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Cube Lights

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Cordless lights in two sizes give you plenty of design options. The larger cube doubles as an end table, while the smaller one fits on a tabletop.

Cube lights in two sizes

Project Overview

Skill Level

Intermediate

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Miter saw with fine-tooth carbide-tipped blade or table saw
  • 220-grit sandpaper and sanding block
  • Random-orbit sander
  • 180-grit sanding discs
  • Assorted clamps
  • Framing square
  • Caulking gun
  • Paintbrush
  • Masking tape
  • File
  • Paint thinner

Materials

  • Rust-Oleum metallic oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, #24329
  • Quart Olympic premium interior satin latex paint, white
  • 3 - Madison Mill 5/8 x36 square poplar dowels, #27695
  • .080 x 18 x 24 clear acrylic sheet, #78778
  • Loctite PL 10.2-ounce PL200 construction adhesive, tan, #144369
  • 1/16-in x 1-in x 8-ft aluminum angle, #55971
  • Titebond II premium wood glue, 8-ounces, #41217
  • AmerTac 5.5-in MoonLite nightlight, #327903
  • 4-pack Eveready AA batteries, #98839

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources

Instructions

Build a Small Cube Frame

Step 1

Cutting an acrylic sheet without chipping the edges can be difficult, so when you pick up your materials, have a Lowe’s associate cut the parts to size for you (Cutting List).

Step 2

From three 5/8 x 5/8 x 36 poplar square dowels, crosscut the uprights (A) and stretchers (B) to length (Project Diagram and Cutting List). Remove any splinters with sandpaper and a sanding block.

Good to Know

To ensure a square cube, trim the factory-cut ends off the dowels. Then clamp a cutoff stop to your miter saw and cut parts to identical lengths using the same cutoff stop position.

Step 3

Tape a framing square to your workbench. Apply glue to the ends of two stretchers (B) and position them between two uprights (A) to form a square frame (Project Diagram). Secure the parts at the corners with masking tape. Check the assembly for square with the framing square. Set the frame aside on a flat surface to dry. Repeat with two more stretchers and uprights to form a second frame. After the glue dries, remove the masking tape and sand away any glue that squeezed out of the joints.

Step 4

Apply glue to the ends of the remaining stretchers (B). Then use masking tape to hold them in place between the two square frames to form the cube frame. Check the cube for square with the framing square. After the glue dries, remove the masking tape and sand away any glue that squeezed out of the joints.

Step 5

Paint only the inside faces of the cube frame with two coats of white latex exterior paint, lightly sanding between coats. Leaving the outside faces unpainted ensures a strong bond with the construction adhesive used to adhere the acrylic panels.

Glue on the Acrylic Panels

Step 1

Remove the protective covering from the cut-to-size acrylic panels (C). To protect the panels from scratches, cover your workbench with a pad. Then with a random-orbit sander and a 180-grit sandpaper disc, sand both sides of each panel until you achieve a uniform frosted appearance. Sand in a circular pattern and keep the sander moving slowly to avoid swirls.

Good to Know

To remove sanding dust from the acrylic panels without building up static electrical charge, wash the panels with warm water and a liquid dishwashing detergent. Rinse them well and pat them dry with a clean cotton cloth.

Step 2

Apply a bead of construction adhesive to the top face of the cube frame. Press an acrylic panel into the adhesive, centering the panel on the frame. There should be about 1/8-inch all around between the edge of the panel and the edge of the frame. Place a piece of 3/4-inch plywood or particleboard large enough to cover the entire side on top of the panel. Place a weight, such as a gallon can of paint or a brick, on the plywood or particleboard. Make sure the acrylic panel is still centered on the frame. Leave the weight in place until the adhesive sets according to the label directions. Repeat for the remaining panels.

Step 3

Starting with the top of the cube, carefully measure the outside dimensions (face of acrylic panel to face of acrylic panel), and add 1/16-inch to accommodate the thickness of the construction adhesive beads that will adhere the aluminum caps to the panels. Install a fine-tooth, carbide-tipped blade in your miter saw (60 teeth for a 10-inch blade, 80 teeth for a 12-inch blade) and cut each top cap (D) on one end (Project Diagram and Cutting List). Then, adjust the saw to cut the opposite miter and use a cutoff stop on your miter saw extension work support to ensure that all top caps are the same length.

