Minimalist LED Reading/Desk Lamp




Introduction: Minimalist LED Reading/Desk Lamp

I created this lamp from scratch as part of my industrial design class. This lamp was created around the sleek aluminum arms, the plastic lamp shade and wooden base mimicking the smooth, low impact arms; an almost aerodynamic aesthetic. It is designed to be used over a desk, tall enough to avoid interference, instead shining from above, while the arms and base blending in through the slender and minimalist design. It has a two sectioned articulated arm, a horizontally rotating head, and a smooth wooden base.

I will not lie, it was very difficult to make and time consuming, but hopefully this can make it easier for you and inspire you to make things. The main challenge is the articulating joints, along with the sheet aluminum covering for the arms. Overall, I have used it more often than any other lamp in my house because it is designed to be great for overhead lighting for reading and working, without it interfering with your view/workspace.

Step 1: Arms

This is by far the most challenging step of all. Being my major design constraint and idea, I took to using aluminum sheeting to give a smooth, rounded look. To do this, you need laser cut pieces.

Materials for the arms:

3x 1x1 wooden spars, 14.5", 1.25", and 15.5" long each (this will be the structure)

8x rounded oval ribs, which aluminum is wrapped over (it has two slots on each end to fit in the aluminum, a notch for the wires, and a hole to fit over the 1x1 wooden spar)

4x nuts and bolts and many washers, preferably on the smaller side

Cut Female and male joints on each end of the spars, leaving one side of the shortest, and medium length spar straight. Drill holes for your bolts at each end, the shortest being vertical at the end.

Slide the ribs over the spars(along with the electrical wire), and bend the aluminum at the lengths of one side of the ribs, leaving a small 0.25" lip on each side of the aluminum sheeting to slip into the slots of the ribs. This can be very difficult, so be sure to take your time and not bend the edges too much(will cause the aluminum to crack if folded completely; leave a slight rounded section)

I ended up with the slots in the ribs being to large and not deep enough, and thus the aluminum would slide out because of its rebound towards a flat shape(springiness). I gave in to aluminum tape, but if I had more time, I'm sure this would've worked.

Step 2: Head

This is the fun part. I used 3D modeling to create a sleek lampshade, which is based on the USAF X-51 waverider. It took me 4 tries and 13 hours to print, and required a bit of luck and drilling when attaching to my arms, but it turned out fantastic especially with the lucky printing pattern you see. It is attached to the arms via a nut and bolt, and can rotate ~45 degrees each way. (this can be improved if you make a bigger back end slot to articulate on.)

Step 3: Base

The Base was made from 5 pieces of plywood scraps. Cutting a stencil for the side pieces was first, and I did this by eye, following the rough slope of the lampshade. Then gluing to two top pieces down, I added a lot of sanding to that to complete the smooth look. Cut a hole for the articulating joint for the arm, and a whole for the arm spar at the top of the back end.


I am not going to explain this(I'm really not qualified, except while sheathing you arms make sure to run wiring through too. Use a candle shaped small bulb.)

Step 4: Wiring

I am not going to explain this('m really not qualified, except while sheathing you arms make sure to run wiring through too. Use a candle shaped small bulb.

Step 5: Putting It Together to Enjoy!

Now, run a bolt and throught the base to secure your arms to it, and do the same with the hole drilled in the lampshade. Add in the LED light and flip the switch! Congrats, You're done!

Some tips and tricks from doing this project:

I found the hardest thing was the friction joints of the arms. To this day, they sometimes come crashing down. I recommend using washers to spread out the surface area, so when tightening the nuts don't eat away the wood.

Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Participated in the
Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

LED Contest

Participated in the
LED Contest

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    2 Discussions


    3 years ago

    The articulating arm joints are always the weakest point in an extended arm design, that's why you see extension springs side- mounted in a lot of those to minimise the collapsing forces.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Yeah, it was in my original design to use such a joint, but I never got to it. I think if I had added in a few more washers, we would have been fine, because every time ti tighten the joints, it holds well until i start moving it again, and the nut digs away the wood, lossening it.