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Arts and Crafts Table Lamp


Sure-fire steps simplify the intricate shade joinery.


by Jon Stumbras






Our table lamp is reminiscent of the Prairie style of design, with lines that Frank Lloyd Wright might favor. In spite of its complex-looking shade, this elegant lamp is within reach of any intermediate woodworker. We’ve figured out a straightforward system that tames all those nasty angles and guarantees good results. The wiring is also simple, even if you haven’t done much electrical work. All the parts are readily available through the mail or at a lighting store. You may find that the hardest part is selecting the stained glass. There is a bewildering array of colors and textures to choose from, but that’s part of the fun.





Build the Shade Frame


The shade is made of four identical frames. Use a stop block for all the cuts. 


1. Mill the 4/4 mahogany to thickness and rip the boards into 1-in. widths. Rough-cut three 12-in. pieces and one 18-in. piece for each of the four frames (K, L, M). Cut enough parts to build an extra frame as a precaution and for setup purposes.


2. Attach a long auxiliary fence to your tablesaw’s miter gauge. We added an acrylic guard just as a reminder of where not to put one’s fingers. 


3. Make a setup block for setting your miter gauge angles by cutting a 38-degree angle on one end and a 26-degree angle on the other one. Use an accurate miter saw to cut the block. 


4. Set the miter gauge to cut at 38 degrees (Photo 1). Miter both ends of the frame sides (K) and frame bottoms (M) to final dimensions. Miter just the left edge of the frame top (L). All these cuts can be made using one miter fence setting. 


5. Cut the half-lap joint on the mitered end of each piece (Photo 2; Fig. B, below). Use scrap wood to set the blade height and a stop block for each cut. You will need to rotate the miter gauge 38 degrees right and left of center to accomplish all the angles. 


6. Dry-fit all the pieces together and mark the position of the half-lap on the right side of the frame top (Photo 3). Then cut the rest of the top half-laps.


7. Glue each frame assembly together with small C-clamps. When the glue has set, cut off the waste on the top.





Rabbet for the Glass


8. Make a template out of 1/4-in. plywood to cut rabbets in each frame. Simply place a shade frame on the plywood, trace the interior and mark lines 1/4 in. to the outside of the tracing lines. Cut to this line with a jigsaw. Keep the template 3 in. wide to support the router. 


9. Rout the rabbet with a 1/4-in. straight bit and guide bushing (Photo 4; Fig. C, below). Take several passes of to get the rabbet to full depth. Clean up the corners of the rabbet using a chisel.





Cut the Compound Miters


10. Use the setup block to set the tablesaw miter fence to cut at 38 degrees and angle the blade to 26 degrees. 


11. Place a frame, face side up, with the bottom against the fence. Cut the compound miter (Photo 5), leaving a 5/8-in.-wide side (Fig. C). To ensure a clean joint, make two passes. The first cut is just shy of the line. For the second cut, add a shim, such as a playing card, to the stop block. This will take just a whisker off for a super-clean edge. 


12. Next, place the freshly cut side against the miter fence and adjust the angle so the uncut side is parallel to the blade. This should be approximately 76 degrees on the miter gauge. Then miter the second side.


13. With a beveled side against the fence, adjust the miter fence so the frame bottom is parallel to the blade. Reset the blade to 90 degrees; rip each bottom to 3/4 in. wide (Fig. C). Reset the blade to 45 degrees and bevel the underside of the frame’s bottom just up to the routed rabbets (Fig. E).


14. Remove the miter fence, flip the frame over onto its face and use the tablesaw fence to bevel the top. 


15. Glue the four frames together using spring clamps (Photo 6). When dry, clean up the glue and sand.





Cut the Glass and Shade Hangers


16. Make a cardboard template 1/32 in. smaller than the frame opening. Mark this pattern on the glass using a felt-tipped marker. 


17. Make a single scoring cut just inside one of the lines (Photo 7). Place the scored edge over the end of the bench and, with a gentle downward motion, snap the glass at the scored mark. Repeat until all the glass is cut. Be sure to wear gloves for this step. The freshly cut glass can be razor sharp.


