Segmented Log Lamp

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About: Mechanical engineer who spends a little too much time 'tinkering'

It's been far too long since I last uploaded, but here is my Instructable for making a segmented log lamp.

(Video on the final step)

Step 1: 'What Do I Need?' I Hear You Ask

Well folks, this is a pretty straightforward project and can easily be tackled with some simple hand tools. I had a few bigger tools to hand in this Instructable, but I have noted substitutes that will work just as well.

So, the bits and pieces:

  1. Log.... a nice one
  2. Acrylic tube - I used a 30mm dia. piece from eBay (£8.20) (30mm Acrylic Tube)
  3. 30mm drill bit - I used a flat bit (30mm Bit), however if you can, it'd be best to get something like this (Four Flute Bit) with an extension (Extension )
  4. RGB LED light strip - eBay again! (£4.59) (5V USB LED Strip Lights)
  5. Superglue
  6. Wood oil

That's pretty much it, other than some hand tools!

Step 2: Find Your Log

Alas, at this point I'll explain the error I made when selecting my first log. As you can see from the photos, seduced by a funky grain pattern, I had originally selected a log that wasn't seasoned! My rookie error was punished the moment I cut it up and brought it indoors - the wood dried, shrank and split.

You need to find a log suited to your purpose. I wanted a log I could hang my work headphones on, so was looking for a log with hanger-like appendages at the top.

The log I used in the end was from a Leylandii tree. This wood had been seasoned and the bark was easy to remove mostly by hand. I found that the best way to get the last strips off was with a wire brush. When using a wire brush ensure that you brush with the grain!! The wire should remove the bark and also bring out the grain more - if you are careful.

I found that Leylandii wood had a really good grain pattern and was quite bright which should work nicely to reflect the light.

Step 3: Hollow Out Your Log

Next, clamp the log upside down and use your drill bit with either a pillar drill, electric drill or good old-school hand drill. The depth of the hole will be dependent on the size of your log and the length of the tube you choose.

Unfortunately I got carried away at this point and forgot to take some photos, apologies...

It's worth noting at this point, I discovered that a fluted drill bit would have been a much better option than the flat blade. When cutting the segments, I found that the bit had moved around inside the wood and created an elliptic shape which needed filling when gluing the segments to the tube. It may just have been a quirk of the grain in the log which caused the bit head to move.... or my feeble arms!? Either way (definitely a quirky grain), the fluted option will give you a much more consistent result.

Step 4: Slice It Up!

Ok, so having hollowed out the log you'll need to segment it.

For this stage I used a chop saw, but it can be done just as well with a hand or band saw.

The number of segments depends on the size of the log and length of tube you select. I aimed to have about 4-5 mm between the segments and had 9 segments in total. There's not a huge amount more to say at this stage, just make sure that the log is correctly supported when cutting! (2-3 clamps per end advisable on the chop saw!)

Step 5: Sand and Glue... and Glue....

Once all your segments are cut, you'll need to prep the acrylic tube.

As I was planning on using the RGB LED strip to light up the centre, I didn't want it being visible through the tube, so I sanded the tube to a translucent finish. This was simply done with some 120 & 180 grit sandpaper. As with the wood, I sanded in the same direction as the grain would lie, hoping that the effect would complement the grain of the wood (enough woods in that sentence to make a forest…).

Next I super-glued the end of the tube in the top of the log, ensure you get about 20mm of the tube inserted into the log for strength. Give it about 20 seconds then you can start on the next - and the next - and the next.... You need to pop the segment onto the tube and move it to the desired distance from the previous one. From there, you drop a ring of superglue around the connection between the tube and wood. Use a wet cloth to remove any excess superglue quickly before it dries.

Finally, the base is done in the same way. Locate it on the tube to the desired position, and then drop a ring of glue around the connection, either from the top or from inside the hollow (it's tricky and you may need to use a fair bit of glue and run it down the inside of the hollow, but it can be done!)

Step 6: Finishing Up!

So for the final part, you'll need to make a recess in the base for the electronics.

I did a couple of tests to see where it would best fit and found that, for the remote control to work the lights properly, the receiver needed to stick out from the base by about 10 mm. I drew around the controller and then drilled out the section. Final shaping was done with a chisel and file.

Before fixing the electrics I went over the whole piece with the oil. To get in between the segments I used a paintbrush.

Finally, I folded the LED strip over itself. It has a sticky backer which means you can fix the two halves together. I found that sanding the acrylic didn't quite diffuse the light enough to disguise the LED strip. To solve this I popped a small sheet of tissue paper around the strip. Then simply insert the strip into the tube and super-glued the controller in place.

Job done! One nice log made sexy.

Step 7: Plug-in and Light It Up

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable! Please share any of your own versions of this in the comments, I'd love to see what you make.

This has been entered into the "Make it Glow" competition. If you've found this Instructable useful for your own projects please drop me a vote, it will be greatly appreciated.

Make it Glow Contest 2018

This is an entry in the
Make it Glow Contest 2018

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    4 Discussions

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    Toms WorkshopAshleyB250

    Answer 45 minutes ago

    Hi There!
    The log was about 12cm in diameter, with a height of 45cm (it gained about 5cm with the segmentation). The branches at the top extended out to a diameter of around 20 cm.
    Hope this helps :)