Upcycled Glass Lamps With Mason Jar

In Tutorial by jackmanworks@gmail.com

There is another studio next door to me that is a glass blowing shop. Sometimes they will throw away their scrap colored glass, so I picked this stuff out of the dumpster. My first lamp made from aluminum & concrete, while being really cool and well received, had a few design flaws I wanted to address in version 2.0 (weight, easy access to the light, portability/shippability, modularity).

For the base, I used a lamination of 3/4″ plywood that I salvaged from some old sawhorses I built but wasn’t using anymore. The jar that holds the glass is an oversized mason jar that I salvaged from a wedding centerpiece (and another pair using flower vases). The lighting for it is achieved with an LED light strip that sits inside an acrylic tube within the lamp and is switched with a kind of industrial looking toggle switch.

 

\\\\\ TOOLS & MATERIALS \\\\\
■ Acrylic tube: http://amzn.to/2kHOJaD
■ LED light strips: http://amzn.to/2kCgs8h
■ Wall power adapter: http://amzn.to/2jenZ0R
■ Extension connector: http://amzn.to/2kcjgN3
■ Light strip connector: http://amzn.to/2kCeYe7
■ Toggle switch: http://amzn.to/2dkYWae

\\\\\ MUSIC \\\\\
■ Cullah – Where You Do Belong
https://youtu.be/M9-_JYD6yKs
http://cullah.com/
https://soundcloud.com/cullah

 

Build Details

I start with an old sawhorse I built a while back and it’s been sitting around because I just don’t use it anymore. I chop it up in strip on the table saw so I can reuse the material. This is going to be laminated to make the base for the lamps.

I was able to pull enough material out to make 4 lamps. All of these pieces are cut to length on the miter saw.

I use wood glu​e on all of the pieces and spread it out to prepare for the glue up.

There are 4 sections that I clamp up. I do them all together, but leave glue out between the sections so that they will just pop apart when the glue is dry.

Since these are pretty small (too small for the planer) I sand them down flat with my belt sander.



I then square the pieces up and cut them to their final square shape on the miter saw.

I love the look of the stacked plywood.

I’m going to use my CNC to cut out the hole for both the jar and the lighting underneath. Just a note that the same thing could be achieved by cutting the pieces prior to glue up and using a router & drill by hand to fine-tune the shape of the cavity. I use double stick tape to hold it in place during cutting. I use double stick tape to hold it in place during cutting.

I measure for the lid of the jar to set up the program. I want it to be just big enough to fit the diameter of the lid and to bury the entire height of it so you won’t be able to see it.

Sexy sawdust shot. This is the top of the blank where the jar will fit.

And this is the bottom of the lamp where the lighting and electronics will sit including a thin cutout for a bottom panel that will cover everything up.

Here it is after the cut, just need to clean off the sticky tape and fine-tune the shape a bit.



I round over the top corners to soften the shape of it a bit. I then do my final sanding.

Then on either side I drill out a hole using a forstner bit, one for the toggle switch and one for the cord.

For the bottom, I decided to use a piece of aluminum step flashing that I had sitting around because it’s nice and thin. I hammer it flat and cut it to size to fit the hole in the bottom.

To finish the wood blocks I use a finish which is a mix of linseed oil and beeswax. It soaks into the grain to bring out the color and also gives it a slight shine.

To keep the lid in place, I mix up a bit of 30 minute epoxy and apply it around the perimeter of the hole and push the lid into place.

I decided to drill out a hole in the lid of the jar because this will allow me to hold back the glass in the jar, while also letting the light pass up into the glass.



To let the light pass all the way to the top of the jar (so it’s not just bright at the bottom) I use an acrylic tube. I cut it to length carefully (slowly) on the miter saw.

Now this is what makes this project, the scrap colored glass!

I start by applying a thin layer of the glass to the bottom of the jar and then inserting the acrylic tube.

It’s then just a matter of filling up the rest of the jar around the tube and shaking the jar every once in a while to make sure that the glass is packed tight.

I can then put a lid on the jar and screw it down to make sure it will fit when I screw it into the lamp.

For the lighting, I initially decided upon using this LED worklight, which is what the block was cut to fit. I changed my mind, but you’ll see why later.

I have to dissect it by pulling the cord, light, driver, etc. out of the old case.

Then it’s just a matter of fastening the cord in place and wiring it back into the driver.

And also powering the wiring through the toggle switch and fastening that in place.

Everything can then be tucked away and I hold the bottom panel in place with some rubber feet. These are held on with screws so that holds everything in place, but also gives the lamp a place to sit and keeps it from sliding around.



It’s at this point where I test the lamps out and leave them on for a few hours to see how the LED lights I chose handle the layout and confined space. They ended up getting too hot for me to be comfortable with so I decided to halt the project. Instead of completely ditching the idea though, I decided to give it another shot and picked up some LED light strips that I thought might work better.

I pull the whole lamp back apart and luckily the wood base will still work without much modification. To power the light strips, they plug into a connector, so I use some 2 part epoxy to hold this in place in the hole that used to hold the cord.

It’s then just a matter of soldering up the connections to the wires and the connector that goes to the light strip.

This is all wired up and connected to the power and the switch. I connect the strip light to the adapter and fasten the switch back in place. I chose the length of the strip to be 4 times the length of the acrylic tube so it can go up and down twice inside the tube (if that makes sense?).

The lights get pushed right down into the acrylic tube and I use a small dab of hot glue to hold the end in place so it won’t settle out of the glass over time. The feet are then screwed back in place.

Success! I left these light on for an entire day and didn’t get any heating at all.

On the left is the pair that I built with mason jars and on the right is the pair I built with flower vases. Only the mason jars are interchangeable.

And my favorite thing about this design – I made different “cartridges” that can be interchanged with different glass colors!