Eclipse Lamp




About: I'm an inventor / maker / designer based in the Bay Area. My background is in residential architecture, film set design, animatronics, media arts, exhibit design, and electronics. I use digital design and fa...

The Eclipse Lamp is a simple, wooden circle that hangs on a wall and fades up to a soft glow when you turn it.

Light glows through a thin layer of wood veneer of the front of the disc, and semicircular holes in the back create a halo-like glow on the wall behind it.

Using an LED strip, laser-cut plywood, a sheet of wood veneer, and some off-the-shelf hardware and electronic components, I was able to make this lamp in about 12 hours. I can't be sure, but it might be the world's biggest knob.

Step 1: Design

I was inspired by the Halo Lamp by KJARTAN OSKARSSON STUDIO. They designed a gorgeous wooden ring that hangs by a sort of pulley- When you tug on a leather strap, their donut shaped light both rotates and dims the light at the same time.

I love the idea of a direct, manual interaction with a light source, so I decided to make my own take on this concept.

Having just made a veneer covered lamp for my Hidden Silhouette Lamp instructable, I wanted to use the same technique to make a big wooden disc that hangs on the wall and becomes a lamp when you turn it.

Like pretty much everything else I make, I designed it in Fusion 360 . It's free, it's stable and versatile, plays nice with STEP models from McMaster Carr, and it's free indefinitely unless you make more than $100K a year on the stuff you produce with it. If you want to learn to 3D model the kind of work I do, I think this is the best choice on the market. Click the links below to sign up:




Version 1 of this design used a 1/2" shaft with a steel bearing and shaft collars to support the disc and allow for linear motion. It seemed fine in theory, but as you'll see later in the instructable, it put too much stress on a precarious press-fit part. If the body of the lamp had been made of metal it probably would have been fine, but press-fitting a metal bearing to support all the weight of the piece made for a wobbly rotary action.


With Version 2, I changed to a lazy-susan style 12" bearing so there would be much more contact between the fixed back part and the moving front part. With this setup I was able to have smooth motion with a very strong and stable connection.


The f3D file is a copy of the 3D file I used to design the piece. The DWG file is a layout of all the parts to be cut. Notice the layers are separated into "Cut" (that's for the 1/4" plywood), "Eighth" is for the 1/8" plywood plate that holds the potentiometer.

There are two different iterations in this instructable, the DWG files represent the second, better design.

Step 2: Tools & Materials


At first, I was planning on using a rotary encoder with an arduino, but I decided to go with a much simpler, off-the shelf design by deconstructing a 12V LED dimmer. Here are the parts I used:

  1. 12V LED Strip
  2. PWM Dimming Controller
  3. 12V AC/DC Power Supply
  4. Wire, Solder, Heat Shrink Tubing... basic home electronics stuff.


  1. 6-32 Machine Screws: 12
  2. 6-32 Steel Standoff: 6
  3. Ring Style Turntable (NOTE: This turntable may not fit the hole pattern in the cut files. The one I used was found in the shop. To make it fit, change the hole pattern to match.)
  4. 4-40 Machine Screws: 4


  1. 120W Epilog Laser Cutter (any laser will do, or this can be done by hand with a jigsaw / drill / bandsaw using the technique described in my Digital Fabrication by Hand instructable)
  2. Wood glue, hot glue
  3. Soldering iron


  1. 1/4" Plywood
  2. Maple Veneer

Step 3: Plywood Assembly

The plywood pieces interlock and stack to make up the parts of the lamp. I decided to go with glue joints almost everywhere in order to make a more solid piece than I might otherwise achieve with bolted connections.

The plywood pieces are split and arranged so that they take up less space on a sheet. Making a 24” ring that’s 1” thick is a huge waste of material. I split the rings and large back panel into 3 pieces each (cuts at 120º angles).

I added 1/4” holes through the whole stack in order to make accurate assembly fast and easy- you simply stack the pieces with glue in the seams and surfaces, then hammer a joining dowel through each hole. The two 1” rings stack to create a ~1/2” wall around the inside of the large panel. After gluing and adding the dowels, I clamped down the parts to make sure I wasn’t getting any bubbles or uneven surfaces.


First, I epoxy’d the LED strip around the inside of the 1/2” rim. 5-minute epoxy works well- you can’t rely on the adhesive backing these things come with, they’re practically useless. When you reach the end of your piece, you simply cut the strip with scissors.

With the LEDs in place, I peeled back the plastic coating on the end of the strip to expose the soldering contacts, then soldered on black and red solid wires that I would later connect to the dimmer. It’s always important to ensure a structural connection for wiring- never rely on the solder contacts to keep wired connections in place, this will inevitably cause shorting. To prevent this, I just hot-glued the wires down to the back panel, leaving enough slack on the ends to redo connections if needed.

