How to make an Arts and Crafts style lamp shade #5: Completing the Assembly

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Blog entry by splintergroup posted 12-05-2018 10:45 PM 2838 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Rabbet for the mica Part 5 of How to make an Arts and Crafts style lamp shade series Part 6: Securing the mica »

Time to bevel the sides and put the darn thing together!

On a previous episode, the sets of four frames that make up each shade were assembled, rabbeted for mica (or any other flat panel) and flush trimmed on top.

There are a few more places that need the chamfer to be cut now.

The inside of the lower rail:

If you want, you can square up the transition from the protruding stub to the lower rali. I just leave it as is since no one will ever see it.

At this point, every edge on the outside surface of the frame should have the chamfer except the outside edge of the stiles where the frames join each other and the inside corners (shown above) of the lower protrusions (these get done by hand).

The plans call for a 22 degree cut to join the frame pieces together. In a perfect world, yes, but remember that earlier adjustments were made (the top rail was lengthened). These were to get everything having the same dimensions and the fit of each part as good as practical.

22 degrees is a good starting point however.

The magazine articles have the tip of the angled saw blade embedded into a sacrificial fence. The workpiece ends up running against the fence on a sharp edge. If the blade is slightly too high, the cut won’t be straight.

Too may variables for mass production in my mind.

I begin by placing a frame on a piece of masonite hardboard that has had two opposite sides cut parallel. This piece should be wider that the frame as seen in this picture.
Note that I have one of the stiles aligned with the edge. I use a slightly thicker board on the left to help in the alignment.

I want to place several scraps from my setup pieces onto the hardboard to help hold things in position

Since I have a right-tilt saw and am cutting this on the right side of the blade, I need to have the frame outside-face-down during the cuts.

The scrap on the left has an angle cut that fits well into the frames corner. The length runs up to the corner at the other end. The scrap on the right snugly fits into the opposite corner.

I use DS tape to initially position these scraps while I hold the frame to the edge of the hardboard.

The tape is placed, the frame is positioned, then the scrap is located and pressed onto the tape.
I then carefully remove the frame and secure the scrap from the other side with several screws.

The frame is rotated so the other stile now aligns with the hardboard edge and a third piece of scrap is taped and screwed to the hardboard.

The jig now has the ability to locate and hold the frame perfectly aligned while the stiles are beveled. The key being all frame sides will have the same dimensions after being cut.

Since the frame is face down, the top/bottom rails don’t make contact with the hardboard due to the stiles being thicker. I add some 1/8” strips it support the rails since these are where I’ll place my hand during the cut. Without the spacers, my hand pressure would cause the frame to warp, making the angle cut on the stiles incorrect.

As with the other cuts, I knock off most of the excess at the bandsaw to prevent kickback.

Make the cut

The blade is tilted to 22 degrees and the fence is slid over until about 1/2” remains between the blade and the hardboard edge. This is a test cut:

Repeat this cut on the opposite stile of a second frame. This makes up a set of two frames with a common corner.
Note that the test cut has produced a bevel with enough surface for a good test fit. These is still plenty of material on the style if I need to try another test cut (or two).
The two frames are placed into position and held as a square is placed on the top rails (the frame is sitting top down on the bench in this photo and I have the square sitting on some supports so I can also take the photo 8^)

Notice the gap between the square and frame on the right? In this case, 22 degrees wasn’t quite steep enough (hence the test cut)!
I readjust the blade, I believe I went to about 23.5 degrees, just a slight turn of the crank, then repeat the cut with two different frames.

Bingo! (I actually got the angle correct with the first adjustment 8^)

The saw angle is perfect so I bump over the fence until the blade tooth just kisses the top corner of the hardboard.

I now make the final cuts on all the pieces.

A good glue up always has a small amount of squeeze out. To protect the wood and make cleanup simple, I apply a thick coating of paste wax to the inner and outer surfaces of the stiles and to the top/bottom ends. The glue will not stick here and will be easy to flick off after it has set up.

I temporarily clamp the frames together to apply the wax and check the fit.

Two frames are selected to be next to each other based on grain pattern and color. Glue is applied.

Remember that these parts align at the top edges.
Spring clamps are used and the parts are held in perfect alignment for a few minutes until things stick and stop sliding. After the first few were glued, I sprinkled on some table salt to help lock things in place, it worked very well 8^)

Three clamps per joint, top, middle, and bottom.

After the sets dried for an hour, I glued two sets into a complete shade.

The top corners where the frames were aligned came out excellent (as expected)

and as hoped for, the bottom came out flush as well

Sides as well!

I’ll end things up next time,
Thanks for following along 8^)

7 comments so far

View EarlS's profile


4628 posts in 3510 days

#1 posted 12-06-2018 12:00 PM

You’re giving us ALL the tips and tricks, complete with pictures.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1366 posts in 2454 days

#2 posted 09-24-2020 09:23 PM

Great process and photos. I was wondering why you used a 23.5 degree angle on the corners of the lamp shade instead of 22.5?

-- James E McIntyre

View splintergroup's profile


5468 posts in 2384 days

#3 posted 09-24-2020 09:46 PM

Great process and photos. I was wondering why you used a 23.5 degree angle on the corners of the lamp shade instead of 22.5?

- James E McIntyre

Thank you James!

22.5 probably would work if all the dimensions were “perfect”, but I dialed it in to get the exact 90 degree angle at the top ensuring the miters on the frame are closed on both sides. Since I used the table saw, the actual angle really didn’t matter, just the best fit.

Now if these were cut with a router bit, 22.5 would be an acceptable compromise to allow use of a standard bevel bit and avoid any sleds or shimming, but there would be gaps to deal with and even if they end up on the insides, the structure would be a bit weaker without the full face contact along the miter (or if forced closed, the frame would have a slight warp)

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1366 posts in 2454 days

#4 posted 09-25-2020 01:17 AM

Got yah!
What ever it takes to get them flush.

I saw a Peterson lamp on the internet and the corners stiles of the shade looks like they were separate pieces than the top and bottom rails.
The images are not clear but if you have time check them out on line. I’m not good at adding links.

-- James E McIntyre

View splintergroup's profile


5468 posts in 2384 days

#5 posted 09-25-2020 03:50 PM

Yeah, a change I made when cutting the “corner” stiles for my latest shades, I made sure all the parts that would be adjacent were cut that way from the mother-board. Lots of pencil notations on each part to be sure they would be assembled such that the grain would be as consistent as possible. It really makes a difference in how the final lamp looks so there are plenty of avenues to “upscale” the construction and make it more “professional”.

One of my early shades used a different method where I kept the corners as a single unit so instead of assembling 4 trapezoid frames, I linked the top and bottom squares with compound angled links.

This opens up other issues but has its merits. Not as strong with the smaller half lap corners and harder to assemble, but provides a different “look”

View MrWolfe's profile


1652 posts in 1285 days

#6 posted 09-25-2020 10:22 PM

Great blog about your process Bruce.
Thanks for sharing.

View James E McIntyre's profile

James E McIntyre

1366 posts in 2454 days

#7 posted 09-26-2020 10:17 PM

Your a master splinter.
You can do it all!

-- James E McIntyre

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