Picture Frame Desk Lamp




About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

If you can make a picture frame, you can make this!

Mitered maple frame accented with walnut keys and LED strip lighting with remote control. Sure it's a little modern, but you can change it easily to suit your needs.

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Step 1: Design

Sit down with yourself and come up with a design you like. Argue if you must...

Step 2: Milling Stock

The material I started with was a 4/4 piece of maple that was 52 inches in length. I ripped it on the table saw down to 3inches wide.

Step 3:

After ripping the board to width, you simply need to cut the 45* angles. There are may tools in the workshop to accomplish this but I'm comfortable making these cuts on the table saw, with my 45* sled.

Besides the angle of the miter, the only other crucial part of this joint is the length of the stock.

Obviously a square requires 4 equal sides, but honestly as long as the 2 opposite sides are equal the eye will not be able to tell the difference. That is to say, if you cut one short, no need to fix all three. Just adjust one and go from there.

Step 4: Glue Up

If you've got equal lengths and 45* miters this should go together well. If not, recheck your setup, and fix the trouble sides. There is a reason miters make people crazy. They can be a little fussy...

Step 5: Splines or Dowel Pins

This joint is probably strong enough, given it's use, but adding splined keys or dowels to the corners will not only add strength but an interesting look as well.

I use a spline cutting jig for this, that just rides on the table saw fence.

Step 6: Mistakes

If you want to see a grown man cry then you should have stopped by when I realized after the glue up that I forgot to cut a 1/2 groove for my LED strip light. DO NOT DO THIS. It was a dumb idea, and I ended up not hurting myself....

Step 7: The LED Circut

I love LED strips. You measure to length, cut with scissors and attach the 12v power clip.

I added a $5 remote and horsed around with it for 20 minutes...

If you want a complete list off all the bit I used here is my Amazon Affiliate link: http://astore.amazon.com/shotim0a-20

Step 8: Together

I painted the inside of my frame Cotton Fluff. You can pick any color you like, as long as it sounds better than mine... Then simply drill a hole for the power plug, removed the paper from the LED self adhering strip and press it into the groove. Test with remote and waste another 20 minutes...

Step 9: Finish

I added two coats of wipe on poly and called it complete. It is now in my house lighting up my beside...



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    21 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Simple and elegant, nice idea.

    I could see this turned into a light box for many applications. Tracing a picture, viewing slides, anything that needs to be back-lit to view. Maybe even back lighting a picture for wall art, like in advertisements.

    It could also be used as a photographic light box where you can control the light direction and intensity.

    Mount it on the wall with spacers, cover the front with something opaque and when it is turned on it is a wall light creating indirect lighting for the room.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Step 9

    How did the finished product give a diffused look in the inside? Did you sand down the Poly?

    1 reply

    I was going through this wondering why you didn't route a strip for the leds... and then I saw the 6th step. Glad to see I'm not the only one that forgets steps even after going over them 1000 times!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, this is a great idea. I've got loads of LED strips left over
    from replacing all my fluorescents in the kitchen, so I'm thinking of
    making a few of these and then actually using them as room lighting on
    the wall. In fact I might even put pictures in them too and bring out a
    really nice feature.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That sounds terribly interesting. I'd love to see it, if you end up making them.

    Bill Rose

    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like this idea, I am looking for projects to make using leds. and this fits the bill, so when I make it I'll add my 'I made it' tag to this in-struct-a-bubble...

    1 reply

    I suppose it's about what appeals to you. You could easily add a strip of sanded plexiglass over the groove and conceal the LEDs, or even just have them on the top portion of the frame.

    For me I like seeing them inside, but it's just a matter of taste.


    Reply 4 years ago

    I would also add if you're not going to see the back of it you could stick the strip on there as well as the inside.
    You could also make a deeper dado (make a bigger groove) for the lights to sit in which will allow for less direct light and more indirect (reflection of) light.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You could put a diffuser over top of the LED light strip.

    Other options are placement of the strip too depending on what you're using the light for. You could put the light strip at the top or on one side, or Both depending on what / where you are using your light. For a bedside lamp, for example I think the best non-direct light might be the side or the top so you get a reflection. This depends on the height the light sits on your bedside table. For a desk light, same thing...

    To add to that, perhaps use a Warm LED light instead of a Bright White?

    it's more time and effort to diffuse, but is a good option.

    something like this...



    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I agree, customize to fit your needs. That's sorta the appeal of making things for your own spaces.


    4 years ago

    Cool project! Will cutting the LEDs damage them, or leave wires exposed?