The dimmer box has screw-down contacts on it which are very handy for testing. Before assembling the rest of the electronics, I tested them by connecting the dimmer- it worked! Honestly it’s pretty hard to get this wrong, there are only 4 connections (+- power in, +-power out). Testing in this case is really just checking for bad solder connections.

Once the LED strip was epoxy'd in place, It was time to add the veneer to the front of the disc. Veneer this size (as far as I know) only comes with a paper backing. If it didn't, it would just split along the seams, and it also keeps glue from seeping through the thin layer of wood. Needing as much translucence as possible, I sanded off the back layer of paper to get the the wood.

I left a rim of paper about 1" wide to allow a better adhesion to the plywood rim, then wood glued and clamped the large turning disc to the veneer.


First, I measured the shaft in my model and cut my shaft to length.

The bearing press-fits into the plywood hole in the large disc. This feature creates the main problem with this version of the design- plywood is neither solid enough nor precise enough to make a good press-fitting with a precision steel bearing.

Next, I added the 1/8” plywood plate with the disassembled potentiometer attached to it. In order to get the gear contacts in the right place, the plate has to be on the outside (front) of the wall-mounted disc. This plate screws in with 4-40 screws through sized holes in the 1/4” plywood piece.

With the bearing and shaft fit, I added the outer collar (the one the holds the wall-mounted disc off of the large, turning disc), then the outer panel of the wall-mount disc, then the inner collar. The collars attach with a screwed clamping action.

Having the offsets worked out carefully in the computer, the gears contacted perfectly without any unwanted pressure on the potentiometer.

A note on gears: I designed the spur gear that press-fits to the potentiometer with 24 teeth. The rack I designed to fix to the large, turning disc has 192 teeth (or it would if it was a complete gear). This means that 1/8 of a complete turn on the large disc will turn the potentiometer gear a full rotation.

The reason this was a bad design however, is that the press-fit plywood connection didn’t create a solid, parallel connection. The large, turning disc wobbled when moved. Back to the drawing board!


We had a ring style turntable lying around the shop, so I measured it and used it for the redesign. I figured having a much larger bearing with screw-hole connections would make for a much stable turning action.

I didn’t like the 1/8 disc turn = 1 full potentiometer turn action that I got with the 1-8 gear ratio I designed previously. Making a smaller gear ratio of 1-4 would make the dimming action smoother and would have a better feel overall- like turning a giant knob, which is kind of the point.

The other problem with keeping the same gear action is that the potentiometer would be in the way of the turntable, so it had to be moved anyway.

I designed the new parts to just attach to the parts I had already assembled, the new parts are as follows.

  1. I made the new gear with a 1/4" hole in its center and a circle with a 1/4" hole in its center and joined them using glue, clamps, and a 1/4 dowel to keep them aligned while the glue cured. When the glue cured, I removed the dowel so that I could feed the wires through to the electronics on the back plate.
  2. I made 3 tabs with machine screw holes that can be glued individually to the back panel of the turning disc. These tabs have semicircular ends that but against the center circular piece of the turning disc, which ensures that the turning disc and mounting disc are aligned at their centers. I was able to find the proper angles by aligning the mounting holes in the turntable with each tab. Some extra 6-32 flat-head machine screws attach the turntable to the turning disc.
  3. The front plate of the mounting disc has 3 semicircular cutouts in it. This allowed me to screw the turntable to the mounting plate, then screw the other ring of the turntable to the turning disc through these cutouts.

With the 1/8" potentiometer plate attached to the front panel of the mounting disc, I fed the LED wires through a drilled hole (that I forgot to add in the Fusion file), and wired up the electronics. Everything is labeled on the dimmer switch, so you really can't mess this part up. There's a mounting tab for the female end of the ACDC adaptor connection as well, which allows you to easily plug and unplug the power source.


The last thing to do was to finish the turning disc and spruce up the power adaptor.

The turning disc’s outer edge was still laser-burnt wood, so I glued a strip of veneer onto it so that the disc would look like a solid piece of wood. I did this with wood glue and a ratchet strap- it worked like a charm! I left a little extra material around the outside of the disc that I trimmed off with a razor knife when the glue had dried.

For the power supply, I removed the ugly black plastic wire and replaced it with some fabric lamp wire. I also added a little laser-cut box with matching wood veneer on all the panels. Having all the parts made of similar or harmonious materials makes for a much better design.


I really like the look and feel of this piece for the most part. There are a few things I'd like to change in the next round.

