Etched Glass With Light Up Frame




Introduction: Etched Glass With Light Up Frame

About: Soldier, creator, father... Not much to say really, pretty open so any questions, feel free to ask :)


     For my first ible, I will be going through my trials and errors and eventual success (in my opinion) of an awesome project that anyone with some time and a little ingenuity can tackle!  Essentially what I've done was etched a piece of glass (one with my dremel (not recommended) and one with Armour Etch (definitely recommended!)), built a frame, and installed some flexible LED lighting (the remote controlled variety with color change), easy right?  Yeah, not so much at first!  Anyways, hope you all enjoy this ible and don't forget to vote, even if not for my ible :(, in the UP! 3D printer contest, and the Lamps and Lighting Contest!  Onward, to the creating!!! 

     I apologize in advance, I didn't think about taking pics after the pieces were cleaned and mounted lol

     Almost forgot about the pricing!

     16.5ft LED RGB with wireless remote and power supply you can find on Amazon for around $33 shipped.
      Glass can be bought at any hardware store so shop around! $2.00-$50.00 (depends on size, thickness etc)
      Paint, paint is completely up to you, for the team projects I went to Home Depot and got the Glidden Color match paint 
      about $4 per color (enough to do at least 2 projects)
      Wood for frame, I bought mine at Lowes (they have a military discount without a hassle so I shop there when I can) 10' 2x6 of
      whitewood cost me $7
      Armour Etch for about $20 Here:

     So as you can see, it's not that expensive to make.

Step 1: The Glass

In this step I will go through one of the two ways that I etched the glass for these projects.

What you will need (Mechanical Etching Version):

1 x Sheet of glass (or plexi)
1 x Dremel (or similar rotary tool)
1 x Diamond etching tip for Dremel/rotary tool
1 x Pencil
1 x Sharpee 
1 x White paper the size of glass
1 x Source of compressed air (canned or air compressor with blow gun) Optional (it helps a lot tho!)

A lot of time and PATIENCE!!!

You can also make/purchase a stencil and then just use that, but for this I wanted it to have a little "artistic flare"

There are a good deal of high quality ibles on here that cover glass etching, I figured I'd add to the list! 

Ok, so you've got your pencil and your paper!!  Draw a reverse of the image you want on the glass (you could also print it out on your computer if you were lazy or can't draw :), once finalized go over your lines with the sharpee you will want them to be crisp and highly visible!  

A note of caution, when handling glass, it is best to wear gloves as the edges WILL cut you!

Ok, now that you have your reversed design on paper, get as much light over the project as you can! Place your glass on top of the drawing and begin to etch out the outlines on a SLOW speed, take your time, don't rush this or you will have wasted both time and money!  

After the outline is done, use a slightly larger diamond etching tip and do the fill areas.  Remember: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast!

Once you etch all the areas you need, you can paint the inside of the etched area to make it look good even in the day time (optional)

Step 2: The Glass Version 2

  This step will outline how to use a chemical etch with a vinyl template.

What you will need:

      Gloves (latex or rubber recommended)
1 x Sheet of Glass ( NOT PLEXI)
1 x Bottle of Armour Etch Creme or similar product
1 x Vinyl Template (make it or buy it)
1 x Squeegee
? x Applicator for the etching creme (I used a scrap piece of really thin wood and a sponge type paint brush) 
1 x Razor to get the template off the glass after etching is complete (plastic razors work really well)
1 x Heat Gun (or hair dryer) to reactivate the glue holding the template to the glass (optional but makes removing the vinyl soooo much easier!!!)

    Ok, so you've decided to go the "easier" route with using a chemical etch, first things first, clean the glass, isopropyl alcohol works pretty darn well for this and doesn't leave any unwanted residue.  After the glass is cleaned, line up and apply your template carefully, using the squeegee to push out the air bubbles as best you can (in all honesty its not that important as long as you keep the bubbles away from the edges of the design).  After you've got your design where you want it and everything looks good, it's time to apply the etching solution.  Many people have many accounts of what works best for them and so on, so here's what I found works best for me.