Tip: Minor adjustments to the glass shape can be made using an 800-grit waterstone. Do not use a grinder or power sander. 


18. Cut the two shade hangers (J, Photo 8). Make a simple crosscut jig (Fig. F, below) to safely cut the 45-degree chamfers on the tablesaw. Cut the top hanger until it just fits inside the mitered top of the shade. Drill a hole in the center of each hanger for the nipple (X).






Make the Base and Arm


19. Mill 8/4 mahogany to 1-1/2 in. Rip stock for the four base sides (A) to 1-1/8 in. Miter to the final dimension. 


20. Glue up the base with a band clamp. After the glue dries, cut slots for the splines (N) on the tablesaw (Photo 9) using a shop-made sled (Fig. F, below). Glue in the splines and trim them flush when dry. Cut the reveal around the bottom of the base (Fig. A, below).


21. Cut a notch in the base (Fig. A) with a dado blade. 


22. Mill 4/4 mahogany to 5/16-in.-thick stock and rip to 1-3/8 in. for base lip (B). Miter to fit inside the base, and glue. 


23. Cut a 45-in. length of 1-1/2-in. x 1-1/2-in. mahogany for arm assembly parts (C, D and E). 


24. Cut a deep groove for the conduit in the center of one side (Fig. A).


25. Miter the arm assembly parts. To make clamping the miter easier, leave part E long until after the glue-up. 


26. Cut the notch in the bottom of Part C (Fig. A). Dry-fit the base and the vertical arm.


27. Drill two holes (Fig. A, Det. 2, below) for the screws that attach the base and arm. Drill a third hole for the lamp wire. 


28. Glue the arm assembly one joint at a time (Photo 10). 


29. Cut the splines’ slot in the assembled upright, as in Step 19, and glue in the splines. Cut the spines and sand them flush. 


30. Cut arm end (E) to final length.


31. Make cover plate F, G and H (Fig. A, Det. 1) from a 40-in.-long strip of wood. Cut the rabbets so the cover plates fit snugly into the groove with hand pressure.


32. Miter the completed cover plates to fit the upright.


33. Sand the shade, base, upright and hangers to 220 grit and apply the finish. 


34. Install the stained glass in the shade. Rip stops on the tablesaw (Fig. E, page 45). Miter the stops to fit behind the glass and attach them with No. 19 x 1/2-in. brads.







Assemble the Wiring Conduit


We’ve wired this lamp the safest way possible using metal conduit to protect the wires. The lamp cord has a polarized plug for safety and a add-on power switch for simplicity. 


35. Cut two 10 in. pieces from the end of lamp cord (Q) and set aside for wiring the sockets later.


36. Feed the lamp cord through the hole in the upright (Photo 11). Assembling the conduit is just a matter of screwing Parts S through X together and feeding the wire as you go (Fig. G, right). Don’t overly tighten the two armbacks (W) as they can cut through the cord insulation. Make sure several inches of cord feed past the end of the nipple (X).


Tip: Reverse twist the cord before screwing on the last armback so the wire is not wound in the conduit. 


37. Lay the conduit in the upright assembly (Photo 11).







Wire the Bulb Sockets


38. Screw the two arms (CC, Fig. H) into the cluster (BB). 


39. Feed 10 in. of lamp cord from the cluster through each arm.


40. Wire the sockets (AA, Fig. I). Strip 5/8 in. of insulation from each wire end and wrap the bare wire three-quarters of the way around the screw. 


41. It’s standard practice in lamp wiring that the neutral wire is marked. Our wire was marked with ribbing on the insulation. Other manufacturers may use different colored insulation or a colored strand in the wire itself. No matter how it’s marked, you can always tell the neutral wire; it’s the one that comes off the wide blade on the plug.




Photo 1: Two precisely angled cuts are key to building the lamp shade. You’ll go back and forth between these cuts a number of times. To ensure accuracy, make a setup block with both angles to use every time you reset the miter gauge or the tilt of the blade. 


Caution: Fasten a piece of plastic to the top of the auxiliary fence to keep your fingers away from the blade.






