LED Fairy Light Globes

fairy-light-globes

January, 2017

Inspired by the Darbin Orvar YouTube channel, I decided to do a quick project and make some LED Fairy Light Globes to give as gifts to my four young Nieces.

Electronics:

I found several suppliers online that provided the 2 meter strands of LED Fairy Lights.  The Darbin Orvar tutorial recommended an $8 USD strand of LED Fairy Lights.  The best pricing I found was at an AliExpress supplier (Less than $2 USD per strand).  I like these because they come with the coin cell battery packs and batteries ready to go.  The supplier offered them in 9 different colours, so I picked four different colours to make each globe unique.

 

Globes:

The project calls for a 4″ (100mm) glass globe.  Glass ornaments are great because they have a short neck that can be used for mounting onto the block.  The link provided by the Darbin Orvar tutorial took me to an Amazon seller who wanted $4 per globe.  I shopped around and found the same globes for much less at Hobby Lobby. I was able to take advantage of a post-holiday discount and got a great deal.  They come in packs of 4, so I bought 2 packs, so I got 8 glass globes for the price of four Amazon globe.

Globe.jpg

Woodwork:

I started with a trip to Woodcraft to buy some nice wood.  I was looking for a 4″x4″x4″block to use as the base.  After much searching, I found a block of Mahogany and a block of Purpleheart wood.  Both blocks were 4″x4″x8″, so I could get a total of 4 blocks from them.  The Purpleheart wood came covered in wax.  They guys at the store assured me it would be easy to remove with a bit of heat and a scraper.

I got to work on the bandsaw and sliced up the wood.  I found that removing the wax was a big pain, so I opted to trim thin slices of the outer surface off using the bandsaw. Although frustrated that I lost 1/8″ on all sides, it was better than trying to scrape all the wax off.  I went to the belt sander and cleaned up all the cut surfaces.  Next, on to the router where I rounded all the corners.  Finally, some hand sanding to give a smooth finish and rub out some of the burn marks from the router – Purpleheart seems to burn easily.

I drilled 1″ holes into the top of each block using a drill press and a big wood bit.  I decided to go down pretty far (about 2″) to leave room in the bottom to coil wire.  It was easy on the Mahogany, but took time with the Purpleheart because it kept overheating the bit.  I could only drill 1/4″ at a time and that generated enough smoke to make me concerned about starting a fire.  I drilled a 3/16″ side port to feed the wires in.

Wood Finishing.jpg

I used some high-gloss Tung Oil to finish the wooden blocks and it really made the grain pop.  These were really beautiful pieces of wood!

 

Assembly:

  • First, I fed the LED light strand through the hole in the back into the 1″ center hole.
  • Next, I fed the LED light strand into the glass globe.
  • I found the end result looked better if you straighten the LED light strand wires before inserting into the globe.
  • There was a small length of wire connecting the silver LED light strand wires to the battery pack – I coiled that in the bottom of the 1″ hole to hide it.  It looks better if you only see the silver wire inside the globe.
  • I used adhesive rubber feet on the bottom to avoid scratches.
  • I used adhesive Velcro to attach the battery pack
  • I found the glass globes were a snug fit inside the 1″ hole, but I still opted to use some E6000 to ensure they would not come loose.

 

Conclusions:

The project to make four globes took about 5 hours total and really turned out nicely.  Each globe cost about $15 USD.  I hope my Nieces appreciate the results.  Some lessons learned:

  • Glass globes break when you squeeze them too hard!  (duh!).  The lip of the ornament was not finished properly and was sticking out.  I was attempting to sand it down so I can insert it into the 1″ hole in the wood block.  I guess, I was using too much force, because the whole globe shattered in my hand.  I attended to a good amount of blood from 2 cuts on my hand while attempting to sweep the floor.  I’m glad I bought extra globes.  Next time – plastic globes!
  • Purpleheart is too dense for my liking.  It splintered and burned in the router.  Due to the high cost and challenges, I probably won’t use that again. The Mahogany was a joy to work with.
  • I opted to use velcro to mount the battery and switch.  The tutorial discussed an option that carves out part of the bottom to hide the battery, but I felt it was too hard to get to the batteries to change them, and too hard to reach the switch.
  • If my Nieces like them a lot and battery life becomes a challenge (I could see these as nightlights – left on all night), then I may have to re-wire to a wall adapter.

0129171728.jpg

 

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