Sunday, June 30, 2013
The instructions here are different from what I did in a couple places, because I realized after the fact a better/more efficient/etc way of doing it.
What You Need
Wood: I used mostly mahogany and poplar; but the pegs are oak dowels, the roll guard (not the real term, but I don't know what it's actually called) is pine; the lightbox, pivot plates and angle rings are plywood (obviously would be fancier with real wood); the bottom of the lightbox is pressboard
Glass or Plastic Sheet: 24x36" piece; glass is cheaper, but plastic--plexiglass, acrylic, etc--would be sturdier; if you do go plexiglass, you'll need a thicker piece than with glass, as it's not as stiff, and so will need to route out more of the top to make it flush
Light(s): I used a set of under-cabinet lights; might get more even illumination with a flourescent bar-type light
Spray-On Glass Frost: in addition to diffusing the light in the lightbox, this also gives the glass a decent enough texture to keep stuff from sliding around on the desk
Stain 1: a light color; this will be your base; I went with a "sunbleached" shade; you just need a small can of this and your other stain color
Stain: a darker color; I went with a burgandy; again, just need a small can
Shellac: I used an amber shellac, as it imparts a warm, aged look to the wood; you could substitute lacquer or polyurethane; you'll need enough for at least 2 coats, more if using a more porous wood (mahogant, oak, etc.) and wanting a very smooth finish
12 Small L-Braces: these are used to strengthen the pivot plates and angle rings
2 Wooden Knobs: these will be fixed to the angle rings' pegs
2 Small Chains, 6" each: these are fixed to the pivot plates' pegs
- Rain, snow and snow-shovels have left wornout, damaged and broken solar garden lights in the yard.
- Garden centers are running specials on new solar lights (I found several stores selling them for $1 each)
I managed to avoid throwing out several broken solar lights by using them to create some neat "Mason jar nightlights"...just charge them up during the day and they light the way at night.
I liked the results and noticed pre-made "Solar Mason Jars" are selling for $24.00 on Amazon and even "Solar Lid Lights" (just the lids) are $12. So I tried a few more variations with a few of the $1 solar lights and put together this Instructable so we can make our own!
This Instructable describes how to create either style of Solar Mason Jar Nightlight (from salvaged or new solar lights)
We'll start with the "new light" variation, it's a pretty easy project!
What's Needed for this Instructable:
Solar Garden Lights - either salvaged or new - you know the type, typically a cylinder on a stick with the solar panel on top Mason Jar, Band and Lid - I used small Half Pint (8oz) Kerr brand decorative jelly jars, but any canning jar will work. Frosted Glass spray paint - I used Rust-Oleum brand. NiCad batteries - the damaged lights generally have rusty worn-out batteries, typically AA. Even new budget lights occasionally need new batteries. (found these at Harbor Freight store). If you have a charger you can try re-freshening old batteries with that. Something to cut with - I used a Dremmel, X-Acto, Tin snips and even a bench-grinder depending on how well a particular light fit into the jar. Glue or Hot Glue gun Screwdriver - often required to access dead batteries Optional: Soldering Iron and Solder - damaged lights will likely need some repair, however new lights shouldn't require soldering Vice or clamps Colored Spray Paint - I had some sparkly blue auto paint around so added a light coat of blue to a few,
I like the blue color a lot! Just go light on the paint, I made one that is really just too dark.
Let's make some!Bargain solar lights are either:
- larger than the 2.25" opening of the Mason jar
- smaller than the opening in the Mason Jar
Larger: The first style I tried was (on clearance from 4th of July) just a touch larger than the opening. Easy enough to detach the blue top section from it's plastic post (not shown here). Next to make things fit I simply had to cut the sides of the light off using the dremmel and a tin snips.
This particular size light worked really well because no rewiring, cutting of the lid or even gluing of the lid was needed. I found these at Menards for $1 ...think I better go back for some more!
Smaller - Here because the solar panel itself is so small it would slip through the jar "band". I had to cut a hole in the lid, and then glue the light to the lid.
(another solution might be to copy the size of the lid out of something easier to cut, plastic (like the top of a Skippy jar maybe) or wood. I haven't tried this technique yet)
I cut the lid hole 2 different ways:
- Marked a square on the lid and used the Dremmel to cut the opening.
- I also used a hole-saw to create a round hole. The hole-saw technique is easier, but partially blocks the solar panel.
Another problem with the smaller size light: the battery inside was a 1/2 AA...looked like a AA only half the length. I couldn't find a replacement so I made my own battery holder from spare cardboard and used the AA size...see the images below.
The heart measures 1.5" x 1.5". It's a good size for a keyring to use around the house, eg for a window key or a cupboard key. It would also make a neat handbag charm. The contrasting inlay is in the front only, the back is plain.
You will need (for 4 keyrings)
A 4" x 4" piece of leather in each of 2 colours
Four 1/2" diameter split rings
Rubber cement or other glue suitable for leather (the glue from a puncture repair kit will do)
A craft knife or Stanley knife
A metal straight edge
A bulldog clip or clothes peg (clothespin)
The thickness of the leather doesn't matter much, but the 2 colours should be of approximately the same weight.
You can use my design of a heart with a little star cut out of it, or create your own. Step 1 explains how to make a design of your own suitable for laser cutting.
For anyone who wants to create their own design, here is how I did it.Open up Inkscape (which is open source and free) and explore the shapes that can be created within it, like circles, ovals, stars and polygons. If you find something there that you like, fine, go ahead and draw it. The shape needs to be one that will work as a keyfob with a hanging loop, so an oval, circle or hexagon would be good, a star less good. If you want a more complicated shape like a heart or a flower, it's easier to find a suitable image on the internet or draw one using other software like Gimp or even Word - try Insert, Shapes in Word. Copy the image (click on it and then Control-C, or else right click and choose Copy), then open up Inkscape and paste the image (Control-V). Add a smaller cut-out shape in the middle of the first shape. Do this either within Inkscape or by pasting a new image on top. When you have it the size you want it and in the right position, group the 2 shapes by clicking to select the larger shape first, then hold down Shift while clicking to select the smaller shape. With both selected, click Object, Group. Test it has worked by dragging the shapes and checking they move together. Recolourise to make the outer shape one colour and the inner shape white, like the background. Now you need to convert the image to a vector that the laser beam can follow. With the image selected, click Path, Trace Bitmap. In the Mode tab, tick Brightness Cutoff and then OK. Nothing will seem to have happened, but drag the new image off the old one, delete the old one and then drag the new one back again. In Object, Fill and Stroke, set Fill to no paint, Stroke paint to black and solid colour, Stroke Style width to 0.01mm. Copy the larger shape as many times as you need it, with and without the smaller insert, and fit them together to make efficient use of the leather. Change the size to suit the leather you have available and the size of keyring you want to make. Save as a PDF file, or print to a PDF.
- corset - If you would like to make it by yourself, see "How to make a corset (quick +easy)"
- hot glue
- feathers (very soft)
- bias tape
- satin tape