Photo 2: Cut the angled half-lap joints for the lampshade frame with a dado blade. Clamp a stop block to the fence so every joint comes out exactly the same size. Test the fit of scrap parts before cutting the real thing. 






Photo 3: Assemble the frame without glue to determine the exact position of the top’s second dado. This piece is actually quite short in the finished shade, but it’s much easier to make and hold on the saw if you start with a long piece of wood. Trim the excess length after the frame has been glued up.







Photo 4: Rabbet each frame to accept the stained glass. Make a plywood template with wide edges to guide and support the router. Use double-stick tape to secure the frame to the bench and template. Tuck frame scraps under the template for support. Rout the rabbet with the template guide. 






Photo 5: Rip compound angles on both sides of all four frames. Be sure to cut one side first on each frame before resetting the miter gauge to cut the other sides. 






Photo 6:Glue the four sides together. You need eight spring clamps to hold them tight.






Photo 7: It’s easy to cut your own glass for the shade. Lay out the parts with a cardboard template, then score inside the lines with a glass cutter and snap off the waste sections.






Photo 8: Two small beveled blocks are needed to hold the shade to the arm. For safety, cut the blocks with a simple sled made out of plywood and a toggle clamp. Adjust the sled’s stop block until the blocks fit perfectly.






Photo 9: The lamp base is simply a mitered frame, reinforced with splines. Cut slots for the splines with a rip blade and a 90-degree sled. A rip blade is best because it cuts a flat bottom. That’s essential for a clean-looking joint.







Photo 10: Glue the arm assembly one joint at a time with a pair of stepped clamping blocks. Leave the end piece extra-long for now, so there’s room to attach the stepped block. Cut this piece to length after it’s glued. 






Photo 11: Install the lamp conduit into the arm assembly. Run lamp cord through the hole in the base of the arm first, then through each of the loose sections of conduit. Assemble the entire conduit. Cover plates conceal the conduit. They are friction-fit to allow access to the wires, should you ever have to take apart the lamp.






Photo 12: Screw the base onto the upright to complete the lamp. Install mahogany plugs into the screw holes for a finished look. 

























This story originally appeared in American Woodworker October 2004, issue #110.

Source information may have changed since the original publication date.







Grand Brass Lamp Parts (212) 226-2567 One 10-ft. 18/2 SPT-1 cord with molded plug, #WIC10FTBL, $1.50 One black rotary line switch for SPT-1 cord, #SW423BL, $0.80 One 1/8 ips female black bushing, #BG201B, $0.10 Two 10-in. x 1/8 ips steel pipe, #PIST10, $0.75 ea. One 9-in. x 1/8 ips steel pipe, #PIST09, $0.75 Three straight coupling brass 1/8F thru #NE449, $0.20 ea. Two 1/8m bottom x 1/8f side, 1/2 ball 90-degree armback #AB335NP $0.75 ea. One 5-in. x 1/8 ips nipple steel, #NI5-0X1/8, $0.60 Two 1/8 ips.slip star lock washer, #WA1/8STAR, $0.02 ea. Three 1/8 hex nut, brass, #NU424, $0.08 ea. Two 3-1/2-in. plain (J) arm brass 1/8m ips, #ARJL, $2.25 ea. One small turned cluster body, 2-piece, #BOS2XB, $2.50 Two MD wire nut, #WINUTG, $0.10 Two cast-brass uno-threaded keyless socket with 1/8 ips bushing and setscrew, #SO9347CB, $10 ea. Processing fee for order under $50: $10. Total cost: Lamp electrical parts, $50 plus shipping. Southern Front Stained Glass (281) 890-5860 Wissmach Glass, W0101, Dark Green and Opal Wispy Five 10-1/2 x 16-in. panels, $27Fletcher-Terry steel glass cutter, $4. Woodworkers Supply (800) 645-9292 Felt discs, #04A51, $4 roll of 48 1/4-in. straight bit, #03-140, $13 1/4-in. router guide bushing #938-048, $7 Danish oil, 1 quart, #859-973, $11.





October 2004, issue #110

Purchase this back issue.






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Brooklyn12 wrote re: Arts and Crafts Table Lamp
on 07-10-2010 5:18 AM

where do i get more information on this