  1. The hot spots around the edge are a little distracting. Adding a second rim that's 2" thick to cover the edge of the LEDs will probably resolve this issue.
  2. The diffusion isn't great- it's dim in the middle and bright around the edge. I was thinking of adding a diffusing acrylic panel against the veneer to help with this.
  3. The veneer is a bit wavy in the middle- it's hard to keep such a thin layer of wood from warping. I think in round 2, I'm going to glue the veneer to the diffusing acrylic to make for a smooth piece.

As usual, any comments or questions are welcome. Do an iMadeIt and I'll give you a free 3-month pro membership!



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    59 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Hi Jon,

    Very nice project and execution. PS: your work is amazing!

    Regarding the light dispersion point you made:

    If you want to get rid of the hot spots and possibly also of the warping you can adhere a disk of acrylic (or transparent PS) behind it. The disk should be the height of the led strip.

    But I'd take this a bit further: I'd cut the disk in a laser cutter (or a precise CNC), sand by hand the borders and polish them (a quick pass on a torch flame can do this well).

    This will create a light guide with ITR (Internal Total Reflection see, this means the light will be trapped inside the disk because the maximum refraction angle will be surpassed by the majority of the light entering the disk by the side. This means the bulk of the light will be trapped inside the disk (like what happens in optic fibers).

    Now to make the light escape (and illuminate) any part of the disk you only need a thin scratch or line penetrating the surface of the disk. This will be enough to control easily exactly where you have the light glowing.

    Ans if you know of a good transparent glue that can adhere to both the wood and the acrylic you can get rid of the warping problem too.

    Just my 2 c.


    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to make these great suggestions. Have you heard of Endlighten? I thought I might try that out.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I haven't heard of it before, but I did some checking and they use the principles I've mentioned in my comment. If the cost is good they'll provide the homogeneous acrylic LED lit surfaces you were searching.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    No it is not loading.
    It's just a still picture
    May can send the gif as private mail to my email ID
    Youcan send it to

    Jim Davidson

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Wonderful project, Love the effect! I was the owner of a custom furniture and cabinet shop for over 30 years and know way too much about glues and adhesives. Next time, use a spray contact cement (like 3M High-Strength 90 Spray Adhesive) to glue your veneer to the the acrylic or sub straight, then use a roller or a wood block in a sock to finish the bond. You can also use the contact cement to bond the veneer to the outer edge of the lamp. This saves a lot of time and the results are unbelievable. The veneer pieces should be slightly larger than the part you are adhering it to and the excess can be easily removed with an exacto blade and then a light sanding. Always cut on the down stroke to prevent tearing or splintering of the veneer. Contact cement should be sprayed on both surfaces to be bonded and left until nearly dry to the touch, this only takes a 5 to 10 mins. Use a light, even only need an 80% even coverage for a great bond. It should be keep in mind that you only have one shot at the alignment of the pieces you are bonding. Once the two surfaces touch, they're stuck and no good adjustment is possible. In your case the pieces are small enough that you can lay the veneer adhesive side up and, then lower the other piece onto it and eye ball the alignment, then flip it over and finish the bond with roller or block. Didn't mean to get so long winded but, you've got a great concept and I thought you might like a bit of advice...

    6 replies

    Thank you Jim Davidson! I was hoping an expert would weigh in on the adhesive issue. Does 3M 77 work as well, or should I expect that to delaminate as humidity and temperature changes down the line?

    I learned the down-stroke trick the hard way, that's a good tip.

    I love the idea of applying the veneer instantly with a roller. Again, thanks so much for the advice.

    One of the unfortunate outcomes of the veneer strip around the edge of the circle was that there's about a 1/16" gap where the two ends of the strip meet. Any advice on how to avoid that?


    The only way you're going to have a delamination problem is if your work has not been properly cleaned or not enough pressure was applied after the initial bond. I believe you said the surface of veneer was wavy, that sounds like a pressure problem. this can be considered a delamination occurrence. This could be caused by air trapped between the sub strait and the veneer or if you used a PVA glue (white glue) or Aliphatic Resin glue (yellow Carpenters glue) and not enough EVEN pressure was applied during the cure time.

    In the "Old Days" veneers were a bit thicker, think door skin, about 1/16 of an inch or slightly thicker. Hide glue, also known as animal glue, was used and pressure was applied via a tool known as "scraper". Because of the thickness, waves were eliminated and any that did occur could be scraped smooth to the surface. Today's veneers are 1/32" including the paper backing and a bit more care is needed for a proper bond. OK,a lot more care! This brings us to the contact adhesive. 3M 77 works in a lot of applications and would most likely work well with your project. The 3M 90 has a bit more aggressive bond and a little more suited to woodworking. Both of these adhesives are rubber based, neoprene, with a solvent vehicle. Once applied, you want to let the solvent to evaporate before sticking the parts together. The parts will feel almost dry to the touch. The dry time will vary due to temperature and humidity. When ready, stick your pieces and apply pressure, do this on a clean, flat, stable surface. Don't get wimpy on the pressure, put your weight in it, honest, your work piece won't mind, BTW, temp and humidity are not going to cause delamination.

