I remember the day well. It was during a meeting in my corporate job that I found myself looking at the ceiling lights, wondering how they were constructed and whether I could make an equivalent. The lights in my office were quite stylish in extruded aluminium, hanging from the ceiling by stainless steel wires and machined fittings.
It wasn't that the meeting was necessarily boring, but more that I was nearing the completion of building a new home. I'd already made the kitchen island and installed the bench top, and was now planning on building a feature light that was to sit above the island.
The idea for featuring the timber slats came from my wife and struck an immediate chord with me. I liken the look of it to some of the very stylish 60's timber furniture we've seen...slim, sleek and beautiful. My design features 46 slats that have a small upward slant on each end, providing a rakish finish to the lighting unit.
My number one requirement was to have no shadows on our kitchen work area. And being that the open plan kitchen/dining/lounge had a vaulted ceiling, I knew I wanted a lighting rig that hung by wires and housed small but powerful lights. Finally, I had available to me surplus flooring timber so I wanted a way to incorporate that.
I drew up some sketches and got to work building it. The completed lighting rig was a resounding success, providing brilliant usable light over our kitchen island, and drawing a lot of positive praise from visitors.
It's a one-of-a-kind design that I'm sharing with you.
Step 1: What You'll Need
This lighting rig uses a base of plywood that is cut to support the timber slats. Aluminium angle is then attached to brace the top of the plywood to keep it rigid. Wire is then fixed to the aluminium angle allowing the unit to be hung from the ceiling.
For the slats I used Kwila timber that was surplus from our floor installation. You may choose an alternate timber of your choice. I planned for my slats to be 13mm wide, and 40mm apart. You'll need to draw up your plan to ensure you get your spacing correct.
To make this lighting rig you'll need the following materials:
- Plywood (18mm) for the base
- Timber for the slats
- Lengths of aluminium angle
- Timber for the extended light supports
- Wood glue
- LED lights with a square flange
- Electrical cable
- Ceiling cable and fixings
You'll need the following tools:
- Drill press/cordless drill
Step 2: Making Your Base
Your lengths of timber will vary depending on the desired finished length of your light. I suggest you build your light to be the same length as your kitchen island.
This instructable will make a light that is 2400mm in length.
Cut a length from your 18mm plywood to give you 2400mm x 200mm. My plywood had a finished side so make sure you use as the side that the slats are installed in.
Step 3: Sanding the Edge
Clamp the ply into a vice and sand off any saw marks and smooth the edges.
Step 4: Stain Your Way to Success
The pine plywood needed something that would complement the dark kwila timber. I used a water based stain and applied three coats, lightly sanding between coats.
The final photo is of the tin of stain...a bubble appeared and I thought it looked cool...kind of an alien thing going on in there.
Ok, on to the twilight zone...
Step 5: Re-purposing the Flooring Timber
There are three sizes of slats:
- Center slats are 13mm x 40mm x 500mm
- Small slats (that butt to the LED) are 13mm x 40mm x 202mm
- End slats are 13mm x 52mm x 50mm
Because I was using flooring timber, I had to cut off the tongue and groove, then cut the length in two.
Pro Tip: Kwila is very splitty timber and I earned about 12 small splinters and a long stabbing graze on my palm while handling it. I spent the next few days digging them all out. Suggestion: wear suitable gloves when handling lengths of timber.
Step 6: Slats Cut to Length
Cut your slats to the lengths you require.
Step 7: A Rakish Slant on Life
Draw an angle you like onto one of the slats, then set up a jig so you can easily repeat this for every slat. All in all, a lot of cutting corners, so to speak.
Step 8: My Belt Got Belted
One of the small triangles I was cutting off flew down into the table saw and dislodged the belt from the motor. When I investigated, I found the belt was damaged, so that was the end of cutting for the day. Not so bad as I had only one more to cut.
By the way, in one of the previous steps you'll note I had my respirator on. Looking down at the floor and my pants, I'm glad I did. Always wear your mask.
Step 9: Sanding the Edges
You could do this step with sand paper and block, but I opted for my belt grinder for a speedy job.
Step 10: Stain: Part 2
Each slat gets a coat of stain...this protects the timber and makes it easier to clean in future. It also gives it a nice luster and darkens the timber. Lovely.
Step 11: Preparing to Cut Slots Into Plywood
I needed to cut accurate slots into the plywood, so I made up a jig to repeat each cut. This allowed me to make 13mm cuts spaced 40mm apart.
