EDIT: Base design now available here --> Framed Edge-Lit Panel
A coworker had a new baby a couple of weeks ago, so I thought up a Glowforgey gift for her. I still need to do some finishing, but I’m liking how the edge-lighting part of my idea turned out!
I used 1/4" Lexan from Inventables for the inside, and scored and engraved little hearts on both front and back to give it some depth (doesn’t really show up in the photo, but I like the effect IRL), then engraved the baby’s name on the front.
Next I cut a whole bunch of iterations of the various frame layers out of cardboard to make sure it was all going to fit together the way I wanted. (All of this was happening on the left end of the crumb tray on my terminally ill GF while I waited for its replacement to arrive and allow me to use the whole bed again.)
I was all ready to start cutting the final iteration out of wood, but decided to clean the lenses first to make sure the cardboard hadn’t smoked them up too much. And fumbled, and dropped the lens, and it shattered. So, then I couldn’t use ANY part of my poor old GF, so I put everything away and waited for the new one to arrive. Fortunately, Glowforge is GREAT about getting exchanges done really quickly, so my agony wasn’t too prolonged!
Got the new one yesterday, and got it all set up and connected and stuff, yay! (It’s sooooo shiny and clean!) Continuing with my project, I cut the name out of PG Maple ply and glued it into the engrave. My hope was that the name would have glowing lines around it when lit, and it worked!
The lighting is a string of fairy lights wrapped around the edge of the Lexan. It was a lot harder than I anticipated, getting all the parts to line up correctly, while convincing the wires and tiny lights to all stay where I wanted them!
There are 6 layers of wood framing the Lexan – a combination of:
- PG draftboard (two 1/8" layers to fit around the Lexan, each with a cutout about 1/8" larger than the Lexan piece, containing widely spaced tabs with alternating spacing on the two layers so the Lexan is held in place while still having a continuous space all the way around to weave the fairy light wires through) (that was really hard to describe!)
- PG cherry ply (backing the Lexan)
- more draftboard behind the cherry, with a cutout to hold the unlit portion of wire and space to mount the battery pack
- PG walnut hardwood on the back, with a cutout to fit around the battery pack
- PG walnut hardwood frame on the front
The battery pack is held in with magnets (one countersunk into the wood and one glued on the battery pack) so it can be easily removed to replace batteries.
I had to take the whole thing apart repeatedly because yet another fleck of dust or smudge would have found its way onto the back of the Lexan and gotten trapped inside. One time I finally got it all together and discovered I had the Lexan upside-down, and had to start over again, AGAIN. Argh.
My plan was to use sections of bamboo skewers poked through holes in the corners of the 6 wood layers to line everything up, but that didn’t work out nearly as well as I thought it would. Bamboo likes to splinter when you try to make it fit into tight spaces, and then refuse to come back out…pressing in the bamboo caused a chip in one of the corners on the back, which I’m really annoyed about. Next time I’ll go with dowels.
Since I gave up and yanked out the skewer pieces (except for one that won’t budge) I’m going to insert walnut plugs into the holes on the back, and hope I can make them look decent. Not sure yet what to do about the chip. sigh
I still need to sand the edges and then decide whether they look good as-is, or whether to wrap the whole perimeter in Walnut veneer, but that will have to wait until tomorrow, because today I went to the county fair with my grandkids, and I’m too exhausted to forge!