I came across a product called LED flame bulb. While wandering aimlessly around the internet, and thought this could make a beautiful medieval torch that is flame safe and be carried around even in a LARP.
This tutorial is fairly simple and take into consideration that you probably have the adequate tools.
I worked with a mill and lathe but those aren't a must, you can get around with a hand chisel and a drill just as well.
The author of this tutorial doesn't take any responsibility and cannot be held accountable to any damages to a person or equipment of a person who follows this tutorial.
Now that's out of the way we can begin :)
Step 1: Supplies
1. Flame LED bulb.
You can get it online as I did or in a store (there weren't any in the nearby stores).
Their price range is between 6-20 USD. I got mine for 8.
When you order one be sure to remember two main things: 1. Order one with your own country light bulb screw (for example mine was E27). 2. Get a high voltage AC operated one in my case 220V ( we will get to why this is important in the next step).
2. A light bulb socket. You can get this in any local hardware store for about 2 USD.
3. A three AAA batteries case. Mine was round shape, and I find it preferable considering I was going to embed it in the torch handle.
4. Optional- a sledgehammer handle. I got one at a local hardware store for 5 USD. But my advice is to walk around the neighborhood and see if you can find an appropriate stick. It will look more authentic and probably better than what I did.
Step 2: Opening the Bulb and Rearranging the Wires.
For this part you will need a soldering iron, a couple of flat screw driver and of course soldering tin and a few wires. Highly recommend to have a shrink as well (makes everything look more professional).
The plastic casing of the bulb is ultrasonic welded to its base. You need to pry it open gently yet firmly using two screwdrivers. Take care not to damage the electronics inside. Now that it's open you will see a cylinder with all the LEDs on it that is glued to the base. Again gently yet firmly detach it from the base.
Now what you got is a cylinder with all the LEDs on it connected with two wires to a PCB circuit that in turn connected to the screw of the bulb. Now we get to why it was important to get a high AC V bulb. LED is a low voltage DC component, so the PCB that is connected to the cylinder is most likely (as was in my case) a power converter from a high voltage AC to a low voltage DC. Now check which of the wires that goes from the PCB to the cylinder are a (+) and (-). Test it by connecting 4.5v DC (three AAA batteries). If all goes well it should look like in the video.
Now desolder the converter PCB from the power wires both input and output, and connect the power wires directly to those of the cylinder.(be sure to insulate the connections after soldering).
When you're done, return the cylinder to its place and close the lid.
That was halfway of the build. From now on it's mainly cosmetics and how to hide the electronics in the handle.
Step 3: Drilling the Handle
As simple as it sounds. Take an 8 mm drill bit and drill through the top. This will become the channel for the wires to pass through.
Step 4: Making a Place for the Bulb Socket.
Here is where things got a bit complicated for me. Because I got a sledgehammer handle without checking that it could fit inside it the bulb socket, I ended up with a handle that is smaller than what I need. So to solve that I got an extra piece of wood I had lying around, cut it to the desired dimensions, in my case I needed to fit a 38 mm diameter hole in it so I took and extra 10 mm from each side.
I didn't have a drill that size, so after drilling with the biggest drill I had, I put the block on a lathe and widened the hole until the socket could fit in it.
Again, you can do it with a simple drill. And probably it will be better if it’s a one piece handle
Step 5: Milling a Place for the Battery Case
I used a mill to make a groove for the battery casing. Be sure to make it a bit deeper than the size of the battery casing to enable you to make a wooden lid that will close nice and snugly over the casing.
Also don't forget to leave enough space in the groove for the wiring as well.
Step 6: Placing the Switch
Drill a 3 mm hole from the side of the handle to the top of the groove. This will become a channel for the wires for the switch, and will be a good guide for a higher diameter drill.
I used a mill to make a groove exactly the size of the switch, but a bit deeper to compensate for the space the hot glue will hold in it.
Step 7: Connecting the Header Block to the Handle.
If you are using a one piece of wood for the entire project feel free to skip this and the next step.
Now it's time to glue the piece of wood I had drilled to house the bulb socket to the top of the handle. Be sure to center it correctly so the wires will go easily to the previously drilled channel. You can also glue at this point the socket to the wood. A bit of hot glue should suffice.
I used a 5 minutes epoxy glue for the wood and let it harden and dry for about two hours before continuing to the next step.
Step 8: Shaping the Head Piece
Now that everything is glued together, shape the header with a file and sand paper so it will look like an extension of the handle. Be sure to take extra care not to damage the bulb socket.
Step 9: Figuring Out the Socket Wiring
Use a multi-meter to check which wire of the socket is connected to which contact, mark them appropriately with a (+) and a (-) that will fit the previous wiring of the flame light bulb.
If you don't have a multi-meter you can just open the socket and look how the wires are connected.
Also at this point I decided that the wires of the socket are too thick to use comfortably so I changed them to thinner wires.
Step 10: Connecting All the Electronics
A bit of soldering is all that is needed for this step.
Solder the (-) wire of the bulb socket to the (-) end of the battery case. Solder the (+) wire from the socket to one contact of the switch, and connect the (+) wire from the battery casing to the other contact of the switch.
Now is the time to check the circuit is working as it should. Afterwards it will be harder to make changes.
Step 11: Making a Lid and Attaching the Switch.
Make a wooden lid that will fit tightly in the battery casing over the battery case. Preferably from a piece of wood of the same type of the handle. It will look more authentic that way. Also use a bit of hot glue to stick the switch in the groove you made previously for it.
Step 12: Making Metal Bands
I used a piece of 0.5 mm thick steel I had lying around to make the steel bands, and close them with a spot welder.
Remember to make them a bit conical so they'll fit tightly over the wood while holding the lid in place without falling down.
A side note: the spot welder I used is one I made from an old microwave transistor. It's a great afternoon project and I highly recommend you to make one if you find the time.
In case you don't own a spot welder, you can close the metal band with a rivet. My advice will be to use a hammered rivet, because it is simple to use and will look more authentic that way.
Step 13: Final Touches
It's time to screw the light bulb and make everything look awesome.
Get an old shirt, preferably white so it will diffuse the light well without absorbing too much of it.
Cut a long strip of it, somewhere in between 1 to 2 meters, about an inch wide (yes, I know. This is the only time I use silly units in this tutorial). Wrap it around a small part of the wooden handle and the bulb itself. Do not wrap it too many times around the bulb or else the light wouldn't be bright enough.
After you finish wrapping, get some twine, tie it to the base of the wrapping, wrap it around tightly but not too strong around the wrapping and finish it with a knot to the base of the wrapping.
Congratulations you are now the proud owner of a LED medieval looking torch. Enjoy :)