     Using a popsicle stick (or tongue depressor or thin piece of srap wood), take out a decent sized glob of the etching solution, then using the foam paint brush apply enough solution to the area to cover it, it doesn't have to be super thick, just enough to cover it.  make your way around the project area and ensure everything gets covered.  After everything is covered, take your brush and dab over it again every few minutes to make sure all areas get affected by the solution.  The solution needs about 10 mins (more doesn't yield any better results, less sometimes doesn't yield enough, depends on the glass I guess) to do its work.

     After the solution has had it's 10 minutes, rinse it off with lots of water, make sure to get all of it off, you don't want to accidentally get some on you or the rest of your glass!

     Removing the vinyl template: First things first, if you wish to color in the etched area for an added effect (use permanent marker it comes out much better and you can still clean the glass without it coming off), do so BEFORE removing the template, it will make it MUCH easier on the cleanup end of things!  Now, when you are ready to remove the template, take out your handy dandy heat gun/blow dryer and warm up a corner of the template, then using a razor gently peel it from the glass, alternate heating with using the razor, or grab a friend and do both at the same time! (perhaps if you've built a pair of "helping hands" they could come in handy for this).  After all the template is off, give it another good cleaning and you are done with it.

Step 3: The Frame

The frame is what really brings this piece to life.  It will be bigger than your typical frame to accomodate the lights and the color control assembly.  I use a 2x6 that I rip in half with my table saw and clean up with my router but you can use whatever piece of wood you think would work best for your project.  So lets get started!

What you will need:

1 x 2x6 Piece of Wood (I usually just buy a 10' board so I have plenty of extra board left if I need to do a piece over)
1 x Table Saw (a circular/hand/jig saw would certainly work but it's easier with the table saw IMO)
1 x Miter Saw (once again, a hand saw with a miter box will work too, just easier with power tools :)
1 x Router with cove or other "fancy" bit (Router table would be best but make do with what you have!)
1 x Dremel (or similar rotary tool) with multi purpose routing/cutting bit and straight routing attachment jig
1 x Drill with drill bits 
      Sander/sandpaper (different grits, I started at 120 and went up to 600 but only you can tell what you want)
      Wood Glue
      Paint (colors of your choosing of course)

So lets get started!!!

     Start by taking your 2x6 and rip it in half on your table saw, run both pieces through without removing the fence to ensure they are the same width (a jointer/planer would come in handy but I haven't invested in one yet). 

     Next, figure out the dimensions of your frame.  I found it easier to measure the inner length, to do so take the glass measurements and subtract a half inch from each side (essentially take the size of the glass and reduce each number by 1).  Take your miter saw and set it at 45 degrees make your first cut.  Flip it over, measure from the inner/shorter part of the first cut and and then cut again (make sure to leave about 1/4" extra), you should have a trapazoid at this point.

  You will want to do this for one length and one width.  To make it easier and to ensure as best a fit as possible, take one piece at a time measure to the correct length, mark it, then place on top of the remaining board, line it up so the edges are flush and clamp them together, once they are secured together, ensure the edges are still flush and cut both pieces at the same time, this should ensure a proper fit.
** NOTE **  Ensure you zero your miter saw fence before cutting, I made the mistake of not checking it and my angles were off by 1 degree so they didn't line up the first time, had to do it all over again!!

     After all that is said and done, take your frame pieces to your table saw.  Set your saw blade at 1/2" and your fence where the center of the blade is in line with the center of the angled cut face of the piece.  Cut out a groove on the short side (inner side of the frame or top of the trapizoid) on all pieces.

      Next take a piece of your light strip andplace the light itself in line with the groove you just cut about 1/4" down from it.  Mark the edges of the strip and set your table saw blade at the correct height (make sure you cut from the backside of the piece).  You should now have a groove perpendicular to the groove from the top with 1/4" left of the wood holding it up.  Repeat for all pieces.

     Now comes the tricky part, you have to take the Dremel with multi cutting bit and route out most of the groove from the top into the groove in the back.  I suggest practicing on a piece of scrap first to make sure you find out the best direction to start from so it doesn't pull into the work.   You will want to leave about 1/2-3/4" on each side to keep the piece attached.  

