Introduction: Make an LED Acrylic Sign
I made this LED Acrylic Sign for my neighbor, who is the owner of "Rob's Wood Shop - Daycare for Adults". Check out my video and follow these instructions to make one yourself!
Step 1: Design a Logo and Carve It Into the Acrylic.
I designed the logo in Photoshop, then imported it into the free Inventables Easel application. I flipped it horizontally to reverse the logo, so that I could carve it into the back of the sign. I used a Shapeoko2 CNC machine to carve the logo about .01" deep.
Note: If you do not have a CNC machine, you could try to scratch your logo into the acrylic by hand using a rotary tool. This would require a steady hand and bravery! Or, just search YouTube for Shapeoko2 or X-Carve to find lots of people who could carve the sign for you.
Caution! Acrylic scratches really easy so handle it carefully. Any scratches will show up in the sign and they are hard to remove.
Step 2: Buy an LED Light Strip Kit
Search eBay or Amazon for an LED Light Strip Kit with self stick backing. Make sure to get an RGB kit with a remote control for maximum fun. They cost about $15. You can find them here on Amazon LED Light Kit or on eBay LED Light Kit. It helps if you have the light strip first, so that you can make some measurements for building the sign base.
Step 3: Make a Base for the LED Light Strip.
I cut a 3" wide strip of maple that is about 3" longer than the sign width. I used the X-Carve to route a groove in the center of the sign that is about .5" less than the width of the sign. The LED strip will need to fit in this groove so make it a tad wider than the light strip.
Since the groove is shorter than the sign, the bottom corners of the sign will rest on about .25" of wood on each side with the LEDs recessed underneath.
Drill a partial hole in one end of the groove, then drill a hole from the rear of the base to meet up with the first hole. This is for the electrical wire, so make sure the hole is wide enough to feed the LED strip through it.
Step 4: Add a Frame to the Base to Hold the Sign.
I cut two strips of 3/4" walnut that are the same length as the width of the sign. I glued these onto the base on each side of the groove so they are centered on the board. Squeeze the sign in between them so they are glued at the correct width. The groove in the bottom board should be centered under the sign. Cut two small decorative end pieces and glue them on to complete the frame.
Note: There is no good way to clamp the frame into place, so you may need to just hold them for about 15 minutes until the glue sets up. (It helps to have a cold drink with a straw nearby while you are a human clamp.)
Step 5: Add the LED Light Strip.
Cut the LED light strip in the correct spot according to the manufacturer's suggestion. Feed the strip through the hole and remove the protective backing from the self-stick strip. Press the light strip into the groove so that it is centered and stuck down firmly. The plug should be sticking out of the rear of the base.
Step 6: Plug in the Remote Receiver and the Power Adapter.
Plug the remote control receiver box into the light strip. Connect the power adapter and use the remote control to turn it on. If all goes well, you will have a really cool light up sign!
Tip! Make sure the bottom edge of the acrylic is smooth and clear so that the LED light can shine through nicely. I used micromesh sanding pads to sand it up to 12,000 grit and polished the edge. Sanding the other three edges with 80 grit sandpaper can give them a frosted look, which will make the sides light up too.
Thanks for checking out my Instructable. Please visit my website at The Carmichael Workshop for more fun projects.