If you want to keep things original, then this is a great project. With a little work and time you can 1up all your friends with a great new look for your bar lighting.
I'll start off by saying, my expertise isn't in welding, or electronics. I won't go as far as to say that I've got an eye for design, but when I see something or come up with something I really like, then I try to put it together. That's how this was done, after viewing another similar design that used welding and some extensive LED solutions, I was like, "Man I love that, but I don't have the tools or the capability to make one of these." So this was my solution.
The idea for this light comes from a project I once saw on Instructables. The light this individual made called for welding, and a far more elaborate lighting solution. While I loved the look of it, I felt like I could acheive something far less complicated to build that would also cost much less, and still have a pretty cool result.
The general idea is, the two layers will be spaced apart approximately 4-1/2". In the bottom sheet, you'll make your holes with the smaller hole saw and in the top sheet, you'll cut with the larger hole saw. Beer bottles will fit into the holes upside down. In addition, we'll be cutting a window into the bottom layer, to make for some effective lighting. When the light is turned on, it will shine directly through the window below, as well as through the bottles, giving a nice looking effect.
Unlike most projects, our first step will be choosing a beer... Or more accurately, a beer bottle. This is important, because while they all have their same absic designs, the widths can vary, and almost everything you do on here will depend on the width of the bottle as the base and the neck. I chose to go with Bud Light Platinum. This should give a cool looking effect when the light passes through it. The base is 2.5" and the neck rests comfortably into a 1-3/4" hole.
Once we know our diameters, we can start mapping out our measurements. I'm using twenty bottles; four on the short sides and eight on the long sides. I gave everything about half an inch of space. If you do the math you can get a more exact number for the space between the bottles, but that's my approximation, and depending on the bottles you chose, my numbers may not matter. So tape out your two sheets of metal and start measuring out your cutting points. You'll want to measure for the centers of the cuts, so you can use the same points for both sheets.
You'll also want to mark out your cuts for the eight bolts as well as the window in the bottom sheet. I decided to go a half inch in from the outter diameter of the cuts for the bottles. I wanted to leave myself enough room to add some extra support to my top layer if i felt it was necessary.
Now that you've traced everything out, it's time to start our cutting. For the circles, I've chose my holesaws based on the bottles I'm using, and going to use a drill press for this. Since it's especially important that everything be properly lined up, I'd recommend this to everyone attempting this project. The drill press will make sure my cuts are even and in line without wandering out of position.
Wear proper eye protection. I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but no one wants a metal sliver in their eye!! With that said, this is messy, so I'd make sure you're working in an area that metal shavings won't be an issue.
I'd recommend placing the aluminum on top of a piece of wood, then clamping them down to the drill press bench to make sure they won't move. When cutting metal, make sure to run your drill press at a higher RPM and if you don't have cutting oils, use water to keep the temps down. It will make a world of difference. Now you're ready to make your 20 cuts to the aluminum. This one is time consuming, but pretty simple. Move at a speed that feels comfortable, as you don't want to crack your bit.
When cutting the acrylic, you want to run your drill press at a lower RPM. This will prevent the acrylic from melting. If it starts gumming up your saw, your cuts will take much longer, and you can risk cracking the acrylic.
I've intentionally left the exact measurements out of this, but I'll include the exact measurements for my layout at the end.
Once all of your cuts are finished, it's time to start bolting everything together. From the bottom layer up, feed your first bolt up. Use a nut to lock down the bottom layer. Now take another nut and screw it about an inch or so down, add the spring washer, and place the acrylic over them both. Now add the acorn nut to the top and tighten it as much as you can and then bring up the nut and spring washer tight against that. Repeat this seven more times.
I chose to attach my chain using a 1/4" crown bolt. The back plate on it gave pretty excellent support for the plexi glass, so I didn't need to worry about it cracking anything. I cut my chain to four equal lengths, and used the "S" hooks to connect it to the light and the ceiling. In the image to the right, you can see the bolts that hold the structure together as well as the crown bolts in place.
The final step, applying the lighting... For this, I chose something simple. I picked up some very bright LED strip lights from Ikea. They come out to about $15 each, and I bought two of them. These come with three strips that connect to each other, and by chance, with two of the strips plugged in, they by chance fit the length of the light perfectly. I placed mine along the bottom against the bottles, facing up. The mirrored acrylic and glossy side of the aluminum do an excellent job of distributing the light.
Now we're all finished and you have one sweet light to hang above your bar or your pool table. The best part is, you've supplied the bottles, so beyond being built by you, it has some of your personal touch in the bottles you chose. One item I'm still considering, if you want more light, there should be room for three decently sized pod lights in the center of your aluminum sheet. Keep the weight in mind while building this though and add some of your own touches for sure!!