Over The Bed Reading Light

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Project by bobkberg posted 01-06-2010 08:31 PM 5928 views 7 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a Christmas present for my wife for 2008. It’s made of ash, and ash veneer over MDF board.

The lights inside are made of a roll of pre-wired LED’s (Photo #6), and then I split the circuits on the left and right side so that each side has its own switch. There are marked “solder” tabs on the strips to show where you connect the wires, and cutting marks to show where it’s safe to cut it. The other prep work consisted of doing a good seal on the backing material, and fine sanding it, and wiping clean so that the pressure-sensitive circuit strips wouldn’t peel off later. Those were bought at, which also sells various power supplies to go with these. The inside of the light is painted white to help with reflecting light outwards. There are 3 rows of this lighting strip inside the lamp.

One other thing I should add is that I did all of the wiring and such BEFORE putting on the back side of the light. Otherwise, I think it would have been much harder (if even possible) to work down inside that tiny “trench”. Adding to that is that the power cord comes through the back, so the final electrical assembly was done under very cramped conditions.

The riser bracket is fastened to the lamp with bolts and tee nuts. The riser brackets were built open, and I used a rounded router bit to cut out the wiring channel before gluing it together. Photo #5 also shows the bolt that holds the riser bracket to the back plate of the lamp.

The power cord (low voltage) is routed through one of the mounting brackets – you can see the plug in photo #3. Each side has its own switch – those are automotive rocker switches from Radio Shack.

Since LEDs are so efficient, we get about 150 watts worth of light for 15 watts.

The diffuser is styrene – meant for suspended ceiling office lights – this stuff is really fragile – between cutting and drilling/countersinking the holes for screwing it to the lamp form, I think I made 4 or 5 tries to get two good sections. I tried several different types of plastic diffuser, but the ones that were easier to work with also absorbed or blocked too much light themselves. So I compromised by putting up with the pain of a difficult material for the long term benefit of better reading light.

The radius was planned to match the curve of the “headboard”. It’s roughly a 5’ radius. Finish is clear poly over unstained Ash.

The wall mount is recessed into the back of the mounting plate. I used garolite ( – which is tough stuff, but can be worked with woodworking tools) to form a long plate looks like this is cross-section:

Photo #5 shows these. The leading edges are chamfered to fit easily, and there is enough room so that the light can easily be adjusted to stay centered over the bed should the furniture get moved.

Probably the hardest part was working in the shop with tarps hanging up, so that my wife couldn’t see what I was working on – since you have to go through the shop to get to the basement.

Lessons learned:
1) Make it stand out further from the wall
2) Widen the channel where the LEDs are – adding another row
3) Make it shallower to allow for further light spread (head to foot direction)


-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

5 comments so far

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3430 days

#1 posted 01-06-2010 10:14 PM

Cool light

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Rick's profile


367 posts in 3445 days

#2 posted 01-07-2010 06:21 PM

sweet idea. I like it

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3342 days

#3 posted 01-14-2010 09:23 AM


-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4148 days

#4 posted 04-02-2010 05:11 AM

nice. Did you make the other lights too?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2662 days

#5 posted 02-04-2013 04:36 AM

Totally thinking out of the box – to get the LED’s in the box. beautiful fit and finish, well done.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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