As I get up there in age, I no longer skateboard much. Long boarding was a means of commuting for a while...Now I look for other cool things to do with skateboards. Turning used skateboards into wall art and lamps is one of my favorites. I have seen this done a few different ways but, will describe the way that I do this here.
The process is pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that you are dealing with electricity and if you are at all uncomfortable doing that...then don't. Safety is key and this is a project intended for adults and definitely not for kids to tackle on their own. Be safe.
Coincidentally, if you want to save yourself the trouble of going through the process I outline here, you can purchase skateboard lamps just like the one I make here, at my TinyIndustrial Etsy Store.
If you like this instructable, please check out my other one where I build a custom camper.
Here we go.
Step 1: Parts You Will Need
Here what you need to gather up and/or purchase:
- one new or used skateboard deck
- 4 light bulbs (I like the Edison filament ones (spiral))
- a drill
- various size drill bits
- electrical wire with a plug
- vise grip pliers
- two coaxial connectors
- twin sockets (ideally porcelain)
- philips head screwdriver
- ~4 feet of stranded 14 gauge wire
- twist on standard wire connectors
- shallow electrical connector box (plus 2 small screws to attach to back of board)
Look for 'Sourcing' info on the subsequent steps for the harder to get components
Step 2: Lets Get Started!
First you'll need to drill the mounting holes for the sockets to ultimately attach to. These holes will house the coaxial connectors but I'll get to that in a subsequent step. The skateboard trucks get mounted via a four hole system on a skateboard. This is pretty universal. I like to drill the hole smack in the middle of those 4 existing holes. the way I do that is to use a ruler to connect two of the dots at a time. Trace a line between the middle of both holes. That will give you an 'X'. That is the middle spot and where the hole should be drilled.
Go ahead and drill that out with a 5/16 drill.
Sourcing: Used boards can be found on craigslist and also on eBay. You may want to use a board you already have as well or a purchased new board.
Step 3: Prepping the Connector
The connectors are what attach the socket to the board and also form the conduit for the wiring to pass through. Unfortunately they come with a plastic core that needs to be gotten out of there. Grab the connector with a vise grip or similar and then use a small metal drill (3/16) to drill out the plastic core. You'll have to back out the plastic a few times until you'll get all the way through it. The plastic core tends to spin on the inside. Try to spin it out. As with all steps, use caution with both the drill and the plastic cores. They can get hot from friction in the connector.
Once you have gotten the plastic bit out, you will see that one end of the connector is slightly constricted. That will need to be opened up a bit too. Pop in a slightly larger metal drill (1/4) and finish the job with that. This leads to a consistent diameter tube.
Sourcing: These connectors can be found in a variety of places. Electronic stores have them. You may also be lucky enough to find them in a dollar store.
Step 4: Mounting the Connector
The hole you drilled in step one won't be quite big enough, so expand it a bit using the 5/16 drill. Do a test fitting of the prepped connector. It's a tough balance to hit since the connector should kind of go into the hole but not slip into it by any means. The goal is for the hole to be just the right size so that you can use the external thread on the connector to screw it into the hole. This will take a bit of trial and error. A small round file could also serve to expand the hole in the deck ever so slightly to get it to the perfect diameter to screw in the connector.
When you have the connector seated in the hole (loosely), grab it with the vise grip pliers and while exerting some downward pressure start to turn the connector clockwise into the board. If the hole is the right size, you will feel the thread grab and turning it will become more difficult. That's a good sign since it means you are screwing it in. Keep the thing straight and perpendicular to the board. You do not want to screw the connecter into the board at any kind of an angle since it will cause you problems with the bulbs later on. Screw it in far enough for it to have grabbed very solidly into the board. About 1/2 of it should still be sticking out when you are done and you should not be able to move it with your fingers.
Step 5: Attaching the Sockets
Once you have the two connectors mounted solidly in the board, you can connect the twin sockets to the connector. The beauty of it is that the sockets have the exact same female opening to the male thread on the connector. That way they simply twist on. There is a lock screw on the connecter. Make sure to loosen or remove that before twisting they socket on.
Twist the socket solidly onto the connector until it gets harder to turn. Straighten it out to mimic what the wheel position would look like on an actual skateboard. This is just a test fit, so don't put the locking screw back in just yet.
Sourcing: I get these sockets on eBay
Step 6: Wiring Up the Sockets
After the test fitting in the previous step, remove the sockets again and open them up so you can connect the wires. You will need four 12 inch pieces that you need to strip about 1/2 inch of insulation off of the end on. The stripped part gets connected to the two terminals under the metal cover you removed from the sockets. Once two wires have been securely connected to each respective terminal, repeat the process for the other socket and close them up again. Make sure the cardboard layer goes back under the metal socket mounting lid.
Pass the wires up through the board and twist the sockets back onto the connectors you screwed into the board.
Step 7: Final Hookup on the Back of the Board
With the wires now on the back of the board, strip off a 1/2 inch from all 4 ends. Run those 4 ends into the shallow box. Now comes the actual power supply cable which will have two wires. Connect ONE wire from each of the sockets to ONE wire one the power supply cord (white one in the pictures). Don't have it plugged in while doing this...If you are uncomfortable with this step get and electrician to help you. Twist the 3 wires (power, socket 1 wire and socket 2 wire) together with a wire connector (red in the pictures). Do the same for the other set of 3 wires.
Box is then ready to be closed up. Do so by flipping it over and having the open side of the box face the back of the board. I attach the box with two small screws to secure it to the board. The screws need to be small since if they are long they will go clean through the board and be unsightly on the other side.
Once you do this you are done!
Step 8: Put in the Bulbs and Try It Out
I put the spiral edison filament bulbs in at this point since if you do so earlier you run the risk of them breaking because they are pretty fragile. With all for bulbs in place, plug in the board and enjoy your handywork!
You have just made a skateboard lamp!