Introduction: LED and Copper Lamp
Here’s my modern twist on a candelabrum. Whilst messing about with some small jars and copper piping, I got the idea of making an LED candle.
The flickering LED’s used in the ible’ are quite common now, you can buy small tea lights with the LED’s for very cheap on eBay. You can also just buy the LED’s themselves on eBay which is what I did.
The copper tubing is available in any hardware store. I have created a cheat sheet for you in the parts step so you can print this out and take it with you when you are buying the parts. As anybody who has worked with copper knows, it tends to tarnish very easily and quickly. So instead of polishing the candelabrum I decided to age the copper and give it some patina. I go through the process in step…I also didn’t clean up the solder joins too much as this added to the “wear”.
You are going to need some soldering skills to pull this project off. I used a small blow torch on the copper (easy enough to do) and also a soldering iron for the electronics. You don’t have to be an expert and if you have never soldered copper before, then don’t worry too much as it’s quite easy.
Check out the video to see the candelabrum in action
Step 1: Things to Gather
1. 1 X 1/2" x 1.5m Copper Tube
2. 1 X 3/4" x 1.5m Copper Tube
3. 6 X 15mm 90 Degrees Copper Elbow
4. 4 X 20 x 15mm Reducing Copper Coupling
5. 4 X 15 x 15 x 15mm Copper Tee
6. 1 X 20 x 20 x 15mm Copper Reducing Tee
7. 4 X 15mm Copper End Cap
1. Glass Jar - eBay
2. Thin wire
3. Brass tube (1mm) - eBay You could use stiff brass wire here too. It just needs to be straight, not too thick and able to be soldered onto
4. 2 X Glass fuses - eBay
5. 4 X Fuse Holders - eBay
5. 4 X Flickering LED's (3mm) - eBay
6. 3 X AAA Battery Holders - eBay
7. Toggle switch - eBay
Step 2: Making the Switch Section
The first thing to do is to make the switch section. For this I used a Copper Reducing Tee and soldered a piece of flat copper to the bottom hole of the tee. I was then able to drill a hole into the flat copper and add a toggle switch.
1. Cut a small piece of the copper sheet off. It needs to cover the bottom hole in the Tee.
2. Next add some flux and solder the piece of copper to the Tee
3. Trim the excess copper sheet and use a dremel to round off
4. Use a small file to finish off the edge
5. Find the centre of the piece of copper and drill a hole big enough for the toggle switch to be secured into. Don’t secure it yet though – that’s for later
6. Next cut a coupling from the 1/2 inch copper tube and solder into the top end as shown in the image. This will later be soldered into the neck of the lamp
Step 3: Making the Neck
The most important part of making the neck is to make sure that it is long enough to contain the batteries. You will be using 4 AAA batteries which will fit into the neck of the lamp.
1. Measure the length of an AAA battery holder and times this by 4 to get the length of the neck. You may want to add a few centimetres for wiggle room.
2. Cut the ½ inch copper pipe to length
3. Next cut a coupling from the ½ inch pipe and solder it into a 20mm to 15mm reducer
4. Solder the switch section to the other end of the coupling. This section will later be soldered into the base. The neck slides onto the coupling and will be secured with a screw later in the build. You need to ba able to access this section to change the batteries
Step 4: Making the Base
The first thing you will need to do is to make the coupling sections from the ½ inch tube. These need to be long enough to fit into 2 copper fittings without there being a gap between them.
1. With an angle grinder cut 12 couplings from the ½ tube. Once they are all cut, make sure that you file away any burrs around the cuts.
2. Next join all of the pieces together like in the image below. This will help you to visualise what the base should look like and will make sure that the couplings are the right size.
3. Pull it all apart and start to put it back together again but this time add some flux to the ends of the couplings
4. Heat-up the copper with a blow torch until it is hot enough to melt the solder. Add solder to all of the joints and leave to cool
5. Once cool enough to touch, check that all of the joints are soldered together
Step 5: Making the Top Section
Next part to make is the top section. This is done in the same way as the base. You will also need to make 5 couplings out of the 1/4 inch copper pipe.
1. First you need to put everything together as per the image below.
2. Next pull everything apart and start to assemble again adding flux to the end of the couplings
3. Just follow the images below to see how I assembled the top section.
4. Heat-up the copper and add solder to all of the joins. Let cool and check that the solder has connected the copper parts.
Step 6: Securing the Neck Into the Base
The best way I found to secure the neck into place was to drill a hole into the back and use a die to create a thread and secure with a screw. You could also just slightly bend the coupling so it was more oval shape and this would also do the job.
