Nobody likes using halogen work lights. They consume too much power and get so hot that every time you move them you scald your hand. Although LED work lights are readily available at almost all of the big-box home improvement stores, they're just too plain expensive. So in an effort to save money (and have some fun at the same time) I decided to build my own.
Step 1: The Base
Although I had considered making the base out of wood, I felt that PVC was a better option since it is lightweight yet sturdy.
(4) 3/4" 90 degree PVC elbows
(2) 3/4" PVC tees
(2) 3/4" PVC caps (not pictured)
About 4 feet of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe
(4) 3" pieces
(2) 7 1/2" pieces
(2) 8" pieces
Two of the sides of the base are made up of the 7 1/2" pieces, and the other two sides are made of a tee and two 3" pieces. Connect it all together using the 90 degree tees. I just tapped it all together with a mallet. Make sure you face the tees upright as shown in the third photo.
The upright pieces are the 8" pieces. Both of these need to have holes drilled in them, as these are what the light mounts to. Drill the holes 2" in from the one end of the pipe. Since I am using 1/4" bolts, I used a 1/4" drill bit. Drill through both sides of the pipe so that the bolt can pass all the way through.
Once you've drilled the holes, you can put the pieces into the tees. Make sure that the holes are at the top and that they face each other. See photo 6. Then, put the 2 caps on the open ends of the pipe.
NOTE: I did not glue any of the pipe together as I felt that pounding the pipe into the fittings was sturdy enough. However, if you want to glue the pipe together, feel free to do so.
Step 2: The Switch Box
The switch box holds the switch (duh) that turns all of the lights on and off. Although wiring all of the lights together on one switch is unnecessary, I felt that it would make using the light easier.
(2) 1 x 2 x 5 1/2", (outside dimensions) cut on a 45 degree angle
(2) 1 x 2 x 3", (outside dimensions) cut on a 45 degree angle
Scrap sheet metal, I used a piece from an old project box
(1) toggle switch
(4) #4 x 5/8 wood screws
1 1/4" brad nails
Start out by arranging the 4 wood pieces as shown in photo 1. Then, using painters tape, (masking tape would do) tape the pieces together. I've found that this is easier than using clamps, because you can nail right through the tape.
Then, using the 1 1/4" brad nails, nail the box together. I used 4 nails in each corner. Then, peel the painters tape off. Now you can putty the nail holes with wood putty. Then sand the whole thing down.
Now, print 2 copies of the template. You will need to cut out the center of the template, around the dotted lines. Then attach it with tape to one side of the box. Of the 6 holes on the template, 2 of them will fall on the actual wood. The other 4 fall in the open area in the middle. The two on the wood are the ones you need to mark. Use an awl to mark it. Then remove the template.
Using a drill press, carefully drill 1/4 holes on the 2 locations you marked. Don't worry if it seems too close to the edge. It supposed to be. It should look like photo 5 when you're done.
Next, you need to drill a hole in the center of the sheet metal piece. My switch required a 1/2" hole, but yours may be different. I would suggest starting with a small hole and slowly working your way up to the desired size. Now you can screw the metal piece to the top of the wood. I used #4 x 5/8" screws, but that's just what I had laying around.
Once you've made sure the metal piece fits nice, take if off, as you need to attach the switch box to the light panel later.
Step 3: The Light Panel
(1) 1x8x 10"
(2) small "L" brackets and corresponding screws
The switch box you just made in step 2
Remember how I told you to print two copies of the template? This is where you need the other copy.
Take the template and cut around the whole thing on the solid line. Then, tape it down to your piece of wood.
Using an awl, mark all of the small holes. There are 15 total. the lights will mount through these holes. Then mark the big hole in the center. You'll also want to mark the rounded corners and the handle cut out. Once you've marked everything, remove the template.
Using a drill press, drill all of the small holes. Use a 3/32" drill bit. Then, on one side of the panel, drill countersink holes. I used a 1/4" countersink bit. Then use a 1/4" drill bit to drill out the big hole in the middle.
Now, using a jigsaw, (or a scroll saw if you prefer) cut out the handle and round off the 4 corners. Give them all a quick sand when you're done.
Then attach the 2 L brackets halfway down the panel. See photo 6.
The last thing to do is attach the switch box to the light panel. This proved to be a little tricky. Make sure that the 2 holes that go through the switch box line up with the 2 corresponding holes in the light panel. Then, using a couple 2" nails, nail the switch box to the light panel.
Step 4: Modifying the Lights
(5) 27 LED portable work light/flashlight, such as these:
About 5 feet of electrical wire, mine was garage door sensor wire
The first thing you need to do is to take the lights apart. Take the battery cover off first, it should be attached with 3 screws. Then, remove the 4 screws that hold the rest of the light together. The light should come apart now. See photo 1. These particular lights have 3 LEDs on the bottom. Since these aren't going to be used in the worklight, I removed them to save them for another project.
Next, feed a piece of wire up through the hole (to be specific, it is really 2 wires) where the 3 LEDs were located. Solder one wire to each side of the switch on the circuit board. See photos 2 and 3.
To make sure no dust would get inside the lights, I taped the opening over with painters tape, and then filled it in with hot glue. Once the glue was cool, I peeled the tape off. See photos 4 and 5.
Now that the lights are done, DO NOT reassemble them. Since the blue covers are going to be painted black, we will reassemble the lights after we paint them.
Step 5: Painting
Painting was easy. I just hung everything in my paint booth, and spray painted it with Rustoleum Painter's Touch flat black.
Step 6: Wiring and Assembly
(15) #8 X 1 1/4" screws
(2) 1/4" bolts, 1 1/2" long
(2) 1/4" lock nuts
To assemble the work light, first reassemble the LED lights. However, do not attach the battery covers. Then, attach the 5 lights to the light panel using the #8 X 1 1/4" screws. The screws will attach to the lights through the battery cover holes. As you attach them, be sure to feed the wires through the hole in the center of the panel. Once all the lights are attached, connect the switch to the wires. All of the white wires go on one side of the switch, and all of the black wires go on the other. See photo 3. Then mount the switch on the metal panel, and screw the metal panel to the switch box. See photos 4 and 5.
Using the bolts, attach the completed light panel to the base. If needed, use the washers as spacers between the pipe and the L brackets. then secure the bolts with the lock nuts. Tighten them so that the light panel can still be adjusted.
Step 7: Finished at Last!
"The snap of a few sparks, a quick whiff of ozone, and the lamp blazed forth in unparalleled glory. Look at that! Will you look at that?!"
Ooo and Ahh at your hard work. Your work light is completed.