How To: Building A Light Table Under $80

As a designer, Stefan Fahrngruber of SFA understands how nice it is to have a light table. I can attest to how nice they are when picking out tiny vinyl cut shapes after plotting. Unfortunately, light tables can be hard to come by inexpensively, and difficult to make. Sure, you can put a light under a glass table, but it doesn’t always work well, the light isn’t distributed evenly, and can still be expensive if you don’t already own a glass table.

Stefan designed a light table that you can make for under $80 using standard decorative LED strips. The idea is to arrange them in a small grid which gives off even lighting while also keeping the construction of the table lightweight. You’ll also have the ability to dim the lights and change the colors.


The table is made with an A3 tempered glass cutting mat, size 16.5″ x 11.7″.  Stefan writes that you’ll also need:

-LED strip approximately 10 feet long. Make sure to pick one which generates the light out of one LED surface, really cheap ones use three separate LED’s to mix the light, which doesn’t work at close distances. Also make sure the control unit of the LED strip fits in the box, and the strip is able to be arranged to fit inside your box.

-5 foot LED strip connection wire (those are special wires with four color coded lines in the right distance, you can also buy ready made ones but they are rather expensive)

-2m of wooden rectangular profile in 5x30mm and 5x35mm (actually you can go crazy on the box, I tried to build it as slim and light as possible)

-One aluminum plate 2.5mm thick, 490x310mm (the stronger the plate the better the heat is derived, this has to be metal, believe me!)

-One milky acrylic glass plate (5mm strong, 450x300mm) make sure to plan a gap so the glass falls in place easy. Make the glass at least 5mm so it can support your weight while drawing on it. Thicker is an option, it will make the light more diffused but also weakens the brightness.

-Glue or paste to fix the wooden profiles (fitting the edges with a mitre is nice but more advanced, up to you)

-Small screws to fix the baseplate to the frame.

-Four rubber feet

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DIY Seinfeld TV Aqaurium


If you’re a fan of shows about nothing, then you may be hard pressed to find anything more entertaining than this old television that’s been outfitted with an aquarium featuring a model of the set from Seinfeld, as well as the entire cast played by fish.

Luckily, Matt Davidson thoroughly documented the process he used to create his spectacular feat of upcycling in this Seinfeld TV aquarium tutorial.

There are a ton of old school TVs for sale now that flat screens TVs are a dime a dozen. [Why] not repurpose that old TV in grandma’s house into an awesome fish tank[?] With some basic tools and some common sense you can be watching your own fish on the small screen. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan so [I] turned the set into Jerry’s living room, complete with furniture and cast.

Davidson even outlined all of the materials costs in a spreadsheet, which clearly indicates that watching this aquarium is much cheaper than paying a monthly cable bill in the long run!

[via Neatorama]

Turning A Balloon into A Phone Cover in Seconds

Need a phone cover in a hurry? Apparently, sheltering your phone is as easy as deflating a balloon, as Youtube user woosung an demonstrates in this handy tutorial video.

I’m not sure where woosung an got the idea to do this, but it bears a striking resemblance to a magic trick called “Pressure” that Daniel Garcia and Dan White conjured up a few years ago. The magic trick has a few extra flourishes to keep the audience titillated, but it’s essentially the same process.

So, whether your phone is in desperate need of adorning, or you’ve got an audience to amuse, a good ol’ balloon has you covered!

[via Daily Mail]

10,000 Euros Offered To Design An Open Source Plastic Recycling Machine

When we first discovered Precious Plastics, we thought the idea was noble. Precious plastics is a collection of  systems for recycling plastic locally. Each system is simple and single purpose to keep the design easy to recreate. All of the designs are open source and shared freely on his website. Others found the project to be worthwhile as well, as Dave, the creator was awarded with 10,000 euros for his work.

He has decided to roll this money back into the project. Being a practical and intelligent guy, he realizes that his skills and knowledge are lacking. The best way he can push his cause forward is to offer a bounty. The 10,000 will go to pay an engineer to design a system, which will then be released as open source to the world.

I can’t wait to see what future designs come from this project, and if I ever bump into Dave I’ll have to buy the guy lunch just for being so great.

Dollar Store Hack: The Hunger Games Gold Collectible Plate

Does anyone out there remember the passion people had in acquiring collectible decorative plates back in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s? Names like The Bradford Exchange, The Franklin Mint and Royal Doulton were pumping out limited edition decorative plates destined for the dining room hutch and our parents’ ‘do not touch anything on there’ tables everywhere. Ah, those were the days!

