DIY Task Lamp

June 8th, 2016:

Recently, while cleaning out our workshop, I came across a roll of LED tape with a power supply and remote. A quick thought came to mind for building a simple desk accent/task lamp, so I poked through the scrapwood pile and gathered a couple armfuls of suitable material.

After staring at the components for a good, long while, I began doodling out some concepts. The design was influenced by the materials available, the simplicity of construction, and maintaining a clean aesthetic in hopes of developing a desirable lamp. The resulting design is illustrated above in a quick CAD rendering I drew up. 

Follow my build process and give it a try!

(A Build Plan is included at the end of this 'How-To' for those of you who are as visual a person as I am)


 •LED Tape Lights: 24 inches with power supply and switch (price range $10-$40) 
•Grade "A" Veneer Plywood: Three 24 x 14 inch boards
•Red Oak: 0.5 x 6 x 8 inches
•Attaching Harware: One M4-0.7 x 16 mm internal hex socket cap-head cap screws with washer cut to size​

The LED tape lights that I found were equipped with a power supply and on/off switch. You'll want to be sure to purchase something like this. Red oak was a cutoff from some stock that was 0.5 inch x 6 inches x 6 feet, so I was able to hack it down to the desired size.


This image illustrates the components you will need to create if you follow my design; two (2) caps, three (3) walls, and the feet loop.


The caps are made from 0.5 in thick blocks of red oak, laminated and then cut to the final dimensions. The wall sides and top are strips of veneer ply cut to size.

I laid out all my dimensions and started cutting. This included pre-drilling a hole in the top wall for moutning the feet loop.

After all the sawdust settled, the cut components got a light sanding to clean up any rough edges. (Reference the Build Plan for dimensions.)


I took the 0.5 inch red oak blocks, stacked and glued them together, and then clamped the stack-up.

The orientation that I chose (see the figure) helped me out later in the process since some of my cut lines fell on some of the seems, giving me a crisper edge and less cutting to do on the band saw.


After allowing the glue to set for a couple of hours, I tool the block and went to town with the belt sander to clean up some of the faces. I then cut out my ends to the outer dimensions.


To complete the caps, I marked off the thickness of the veneer ply walls on three sides (0.2 inch in my case). With a band saw, I then cut the material to refine the caps' shape, sawing into the side of each cap first and the top second.

On the rear cap, I needed to drill a hole for the cabling that powers the LEDs, so I found the part's center and drilled a hole for the wiring to fit through.

After cutting and drilling, I then used a chisel to clean up some of the edges.

7: LEDs

For this part of the project, I started off by laying out the LED tape and cutting it to the desired length (two 12 inch strips). The LED tape I was using had defined zones for cutting and soldering, which was nice. This does vary depending on the brand, so be mindful of the tape that you may have/want. The LED strips were then mounted to the appropriate wood component in preparation for soldering. 

My next step was to cut some jumper cables and solder the ends to each corresponding copper pad. Since the plug end was a bit large for the clean hole, I de-soldered it and passed the wiring through the rear cap block and then re-soldered it.

After all that was complete, I powered up the system to check for faulty connections.


To kick off the final assembly, I glued the top wall to my caps and clamped everything down. This was all set aside for 30 minutes or more to allow the glue to set a bit.


After the wait, I glued the two side walls along all edges that touch, after which I clamped down the entire structure and sit it aside to cure until the following day.


Once the glue had ample time to cure, I put the good 'ole belt sander to use along with some hand sanding in order to clean up the surfaces and square off my edges.


To be frank, this ended up being the most difficult part of the project.

I started off this task by marking off where the bends would be made on the rod stock and prepared to use a tube bender. The material was a thicker-walled steel, and I ended up breaking my tube bender as I was bending the second leg. So I improvised by using a vice, my biceps, and a good amount of grunting. This led to a slightly out-of-whack symmetry. Them's the breaks!

After a pause, I moved onward toward the finish line. I laid out a center line for my pilot hole and drilled then tapped a thread for my chosen mounting hardware. A washer was cut to fit in between the LED strips, followed by assemblu of the feet loop to the wood structure.


I've left the wood raw for now - haven't decided on the final finish yet. Overall, I am please with the outcome, even though there's always room for improvement.

If any of you readers give this a go, we'd love to see your evolution of the design! Shoot us a line or tag us in a post to let us know how you do.

Happy Building!

-Omar Bermudez, Sr. Industrial Designer

Click on the image below to download a PDF of the Task Lamp Build Plan!


Tags: Design