    Now, on to the Gap Problem. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! I'm assuming that the edge banding is the same material as the face and not a commercially available banding. What you need is a strip about 1" longer than the circumference of your project and an 1/8" wider. One end needs to be perfectly square, this is the end you are going start with. Take your tri-square and draw a fine line on your work piece, this will be your starting point. Align your edge banding to the line and start applying it all the way around until they overlap. Now both ends should be flush with each other on the sides. Next, take your square and scribe a fine line into the top overlap with an exacto knife using the end below the overlap as a index. Now you can make multiple passes with the exacto until you cut completely through the top piece. Butt the two ends together and apply pressure all the way around.

    Method #2: Wax paper! Same as above but your edge band will be about a 1/2" longer and you will put a 2" piece of wax paper on the glued project surface over the starting line and start your wrap with the non square end of the banding. Now your square end of the banding will be on top and you will use that as your cutting index. The wax paper prevents the two ends from bonding to the project. Next, gently lift the two ends and wiggle the wax paper out. Butt the ends together and apply pressure all around.

    Almost done! Two things to keep in mind...Edge banding goes on First, facing goes on Second. With spray adhesives, you need to mask off surfaces you don't want to glue. Masking a circle is a bitch. Masking the edge banding it easy. You don't want adhesive on what will be a finished veneer surface. Mask off the perimeter of the back face with short overlapping pieces of 2" tape, let it overhang you're going to cut off the excess with scissors or flip it and use a blade. Now face down on a clean workbench covered with paper (tape the paper down) or a flat piece of cardboard and apply the contact cement. Once the contact cement tacks, rip off the tape and stick your veneer. Now the easy bit, if you're satisfied that the edge banding is trimmed and sanded flush with the surface, mask off the edge with tape, a no brainer. Go ahead and spray, tack, stick, pressure and trim. If you have trim router or small router you can use that with a 1/4" to 1/2" carbide ball bearing guided bit to trim off the excess. Always make sure the bit is cutting into the veneer, not away from it. A bit of light sanding and you are done!!! Jeez...I think I just wrote an Instructable. Need more? Just ask...
    Enjoy the day,


    Wow Jim! Make and instructable! This would be super useful. I'll feature it and give you a free 3-month pro membership.


    I'll have to give that some thought. Since retiring from the woodworking trades I've downsized from a 6000 sq. ft. shop to a 250 sq. ft. studio! The studio is where I let my imagination run amok and create my Art and not conducive to the messy Art of Laminating although, I possibly could make it happen. Much of the space is used up by shelving, materials and stock. You see, I've switched skill sets...from Master Woodworker to Metal Fabricator and Contraptioneer...Simply put, I'm now a Steampunk and Prop Artist. In essence, Fine Art for Steampunk Cosplay and Lovers of the Genre.

    I'll leave you with a few photos so you can see I'm not just blowing smoke. #1st is a Library Table, one of two I designed and built for a Client in Palos Verdes, Ca.. #2 is the Manchester MK I Uranium Reactor Pulse Rifle, Steampunk Cosplay Prop. #3 is a re-purposed cremation urn turned Steampunk Lamp, 36" tall, former occupant, evicted. #4 is a work in progress, working title: "Fiddlebug". #5 These are a brace of whimsical flintlocks designed and created as set/booth dressing for the 2013 E3 convention in Los Angeles, Ca.

    As I said, I'll get back to you on the Instructable. Maybe a week. I have your email address so that makes it easy.

    I think I hear the Jehovah's Witness's at my door again, I hate that scratching sound. They have been getting slightly more aggressive lately...time to nip this in the bud..."Barry, fetch me my shotgun!" (Barry is my faithful cat)


    lib table 3.jpgphoto (2) (1024x339).jpgphoto (11).JPGIMG_0952 (1).JPGphoto (3).JPG

    3 years ago

    Fun idea: connect two of these with a belt or gear. Maybe use different color LEDs in each one.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I like it! I've been thinking a frosted acrylic disc could be nice as well, that would go well with colored LEDs.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Love this- and I just may give it a go-
    I noticed that none of the pros had anything to add about the heat bonded veneers- esp with the facing bands.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    This is amazing! Will try to make it, if I can find all materials :) Thank you!