Good to Know

To make clean, safe cuts in the aluminum angle, use a 16-inch piece of 2 x 4 as a backing block (Project Diagram, Miter Saw Setup). Adhere the backing block to the bed of your miter saw with cloth-backed double-face carpet tape, positioning it so the saw will cut a full 45-degree miter on the end. Now place the aluminum angle over the corner of the backing block and make the miter cut. The backing block is long enough to accommodate a cutoff stop block for making repeat cuts.

Step 4

Position the mitered top caps (D) on the cube and temporarily hold them in place with masking tape. Measure the length of the corner caps (E) from the bottom of the top cap to the bottom of the cube frame. Add 1/16-inch for the thickness of the bottom cap (F) and 1/16-inch for the thickness of the construction adhesive beads that will adhere the top and bottom caps to the cube. Tape the corner caps in place.

Step 5

For the length of the bottom caps (F), measure between the corner caps (E) and add 1/16-inch for the construction adhesive beads. Reposition the backing block on your miter saw to make a 90-degree cut on the end and cut the bottom caps to length.

Step 6

Deburr the ends of the caps with a file. To remove any oily film from the aluminum, wipe down the caps with a rag moistened with paint thinner. To ensure a good bond between the aluminum and the construction adhesive, apply masking tape to the inside faces of the angles, keeping the tape 1/4" away from the edges. Paint the angles with enamel spray paint, following the directions on the can.

Step 7

With the paint dry, remove the masking tape and adhere the caps to the cube with construction adhesive. Start with the top caps (D), add the corner caps (E), and finally the bottom caps (F). Hold the caps in place with masking tape until the adhesive sets. Then remove the tape.

Step 8

Install four AA batteries in a MoonLite night-light and place it on the table. Switch on the night-light and place the cube over it.

Build a Large Cube

Step 1

Cutting an acrylic sheet without chipping the edges can be difficult, so when you pick up your materials, have a Lowe’s associate cut the parts to size for you (Cutting List). Also, when selecting the 2 x 2 premium furring strips, pick them out of an unbundled stack to make sure they are as straight as possible.

Step 2

From three 2 x 2 x 8 premium furring strips, crosscut the uprights (A) and stretchers (B) to the specified lengths (Project Diagram and Cutting List). With sandpaper and a sanding block, remove any splinters.

Good to Know

To ensure that your cube is square, trim the factory ends of the furring strips. Then use a cutoff stop on your miter saw extension work support and cut each set of parts using the same cutoff stop position.

Step 3

Use masking tape to secure a framing square to your workbench near the edge. Position a stretcher (B) and an upright (A) against the square to form a corner of the cube; clamp the parts in place.

Step 4

Mark the upright with the position of the pilot hole so that it will emerge about 1/4-inch off from the center at the end of the stretcher. (You’ll drill a second slightly offset hole through the upright when you assemble the frame.) Then drill a 1/8-inch pilot hole through the upright and as far as possible into the stretcher. Mark the top surfaces of the pieces and unclamp them. Continue drilling the pilot hole into the end of the stretcher. Then enlarge the pilot hole in the upright with an 11/64-inch bit and countersink the hole. Glue the end of the stretcher, clamp the parts against your square with the marked faces up, and drive a 2-1/2-inch deck screw with the head countersunk. Unclamp the parts and wipe away excess glue with a moistened rag.

Step 5

Following the procedure above, add a second stretcher and then a second upright to the assembly, forming a square frame. Then repeat these steps to assemble a second frame.

Good to Know

Check each frame for square by measuring diagonally from corner to corner. When the diagonal dimensions are equal, the frame is square. Correct an out-of-square frame by squeezing with a clamp across the longer diagonal.

Step 6

Clamp one frame against the framing square with the upright (A) on the bench top. Position a stretcher (B) against the frame upright, and clamp it in place. Then drill a pilot and countersunk shank hole, offsetting it to avoid the screw in the frame corner joint. Drive a deck screw, unclamp the parts, and wipe away excess glue.

Step 7

Repeat the previous step to add the remaining stretchers (B) to the other three corners of the frame. Then add the second frame to the assembly, completing the cube frame (Project Diagram).

Step 8

Paint only the inside faces of the cube frame with two coats of white latex house paint, lightly sanding between coats. Leaving the outside faces unpainted ensures a strong bond with the construction adhesive used to adhere the acrylic panels.

Add Acrylic Panels and Aluminum Angles

Step 1

Remove the protective covering from the cut-to-size acrylic panels (C). To protect the panels, cover the workbench with a pad. With a random-orbit sander and a 180-grit sandpaper disc, sand both sides of each panel until you achieve a uniform frosted appearance. Sand in a circular pattern and keep the sander moving slowly to avoid swirls.

