LumberJocks

Shoji Lamp

  • Advertise with us
Project by CatUpATree posted 03-23-2022 05:20 AM 701 views 3 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been needing a lamp in my office for a while and always loved the look of shoji lamps, so, naturally, I decided to build one.

I found five surprisingly straight 36”x1”x1” cedar boards from the building reclaim place for only $5. This was perfect for the lamp. The final dimensions of the lamp are 18”x 8”x8”.

This project requires a lot of precision if it’s to come our right. I made an adjustable thicknessing jig especially for this project. This photo shows one of the cedar boards being brought to the final thickness.

The biggest challenge with this lamp was the joinery. Not sure what the main joints are called, but they’re basically lap joints sitting part way into a 2-sided dado. (I guess that’s what their called. Close enough, eh?)

I practiced doing this joint completely by hand. As the old saying goes, 4th time’s the charm, or something like that.

Doing one joint like this was quite a bit of work for me, but I had to do this 8 times for the lamp. My hand sawing is very mortal, so I decided the only way for me to make the necessary cuts was with a band saw, then remove and fine tune the joints with a chisel. This worked beautifully. I never would have achieved this kind of precision with a hand saw. When I dry fitted the frame, most of the joints were surprisingly tight. Nonetheless, I ended up gluing the joints. I lightly sanded the pieces with 220 grit before gluing up, so the joints didn’t fit as tight anymore, but the fit was still quite good.

The next step was to make the wood strips for the shoji frame. I used a salvaged cedar board from an old fence. The strips were cut on the band saw, then trimmed to final thickness using the thicknessing jig. This was pretty quick.

I decided to miter the joints of the frame. I did this on my shooting board using a 45 deg block of wood to get the angle. This worked okay, but the miters were a little rough. However, then did fit into the frame of the lamp with some adjustment.

Since the shoji frame was tall, it seemed flimsy. Some cross pieces seemed like they would help with rigidity. I had leftover strips, so they were used to make a simple design. (NOTE: Everyone I watched making a shoji frame, they got all the strips to the right dimensions, then bundled the strips before cutting notches into the strips. I didn’t do this because I hadn’t planned to make cross pieces, so I did them one at a time. This was a very clumsy way to do things and rather imprecise. Moral of the story: plan this part out and commit! Retrofitting is a nightmare.)

As for light sources, I could, of course, use a traditional bulb and socket, but I found an LED puck light (that’s what it’s actually called) plus switch and plug for ~$13 on Amazon. It’s quite bright! In order to mount the LED, I jointed a cross piece on the bottom of the lamp and stuck the puck to the cross piece with double-sided tape. This was easy and worked well.

As for finishes, I used pre-conditioner on the lamp frame and shoji frames followed by one coat of natural wood stain. (I’m not totally sure why I did it this way. Must have made sense at the time.) These were steel wooled, then the lamp frame was given two coats of shellac. I didn’t do this for the shoji frames. Seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Finally I applied paste wax with 0000 steel wool to the lamp frame and most parts of the shoji frames, skipping the back side because the shoji paper needed to be glued to the back. For the shoji frames, I used Titebond II to glue the shoji paper to the frames. This was rather straightforward.

This was quite a challenging project, but I’m enjoying the lamp as I’m writing this post.

Thanks for checking out my post!





12 comments so far

View Eric's profile

Eric

5763 posts in 1367 days


#1 posted 03-23-2022 11:02 AM

Nicely done, and a great write up 9n your process. A great job on all of the joints, which are interesting and look like they will hold up. I may copy those in a project that the better half wants me to build, been putting it off because I could not figure out the best way. Thanks for sharing.

-- Eric, building the dream. the "Loft"

View Eeyore's profile

Eeyore

142 posts in 710 days


#2 posted 03-23-2022 11:10 AM

This is quite lovely. Congratulations on a successful and attractive project.

Another name for this kind of frame lamp is “andon”.

