Showtime! The Lighted Planetarium

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Project by splintergroup posted 11-14-2017 06:37 PM 1905 views 9 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A joint project between the spousal unit and I for the weekends crafts fair.

What it is:

The wood work is a round, fumed red oak display stand with internal LED lights to enhance the glass artwork.
The glass is a 10” diameter x 1/4” plate.

The story

My wife does fused glass artwork. One of the side effects of clear fusing glass is it often will contain lots of tiny air bubbles. She was making a plate with a black glass bottom and a clear glass top sandwiched together. Between the glass sheets she did a decorative design.

That is when we noticed the bubbles and thought about “incorporating” them into the design. I had though they looked kind of like stars and if I held a light to the edge of the glass, they glowed nicely!

Long story short, this is the latest of many of these side lit glass works I have made stands for.

This design represents planets and moons made of dichroic glass on the standard black/clear background.

I don’t have the setup to do HDR photography, so here is a picture that shows how the background gets lit up:

Now imagine seeing these in the background as well as seeing the planets as in intro picture #3.
(get the picture? 8^), basically a nice view of planets with star filled space behind.

They make for subtle night lights. The LEDs can be dimmed and even switched off. The power is supplied by a 12 volt “wall wart” type transformer.

How it’s Made

I haven’t covered the full process here before, but here is a run down of the steps.

The “ring” is a sandwich of layers of wood. This makes the assembly quite strong. I usually use three layers, but this unit contained only two.
Actually this ring frame was intended for a wall hanging (unlit) and I modified this for the LEDs.

These are the two octagon glue ups:

They are glued together and a hardboard circle jig is double-side taped to the ring

The jig allows for creating a ring on the router table. For all these operations the jig stays in place. The “show” face of the ring is always up.

Creating the inner and outer profiles plus the rabbets for the glass, LEDs, and back are all done in multiple steps.

You can see that there is a deeper rabbet to allow centering of the LEDs on the clear layer of glass.
Here is the LED strip (120 LEDs/meter) installed. These LED strips are under a dollar for a 3 foot section.

The glass is placed on top of the innermost rabbet. I apply a thin bead of black silicone gasket cement to seal any light leaks and to keep the glass centered.

The ring support begins with a lower mount and back supports dado’ed in.

A power socket, switch, and variable resistor for dimming are added to the base. The path for the wiring is hacked out with a forstner bit. The ugly will be covered and no one will ever know 8^)

Hardboard caps it all off, the base works as a template for routing the cap evenly.

Normally no one fumes red oak, it turns greenish. my wife wanted “dark” and I had several rings already partially shaped, made of red oak. There wasn’t time to make new rings from walnut so I fumed the red oak (it turned greenish), then I used dark walnut Watco oil.

Here is a view of the controls located on the back

The dimming with the variable resistor works ok, but is a bit touchy. I’ll need to build a PWM type dimmer for future units when I have more time.

The back needed to overlap the ring instead of my usual inset approach since the ring wasn’t designed for this glass. I hope to do a proper blog writeup in the future.
Thanks for looking!

13 comments so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3296 posts in 3370 days

#1 posted 11-14-2017 06:46 PM

Splint, I know you are preparing for a show, but I am amazed at how fast you are cranking out quality products. I would be crazy if I tried to work on that many projects simultaneously. Best wishes for a profitable week end!

-- Art

View EarlS's profile


4541 posts in 3461 days

#2 posted 11-14-2017 06:53 PM

Wow – looks like you save the best for last. High tech woodworking and the lights are really the “star” of the piece.

Your technique for making a circle has me intrigued as well.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View splintergroup's profile


5262 posts in 2335 days

#3 posted 11-14-2017 06:54 PM

Thanks Art, but really, I’m not making something then posting it, these were all done over the past weeks 8^)

(I know, you knew that already!)

I knew I had little time, so I had to keep busy between drying glue and finishes. Next time (next year), I should probably get started earlier (like yesterday 8^).

(and who ever said I wasn’t already crazy?)

View splintergroup's profile


5262 posts in 2335 days

#4 posted 11-14-2017 07:04 PM

Wow – looks like you save the best for last. High tech woodworking and the lights are really the “star” of the piece.

Your technique for making a circle has me intrigued as well.

- EarlS

Hah! You beat Art to the pun 8^)

Yep, that is the last piece.

View Jerry's profile


3488 posts in 2761 days

#5 posted 11-14-2017 07:05 PM

Really Beautiful and unique!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View ralbuck's profile


6745 posts in 3379 days

#6 posted 11-14-2017 07:42 PM


-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View leafherder's profile


1982 posts in 3065 days

#7 posted 11-14-2017 11:38 PM

Beautiful – both wood and glass. And the collaboration of artists is an added benefit (especially when the artist is a spouse). Kudos to both of you and I look forward to many more joint ventures. Thanks for posting.

-- Leafherder

View swirt's profile


6264 posts in 4084 days

#8 posted 11-15-2017 02:22 AM

Clever, cool and beautiful.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26279 posts in 4218 days

#9 posted 11-15-2017 03:15 AM

That is really cool!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3979 days

#10 posted 11-15-2017 01:08 PM

This is so beautiful and nicely done. You did a wonderful job on this piece.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dan P's profile

Dan P

755 posts in 3005 days

#11 posted 11-15-2017 03:33 PM

Very creative! That should have folks stopping at your booth.

-- Daniel P

View drewpy's profile


1046 posts in 2469 days

#12 posted 11-15-2017 03:54 PM


-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Woodknack's profile


13559 posts in 3493 days

#13 posted 11-16-2017 12:50 AM

Whoa, cool. I want to take a second look later.

-- Rick M,

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