Modern 5-elements LED Lamp (bars)

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We have that one room in our house where we are only a couple minutes a day but when we are there we need good lights. At the moment there is just a simple light bulb and that doesn't give enough light. We don't like simple TL-lamps but we also didn't want to spend much money at design lamps so I decided to make my own lamps.

The idee was to make 5 the same wooden bars with a led strip in it and cover them with sanded plexiglass. Then I could hang them up in every figure I want.

In this Instructable I'm going to tell you how you can make your own!

Step 1: Design

Before I went to make them, I needed to make a design and a plan.

I used AutoDesk Inventor to draw the frame and the strip and to make the plans.

The frame is 5x80 cm. The led strip is 10 mm wide so I will make the groove for the led strip 12 mm wide. The depth isn't very important, I chose 10 mm.

The groove for the strip of plexiglass has a depth of 3 mm because the plexiglass I used is 3 mm thick. It's 18 mm wide so the strip has 3 mm at both sides to attach on.

At both sides there has to be a hole for the cable to the led strip.

If you want, you can download my plans.

Step 2: Parts

Here is a list of everything you will need to make this.

  • wood: you can choose the type you want (or what you have lying around) but make sure that you have enough.
  • plexiglass
  • led strip: because I wanted a lot of light I chose a 24V DC led strip with 240 leds per meter. I chose the color natural white (4000K) because that is, in my opinion, the nicest light color. You'll have enough with a length of 4 meters.
  • LED transformer: make sure it has the same voltage as your led strip and that the max. power is enough! So the one I ordered had the following parameters: 230V (AC) input, 24V (DC) output & 100W max. power.
  • Electrical wires
  • Screw terminals
  • Screw hooks
  • Screws
  • chains or any other cable to hang up the lights.
  • lac or any other varnish to protect the finished wood.

Here are all the tools I used but you don't necessary need them all to make this.

  • measuring rule
  • pencil
  • carpenter's square
  • circle saw
  • planer
  • router
  • router bit 12 mm
  • clamps
  • sanding paper
  • sander
  • drill
  • drill 5 mm
  • chisel
  • paintbrush
  • screwdriver
  • tongs
  • wire-cutters
  • hammer

Make sure to wear safety glasses, ear protection, stof masks and gloves when you need to wear them!

Step 3: Make the Frame

Now we can finally start making something.

For the frame you'll need a wooden shelf where you can get 5 (or less/more if you like) bars of 80x5x3,5 cm out. It's better that you cut them a bit bigger so you can plane them if that's needed.

If you have these bars, you can mill the grooves for the led strip and the plexiglass. I used a router with a side guide so the groove was always perfect in the middle of the bar. First make the small groove in each bar (you'll need to go multiple times over the same bar before you can get a depth of 10 mm) so you don't need to adjust the side guide all the time. Then make the bigger groove in each bar. I did it with the same 12 mm bit and did each side separated but if you have a 18 mm bit you can do it in one time.

Because the plexiglass will go in the bigger groove, you'll want that the corners are 90° and not rounded. Use a chisel to make the corners 90°. You don't have to do this for the small groove.

Now make the holes for the cables to the led strip. You'll need to make a hole at both sides. I used a drill of 5 mm because my cable couldn't fit in a 4 mm hole but I suggest to make the hole as small as possible so measure first your cable so you can get the perfect hole.

Now it's sanding time! You can do the sanding as you like, I used a sander for the surfaces and some sandpaper for the edges.

The last step is the varnish. You can use the varnish you like. I used some transparent varnish.

Step 4: Strips of Plexiglass

Now you can make the strips of plexiglass. They are 77x1,8cm but you'll want to cut them just a bit wider so you can sand them later so they'll fit perfectly in the frame.

If you have the 5 strips, you'll have to sand them so the surfaces will be mat. You can do it by hand but I used a sander. Just make sure you don't sand too long with the sander at one spot or the plexiglass will be gone.

Step 5: Electronics

Now it's time to prepare the led strip.

First cut 5 pieces of the strip which fit in the frame. My led strip had a cut point every 2,5 cm so I cut pieces of 72,5 cm (than I had 1,75 cm at every side left for the cable).

Now you have the 5 pieces of the led strip, you can prepare the cables. The cable has to go just to the top of the frame where we'll put it in a screw terminal. You'll have to figure out what's the best length for your cables. Mine where about 10 cm long. Now you have to strip the ends and tin them. You'll need cables for every end of the led strips (= every hole).