1. Drill a hole into the neck making sure that it also goes through the coupling.
2. Use a thread die to create a thread in the hole. Obviously the thread needs to be the correct size for the screw that you are using
3. Lastly, put the screw into place to make sure it fits.
Step 7: Adding the Small Glass Jars
Now it’s time to slightly modify the top section of the lamp so you can fit the glass jars into the top. Unfortunately the jar tops are slightly larger than the 20mm copper fittings.
1. Grab a dremel (or a file if you don’t have a dremel) , attached a sanding drum wheel and start to sand the inside of the 20mm coupling
2. Keep on checking to see whether the top of the jar fits into the coupling. If not, continue to remove the copper from the inside until the jar fits tightly.
3. You may want to have your jar top all the way into the coupling. I decided to only have about half as you can see in the images
Step 8: Connecting the Battery Holders
I was unable to find a battery holder that could hold the batteries end to end. I had to work out a way to connect them and initially did this with small screws. This didn’t work very well at all so I came with the below design.
1. Cut off the red wire on one of the battery holders
2. Next, trim the black wire on another so you have about 15mm left and tin the end of the wire.
3. Add a little bit of double sided foam tape to the end of the battery holder (the one that had the red wire). Attach the end of the other battery holder (the one that you trimmed the black wire on
4. There should be a hole in the bottom of the battery holder, thread the black wire through this so the tinned end is touching the positive mount in the battery
5. Solder the black wire to the positive mount.
6. Do the same for the rest of the battery holders
NOTE: I only used 3 AAA battery holders in the end (total of 4.5v) as 6 volts was too much for the little LED's
Step 9: Threading Wire Into the Lamp and Adding the Switch
So now comes the wiring! I must admit, it took me awhile to work out how the hell I was going to thread the wires through the top and neck of the lamp. I tried everything from magnets to trying to force it through but nothing worked until I made a hook out of some wire. I also used quite thin wire as wire can take up a fair bit of room in any project. Plus I had to get the battery pack inside the neck and I didn’t want to block the hole with wire
1. You need to first thread the wire through the holes in the top of the lamp. Bend the wire slightly and thread it through one of the holes in the top. Also, make sure you use a good length of wire.
2. Next, I grabbed some long needle nosed pliers and used these to thread the wire through the head of the lamp and out the other hole. You need to do this twice
3. Next make a wire hook. I used some wire I had around but coat hanger wire would work perfectly. Make a small hook at one end and push it through the neck of the lamp. Pull the wire up and down until you grab hold of the wire/s. Once you have them (it only took me a couple shots) then carefully pull through the neck so they come out the end.
4. Next, you have to solder one of the wires onto one of the switches solder points. Also add another long wire to the other solder point onto the switch.
5. Solder the wire from the switch to the red wire on the battery pack and the other wire you threaded through the neck to the black one.
6. Screw the switch into place and add some hot glue to the inside so the wires don’t come away.
7. Carefully push the battery pack into the neck of the lamp. Make sure that the wires don’t get in the way.
8. Lastly, you need to thread 2 lengths of wire through the tops of the lamps. These will be used to connect the positives and negatives up on each of the LED's. Again, just use a pair of needle nose pliers and thread them through the holes on top of the lamp.
Step 10: LED's - Using Fuses for Diffusion
I decided to put the LED’s inside a couple of fuses. That way I could defuse the light from the LED’s by frosting fuse glass. It does make things a little more difficult but I think it give a great finish. If you want though, you could just put the LED’s into the jars and skip the next couple steps.
1. First you need to remove the caps from the end of the fuses. To do this heat-up the cap with a lighter or small blow torch and use a pair of pliers to pull of the cap. Do this for both caps
2. Next thing to do is to frost the glass. I did this by sanding the glass. Start with a grit of 280 and move down to a grit of 600 to remove any large scratches.
3. Keep on sanding until the glass is completely frosted.
Step 11: LED's - Soldering the LED's Together
I went with adding 2 LED’s to the inside of each fuse. You could just add one to each fuse if you wanted to but I thought 2 would give a little more light. There isn’t much room inside the fuse so you need to be very careful on how you solder the LED’s together. 2 legs will be soldered together and the other 2 will be soldered to the caps on the fuse. Adding 2 can be quite hard and I broke a few fuses before I managed to get this to work.
