Light-Up Bar Table!




About: I want to build everything

Using scrap wood, plexiglass, and other small pieces, make tables which glow!

Step 1: Design

The table top perimeter itself is 7 inches thick. The inside is hollow to allow room for a light fixture and then some for light dispersion. The table top perimeter consists of two 2x4's sandwiching a strip of 1/4" plexiglass. They are just glued together with a some kind of clear industrial glue. The plexiglass strip surfaces are sanded to let the glue better adhere to it.

The actual top consists of two layers of 1/4" plexiglass with a piece of white cloth sandwiched between them. This is done to make the tops opaque and scatter the light better, this way it looks like the top is glowing.

The legs are simple lengths of 2x6's

The triangle sections between the 2x6's and the underside of the table top are just 45 degree cuts out of pieces of 2x6's.

Below is the general design.

Step 2: The Plexiglass

I made these last semester and signed up for this website last week, so i didn't think to take pictures of the construction. Sorry.

But if I remember correctly, I think all the plexiglass came from one 4'x6' sheet 1/4" thick. Or maybe it was a little longer. Anyway, the sheet was laid out, measured, and blue masking tape was laid down where ever I needed to make a cut, and the actual line to cut on was marked with a sharpie. The sharpie was good because the thickness of the marker was comparable to the thickness of the saw blade which was going to cut it.

The sheet was laid out on several rows of 2x4's to support it up a few inches to allow room for a circular saw to cut without cutting the table beneath it.

To make a straight cut, something rigid and straight was laid out parallel to the line to be cut, a few inches away to line up the edge of the circular saw with the actual blade. That rigid piece was then clamped to the plexiglass. This would be the guide for the circular saw.

Do no try to do this on a stationary table saw, trying to move the plexiglass, that is a bad idea.

I used just a regular wood saw blade, or maybe it was an all-purpose blade. The most important part of the blade for cutting plexi is a blade which is not warped at all. Give your hand-held circular saw a squeeze on the trigger while staring down the blade, edge-on, and look for any wabble. This indicates a warped blade, which will probably crack your plexiglass.

If you use a jig saw, put it on the slowest setting, because the heat of friction between the blade and the plexi will actually melt the plexi and it will rejoin behind the blade as you advance, then you discover you've accomplished nothing. If this happens, let it cool down for a few minutes, then run back through it again, GOING SLOW.

I had success using the circular saw, the plexi never cracked.

Step 3: Wood!

First, 2x4's were checked to ensure they were straight, and not warped or bent.

-With enough straight 2x4's, they were cut to proper lengths. Not at 45 degree angle yet.

-To start building the walls of the table top, set a 2x4 (which the cross-sectional dimensions are really somewhere around 1-1/2" by 3-3/8") upright, and lay bead of glue down the 1-1/2 top surface. Then take a strip of the sanded plexi and lay it on the bead. Then apply a bead of glue onto the top of the that piece of plexi and then lay another 2x4 on top of that. It is good to do several of these at once and group them close together, but not touching!, so you can put a board on top which covers all of them, so you can add lots of weight on it to squish out the extra glue. This is when you thank yourself you using straight pieces of 2x4 because if one wasn't, it would unevenly distribute the weight, slip, and glue out of alignment.

-With these sections all dry, now you can lay them out on a table with the ends hanging over the side. This gives your circular saw blade room to cut the 45 degree angle now. Another rigid guide was clamped down over the pieces so I could cut 45's on each side in one sweep.

-Cut 45's in the other ends

Line them up as if they were bolted together to form a rectangle and measure the diagonals to make sure you have a close to perfect rectangle.

Also, strips of wood were screwed into the inside perimeter of the walls about a half inch from the top, these edges are going to support the two layers of plexiglass.

-Wood filler was used to help make the joint between the plexi strip and two plywood pieces flush.

Step 4: Construction

The walls of the table top were connected using 90 degree brackets. Refer to picture.

-Using a builders square, lay out 2 wall pieces to join together so that they are perpendicular. Take a bracket and lay it up against where you think it should screw into the two sections. Use a sharpie to make dots where the screws are going to go, then drill a small pilot hole for the screws that are going to hold the bracket to the wood. Then screw in the the brackets. Do not screw them in tight though, just semi snug, kinda loose.

-repeat the above step for the remaining sections. With all the screws in the brackets kind of loosely snug, measure the diagonals again to make sure you have a perfect rectangle. Once the walls are aligned, tighten each screw a little bit, not the entire way. Its like you're changing a tire, you tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern and you tighten each one a little bit at a time. This ensures you get the tire on squarely ( squarely = word?). This is the same concept with the table sections. If you tighten a few screws all the way at one edge, it would throw off the diagonal measurements off.