I'm not going to step through making this jig...just have a good look at the photos and make one up to your specification. Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that the jig has a deeper piece of timber that locks into any of the fresh cuts to keep it aligned. Clever.
Step 12: Cut Your Slots
Clamp the ply then using the jig carefully cut slots about 5mm deep. Move your jig along slotting the deeper end into one of the fresh slots. Continue cutting until you're done then sand off any raggedy edges.
I've have not cut the slots where the LED's are to be fitted until I can properly mark them up for hole cutting. However, see my footnote in Step 15.
Step 13: Cut Your Extended LED Holder
These timber blocks are glued to the ply and act to lower the LED light fitting which adds quite a nice feature to the overall rig.
The flanges of my LED lights measure 92mm across so I cut square blocks 95mm x 95mm...and 18mm thick. Sand the edges.
Find the center of the square by marking both diagonals.
Step 14: Holey Moley!
Using a hole saw, cut out the hole. Then stain the edges of the timber...I wasn't too fussy staining the top as the flange will cover most of it.
Step 15: Placing the Holes in Your Plywood
Now you have the LED holder, place it where you plan to install your LED's. Mark up where the remaining slat slots should go. I used tape to guide me as I couldn't see the pencil mark through the router.
Footnote: In hindsight cut all of the slots at the same time from edge to edge. The LED light will happily straddle any cuts and they won't be seen.
Step 16: Glue in the Slats
Clamp the plywood to the table, then place one of the slats so it is centered. Clamp an aluminium angle so it touches this slat. You now have an edge to butt each slat to when positioning all remaining slats.
Step 17: Holey Moley! Part 2
Find the center for each LED and cut a hole. Then glue and place the extended LED holder.
Step 18: Placing Your Remaining (short) Slats
You need short slats to butt against the timber LED holder. Mark these to the correct length, then cut a 45 degree portion off the LED end of the slat so that this cut matches the 18mm height of the extended LED holder. Glue each slat in place.
Step 19: Making Your End Slats
Mark the height you need for your end slats. These will be glued and nailed to the end of the plywood, so make a little higher to cover the ply and line up with the other slats.
Mark and cut the same rake angle as the other slats.
Step 20: Test Fitting the Ends
Place the ends and ensure they fit correctly. Stain or polyurethane them as with the rest of the slats.
Step 21: Drill Mounting Holes
Mark the end slat so a hole may be drilled 50mm in from each side of the plywood, and centered - 9mm up from the bottom. Drill these holes into the slat, sanding the rear to remove wood burrs. Place the slat back in place and drill pilot holes into the ply using the slat holes as a guide.
Along with glue, I've chosen rose head nails to fix the end slat in place.
Step 22: Glue and Nail
Run a bead of glue along the ply and then carefully hammer home the nails.
The slat phase of your build is now done.
Step 23: Fix Your Aluminium Braces
Apply an etch to the aluminium so the paint will adhere. Apply your top coat at this point (I was in a hurry so ended up top coating the aluminium after it was installed).
Fix the aluminium in place as shown.
Step 24: Install the Light Fittings
My lights came with removable base plate which made it a lot easier to install.
With your light unit placed the correct way up, install the light fittings and bend down the spring clips to hold them in place.
Step 25: Top Coat
Back when I was a kid, this colour was all the rage, along with bowl cuts and flared pants. My personal nightmare were brown corduroy pants that never wore out. Since that day, I have determined to NEVER were pants that colour again...however, for this project chocolate brown is the perfect colour to blend with the kwila slats. This color helps to minimize the visual impact of the bracing.
Doesn't paint look great when it's being mixed?
Step 26: Installing the Electrical
I'm deliberately not showing how the electrical cabling is installed...this should be done by a qualified electrician. Plus your wiring requirements may differ depending on the light fittings you choose and local power requirements.
Keep the wiring as tidy as you can.
Step 27: Fit the Wire Holders
This light unit will be suspended by four wires. Mount these on the rig as shown.
And...you're done! Give the unit a wipe down and it's ready to hang.
Make sure you attach the wire guides into firm ceiling fixings...you don't want this unit to unexpectedly come down on you just as you're carving your famous lamb roast!
Step 28: Final Thoughts
I love the clean Mid-century modern look of this light...the tapered timber slats provide a stylish edge to the kitchen. And the color tone 'cool white' I chose for the LED's provide beautiful crisp light to the work area.
I hope you enjoyed this instructable.
Please check out my other instructable Forging a Knife from Chain
I have knives available for sale from time to time - please check out http://minnearknives.co.nz