with glass so if you have made one. I would love to see it.
°you'll also need painters tape. Scissors, rubber gloves, paper towels, even in good light i wear a head lamp. Also at walmart i buy these $9 shadow boxes so thats the other one you will see.
You may want a sharp pocket or utility knife as i found out tonight mine came in handy.
For el wire tape you will also need to buy a power supply cord of the 12 volt variety.
Regular el wire comes with a battery pack but you will need AA batteries this one takes 3.
Hot glue gun
If anyone can answer me a question. But why make a battery pack that holds 3 batteries. Id rather put 4 in than 3. Just a silly number i think. Unless your a Dale Earnhardt fan. ?
Added 6-14 2016...No Dale Earnhardt fans huh? Must have been too intimidating ;)
Also i did go to far into it. But with the brass bristle brush. To get gold on unetched glass. It needs to be run in one spot til every thing starts heating up. Sometimes it's easy others its a pain. On etched glass it almost immediately starts adding gold to it. That was a new truck i learned and was happy and wanted to share it. I say this cause the gold basically is only visible with out the light. And thats a bit counterintuitive to this instructable.
Step 2: Finding and Etching an Image on You Glass or Plexiglass.
This step is basically up to you. Ill just go over briefly which bits are best for what.
In the first picture is the bits youll want for glass. When you look at picture two. Youll notice the border of the cross is kinda milky. Instead of a bright/dark white. That was done with the green cone bit (silicone carbide). For best results use on higher speeds. You can use slower speeds with all bits. But you may not acheive the desired effects. This is where dressing stone comes to play. Its made to clean and reshape bits such as these kind. And also slow speeds are harder on bits. Then the rest of the crosses lines were done with diamond carbide bits in picture 3. There are lots of size and shapes each having its own qualities. If precise enough you can fine detail with almost every bit. In picture 4 are high speed cutting bits. These will be for use on plexiglass glass. You can use other bits but these are quicker more efficient. You want to go kinda deep but not too far. Its not like glass where your just roughing up the surface. I suggest buying a few extra pieces and do small easy projects first for practice till u get the feel. Other than practice another benefit is. If you have a 12x12 inch piece do keychain size designs. Not only do you hone in your attention to detail. But afterwards cut, sand, and polish the. Although I don't you should wear ear and eye protection. But!!! I do wear a respirator and rubber gloves. Glass dust is no joke itll mess you up. So safety hee please.
Step 3: The Main Body for You Led Light Up Frame.
Ill begin this step buy saying. Im not big or great on wood working. But i can usually get a project done if i need. But today i took an easy way out. And pulled apart a frame i had sitting around for a rainy day. Instead of making 4 sides i made it with two. What i then did. Was use the high speed cutting bits and some sanding drums. And created and area for the el wire led lights to sit. And plexiglass to go over. If you have proper woodworking tools i suggest using those here. Then i used double sided tape from a window plastic covering kit. (winterizing kit) and was able to make el wire stay long enough to get the glass in place. I recommend el wire just because how thin it is. . Then i ran it up only one side and down to the bottom. I forgot to note. Start wiring at top. Now you will have two or three led bulds out in the open. I just painted over them with black acrylic paint And no they don't shine. I have left mine as is. But there are several ways to hide this wire Including but not limited to. Making it a full frame. Or cutting the wire and making it two sepperate lights and mounting a battery box on and behind the top portion of the frame. But with the wire being aobtgimg I'd just make it onw solid light striing not two. Then i drilled a couple holes in the bottom back and stuck two small dowels in there for a stand. I hot glued the plexiglass in the wooden frame to make them stay.. And presto you now have an led wooden frame.
Added 6-14-2016 skip the the tape go for the hot glue method. When making this i didnt have the hot glue gun and even though i knew. The glue cools off pretty clear. Didnt know how it was gonna affect the etching. It didnt
Step 4: Another Style of Frame
For another style of thats even easier to do. I got a shadow box from Walmart. Now etching on the glass is the easy part. Ive broken several pieces just by screwing the back., back in. So becareful. With a few simple modifications to the back first half of the piece. You can rig lights inside level with your glass or plexiglass for an awesome light view.. In my pics im still making the poece that goes in it. The piece you see was just for fun. And that to is why you'll see painters tape holding it. just because thats not my final product. The final product i hope to have done soon and i will most definitely post some pics in the comments. Also with the type of light used here. It has a sticky backing didnt want to make anything permanent . and dont paint your etching it kinda defeats the purpose. And too. Since i modified this frame im. gonna have to use hot glue to get it to stay together.
Added 6-14 - 2016 if you use neon sharpies with that blue fish tank light which is basically a uv light. . $16 at walmart
Step 5: Let Me Know
So let me know what you think as far as improvements or another style. I'd love to see them. And ill be glad to answer any questions. If any of its unclear to you. Thank you for your time