Arts & Crafts Lamp and Shade

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Project by Nils posted 03-31-2008 07:58 AM 21714 views 25 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a version of the Arts and Crafts Lamp and Shade from a 2003 Wood Magazine article. The only major modification I made was to use paper for the shade rather than mica. I also, as you’ll see below, don’t have the right lighting fixture in it – I have found a source on the Internet but haven’t had a chance to order it.

I started on this lamp odyssey by building a prototype (just as Norm does every week!) using pine. That’s been sitting on my wife’s bedside table for about a year now, with a store-bought shade that’s not really the right size. She’s gone this weekend – when she gets home tomorrow she’ll have the real lamp with the real shade.

Pine prototype lamp
Prototype lamp

After building the prototype, I still wasn’t ready to spring for “the good stuff” – meaning quartersawn white oak – so I bought red oak stock at the Borg. But, I was inspired to try to simplify and improve the production of the corbels on the base, so I built a jig to hold the roughly bandsawn blanks and act as a template for routing them on the router table. Long story short, this didn’t really work, primarily because a) I didn’t rough cut them close enough to the line, and b) my clamping arrangement was not able to withstand the torque of the router. The end result was corbel blanks being ejected from the jig.

Aside from shaping the corbels, which I found challenging especially with my non-working jig, the construction of the base is quite straightforward, with the slight challenge of the arms being attached with sliding dovetails. This would be easier now with my Incra jig – but as this project took very very long, the base was fully completed – even finished, before I got the Incra jig for Christmas.

Lamp base detail
Detail of lamp base

The construction of the shade was quite a bit trickier, as there are a lot of angles to be dealt with. The shade is made of four frames, built with half lap joinery in 1/4×1/2 stock. The Wood Magazine article had instructions for a jig for holding the rails and stiles for the rabbetting, which I used with a dado stack, but I was unhappy with it for various reasons. When I recently made a second set of frames, I just used my miter gauge and nibbled with the regular saw blade. Worked much better, and was faster.

The other challenge with the shade was that these little, light frames then had to be mitered, at 27 1/2 degrees, to glue up into the full shade. I do not have an accurate way to set the angle of my table saw, so my first try was not quite right. At that point, I was dead in the water, until I got my Dixie digital angle gauge at the Woodworking show in November. I used that to set my planer fence to the correct angle, and used the planer to give me the correct angle. This was great, except that the planer tore out a bit of the tops of my frames, so I made my one other modification of the design, which was to put a little cap frame around the top opening of the shade to hide the tearout!

Disassembled lamp with shade next to it
Disassembled lamp with the shade sitting next to it

I finished the lamp with Dark Walnut stain, covered with Dark Walnut Danish oil, and then amber shellac. This was based on a recipe in one of the woodworking magazines last year, to get a good A&C-looking finish without fuming. I have to say it’s not bad, although my technique in applying it could be significantly improved. I may have also used some Cherry stain as well. I finished the base months ago, and the shade a few weeks ago.

Finally, this weekend I glued the paper onto the shade. I bought the paper at Mika’s Japanese paper store in Berkeley just after Christmas. I was worried about working with it, but finally just said the heck with it, and went ahead. I used Titebond III to attach the paper to the frame, since after the glue dried I wanted to wet it and let it dry, to get it taut.

Glueing the paper to the lamp shade frame
Glueing the paper to the lamp shade frame

Shade with all four paper panels glued in
Shade with all four paper panels glued in

The shade turned out very nice. I hope the picture below shows the very interested pattern on the paper.

Shade paper detail
Shade paper detail

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

18 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4788 days

#1 posted 03-31-2008 11:47 AM

Hi Nils,

This is a gorgeous lamp and thanks for the tutorial on the construction process. I love tutorials like this. We all can learn something from this.

