Pallet Wood Art/Shelf With a Hidden Dimmable LED Light

When I first had the idea to do pallet wood walls in the living room, I wanted to create some type of art piece for the wall opposite the TV. I stumbled across this shelf on Etsy when searching for pallet wood art.

After getting rid of my old recliner and lamp (as part of the living room updates) I quickly realized a light was needed for the new loveseat. I thought it would be cool to integrate a light in to my shelf and as a bonus it would be hidden. It would be a fun challenge to work on. Here are the last models I had mocked up in SketchUp before starting on the build.

Some of the inspiration for the light came after watching someone create a reading lamp by using quad row LED strips. I ordered a roll of the LEDs (quite expensive), a power supply, and a board to use as a dimmer. After doing some testing and reading more of the specs, I ended up getting a much beefier board to handle 10 Amps. I was also melting some of the insulation on cheap electronics wires, so I also grabbed a spool of 18 gauge wire.

This initial testing was done using a very simple limit switch, but those are only rated for very low currents and would quickly burn up with the requirements of the LEDs. It took some searching, but I finally found a limit switch that said it could handle 10 Amps of DC. The big controller board for the dimmer and this much bigger limit switch introduced some new challenges to my build.

We picked through the wood leftover from the walls to find an assortment of pieces to use for the backer.

I played around with the arrangement, shortened the length of some boards, and ran everything through the planer to get an even thickness. Then I stained five of the boards and glued the pieces together in several steps.

To make the pull-out part of the shelf I started with a piece of plywood. I cut up scrap sheet metal I’d saved from the drop ceiling light fixtures I removed from my shop several years ago. This would be used behind the LEDs so any excessive heat they produced wouldn’t burn in to the plywood or create a fire hazard. I screwed the metal to the plywood and used some white spray paint on it.

I cut scraps of wood for sides and a divider. Then I cut some slots through them, using the table saw, where the light covers would slide in. I also made a face for this piece, leaving it oversized for now. I attached the sides and front face with glue and pocket hole screws from what will be the top side.

I bought two 10-inch full extension drawer slides and attached them to the top. I filled the pocket holes with plugs and wood filler. Sanding would be done later.

Perhaps the most nerve-wracking step of the project was cutting and positioning a scrap piece of 2×4 to the backer boards. This will hold everything together and allow me to attach the surrounding pieces of the shelf. Thankfully I remembered to cut one end short before glueing and screwing (from both sides) it in place. This is where the dimmer knob and board went. I cut a scrap piece of wood (later replaced with thinner plywood) to prop it up a bit so the knob would be easier to handle.

I put a straight bit in my trim router and cut a channel down the back of the longest backer board. This will be where the power cable runs down and behind the loveseat. It’ll never be seen, so I wasn’t concerned with how it looks.

Next I milled up some boards and glued them to make the top and bottom of the shelf. I tinted clear epoxy with black paint and filled in some holes. I also milled and cut a couple of pieces for the sides of the shelf.

I trimmed all of those to the sizes I’d need. Then I cut rabbets in the sides so the edges of the top and bottom wouldn’t be seen and there would be more support. To fit properly around the dimmer switch I had to notch out some areas and drill a hole for the knob shaft.

I was able to do a dry fit and then had to make a bunch of adjustments to make everything fit better. After a shitload of sanding I stained one coat of Red Mahogany.

The next morning I was able to glue and pin nail the bottom and left side to the backer. The top and right will be screwed in place in case I need to take things apart to troubleshoot or replace the electronics.

After giving the stain several days I masked off the dimmer board and used my paint sprayer to apply four coats of water-based poly.

The next day I put in the LEDs and switch, wiring everything up. I had to make one more piece of wood that would trigger the switch when the “drawer” was pulled out.

I painted the wires white. A bit of hot glue was used to keep them in place and provide strain relief. I also used hot glue down the back side to hold the wire in the groove.

The final step was to figure out where to cut in keyhole slots.

This turned out to be a bad idea. The shelf was just too heavy. So I drilled all the way through the cross beam and drove two long lag screws through and in to the studs.

We picked up some cool pieces at the Freeland Antique Mall for decor.

Here’s a night comparison which shows how bright the LEDs can be.

This video shows everything in action.

This project ended up being a lot more work than I expected. I’m really happy with the results though and we now have a one-of-a-kind piece in our living room.

