Steampunk Menorah: the Grunambulorah




About: Be limited only by your imagination.
This is not your father's Menorah.  The Grunambulorah is made from old radio tubes, LED's, plumbing fittings, knife switches and it's all powered by 2 AAA batteries.  I love the warm glow and it's got that funky Steampunk vibe.  Here is how I did it.


Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Dremel with 1/4 inch glass cutting bit.
  • 3/16 inch regular bit to elongate the hole inside of tube
  • Table Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Drill with 1/16, and 1/8  inch bit to drill pilot holes
  • Soldering Iron
  • Heat gun to shrink tubing.
  • Sandpaper
  • Screw driver
  • solder
  • 18 gauge wire
  • 9 knife switches
  • 9 red led's
  • double AA battery holder
  • 2 AA batteries
  • 9 radio vacuum tools of assorted heights
  • 9 47-ohm 1/4 watt resisters 
  • 9 copper pipe connectors with 1 1/8 inch inside diameter
  • 9 PVC caps with 1 inch diameter
  • Oak 1/4 inch thich
  • Hot glue
  • Gorilla Glue
  • White Carpenter's Glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammered brass spray paint

Step 2: Drill the Vacuum Tubes

  1. For safety wear eye protection.  The bit will send small glass particles flying.  The Dremel does not actually drill the tube but actually grinds it gradually. 
  2. Decide where to drill the tube.  The best placement is somewhere you will be able to feed the LED up so that the whole tube glows.  Tubes have a layer on the bottom that would shield the light but the layer is easily drilled thru
  3. Put a drop of cutting oil on the tube.
  4. Put the dremel on high speed and let the bit gently rest on the glass.  It will begin to grind away the glass.  DON'T push it or the tube will break.
  5. Put more oil on about every 5-10 seconds.  Don't let it dry out.
  6. Be especially careful just at the end and don't let the Dremel slam into the tube.
  7. remove the small piece of glass from the drill bit.  See the photo.  It looks like a small button.
  8. use a 1/4 or slight smaller drill bit to pierce the bottom shield of the tube so that you can feed the LED up.

Step 3: Prepare and Insert the LED's

  1. Using 18 gauge wire, attach extensions onto the LED.  Use red for the long positive tail of the LED.
  2. Use shrink tubing to insulate the leads.  Shrink the tubing with a heat gun or soldering iron.
  3. Feed the LED into the tube.
  4. Fix in place using hot glue

Step 4: Insert the Tubes Into the Copper Pipe Fittings

  1. Put the tube into the pipe fitting.  Try to seat the tube just so that the LED is right below the lip of the copper fitting.
  2. Use hot glue to fix the tube in place

Step 5: Measure the Base and Cut

  1. Lay your tubes out on the Oak board and decide what dimensions you will use.  My dimensions were: 16 1/2 X 5 1/2 X 2.
  2. Cut the board and lightly sand the edges.
  3. Put tung oil on it in order to seal the wood and bring out the grain.

Step 6: Optional: Drink a Beer. It's Thirsty Work.

Today's beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Always a solid choice.

Step 7: Paint the PVC Caps and Fix Them to the Base.

  1. Using the hammered brass spray paint, or a paint of your choice, paint the PVC caps.
  2. Drill a pilot hole in the bottom of each cap
  3. Using a DROP of gorilla glue put the cap in position and then use a small screw to fix it to the base.
  4. I set the Shamash back 1/2 inch.
  5. Let the gorilla glue dry
  6. Drill a 1/4 inch hole thru each cap and thru the base to have the LED wires pass through

Step 8: Glue the "candles" to the Bases

  1. Feed the wires thru the hole in the bottom of the cap
  2. Put a few drops of gorilla glue on the cap sides
  3. Slide the copper fitting over the cap.  The gorilla glue will expand and keep it fixed in place

Step 9: Attach the Knife Switches and Drill Holes for the Wire to Pass Through

  1. The knife switches are attached with screws right in front of each "candle"
  2. Drill 5/16  holes for the wires.
  3. Attach wires to each side of each knife switch and feed them through the 5/16 inch holes.  I used one hole for each two switches.

Step 10: Final Wiring

  1. Follow the schematic diagram. 
  2. In this step you are soldering the resisters to the positive lead of the LED
  3. Then you are attaching the knife switch to the resister
  4. Then you are attaching the other side of the knife switch to a bus carrying the positive voltage.
  5. Then you are wiring the negative leads to a buss carrying the negative voltage
  6. Then you are using gorilla glue to fix the battery holder to the case.

Step 11: Using the Grunambulorah

  1. Each knife switch turns on a "candle"
  2. For my Non-Jewish nerdy friends that decided to make a Steampunk Menorah (and I know that there are legions of you out there...) You start with the Shamash and then each night increase the number of candles going from right to left.
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    36 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Even though I'm Christian, I like this project, but I don't like the idea of tube drilling. A person familiar with vacuum tubes may look at the device, notice that getter disappeared, and think that tubes are broken. In many other similar projects, LEDs are simply located under tubes, or, in case of octal tubes, the key in bakelite base is drilled to insert LED, while glass envelope is kept intact.


    2 years ago

    If you ask valve nicely sellers they have failed valves you can buy for peanuts.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Some tubes are extremely expensive, before you drill out a tube check the value of the number.. Some are worth 50 cents, others $200... I would hate to someone throw away serious cash...


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Some tubes are extremely expensive, before you drill out a tube check the value of the number.. Some are worth 50 cents, others $200... I would hate to someone throw away serious cash...


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Some tubes are extremely expensive, before you drill out a tube check the value of the number.. Some are worth 50 cents, others $200... I would hate to someone throw away serious cash...


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Sir, Mr,Grunambualx.Thanks for your prompt reply. Yes I contacted E-bay BUT
    they don't send electronic things to Israel.(May be there afraid we'll make an H.BOMB)
    :-) :-). So as you say ,If you can buy, ask Post office price of mail and I would happyly send more for you trouble, I have a Pay Pal no problems;
    Thanking you in advance I remain faithfully James...


    5 years ago on Introduction


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi jimysymo

    The bus simply refers to a common positive and negative lead. You could use a single strand of wire and solder all the negative and positive connections to it or you could bunch them together and use a wirenut. I think running a negative and positive rail makes it look more finished.

    Re resister, as long as the resister is between the positive battery terminal and the led it will drop the voltage. It doesn't matter if it is before or after the knife switch as it is a series circuit.


    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Sir, Grunambylax. Thanks for the feed back ,now I understand.
    Also may I ask in the future,if I have other problems for your HELP
    Have a good month ie Christmas,,, New year and LIFE. :-)


    Just one question, do you have any links to the glass cutting attachment that you used to cut into the vacuum tubes?

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Thanks so much on the how-to for drilling an led into an old vacuum tube! Ive been looking for a way for a while now!

    1 reply

    Also if you use a drill press the slower speed won't crack the glass as it stays cooler. To keep the water in place create a dam wall with some blu tac.