You would have had an easier time of it if you had made the side panels fully independant of the frame and then fitted into place after the paper is applied. This would also make it easier to replace the paper if it ever becomes damaged.

I have started using LED “flickering flame” bulbs in my lanterns. These use dozens of LEDS in a cylinder to make an animated fire display. They are available as Edison-base bulbs, solar garden lights, battery operated “candles”, and even as an option in some camping lanterns.

I hope you enjoy having this around. It seems like you learned a lot making it, and it looks wonderful.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

View drsurfrat's profile

drsurfrat

1427 posts in 680 days


#3 posted 03-23-2022 11:23 AM

That is beautiful, and I really appreciate the write up. Nice level of details

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

View 987Ron's profile

987Ron

4148 posts in 810 days


#4 posted 03-23-2022 11:48 AM

Like the lamp, very well executed.

-- Ron

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

9200 posts in 4071 days


#5 posted 03-23-2022 12:48 PM

Nice joinery on a beautiful lamp!

View MrWolfe's profile

MrWolfe

1974 posts in 1617 days


#6 posted 03-23-2022 02:53 PM

Beautiful lamp and great write up.
I love the thickness jig. Great work.

View CatUpATree's profile

CatUpATree

58 posts in 1299 days


#7 posted 03-23-2022 03:42 PM

It took a while to decide on the joints. I came across this one in one of the many YouTube videos on making shoji lamps. I would share the link, but I can’t remember which video it was. They all seem to run together. I decided on this one because I liked the look and I might be able to pull it off at my beginner’s skills with hand tools.

If you do get around on that project for the wife, please post it.


Nicely done, and a great write up 9n your process. A great job on all of the joints, which are interesting and look like they will hold up. I may copy those in a project that the better half wants me to build, been putting it off because I could not figure out the best way. Thanks for sharing.

- Eric


View CatUpATree's profile

CatUpATree

58 posts in 1299 days


#8 posted 03-23-2022 03:55 PM

Thanks for the comments.

Your point about making the shoji frames independently is an important one. My write up was a bit misleading on this point. I did do the shoji frames independent of the lamp. There’s really no way to do it. The photos I showed were of me checking fit. I was so wrapped up in the process that I didn’t think to take a picture of the independent frame. Thanks for noting this. It’s critical to the build.

I did see quite a variety of LEDs available online. I might have to do a few more projects with them. I might even just buy a few to provide more light in my poorly lit shop.

Definitely learned a lot on this one. Especially important for me is that my woodworking is getting more precise, allowing me to pull off a project like this.


This is quite lovely. Congratulations on a successful and attractive project.

Another name for this kind of frame lamp is “andon”.

You would have had an easier time of it if you had made the side panels fully independant of the frame and then fitted into place after the paper is applied. This would also make it easier to replace the paper if it ever becomes damaged.

I have started using LED “flickering flame” bulbs in my lanterns. These use dozens of LEDS in a cylinder to make an animated fire display. They are available as Edison-base bulbs, solar garden lights, battery operated “candles”, and even as an option in some camping lanterns.

I hope you enjoy having this around. It seems like you learned a lot making it, and it looks wonderful.

- Eeyore


View sras's profile

sras

6716 posts in 4623 days


#9 posted 03-23-2022 03:58 PM

Beautiful lamp!

The write up was very helpful as well.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

7126 posts in 2716 days


#10 posted 03-23-2022 08:34 PM

A fine success! Looks like a nice and even shine (no “hot” spots from a bulb) and nice detailing. The hand work makes it a bonus as a reward for your efforts.

View swirt's profile

swirt

7787 posts in 4466 days


#11 posted 03-24-2022 02:28 AM

Challenging I am sure, but great results. Well done, and thanks for the extra build photos.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View CatUpATree's profile

CatUpATree

58 posts in 1299 days


#12 posted 03-24-2022 03:09 PM

Thanks!

The thicknessing jig was a life-saver and should come in handy for future projects.


Beautiful lamp and great write up.
I love the thickness jig. Great work.

- MrWolfe


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com