We got a blackout top down bottom up shade made from SelectBlinds for the window, which came in over the weekend. They’re really easy to install. Now the living room is complete and I can focus on the kitchen remodel.

We bought an old milk can at an antique mall for the corner of the room too.

Pallet Wood Bedroom Art: It Was All a Dream

For years I’ve wanted something to hang above my bed. I always thought a large black and white photo would be cool, but never looked for something. A couple of weeks ago I got an idea to make an art piece, so I went through my wood rack and picked out some pallet wood.

I swapped out some pieces and then sanded off most of the dirt and rough edges.

Testing whitewash during the bathroom shelf project paid off on this one. I knew I wanted a backing of gray primer before applying white paint with the scraping method. I went real light with the gray.

Below are the pieces after the first coat of white.

I think I applied three coats to get the look I wanted. I used wood glue and pin nails to attach the horizontal pieces to the verticals.

My original plan was to have my 10-year-old niece write lowercase cursive letters that I’d paint on, but she couldn’t get the proportions right with big letters. I found this cool stencil at Michael’s for $8.

I did a bunch of measuring and used blue tape to map out the word placement.

Then I did a quick test with pencil on kraft paper to get a feel for the letter spacing.

I painted 3 different letter widths (A, I, and M) on a piece of cardboard and cut them out. This was the mask I used over the top of the stencil to prevent overspray.

Finally it was time for the nerve-wracking part of actually painting on the words. In order to limit the possibility of smearingn I did one letter, hit it with a blow dryer, and moved to a letter on the next row.

All that was left was to drive some screws in to the back, wrap wire between the screws, and hang it on the wall.

I love it.

Easter Basket Crates

After Mom saw the mini crate I made, she asked me to make a few larger ones as Easter baskets. She still likes to make up baskets and hide them for anyone who is visiting for the holiday. Here’s my basket from many years ago, which still gets used.

Since my nieces were spending the night with me a few days after her ask, I thought I’d surprise her by also having some pieces for the front of the baskets. I grabbed some patterns online, cut them out with my band saw, sanded the edges, and gave them a base of white spray paint.

Then I let my nieces paint them.

I had some old trim and other scrap wood I cut to width.

Then I cut everything to size.

Mom brought some felt for the bottoms, so I attached that to two outside pieces for every bottom with spray adhesive.

The assembly of the crates was quick with some glue and pin nails. Then I quickly sanded all of the edges to soften them.

I gave the painted pieces a couple of coats of clear matte to protect the acrylic paint. Then attached them to the crates with more glue and pin nails.

DIY Desk Backer

Here it is, the final project I had planned for my new home office.

The idea for this actually started a year ago, when I rotated my desk in the old office.

The back of my desk is obviously meant to be up against a wall, so it’s not a finished look with the particle board and the big access holes. At the time, I was thinking I could create some type of artsy piece for the back using reclaimed pallet wood. I didn’t have any motivation to make anything over the winter though.

Fast forward to this year and moving my office to a newly redone room across the hall. With better lighting, the back of the desk stuck out even more.

My idea came back to me and inspired part of the plant stand. I acquired a bunch of reclaimed oak flooring from the 50s to use for both projects. Hopefully the following pictures tell a little bit of the story about how the idea went from my brain, to a 3D model/plan, and came to life.

It was probably the most complicated build I’ve done. Really happy with how it turned out!

Quarterly Maker Box #MKR08 by Adam Savage Part 2

In part 1 I said there would be more to come as I worked on the projects in the box, so here we go. The first project’s instructions were titled “How to Draw Essay” which consisted of Adam describing some of his experience with sketching and then giving several tasks.

Step 1 consisted of filling 5 pages of the notebook by drawing cylinders. It gets you thinking in 3 dimensional space. This was a neat exercise. I tried to draw different cylinders to keep it interesting.

In step 2, the exercise was to draw things from life. I couldn’t tell you the last time I tried to do this. I felt accomplished when a sketch was recognizable (though you may disagree on that!).

Am I ever going to work as an artist? No. Every one of us can be an artist in our own way at our own level though. It’s fun to put ideas on paper and a good skill to practice. Definitely helps with making things when you can see that idea in your head on paper.

There was a time growing up when I wanted to be an artist. Maybe a lot of kids have a bit of that feeling when going through those early creative stages. Apparently I missed out on the gene my Papa Momrik had that was also passed on to my Uncle John, because they both had some talent. I never turned out to be any good at drawing, but I still have those creative juices and try to use them in my own ways.

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