144 Cubic Inches of Light LJ Challenge #15

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Project by vipond33 posted 03-30-2013 12:13 PM 4973 views 28 times favorited 51 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The virtual T-shirt that I was awarded in the last challenge (3D printed out & perfect for our Ken doll) is in the wash yet again- worn, torn and aniline dye stained. The resident Barbies are thrilled at this bare chested development but I find it somewhat unseemly, unsafe in the shop as well – splinters and such you know. So this is my entry angling for a replacement.

The current contest or challenge is to build something out of one square foot of wood. That’s the limit. Add anything else you like but otherwise be frugal and inventive.

I missed the weigh in, the photo in, but here is where it came from. My rip from the side of this Zebra-wood board was 5” x 28 3/4” x 1”. I left the gnarly parts behind as one can have too much challenge nu?

I took as an additional challenge to use as close as possible to 100 percent of the given stock. That’s pretty funny in a way for almost 50 percent of my chunk went up the dust collector pipe through ripping, planing, drum sanding & final light trimming and never did see the light.
In the end I had a handful of tiny mitre cuts left over.

This is a re-creation from memory of a wooden light that my father made in 1965 or so. It hung in our family room for years and was a silent background fixture of our lives.(bad pun yes, but yet it is funny how you remember certain physical things when growing up). His was made in walnut with a picture frame bulb (hot dog shape) and a somewhat unfinished interior.. His project (the plan or idea) probably came out of Popular Mechanics or the like and was very modern looking for the time. I always liked it.

A quadruple row of LED’s illuminates mine. I think they are an almost ideal substitute for the original lamp as they will last forever, are cheap to run and most importantly are not going to dry out the wood or affect the finish.. You do however give up some of the nice things that incandescent bulbs provide. Maybe we like them so much because they’re human scale, with human seeming light, the orange yellow glow of something burning. These alternate strips are warm white, 3200K. Shown here with the comparison bulb.


Commercial aluminum channels & diffusers held around a wooden core hold the light strips, with a power brick and dimmer down at the floor. I used a new system put out by LV, quite comprehensive in scope and not terribly priced though shopping on e-bay will run you less for sure. What you might miss is LV’s super service and solid guarantee.

Finishing took “waaay” over half my time. Because of the tough equilateral shapes and the dissimilar finishes (water based & oil) that had to come together in a crisp hard line, any thought of spraying was out. Sand, brush on, scuff sand, rub out and do it again & again etc. The Barbies heard many new bad words escape me during the process, much tittering ensued.

The interior walls were double coated with gesso and then twice painted over with Titanium white acrylic. Acrylic high gloss varnish tops it off for I wanted it as bright as as can be. The exterior is Minwax Tung Oil (wiping varnish) x2, with three top coats of Tried and True with varnish. I fully finished each piece before double notching and assembly. Goddard’s wax completed it.

There is a fashioned Plexiglas spider at the top, with all lighting components held together with an old brass lamp nipple ( !! more twittering from the Barbs – that does it! out of the shop!!).


This will hang in my daughters bedroom and I hope she’ll like it over the years as much as I did his.



Carefully climb cutting the notches on our super sled. Besides needing positional accuracy measured in thousandths to make everything line up, 180 TCG blade cut notches had to be 4 times Exacto knife trimmed to achieve a square flat gluing surface.

Repetition is an interesting if usually silent teacher but this time she said “My, my, that took a whole lot longer than you planned, didn’t it?”

Ken awaits.

16” x 10 7/8” x 10 7/8”
About 32 long hours.
Build on LJ’s.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

51 comments so far

View tinnman65's profile


1364 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 03-30-2013 12:23 PM

Wow! very nice Gene, I really like the way the grain matches around the miters. this is like a piece of art that hangs in the air with the added benefit of being used as a lamp at night.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View scrollsaw's profile


13032 posts in 4027 days

#2 posted 03-30-2013 12:23 PM

Great job thank you for sharing this project.

-- Todd

View Thepps's profile


139 posts in 3927 days

#3 posted 03-30-2013 12:29 PM

You never fail to amaze me! Great project!

-- Thepps - Freeburg, IL

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2534 days

#4 posted 03-30-2013 12:32 PM

Another tour de force of precision design and execution. A beautiful homage to your dad.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21520 posts in 3279 days

#5 posted 03-30-2013 12:43 PM

WOW, that is a great project. Very unique design and it came out beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!..............Jim

Now can you make one that is tapered- narrower at the top??????

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29962 posts in 2511 days

#6 posted 03-30-2013 12:55 PM

Great job. Love the look.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View JL7's profile


8690 posts in 3138 days

#7 posted 03-30-2013 01:13 PM

Very cool Gene… those designs from the 60’s. You have great patience to pull this off..

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View bonobo's profile


297 posts in 2230 days

#8 posted 03-30-2013 01:56 PM

Beautifully, perfectly done. I wish the “modern” style home renovations in my neighbourhood had some of the sensitivy that your stuff always shows.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View balidoug's profile


495 posts in 2652 days

#9 posted 03-30-2013 02:05 PM

Awesome, Gene. You have a knack for creating the unique. Masterfully done as usual.

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2787 days

#10 posted 03-30-2013 02:17 PM

gene love it ,thats one very cool build ,so much out of a small amount of wood and very cleaver ,the bottom view gave me a idea of how to make a star of David ,and sure your father would be proud of the improvement to the lamp ,great job my friend and good luck on the contest

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2787 days

#11 posted 03-30-2013 02:18 PM

dido post

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Karson's profile


35139 posts in 4574 days

#12 posted 03-30-2013 02:56 PM

Beautiful light

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View shipwright's profile


8129 posts in 2971 days

#13 posted 03-30-2013 03:21 PM

This is an amazing piece within restrictive boundaries Gene.
I think that what impresses me most about your work is the attention to the smallest details.
Your years of experience are evident.
If it was up to me you’d get a whole box of tee shirts for this one.

Good one.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View gbear's profile


517 posts in 4272 days

#14 posted 03-30-2013 04:20 PM

Another beautiful piece…I love the matching grain miters!

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View Manitario's profile


2653 posts in 3056 days

#15 posted 03-30-2013 04:30 PM

beautiful work Gene, as always. I’m sure that the barbies are going to complain that your daughter gets to have it, rather than them…

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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