75: Hanging Lamps

This week’s post was inspired by a thrift store find, the book “Scroll Saw Pattern Book” by Patrick Spielman and Patricia Spielman, published 1986.  I have a weakness for thrift store vintage craft books, and many come home with me, even for crafts I’ve never done.  This scroll saw book is full of simple patterns and had a bit of the country kitsch going on.

The lamps worked well, in theory.I was never satisfied with my materials or the bare bulb.

The lamps worked well, in theory. I was never satisfied with my materials or the bare bulb.

Flipping through quickly, the “Lamp Assembly” project caught my eye.  I did experiment with laser cut lamps way back in 2009.  I dubbed it the “Lampersand” – a lamp made from ampersands.  It was conceptually cool but structurally weak with fins of 3mm acrylic just hooked into rings around the cord.  They broke easily, slight differences in thickness of the materials could render them impossible to construct, and personally I am not a huge fan of the bare bulb.

No pun intended, but seeing them roll it up was one of those "light bulb" moments for me.

No pun intended, but seeing them roll it up was one of those “light bulb” moments for me.

The project in this book actually was more of a shade or screen with pierced designs over a hanging bulb.  They constructed the body of their shade by taping properly beveled pieces close together, putting glue in the seams and rolling it up.  Completely simple, sturdy and brilliant.  I knew I wanted to try it.

New miter guide design, with the points extending to their logical end, not more guessing.  I designed the cutting line into the laser file.

New miter guide design, with the points extending to their logical end, not more guessing. I designed the cutting line into the laser file.

Aaaand, it's still 3mm off, thanks to the tool. Whoops!

Aaaand, it’s still 3mm off, thanks to the tool. Whoops!

Since I’ve never worked with mitered edges before, I simplified my lamp design to a 4 sided box, with nice, neat, 45 degree mitered corners.  When we discovered bevel guides for the Dremel Sawmax don’t exist for the length we wanted, we had to design our own guide – you can see the results in Week 73: Bevel Or Miter Guide.  We took the lessons learned that week and improved the jig design for final lamp production, elongating the points to take the guesswork out of where the blade would land.  (In the end it still wasn’t quite perfect – we didn’t take into account the fact edge of the tool, even with the flush blade, sits 3mm from the surface when laid flat.  Luckily we could accommodate this extra length with the design).

What you need to construct your own lamp:

– 4 rectangular / square pieces that are the same size with 45 degree mitered left and right edges.  These build the wall of your shade. You can design as you see fit, but I suggest the edges stay solid for sturdiness of the final design.

– 4 long, thin bumpers, one for each wall of your design, to be glued  top inside of your shade

– 1 square that becomes the top of your lamp that fits snugly inside the space when you have your 4 shade walls in place that has a hole in the center to accommodate the hanging bulb

– a pendant lamp cord – I found mine at Ikea

– wood glue, clamps and masking tape

Step 1: Glue in your bumpers

Bumpers glued and clamped!

Bumpers glued and clamped!

I did this first so I wouldn’t have to worry about them sliding around on vertical walls.  I could clamp them and lay them flat to dry.  Also, it was an easy way for me to tell which side was up, so I didn’t accidentally glue in a wall upside down.  Bumpers go along the top edge!

Step 2: Align your shade walls

Shade walls taped together along their mitered edges.  The photo shows transfer tape, you I wound it was better to use a strip of masking tape at the top edge, bottom edge and in the middle.  Once in place, I put a line of glue in the seams, rolled it up and let it dry overnight.

Shade walls taped together along their mitered edges. The photo shows transfer tape, but I found it was better to use a strip of masking tape at the top edge, bottom edge and in the middle. Once in place, I put a line of glue in the seams, rolled it up and let it dry overnight.

I was a little worried, so I did use the corner clamps for extra security.  It was totally necessary.

I was a little worried, so I did use the corner clamps for extra security. It was totally unnecessary.

Step 3: Attach the pendant cord to the top of your lamp

This photo shows the plastic ring that secures the pendant cord to your shade.  And is just an awesome shot on the inside of the lamp.

This photo shows the plastic ring that secures the pendant cord to your shade. And is just an awesome shot on the inside of the lamp.

The Ikea light has a neat little plastic ring threaded on to the socket which hold the lamp in place.  By the photos, you can probably tell I actually did Step 4 before Step 3, but trust me, it’s easier doing Step 3 first.

Step 4: Thread the cord and lamp top through the walls of the box, until the top is resting on the bumpers.

Lamp! (17 of 31)

The shade is held together by gravity, no glue.  It’s nice because it is also easily dissembled – you can change your shade but keep the same cord.  But because it isn’t glued together, it was harder to attach top to the lamp when it was inside the box, and when it is not hanging, the top falls to the bottom.

Step 5: Hang and admire.

Hanging with the light off

Hanging with the light off.  I love this color combination.

Hanging with the light on.

Hanging with the light on.

Hanging with the light on.

Hanging with the light on.

Hanging with the light on.  Admire thoroughly.

Hanging with the light on. Admire thoroughly.

The light made my living room nice and cozy and the intricate cuts and patterns on the wall added a touch of the exotic.  What I want to do is buy a proper table saw (the miter guide works in a pinch, but the table saw would be so much easier) and go into the lamp making biz!  I have so many ideas!

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