Step 5: Legs

The legs are simple lengths of 2x6 (which again, is roughly 1-1/2" by 5 -1/2")

Sorry for the shabby picture.

To obtain the triangular sections connected to the top of each leg, cut a square out of a 2x6, so a piece 5.5" by 5.5", then cut the diagonal. They were screwed to the top of the legs through the main legs, just using 2 long wood screws (remember to drill pilot holes!) Also, smaller brackets are used as well to help support them and ensure that the triangular sections would maintain perpendicular-ity (<- word? I don't think so)

Sand all the edges because there are going to be splinters everywhere!

As seen in a picture in the previous step, the legs attach to the underside of the table by lining up with steel dowels (I work in a machine shop, so we have more steel than anything else).

Tape over the exposed edge of the plexiglass strip on the outer perimeter. Take an exacto knife and cut away excess tape so it does not cover the wood because we are going to paint the wood, and do not want the clear plexiglass to be painted over. This step takes some patience.

Step 6: Painted

i sprayed some left over black spray paint just to use it up and maybe have enough to cover everything so i don't need several layers of paint later.

I painted all the wood using Kona Brown, its like a really dark purplish brown, so its almost black. It takes a few coats.

Once its dry, take that exacto knife and re-cut the edges around the tape, if you don't then you might pull up extra paint or it could tear the paint off leaving a noticeably rough edge.

One side of the plexiglass for each table top was spray painted with a frosting effect spray paint, this helps to scatter the light more and make the glowing more even spread.

Step 7: Light Fixture

A random piece of 1/4" thick masonite was cut out so that it would fit the bottom inside of the table top. It was spray painted chrome-ish to help reflect some of the light. to the surface, but since the it was a wood surface, it did not turn out that shiny.

The light is just a 2 foot fluorescent bulb. It uses the old school set-up with a separate ballast and switching mechanism.

Also, an outlet was added so that you things sitting on the table top can plug into the table instead of having a long wire going across the room to a wall socket. This also allows one table to plug into another, making it easier to power both.

Step 8: PLUG IT IN!


Step 9: The Next Instructable to Come.

Check out my "Stainless Steel Jigger/Pony Shot Glass"

the next instructable will be two lights made out of old blind material, scrap fabric, and cyclone fencing.



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    15 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the instructable, led me to make my own blacklight shot bar, which, for cost, was around 85 dollars,
    Great idea

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    A black-light table you say? What a great idea! Wow, I never thought about switching those fluorescents for blacklight bulbs. Great work. Do you have photos? I would love to see what that looks like.  Speaking of tables, I have spent the last 8 months learning electronics and programming to take this project one step further and make a table which lights up in the area that a hand might get close to it, a sort of interactive table. I have posted a couple of youtube videos of development progress, here is a link if you are interested.

    Good question. The majority of the raw materials (wood, plexiglass, even screws) were salvaged from another project. I don't even think I can give you an estimate as I did this almost 2 years ago. Although the most costly aspects would be the lighting circuitry and the plexiglass. So it would probably be safe to take the averaged cost of the lighting stuff plus the plexiglass then multiplied by 2 for the total. Just a note: The hardest part of construction is, by far, the strip of plexiglass between the 2x4's.


    9 years ago on Step 7

    Could you add a wiring schematic, please?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    awesome! i built a very similar bar when i was in college... i used an old string of christmas lights under frosted plastic. it was cheap and if you hit the switch, the lights would flash!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    AWESOME!!. I've had a 2' x 8' piece of 1/2 thick glass I've wanted to turn into a "floating" lighted bar top. Now I just need to plan out the "how-to's" Yours is a masterpiece though. Great Job!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Re: cutting plexi/acrylic - what one generally wants is a balance between chip removal and melting. I feel that blades with higher tooth counts make a better cut. I think instead of "slow" the emphasis should be on a smooth, consistent motion through the material. I like the use of a florescent fixture. Definitely more cost effective than ropelight or leds.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    its just that I cut thicker plexiglass with a jigsaw and the blade was the fine tooth for cutting metal, and the friction between the blade and plastic caused it to melt and rejoin behind the blade as I advanced. We had to dial down the cutting speed of the jigsaw to minimize the heat generated, then it worked. Maybe if our blade made wider cuts, like if it was a wood cutting blade attachment, (like the teeth of the blade longer and are bent out a little more) and that would have minimized the amount of plastic actually touching the sides of the blade, preventing it from melting.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Mask off the region close to the edge, and use oil to reduce friction while sawing. Vaseline works well, and also fills the irregularities, giving you a cleaner looking edge.

    Mr. Rig It

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I love giving great instructables pluses + so I am giving you one right now! This is very cool! Plus well made with good instructions.