Since that time, collectible plates have lost a lot of their luster as sought after collectibles due to over-production. However, there’s still a unique allure to having a fancy looking artistic display piece you will never ever eat food off of. To me at least, collectible plates still have a niche appeal to them.

After discovering my local dollar store sells real tempered plates for $2 apiece, I decided the time had come to create a one-of-a-kind decorative plate based on a more personalized sense of style, versus the over-produced dust collectors that killed the collectible plate market in the first place.

My first collectible/decorative plate is a homage to The Hunger Games and Jennifer Lawrence’s iconic character Katniss Everdeen.

I will honestly say that I do greatly enjoy The Hunger Games franchise. I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching the first installment after my young niece dragged me to the theater kicking and screaming (I was still traumatized from the forced Twilight movie outing nightmare). But now thanks to my bragging niece, I love The hunger Games and was excited to make my first collectible plate about the strong and respectable Katniss character!

Making a collectible plate is ridiculously easy! Just get a quality dollar store plate (sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist now), spray paint of the color you want and create an image on your computer. Spray paint the plate and while it dries, print the image, place double-sided tape on the back, cut out and stick down on the plate. Easy-peasy!

The finished plate will look gorgeous and will make a great personalized gift for Christmas. This technique can be used to make a collectible plate about anything your heart desires.

So happy designing and let’s fill that hutch or shelf with some amazing and personalized one-of-a-kind masterpieces!

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DIY Cable Ties from Corks


I spotted this fantastic idea for cable ties floating around on Pinterest. By the looks of it, the source comes from a magazine clipping (title unknown). This is a super simple idea, and all of the instructions are written in this clipping.

The key to this hack is using the synthetic corks, since natural corks would be too brittle and likely crumble under pressure. You could certainly get a similar result using pieces of doweling as well.

A great DIY gift for someone who likes to keep their stuff tidy and organized!

Dollar Store Hack: Cardboard Articulating Baby Groot

The world has been enthralled with the emergence of a cute little superhero once considered a cheesy one-time Marvel horror monster from the 60s. Groot has quickly become a fan favorite of comic buffs everywhere and his ‘Baby Groot’ form is even more popular.

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Toys and figurines of Baby Groot have been popping up in marketplaces worldwide. However, instead of buying a moveable Baby Groot, it is incredibly easy to make one’s own with very basic and inexpensive materials. A quick trip to the dollar store can provide you everything needed to create a fun Baby Groot desktop toy.

Forget bobbleheads – 2014 is the year of the moving and grooving Baby Groot!



How To Make A Derrick For Turkey Frying

Every year someone ruins a perfectly good Thanksgiving turkey with improper (and potentially unsafe) fryer usage. Such a shame! But, you could always build a homemade derrick! Most people are familiar with oil derricks, and here we have another kind of “oil” derrick known as a fry derrick.

Alton Brown shows us how to make one via Youtube video using an eight-step ladder (fiberglass recommended, but not necessary), a 2 inch swivel pulley, a 2 inch eye hook pulley, a 3 inch spring link, 2 cable ties in the 11″-15″ range, a 6 inch window shade cleat with the appropriate fastening hardware for your type of ladder, cotton sash cord, a screwdriver and a drill. He warns that

“failure to the instructions provided could result in fire or explosion, which could cause property damage, personal injury, or death; not to mention ruin a perfectly good turkey.”

Cool Crowdfunding Nov. 22: Landspeeders to Rope Making and Conductive Ink Erasers

The Landspeeder Project

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Whisker IoT

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Safari Trike

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 Erasable Circuit Marker

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Ceramics Made From Controlled Explosions




Traditional handmade ceramics can be quite time consuming to shape. Luckily, artist Adam Železný has innovated a new production technique for homemade ceramics that significantly speeds up the process. By embedding explosives in lumps of clay and detonating them inside molds, Železný shapes clay into forms almost instantly in a fantastic series of ceramic pieces he calls “The Blast.”

The Blast is a set of ceramics vessels that are shaped by a shockwave induced by controlled detonation. I am using a sophisticated system of explosive charges which – on basis of measurements and tests – determine the final shape of the bowls. As a result, I am presenting a set of different sized bowls which stand on the edge of fine and applied arts. The important point is the act of creation of the bowl. The blast, event, which itself lasts no longer than the actual detonation. A shockwave shaping the bowl is spreading at a supersonic speed and partially imprints itself into the ceramic mass. It is kind of a punk analogy to an industrial porcelain production, isostatic shaping, which is also based on the use of pressure. However with much lower costs and much different result classified as free ceramics.

Of course, the clean up time may be significantly increased by this spectacular process, but at the very least these ceramic pieces put on a great show!

[via Beautiful/Decay]