1. When soldering the LED legs together, you need to solder either the 2 positive or 2 negative legs together. You can’t solder a positive and negative together as an LED has polarity and only 1 will turn on. So the first step is to bend the negative leg on one of the LED’s 180 degrees so it is facing straight up
2. Next you need to bend the positive leg on another LED so it is bent straight up like the other negative leg.
3. You now need to solder the bent negative leg onto another LED negative leg. Do this carefully and only add the minimal amount of solder needed
4. Do the same for the positive leg. This leg may cause you trouble when you go to add the LED’s into the fuse. I bent the leg around the back of the LED (see images) and this seemed to help
Step 12: LED's - Adding the LED's to the Inside of the Fuse
Here comes the fun bit! You now need to push the LED’s into the fuse. Now with some luck you may be able to push the LED’s into the fuse and they will fit fine. However, if they don’t you’ll need to modify the LED legs slightly to enable them to fit inside the fuse. Also, I chipped the bottom of the glass fuse on one of them but it didn’t matter as the cap hid the chip.
1. Try pushing the LED’s into the glass fuse. If it gets stuck at a point and won’t go any further, you will need to pull them out and see if you can modify the LED’s so they will fit.
2. You can use a small file and file the section that is getting stuck to reduce the mass. I did this to one of them and removed some of the material away from the leg of the LED.
3. You can also remove sections of the small “rim” around the bottom of the LED which should help with reducing the size. Again, just use a file to do this
4. Once you have the LED’s inside the fuse, test to make sure that the LED’s light up. If they do, you are ready to solder on the caps
5. Trim the LED legs sticking out of the fuse and add some solder to the ends.
6. Place a cap onto the end and heat-up with a soldering iron. Do the same for the other end
7. Test to make sure that the LED’s light up.
8. Do the same for the other fuse
Step 13: LED's - Making Holders for the Fuses
Now that you have your diffuses, you now need to have the ability to attach a couple of arms to the tops of the fuses. These will be connected to the LED wires from inside the fuse and will allow power to travel into the LED’s.
1. To make te arms I used some very small copper tubing. You could just use copper or brass wire however. It needs to be strong enough to hold up the fuse so make sure it isn’t too thin. If you use copper tubing, the fiurst thing you need to do is to squash one end with a pair of pliers. This will make it easier to solder onto the fuse holders
2. Next add some flux and solder to the squashed end, heat-up and melt the solder.
3. Add the fuse holder onto the end of the copper wire/tube and heat-up until the solder sticks to the fuse holder.
4. Make 3 more of these, 4 in total.
Step 14: LED's - Attaching the Holders
Now that you have the LED’s inside the fuses, it’s time to attach them to the brass holders.
1. Push the top of the fuse into the fuse holder which is attached to the brass tube
2. Do the same for the bottom part of the fuse.
3. You will notice that the brass tube from the top section is probably close, or is touching the bottom section of the fuse. You can’t have this as it will short the LED’s. To stop this from happening, add a little piece of heat-shrink to the brass tube where it touches the bottom of the fuse.
4. Do the same to the other fuse.
5. Next, to secure the LED inside the glass tube, you need to use the cork that came with the glass vials. Carefully drill a couple of small holes into the top of the cork and thread the brass legs through the holes.
5. Test by attaching 3v’s to either end of the brass tubes. The LED’s should come on and flash. Take note of the polarities of each brass tube as this will become important when wiring them up to the lamp
Step 15: LED's - Wiring
Wiring is up next. This wasn’t as tricky as I thought it would be. Out of the holes from the top of the lamp, there will be 3 wires, 2 of these will be wires that you threaded through the 2 holes in the top of the lamp, and one will be either positive or negative. Make sure you know exactly which one is which as this will become important later. I just used an LED to test the polarities of the wire.
1. First make sure that you know the polarities on the brass arms which are connected to the fuse.
2. Next, add some solder to the ends of the arms
3. Now, you will need to solder together the positive wire from the top of the lamp to one of the other wires. As this can be a little confusing, I have added a schematic which should make it clearer. The reason why you do this is so you can connect the positive wire to the brass arms on both LED’s.
4. Do the same for the negative wires
5. Add some heat-shrink and solder the brass legs from the LED’s to the wires. Do this for both and then test to make sure it works. If it doesn’t, check the polarity and try again.
Step 16: Adding the Glass Jars
Finally - the lasts step! Now it's time to add the glass jars to the LED's/Fuses and complete the project
1. Push the cork into the bottom of the glass jar. Make sure that the fuse is straight inside the jar.
2. Push the bottom of the jar into the brass coupling. If necessary, add some glue. I was able to jam the glass jar into the coupling so it was secure. This is the best option as you can get to the fuse if necessary and fix anything inside the glass jar.
3. Flick on the switch and watch the LED's come to life.
Step 17: Done!
So that's it. I decided not to polish the copper as I liked the patina look of the copper. Plus some of my soldering wasn't great so keeping it rustic helps to blend in any soldering that has bleed. I'm really happy with the finished result. Even though it was a challenge in parts i.e adding the LEDs to the fuses was an interesting challenge.
If you do make one or use this 'ible as inspiration, then I'd love to see what you come up with.