How to Make a Lighted Glass Block




About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.

Seven +/- years ago, I came across my first lighted glass block.  I was so frustrated with the problem of cutting the hole in the glass.  Finally I found, on line, a Diamond Core Drill Bit with the attending Diamond Drill Bit Coolant.  Problem solved.  This project is a joint one with my Hubby.  He cuts the hole and I do the rest of the block.  So here we go:  How to Make a Lighted Glass Block.  By-the-by, this isn’t just for Christmas decoration; we have made them as wedding gifts, birthday presents, etc.  The one that we create for this Instructable is to be given to a Boy Scout who has earned the rank of “Eagle”.

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Step 1:

1. Glass building block ($5+/- at home supply stores)
2. ½” Diamond core bit (They run around $19 for a ½” bit.  Cost a bit, yet oh so worth it, especially if you are going to cut more than one glass block.)
3. Drill
4. Diamond bit coolant (available at the same place as the bit)
5. String of 20 mini Christmas lights (I pick them up on clearance the day after Christmas)
6. 2 sheets full page white labels (available at office supply stores)
7. Pictures
8. Tape measure
9. Access to computer, printer and a desktop program
10. Scissors
11. Corner rounder punch (Craft store or a scrap booker’s supply cupboard)
12. Clear gloss acrylic spray (Home supply store)
13. 2 ½ - 3 inch wide ribbon. (craft store)
14. E-600 Adhesive

Step 2:

Create your pictures for each side of the block.  Measure the flat surfaces of the blocks so you will know what size to print your picture.  You could scan a picture to your computer or use a digital picture from my digital camera, or use a picture that is public domain.  Use the desk top program to make the picture the size you need and print it off with best quality of printing onto your full page white label.  (If you are going to sell these blocks, make sure you have a legal right to the pictures you are using.)

Step 3:

Cut out the pictures and use the corner rounder punch to round the corners of the pictures.

Step 4:

Clean off the glass block so that there are no labels.

Step 5:

  Mix up the coolant.  Put the bit in the drill.  While the drill is cutting the core, keep the surface of the glass wet with the coolant.  It will take somewhere around 30 seconds to cut the hole. Yes there will be glass dust inside the block, but the way we do it, that isn’t a problem.  Turn the block upside down and shake out the glass core and any glass flakes.  They are smaller than the hole so should come right out.

Step 6:

Plug in the lights (to make sure they all work) and stuff them, one at a time into the block, through the hole you just created.  Unplug the lights.

Step 7:

Make sure the plug end of the lights are on the “bottom” of the block.  Peel off the back of the picture and lay it on the smooth side of the block with top of picture to top of block.  Make sure it is smooth with no wrinkles or large air bubbles. Turn the block over and attach the other picture.

Step 8:

Spray the clear gloss acrylic spray on the picture that is on top.  Let it dry. (Drying may take about 30 minutes.) This process will make the picture translucent so that the light will shine through the picture.  Once the first side is dry, turn it over and spray the other picture.  Let it dry.

Step 9:

Take the ribbon and wrap it around the block with the ribbon overlapping about 2 inches.  Cut off the amount you need.  Turn your block bottom side up and put a line of E-6000 adhesive on the left side of the hole.  Place the edge of the ribbon on the line of E-6000 and then wrap the ribbon around the edges of the block until you come back to where you started.

Step 10:

Place the light cord so that it lays to the left and put a little adhesive on the ribbon on either side of the cord. Lay the other end of the ribbon on the adhesive and place something heavy on top to hold it in place until it dries (about 1 hour).

Step 11:

Turn it over and plug in the lights, enjoy your creation.  For more embellishment you may make a bow and add it to the top! 

I have noticed that quite a few stores are selling predrilled blocks.  Using them would make the whole process easier, but it more than doubles the cost of the block itself.  Decide how many you are going to make and go from there.  We have made more than 30 of these blocks over the years.  The drill bit has proven its value to us.

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    30 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Lighting is the next step, but first I wish to remove the white stripe that goes around the block. Any suggestions?

    2 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    I've been making lighted blocks for 16 yrs. now. My husband would drill the hole and clean the white strip off with varsol, or turpentine. It's actually like a strip of masking tape that's used to adhere the blocks together when making a privacy wall. Takes a bit of scrubbing but it does come off. I like to tie my ribbon like you would a gift with a bow on the front, so the strip had to go.


    Answer 1 year ago

    the stripe around the edge of the block is etched glass and there is no way to remove it. That is why I put a ribbon around it, to cover it. Hope that helps.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I had a feeling, but I wasn't sure. Sorry, you will have to invest in a can of clear sealer. Go to a home supply store, it is cheaper than craft stores. Better luck next time.


    2 years ago

    hi there! This is a fantastic instructable! I came across one of these on etsy and wanted to make one as a gift. I got my glass block at a craft supply store, it's already got the hole drilled, it's also pretty heavy, I would like mine to come out as pretty as yours. I'm not sure if a ready made one is going to look as good. I was also wondering if I print my image on regular printing paper & applying it to my block with gloss finish modpodge would produce a similar outcome? I guess I just wanted to get your thought on the idea. If I do go that route, should I use the rust-oleum as well?

    Sorry for the novel do a comment. Thanks for your help and the awesome instructable!

    4 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Sounds like an experiment to me. You want to paper with the picture to go translucent, and I am not sure that modpodge will cause that to happen. You really want the light to glow through the picture. So try it, if it works, then post it, even write an up date Instructable about my Instructable. If not, it should remove easy from the glass, so you haven't ruined anything. Good luck.


    Reply 2 years ago

    oh duh, I just saw the last step where you talk about the pre-drilled box >_<

    Sorry about that


    3 years ago

    Hi, what brand did you use for the clear gloss acrylic spray? I'm worried about my project's photo not coming out to be translucent. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Rust-oleum 2 times thick is the stuff I used. I have also used Krylon triple thick and it worked well too. Thanks for asking.


    3 years ago


    Hermosa manualidad, podrian indicarme aqui en Colombia donde puedo conseguir los bloques de cristal?.. muchas gracias, espero cometarios.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Están disponibles aquí en los EE.UU. en las tiendas de suministros para el hogar como Home Depot o en almacenes del arte y de la manía. No tienen idea de donde en la Columbia. Lo siento por eso. Gracias por sus comentarios. Hecho por Goodle Traducir. I don't speak Spanish.


    4 years ago

    Im trying yo do the glass block project. What i want is to glue the picture in the inside of the block. What kind of glue do i use fornit to be clearnafter it drys.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Most white glue or mod podge, will dry clear if it has enough air to dry properly. Thanks for asking.