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Cardboard LED Desk Lamp


The last New York apartment that I called "home" was shared with two other young professionals. While they had already furnished all of the shared spaces in our apartment, the room that was to be mine was empty save for a bed frame. Everything else I needed to source myself and, knowing that I wasn't going to stay in New York for very long, I was cautious to not to spend money on furnishings that I wouldn't be able to take with me upon my departure.

However I still had to do work. And work requires a desk with some sort of light source, ideally something more pleasing than the room's single built-in light fixture. Recognizing that the foam mattress I'd purchased had put a considerable amount of one of my favorite materials (cardboard) literally into my lap, I decided to see if it was possible to build a shelf-style desk lamp on the cheap.

The Build

It just so happened that I'd already acquired a strip of soft-white LEDs a month or so earlier, so the only supplies I needed to find were a power switch and an AC-to-12-volt power supply.

I cut about a dozen cardboard rectangles, set two aside, and then cut out a large portion of the rest to make for some light shielding. After hot-gluing it all together I simply had to adhere the light strips to the cardboard using their built-in adhesive backing reinforced with a dab of hot glue here and there.

A few minutes with a soldering iron to wire each of the 5 individual strips together and voila!

I decided that I wanted to mount my lamp to the wall in a manner that would allow it to be adjusted easily, so I opted to use some eyelet screws and some clothesline for the job. Adjustments can be made by shortening or lengthening the center string loop.

End Result

Turned out it worked even better than expected! When in use it's easy to forget how cheap and simple the lamp is, it works that well. Now it is no longer in-use, though... which is fine, as I have plans to repurpose the electronics to build something more akin to Waarmaker's R16 lamp in the future.