Good to Know

To remove sanding dust from the acrylic panels without building up static electrical charge, wash the panels with warm water and a liquid dishwashing detergent. Rinse them well and pat them dry with a clean cotton cloth.

Step 2

Apply a bead of construction adhesive to the top face of the cube frame. Press an acrylic panel into the adhesive, centering the panel on the frame. There should be about 1/8-inch all around between the edge of the panel and the edge of the frame. Place a piece of 3/4-inch plywood or particle board large enough to cover the entire side on top of the panel and place weights, such as gallon cans of paint or bricks, on the plywood or particle board. Make sure the acrylic panel is still centered on the frame. Leave the weights in place until the adhesive sets according to the label directions. Repeat on the cube sides with the remaining panels.

Step 3

Starting with the top of the cube, carefully measure the outside dimensions (face of acrylic panel to face of acrylic panel), and add 1/16-inch to accommodate the thickness of the construction adhesive beads that will adhere the aluminum caps to the panels. Install a fine-tooth carbide-tipped blade in your miter saw (60 teeth for a 10-inch blade, 80 teeth for a 12-inch blade) and cut each top cap (D) on one end (Project Diagram and Cutting List). Then, adjust the saw to cut the opposite miter and use a cutoff stop on your miter saw extension work support to ensure that all top caps are the same length, as shown below.

Good to Know

To make clean, safe cuts in the aluminum angle, make a 3-1/2x 3-1/2-inch backing block by gluing and clamping two 36-inch-long pieces of 2 x 4 together, keeping the edges flush. You also can use a piece of 4 x 4 . Then adhere the backing block to the bed of your miter saw with cloth-backed double-face carpet tape, positioning it so the saw will cut a full 45-degree miter on the end. Now place the aluminum angle over the corner of the backing block and make the miter cut. The backing block is long enough to accommodate a cutoff stop block for making repeat cuts.

Step 4

Position the mitered top caps (D) on the cube and temporarily hold them in place with masking tape. Measure the length of the corner caps (E) from the bottom of the top cap to the bottom of the cube frame. Add 1/16-inch for the thickness of the bottom cap (F) and 1/16-inch for the thickness of the construction adhesive beads that will adhere the top and bottom caps to the cube. Tape the corner caps in place.

Step 5

For the length of the bottom caps (F), measure between the corner caps (E) and add 1/16-inch for the construction adhesive beads. Reposition the backing block on your miter saw to make a 90-degree cut on the end and cut the bottom caps to length.

Step 6

Deburr the ends of the caps with a file. To remove any oily film from the aluminum, wipe down the caps with a rag moistened with paint thinner. To ensure a good bond between the aluminum and the construction adhesive, apply masking tape to the inside faces of the angles, keeping the tape 1/4-inch away from the edges. Paint the angles with enamel spray paint, following the directions on the can.

Step 7

After the paint dries, remove the masking tape and adhere the caps to the cube with construction adhesive. Start with the top caps (D), then add the corner caps (E), and finally the bottom caps (F). Hold the caps in place with masking tape until the adhesive sets. Remove the tape.

Build the Cube Core

Step 1

From a 3/4 x 24 x 48-in piece of plywood, cut the core parts to size (Project Diagram and Cutting List).

Step 2

Glue and clamp a foot (H) to each side (G) as shown. Then drill pilot and countersunk shank holes through the side and into the foot and drive 1-5/8-inch deck screws.

Step 3

Glue and clamp the side assemblies together to form an open-end box. Note how one side laps over the edge of the adjacent side to make a square box (Project Diagram). Drill pilot and countersunk shank holes and drive 1-5/8-inch deck screws.

Step 4

Glue and clamp the top (I) to the feet/sides assembly (G/H). Then drill pilot and countersunk shank holes through the top and into the sides and drive 1-5/8-inch deck screws.

Step 5

Sand the core and apply two coats of white acrylic latex house paint, lightly sanding between coats with 220-grit sandpaper.

Step 6

Drive #7 x 3/4-inch flathead wood screws into the sides and top of the core where dimensioned (Project Diagram), letting the heads protrude 3/16-inch. Install four AA batteries in each MoonLite night-light and hang them on the protruding screw heads. Switch on the night-lights and place the cube over the core. The feet center the core inside the cube with enough wiggle room to make placement easy.