I have seen the article that you cite and thought about making one of these but somehow never got around to it. I may have to put one back on my to-do list.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

500 posts in 4748 days

#2 posted 03-31-2008 12:46 PM

Great lamp & story. Shades like this are a real chalenge , but you worked it all out. The result is a wonderful lamp & the next time you need new tools, the wife will no doubt encourage you so the next project will not have to wait so long…lol… This stategy has worked for me in the past. Thanks.


View Karson's profile


35267 posts in 5367 days

#3 posted 03-31-2008 02:17 PM

Great Job Nils. A fantastic looking lamp. So you are going to make the white Oak one for your bedside stand. Now that you’ve made two prototypes.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 4797 days

#4 posted 03-31-2008 02:27 PM

That’s a really nice lamp. I’m working on an Arts & Crafts table now that I’m eager to finish, however I work on it between turning pens so it’s a slow process… :-)

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View pappyjohn's profile


138 posts in 4679 days

#5 posted 03-31-2008 04:09 PM

Nils, Like the lamp very much, curious though as to the paper, does it come with the texture as it is, or did you have to apply it…... Thinking of making this as a project for me and wife to do (with your blessing of course).... they may do well sitting on my oak end tables…. your brother in woodworking John

-- Your Brother in WoodWorking John, Pittsburgh , PA.

View Dominic Vanacora's profile

Dominic Vanacora

508 posts in 4836 days

#6 posted 03-31-2008 04:31 PM

I tried making a lamp like this and was stopped when I could not make the shade. (what I started with) The angles and precision needed were beyond my abilities. You make it look easy but I know its not.
Nicely Done.

-- Dominic, Trinity, Florida...Lets be safe out there.

View Phil Clark's profile

Phil Clark

356 posts in 4761 days

#7 posted 03-31-2008 05:52 PM

Nils – nice work on the lamp – I’ve been using mica on my lamps but I like the paper you used. I’m guessing it lets more light through than the mica.

-- Legacy Woodcraft

View blackdogwoodshop's profile


72 posts in 4694 days

#8 posted 03-31-2008 07:16 PM

Thanks for the Great write up. The lamp looks great. I like the idea of using paper instead of glass as it seems like this would save time and money. Do you have any concerns about the paper of the shade catching on fire?

-- Daniel, Southern Indiana -- "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." --

View TomFran's profile


2964 posts in 4960 days

#9 posted 03-31-2008 07:22 PM

Great job! I love this lamp.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4841 days

#10 posted 03-31-2008 10:46 PM

Very nice. I really like the woodwork, but the shade makes it. Good work.

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4765 days

#11 posted 04-01-2008 12:10 AM

BEEEEYOOOOtiful! Love that handmade paper shade.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View bhuddah's profile


26 posts in 4677 days

#12 posted 04-01-2008 12:58 AM

Nils, I have those very same plans for the lamp in a folder I keep of projects I’d like to build that I find in all the woodworking magazines I subscribe to.
I really like the way it turned out, right now I having some difficulties deciding what to do next but the looks of your lamp may help me make up my mind.

-- some days are like driving in oncoming traffic

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4954 days

#13 posted 04-01-2008 01:52 AM

That is one nice looking shade!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Nils's profile


141 posts in 4830 days

#14 posted 04-04-2008 07:29 AM

A few people asked about the paper in the shade – the interesting pattern is part of the paper. I don’t know what it is, some kind of fiber. I was worried slightly about the paper getting too hot and igniting, but I checked it the other day after the light had been one for quite a while and it was barely warm, so I don’t think it will be a problem.

Regarding the shade, i just saw a reference on another LJ project comment to this article by Donald Mott on calculating the correct angles for the rails and stiles of the frames: I’ll be referring to this for my next shade for sure.

I hope some of you who are holding onto these plans decide to make your own lamps. It’s really a nice little project.

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25717 posts in 4072 days

#15 posted 04-07-2010 02:44 PM

That is a cool lamp and I really like the paper shade. I’ll ahve to try that. What kind of paper did you use? where do you find it? Thanks for sharing…

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

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