The light box is a quick and easy project to do that is great a gifts or personal display. The onyl out of reach tool for anyone would be a CNC machine, which i used witha diamonddrag tip to engrave in the glass. This project is requires very basic wood working/ electrical skills and is beautiful too!. I actually made 2, so here it is.
Step 1: Rip Le Wood
Well obviously, you first have to create the frame to put the pieces of glass in. In this project, i used maple at 3/4" thickness for the frame.
First, rip the maple planks into several pieces of 1.5" wide strips. We will be doing a rabbet join frame becaue it is more precise and easier than a miter frame.
Step 2: Cut to Le Length
Second, cut 4 pieces out, 2 at 3 3/8" long and the other 2 pieces at 9 1/4" long.
Step 3: Cut in Le Dado for Le Glass
Third, We need to create slits in the frame for the glass to slide into. Use the tablesaw to cut a dado across all 4 pieces down the center (Center of blade at 3/4" mark of wood) of each piece at a tad bit less than 1/8" deep. The blade is 1/8" wide, so it creates a perfect dado size.
I included the ruler in the pictures as a visual reference in case its hard to understand :)
*Check to see if the glass fits.
Step 4: Cut Le Rabbet Joints
So another simple step, is cutting the rabbet joints at the ends of the top and bottom piece of the ligt box. I resorted to a rabbet, because the first one i did a miter joint, and my miter skills needed some work (either that or the miter saw seemed to be off angle a bit). The rabbet joint will make nice even square joints, although tnot as professional and beautiful as a well-done miter joint.
The rabbet is a 1/4" deep and and 3/4" wide. I used a Radial Arm Saw to make these rabbets, raising it off the table by 1/2" using two 1/4" boards as reference. So 3/4" (thickness of piece) - 1/2" (the two 1/4"boards) results in 1/4" deep cut into the piece.
AFter cutting the rebbets, give the joints a light sanding so smoothen the marks out, and loosely assemble the pieces. Adjust the rabbets ccordingly until the side/vertical piece is flush with the edge of the bottom/top pieces. After you have adjusted them to fit, remove the top piece and insert the glass pane to see if it fits.
Step 5: Creating the Electrical Compartment
Now take whichever piece you designate the bottom, and mark up a box on the bottom of that piece as shown in the picture. It should be 1.5" offsetted inwards from the sides and 1/4" offsetted inwards from the top and bottom. We will be creating a hollow area here for all the LEDs and wiring. We will be carving out 1/2" deep into the piece FROM THE BOTTOM
I first used a forstner bit with a drill press to to hollow out the mojirty, and cleaned it up with a 1/4" upcut router bit.
Next, use a 1/8" drill bit and drill 6 holes from the top side of the piece we just pocketed out. The holes lie in the dado we cut earlier, go all the way through, and should be dispersed evenly across the section where the glass pane will sit. These will be for the LED's
Now get a 3/8" drill bit (or slightly smaller/larger depending on the plug used), and drill throguh the rear of the bottom piece until it clears the material and comes out into the pocketed compartment. This will be for the DC power jack that we will install later.
Step 6: Preliminary Assembly/Gluing
Apply glue to the BOTTOM PIECE RABBETS ONLY! See the picture if not sure.
We are doing this so we can insert the glass in later and what not.
When you are putting this together, you must assemble it completely with the glass pane inside to force it to conform into the right shape adn to make sure the dados are aligned.
After the glue is dry, remove the clamps and remove the top section and the glass pane.
Step 7: The Glass Pane/ Final Physcial Assembly
I took the glass pane and etched it on the CNC machine, using a diamond tipped engraver. I wont be putitn gup toolpathing instructions, but with this particular bit and material, it is imperitive to have the move rate be EXTREMELY slow for it is a meticulous process and is very prone to messing up.
After the glass is etched, Insert it into the frame, apply glue to the top section rabbet, and clamp it in. Remove any excees glue while it is still wet, and once it is dry, sand all the face and edges.
I stained the fram ebony, and although many people say maple doesnt stain well, i particualrtly liked the dark gray grain texture that resulted from it. If any stain gets on the glass pane, use lacquer thinner on a soft cloth and clean the glass pane with it.
This sign was made for Lynch Labs, a mechanical engineering lab in UCLA that i worked with during the summer :)
Step 8: The Electrical Works
Choose 6 LEDs of you choice. I chose 3 blue and 3 white and put them in alternating order. Obviosuly there is plenty of ways to wire this up, but i had a 6v wallwart psu as a spare, so decided to hook it up 2 LEDs in series, 3 of thses sets in parallel, resulting in 6 LEDs operating at approx 3v each.
I measured how far apart the holes for the LEDs were, soldered the pari together,, test if they fit, then soldered on the parallels. Then i hot glue all the diodes in, and wired them to te DC jack. AND WE'RE DONE!!!