Once the cables are prepared, you can solder them to the led strips.

Now check them to make sure everything works and all contacts are good. I used a variable lab bench power supply but you can use every power supply you like as long as it can give the right voltage and handle the wattage.

Step 6: Assembling

Now alle the parts are finished, it's time to put them all together.

First attach the led strip to the frame. Normally your led strip has adhesive tape at the bottom so you only need to remove the protective layer during the assembling (see photos). Make sure the cables are through the holes when you attach the led strip so you don't have to do it when the led strip is already in place.

Now turn the frame so the side where the cables come out is on top. Connect the cables to a screw terminal and attach the terminal to the frame. You can do that on any way you like, I used a little screw. Make sure you know later how the polarity is so if your cables don't have any indication, make sure to bring a mark on the screw terminal or on the frame so you will always know which side is the positive and which is the negative.

If you're sure all the electronics are good, you can place the strip of plexiglass in the groove. If it doesn't fit, you'll need to sand it a bit until it will fit. Maybe you'll need some glue if the strip falls out when you turn the lamp.

If you made sure the strips are well attached, the lamps are ready to install!

Step 7: Installing the Lamps

Now it's time to install the lamps. First you'll have to figure out a figure or pattern to hang them. Maybe it can help to draw the room in scale on a paper and cut out the lamps in de same scale. Now you can easily lay down the paper lamps in every figure you want, to find a figure you like.

When you chose a figure to hang them, you can really hang them up. I like to work with plans so I first made an as accurate plan as possible on the computer so I had something to base on while I was hanging them.

I was going to hang them up with some screw hooks and chains so I needed to draw to points on each lamp where the crew hooks had to come. It was a real challenge to hang them precisely as I wanted but I succeeded.

When the screw hooks where attached, you can think about the height, the distance between the lamps and the ceiling. I decided to work with two different heights. After some trying I made chains of 7 links for the diagonal lamps and chains of 21 links for the horizontal ones.

Then I hanged them up and saw that some lamps where not hanging level so I needed to attach one more chain to each one of them so they would hang level.

Step 8: Installing the Led Power Supply

Now you'll need to install the led power supply.

Because I had to hang it against a wooden beam and I had no idea how warm it will become I decided to make some spacers. I made them out of some PVC I had lying around.

Now you can attach the power supply to the beam with some screws.

Step 9: Connecting

Now you can connect the lamps to each other and to the power supply. I used some audio cables because they have two cables and one of them is marked with a white line so I always know what's the negative one.

First turn off the electricity for the room you're working in!

You'll have to have a cable from one lamp to an other and a new cable from that lamp to the next, you'll have to do that over and over for all of them. At the end you'll have one lamp that is connected to the power supply and one that has one open end (a screw terminal without a second cable).

Then connect the power supply to the cable that is coming out of the ceiling. Make sure you connect it right!

Step 10: Enjoying Your New Lamps!

When you made sure you connected everything correctly, you can turn the electricity on again and turn on the lamps.

Congratulations, you have made your own lamps, enjoy them!

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    18 Discussions

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    netwjennie

    27 days ago

    Great idea, not only for the basement, can be used all over the house and the possibilities of design are endless. Thank you so much.

    2 replies
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    QAmakesnetwjennie

    Reply 21 days ago

    Thank you! To be honest: when I started making them, I had no idea in which figure I was going to hang them but because I knew there were so many possibilities I knew we would find a figure we like.

    It also has another side: because of all the possibilities you can endless keep searching for a figure you like without making a definitive decision.

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    netwjennieQAmakes

    Reply 20 days ago

    Well, this is the price for being creative !

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    Chriskym

    25 days ago

    Sanding the plexi is BRILLIANT! I woulda never though of doing it that way, I don't necessarily need to build over head lights at the moment, but I will use your sandpaper and plexi trick on other builds. Thank you.

