Dodecahedron Lamp

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Project by SlideRule posted 09-15-2015 06:40 PM 19948 views 7 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I are both technically-oriented (she’s a recovering physicist, I’m an ex-engineer) so we wanted something very geometric for our dining room table…nothing frilly or fancy. She saw something like this in a magazine for $400…which wasn’t in the budget. She asked if I could make something like this…

A dodecahedron has 12 sides, each of which is a pentagon. Each leg is comprised of two pieces…it was cleaner that way rather than having to do beveled rip cuts on two faces of each piece. Each piece gets a compound miter on each end as well.

The angles were pretty wicked and had to be REALLLLLLLY accurate to get things to fit. I was adjusting the miter saw with very gentle hammer taps to move tenths of a degree to get the fit right. The second photo shows a bunch of prototype cuts. The adjustments were less than a degree between those four protoypes you see…it was just figuring out which way to move which angle (bevel on table saw for rip cuts, which angle on the miter saw). It’s all held together with staples and glue. Because of all the butt joints, I wasn’t comfortable with just glue in case a child grabs it, etc. The staples are only used where another piece would later cover it. Sanded and painted with a metallic-looking dark gray paint to look “industrial.” We felt like the wood hanging over the wood table was not quite our style.

The light components were frankensteined from three different lamp kits. We have since switched to an old-timey Edison bulb which looks awesome (though it doesn’t throw off much light, which is fine because we have plenty of can lights around the room).

16 comments so far

View drbyte's profile


848 posts in 5309 days

#1 posted 09-15-2015 06:50 PM

Very nice project! I would love to make a speaker like this. What were your miters at the ends and bevels on the sides? I do segmented bowls and have to fiddle with the segments like you have had to. I use a sled on my table saw to get exact cuts replicated 16 or 24 times for each layer, but no bevels. The miter cuts appear to be 36 degrees, is that correct?

-- Dennis, WV

View drbyte's profile


848 posts in 5309 days

#2 posted 09-15-2015 06:55 PM

Wonder if one could build the pentagons a little wide/heavy then run them though the saw or jointer for the final bevels on the sides?

-- Dennis, WV

View Ivan's profile


17017 posts in 4115 days

#3 posted 09-15-2015 08:41 PM

Very demanding project. I wouldn’t dare to make it. Othervise looks just fine.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Redoak49's profile


5395 posts in 3236 days

#4 posted 09-15-2015 09:32 PM

I look at a lot of projects and this one is at the top. Very well done!!!,

View greg48's profile


635 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 09-15-2015 10:22 PM

Very interesting. Not sure I would tackle it without a least a gallon of “Bondo”

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

View Pointer's profile


465 posts in 2358 days

#6 posted 09-16-2015 12:35 AM

No doubt that there was a bit of math involved in this project. Good job dialing in the angles. Being able to calculate the angles is the easy part, actually cutting them accurately on a saw is a completely different thing. Can’t wait to see your icosahedron!

-- Joe - I am not entirely worthless, I can always serve as a bad example.

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 4273 days

#7 posted 09-16-2015 06:36 AM

Looks great!

-- Dreaming patterns

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 4485 days

#8 posted 09-16-2015 12:24 PM

Wow, fantastic light. But those patterns it throws on the room could make it hard on someone that is tripping. Not that I know anything about that. :)

-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View SlideRule's profile


20 posts in 2237 days

#9 posted 09-16-2015 01:09 PM

I don’t remember what all the angles were off the top of my head…did a bunch of geometry to nail them all down.

Drbyte, I think doing the inside bevels on a jointer instead of a table saw would probably be more accurate…but I don’t have a jointer yet.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4114 days

#10 posted 09-16-2015 02:50 PM

Beautifully done and a great design.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View milkbone's profile


12 posts in 2232 days

#11 posted 09-16-2015 03:57 PM

This is great. Don’t think I am gonna get this one done with my miter box and hand saw though.

-- husband, father, wood jockey, follower of Christ.

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 2867 days

#12 posted 09-16-2015 06:25 PM

As someone who has done a wooden soccer ball nightlight (see projects), I can appreciate the skill required to do something like this. Very nicely done!

View SteveGaskins's profile


762 posts in 3834 days

#13 posted 09-16-2015 10:25 PM

Interesting project. A lot of angles.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3435 days

#14 posted 09-17-2015 03:58 AM

Very nicely done. I agree with your use of staples or brads. When your vertices are off by a tiny fraction of a degree, it’s very difficult to glue individual sections together without having a very poorly fitting piece for last. Using fasteners allows you to distribute the inaccuracies among all butt joints. No one is dead on perfect. By the same token, you don’t have to wrestle with the final piece.

When you go for the truncated icosahedron, drop me a message or look back at my projects. You may want to try a little trick to make the vertices a little easier to handle.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View oldsawtooth's profile


160 posts in 2522 days

#15 posted 09-17-2015 01:08 PM

wow thats amazing my friend, dont think i have that in me.nice, nice, nice, God speed!

-- James,Alabama,

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