    Take your router with cove bit (or any other decorative bit) and do the edges (inner and outer) on the face side of the frame to give it some character (and not look  like a 2x4 :) 

     Using either your router or dremel with routing bit, route out an area deep enough for the color control box.  Also route out some grooves for the wires. This will give it a cleaner appearance, and allow it to sit flush on the wall when you hang it.  Don't forget to route into the groove where the lights will go so you can run the wire without a problem.

     The IR sensor for the remote control:  I like to keep things as centered as possible with the IR sensor and put it on the base of the frame, I lucked out on the first one as there is a bit knot just about center on the base of the frame so I just used that as my spot.  There are a few ways to do this really, if you can solder, cut the wires, drill a hole through just large enough to fit the wires through, take your dremel with multi bit  and clean up the area in the shape of the sensor. Check the fitting and then remove so you can sand and paint.  If you don't like soldering, just drill a hole big enough for the sensor to fit through and you can use some wood putty or other filler once you get it in place.

     Start sanding, be mindful of the cut angled edges as even light sanding can change the angle and throw off your whole project. 

     Paint!  Choose your paint colors and paint each piece separately, then when they all come together it will look really nice and you won't have to worry about covering the glass in order to paint it!  

Step 4: Putting It All Together!

In this step we will put it all together (as the title implies)

     What you will need:

1 x Staple Gun: with staples!! (soooooooo much easier than trying to nail the pieces together!!!)
1 x Ratchet Tie Down Strap (or frame clamps if you have them)
      Black Poster Board for the backing (substitute the color for whatever is dark but will work with your project)
      Frame Mounts (depending on the size you might find it best to go with 2 mounts as opposed to one as this piece will  be
      heavier than a normal picture frame)
      Light strip with control module
      Wood Glue

     Take two opposing pieces of the frame and put the glass in the grooves, next take the other two opposing pieces and do the same.  Take your frame clamps/ratchet tie down and clamp the frame together to ensure a good fit, if fit is good, loosen and apply wood glue to the 45 degree angled faces that will touch each other and retighten, once again ensuring that the fit is good, flip over and staple the miter joints so that the staples straddle the line inbetween the pieces, this will serve as reinforcement for the glue.

     While the glue is settling, take your light strip and start working it into the groove you cut into the backside (all grooves should line up if you did it properly), run all the wires to their respective places.

     Take your poster board and cut it to the size of the frame, staple it to the back side of the frame, then secure your frame mounts.

     Give the glue about 24 hours to completely dry and remove the clamps/tie down hang on the wall, plug it in and enjoy!

     If you see some light seeping through the cracks you can get rid of them with some wood filler or caulk but then you have to paint over it again so it's up to you.

Step 5: Things to Do Differently

So, looking back at the Buc's project, I realized after the fact that I should not have colored in the eyes and nose of the skull or the grooves in the swords or laces on the football!  Don't know what I was thinking with that (might have been the paint fumes i dunno, which reminds me, always paint in a well ventillated area or wear a mask, or both!!!). 

Painting on glass is REALLY hard, the paint doesn't like to adhere very evenly to the smooth surface, must look into a way to solve this problem, because I spent more time painting the glass than I did anything else on both versions!!!

Hope you all enjoyed this ible and if you have any questions please feel free to ask!

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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    The trick with the paint is to use glass paints. Pebeo makes a line called Vitrea 160. You paint it on then cook it in an oven to 325 degrees for 40 minutes. It works great and sticks to the glass with no problem. You can't use it like regular paint, however. You can't brush a stroke over and over again to get shading - you have to let layer 1 dry first then do more layers. It does't smell bad - nothing like regular paint. I think Martha Stewart now has a line of glass paints. I found both these lines at Michael's.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I know its a pain but the best way Ive found to do the painting is to tape off everything you dont want paint on and spray it,Ive never had a problem with spray paint sticking to anything except plastic.Scuffing up plastic leaves the scuff marks unless you put many coats.Yours is a nice project though Ive seen them at lowes selling for $100.00,Im building my little girl one out of wood with the design cut out and the inside of the box painted fluorescent green in hopes it will ,with the correct light source look like a fluorescent light,at least somewhat.Any ideas on a light source?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I would still go with the color change leds, they have a wide pallet of colors to choose from with the remote and they are very bright!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks I will give them a shot,I can always change it,though I think youre right,and I already have the LEDs that came off of a broken fish tank hood.