DIY Wall Sconce/Light

I’ve started to remodel the kitchen and we’re getting all new lights. This one almost never gets used and is in a weird spot, but it had to go.

We determined something like this is generally called a sconce, so naturally went searching for a replacement on Amazon. We found this farmhouse steampunk light we really liked.

I knew I could very easily make something similar. I picked up 3/4″ pipe pieces and a lamp socket from Menards, along with some metallic hammered spray paint.

I used some sandpaper on the end of the light socket (bite for the bonding), wired it up, screwed the pipe pieces together, and attached the light socket to the pipe with epoxy. Then I did several coats of spray paint. I also did some matte clear coat, which I think was after this picture was taken; I wanted to knock down the shine.

We picked out a piece of pallet wood, of course.

After we picked out our new kitchen faucet, which has some bronzed edges, I ended up grabbing some bronze metal paint, which I used on some of the edges, though it’s subtle and hard to see here.

I reused the bolt from the previous light, and put it all in place to figure out where to cut the board.

Then I drilled holes for screws and the mounting bolt. I had to route out some of the back side to make room for the circuit box and brackets sticking out of the wall. I guess I forgot to take a picture. I painted the screw heads and bolt and touched the edges with bronze.

I love how it turned out and can’t wait to see what it looks like after the walls get painted though.

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.

Portable Soldering Station

Following up on getting the new hobby desk and organizing the room, I needed something for all of my soldering tools. A lot of the stuff on these shelves needed to be easy to pull out and use at the desk.

The portable soldering station Adam Savage built gave me some inspiration. I could make something to live in the closet when not in use and being portable would allow me to take it to the basement if needed. I measured how much floor space I had available in the closet and hauled everything down to my woodshop.

I cut up some shitty scrap plywood and started playing around with ideas.

Being able to see things in space really helped with my design process. When I had something I was happy with, I made a sketch with rough details.

When I saw it on paper, it reminded me of a wood toolbox with a handle. Makes sense, I guess, since that’s essentially what I was building. I still have a large pile of old oak flooring, so I spent about two hours milling a few pieces down to 3/8″ thick boards. Then I glued some pieces to make panels for the sides, bottom, and shelf.

I picked up a piece of 1″ (it’s actually 1 – 1/8″) oak dowel from Menards for a handle. After letting the glue dry on those panels for a few hours I cut them to size, designed the side profile, and made other pieces. I realized I need to glue up two other panels for the small shelf bottom and a cross piece on the back. I think I only had to recut one small piece that was originally the wrong size. Eventually I had all of the parts.

I sanded all of the faces with 80 grit and then used glue and a pin nailer for assembly. Since nothing here need to support a lot of weight, I went with simple butt joints.

After a quick fit check for all of the tools and supplies, it was obvious I need some way to organize the power cords, so I made a cord wrap from some scraps.

With a palm router I softened the edges everywhere and did a final sanding. Originally I was planning to use a dark stain to match the hobby room’s trim, but after seeing this put together I really liked the lighter colors and the wood grain. I skipped the stain and applied three coats of Minwax Water Based Polycrylic, sanding with a piece of paper bag after each.

I’m really happy with the decision not to use stain. The pieces I selected for the side panels have some great coloring and grain.

All of the tools and materials are easy to access and the station fits well in the closet.

Automated Closet Lighting

After building a rack for my workout shoes a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to tackle another thing about the broom closet that has been bugging me for years. It never had a light! I put together a rough video of the entire process.

I’m really happy with how it turned out, especially since I was able to use parts I had in my electronics collection. The whole thing uses a simple circuit, cost less than $10, and doesn’t require WiFi or any fancy connections. The Working of Transistor as a Switch page on Electronics Hub was a big help. I ended up using a PNP transistor in my circuit without resistors because the LEDs were dimming and I wanted maximum brightness.

Boldport: Juice (FAIL)

I started this build a couple of weeks ago and “finished” it today. It is supposed to be a battery replacement kit for use in prototyping if you run out of batteries. It was project #12 in the Boldport Club.

Mine, did not turn out to be a useable device, because I shorted the connections in the USB connector, which I put on last and should have done first. If there’s one complaint about the Boldport Club kits it’s that the instructions are lacking. I messed around with different desoldering techniques to try and correct the problem, but I might have been fighting a losing battle depending on how deep in there the shorted connections were. I figured something was screwy when the LED never lit up. Then when I connected a 9V battery as the power source instead of USB I knew something was really wrong. With a multimeter I was only getting millivolt readings from the board. I felt the battery and it was really hot, so I disconnected to read the battery it was down to less than 9 volts already, when it had started close to 9.5! That’s when I called it quits.

I’m almost positive I thought this kit was something else when I ordered it with credits I had. I can’t see myself using this during a project if it had been a success, so I’m not too disappointed. Even though it was a failure I figured I’d still post the video. Since it was just over five minutes long at 20x speed with all of the footage I didn’t even bother to do any editing. The camera had filled up somewhere during the desoldering complications and I was too frustrated to bother with getting a new SD card. Enjoy! Or not.

Boldport: LIGEMDIO

A couple of weeks ago I assembled one of the BoldPort Club kits I had piled on my desk. This one was project #8, titled LIGEMDIO. It’s an LED tester and the name comes from the first letters of Light Emitting Diode, LED.

It was a cool little build after I swapped out to an old soldering iron and it’s a project I’ll actually get some use out of. Would have been nice to have when I tested all of the LEDs for the 8x8x8 cube.

AdaBox 012: PyGamer

I recently got the 12th AdaBox.

It’s a cool open source gaming platform, the Adafruit PyGamer, which can be used with CircuitPython, MakeCode Arcade, or Arduino games. I remember getting a GameBoy and staying up late to beat various levels of Super Mario Land when I had a sleepover at a friend’s house. I may have to try making my own game for this device.

 

8x8x8 LED Cube Case

Back in January, I finished assembly on the 8x8x8 LED Cube. Around the same time I bought an acrylic case for $13 from AliExpress. The case isn’t designed for this specific cube, but this style of case is the only option available anywhere.

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Needless to say, it needed some modifications. I had to drill new holes in the bottom to match up with the mounting holes of this particular board. I also opened up some holes in the back for easier access to the power switch and programming pins and in the side for the power plug.

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After the mods, everything went together surprisingly well.

With all of the soldering and LEDs, the cube is very fragile, so this case should keep it safe. Over 14 months after receiving HackerBox #0030: Lightforms, the full assembly is finally complete. Now I have to update the firmware so I can program my own animations.

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