    2 replies
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    KillawhatChriskym

    Reply 20 days ago

    Yeah, initially they generally do still well. But after a few weeks, sometimes they come loose. Not sure why. Sometimes when I'm using them (even on painted surfaces), every 12" or so I'll put a but of electrical tape over it and a staple to hold it in place permanently. Just have to be careful not to press too hard and put the staple through the track.
    For the power supplies, if you look on ebay for something like "ac dc switch 12v module" you can get a 240V ac to 12v dc board. They're generally only a few bucks each. The only thing is your have to wire them to 240V. 12V laptop power supplies are also pretty cheap as you're probably only looking for something about 1-2 amps. Essentially, the modules are the guts of laptop tranies anyway that they sell off cheap due to cracked cases or broken leads, but the guts still work.
    Yes you can buy one big one, but generally the price goes way up the bigger they get. That's why I find buying a few smaller ones (1-2A) will work out around the same price and you can plug them into a standard socket and move them around as needed. I forgot the amount of times I've reconfigured the workshop and the last time I rewired all the fluoro lights to 240V plugs and wired up the switches with 240V plug sockets strategically placed.
    Happy hunting.

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    QAmakesChriskym

    Reply 21 days ago

    I’m glad you’ve learnt something from my Instructable. To be honest I don’t really know where I got the idea. I probably saw it when I was surfing around on Youtube.

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    QAmakesseamster

    Reply 21 days ago

    Thank you! I'm happy you like it.

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    DavidE341

    27 days ago

    Nice work, but IMO too much work to light a room/space that you only use occasionally. Lots of discussion on other forums about how to adequately illuminate garages, work areas, basements, etc. Most often recommended solution is some form of LED shop light (usually in 4' or 8' lengths) or replacement LED "bulbs" for existing fluorescent light fixtures. Many models interconnect and can often be found at very low prices (compared to your time to construct same). See examples at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=led+shop+light&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

    1 reply
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    QAmakesDavidE341

    Reply 21 days ago

    Yes I know it’s a lot of work but it was the first time I made my own lamps so I thought it was better to made the first ones for a room we aren’t all day long. It was a learn-project for me so I thought that if something did go bad that it wasn’t a huge problem.

    I don’t know the exact price to make these but I’m sure there are cheaper solutions for this kind of rooms but then it isn’t made by yourself.

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    charlessenf-gm

    Tip 27 days ago

    Check out/search:
    20-Pack 3.3ft/1Meter U Shape LED Aluminum Channel System with Milky Cover, End Caps and Mounting Clips, Aluminum Profile for LED Strip Light Installations, Very Easy Installation

    Used channels for adding under cabinet lights to kitchen.

    1 reply
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    QAmakescharlessenf-gm

    Reply 21 days ago

    That’s a great tip but I think it wouldn’t have looked nice with the wooden frame.

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    jayrockamanic

    Question 27 days ago on Step 6

    I love this project! Very nice use of wood to create pleasing lights.
    Curious where people are buying these LED strips. And what temperature (color) folks are choosing for warmth.

    1 answer
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    QAmakesjayrockamanic

    Answer 21 days ago

    Thanks! I ordered mine at Conrad.com but I think they only deliver in Europe. It was on a great sale when I ordered it. Here is the exact link: https://www.conrad.com/p/v-tac-vt-10-240-nw-led-strip-eec-led-a-e-open-cable-ends-24-v-10-m-neutral-white-1897559. You can find more information about the led strip here: https://www.v-tac.eu/led-lights/lights3/led-strip-samsung-chip/led-strip-samsung-2835-240-leds-24v-ip20-4000k-cri95-detail.html.

    The temperature is indeed hard to choose. My led strip has a temperature of 4000K but to be honest: that’s colder light than I expected. In this case that’s not a huge problem but for rooms like bedrooms you want something warmer.

    Cool! I made mine sequence from one LED driver, or I can turn them all on with eleven drivers (one for each rafter) for bodywork and detailing.


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    Killawhat

    25 days ago

    Great idea. I probably would have given route a coat of clear to help the LED strip stick better. The adhesive they use seems to come unstuck after a while. Personally, I would have routed out the back of the timber an used a cheap laptop power supply or AC/DC switch mode module per light and run an AC lead off it. Then you can plug it in anywhere. I thought the sanded plexi glass was a great cheap idea for frosted covers!

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    QAmakesKillawhat

    Reply 21 days ago

    When I attached the led strip, it stuck very well so I will see how long it will hold. It’s the first time I used led strips for this kind of projects so I don’t have much experience already but thank you for the tip.

    That’s indeed an option but I hadn’t any power supply’s that would work for this lying around so I had to buy some and then is one for them all cheaper then one for each.

    It’s indeed a cheap way to have these kind of covers and if you sand in with patience it will look very good.