If plan A fails, go to plan B

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Blog entry by KnickKnack posted 12-09-2011 02:34 PM 4690 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a precis of what happened over about a 2 week period…

A while ago I came up with what I thought was an interesting design for a lamp base.
I was in Lisbon a few weeks ago, and ran across some hand-made paper.
Ah ha – fate!
I did some sketches, messed about with some bits of wood, did some drawings, and set to.
For some reason best known to someone else, I decided to start with the top bit first.
It being based on interlocking struts, I prepared some oak strips, cut them to length. I then needed to cut some slots for the intersection.
I promised myself a while back that, when I needed to do something that would best be done with a jig I didn’t have, I’d make one. This promise works about 50% of the time, and in this case i came up with this, most elegantly implemented jig…

That worked pretty well, and I put the basic structure together and looked.
And looked some more.
It was hard to tell – I’d intended to fume the oak, and you never know quite what’s going to happen with it, so I decided to do a quick fume to see what colour I was going to get. I knew I’d have to refume it again ater, but that’s not a problem.
And at this point I decided that this just wasn’t going to work sitting on my original base idea.
So what’s new!

On to plan B.
I decided to support the shade structure with strips interlocking, again, with the horizontals.
This required I cut some slots in the sides of the sticky out bits. Have a jig for doing that kind of thing – the “non-box-joint-jig”...

Now I was in a position to put it together a bit, and see what was happening…

A bit weird, but that’s OK.
All a bit “square”, I thought, so we’re going to have to take some angles off. There were a lot of choices – both of angle, and angle direction. I messed on the computer, and messed some more, and stared into space, and messed some more. And then I decided.
My magic 45° jig has got to be my favourite…

Now I can put it together again…

Shows promise.
But really, it seems to me, the proportions aren’t right – there’s too much “air” for the light to get out – that’ll be too much paper.
So I route some rabett-ware on the shade, thickness some beech down to 5mm, resize and add a rabbet on half the sides, to get…

which will fit into the frame…


This will also give me a nice surface onto which to stick the paper – I’d thought of that in advance – not all things happen my accident!

I’m thinking I might want smaller horizontals than verticals, so I put it together and mess about…

Nope, I think even is going to fly just fine so I make those too.

So far, nothing has been glued, I just have a lot of pieces…

Many of them fairly intricate…

I stick the oak frame together, and fume it for 24 hours – I’m trying to get it as black as possible.

I forget to take a picture!

I test the beech with some of my intended finish – linseed oil – and decide it isn’t quite as red as I’d like, so I thin some cherry stain and apply that.
I glue those bits in…

It’s starting to take shape now…

I make little “stoppers” for the top – I wish I hadn’t cut those extra slots now, but I think this will look ok.

Add the legs, apply finish – which is a big hassle getting into all those nooks and crannies – and voila!...

Apply paper, insert lamp fixture, and I’m done…

The completed posted project can be found here.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

8 comments so far

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2793 days

#1 posted 12-09-2011 03:09 PM

Wow, what a journey! I really appreciate your taking the time to blog this design build. I think the addition of the 45’s was a great move. Your lamp looks great.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View SgtSnafu's profile


960 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 12-09-2011 04:12 PM

Very nicely done – Great design!

Thanks for sharing

-- Scotty - aka... SgtSnafu - Randleman NC

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3042 days

#3 posted 12-09-2011 07:11 PM

What kind of paper was it? Papyrus?? Very nice lamp to show off the paper.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View KnickKnack's profile


1090 posts in 3591 days

#4 posted 12-09-2011 08:17 PM

What kind of paper was it? Papyrus?
Good question. I don’t really know, but I don’t think it’s papyrus – it’s quite thin and tissue like, with the pattern you can see as “thicker bits” in it. I did ask when I bought it, but all they knew was that it was made in Portugal – that was a bonus.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3918 days

#5 posted 12-09-2011 09:48 PM


all that work and it still looks awesome

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2452 days

#6 posted 12-09-2011 10:36 PM

You have the pure joy of working with wood running through your veins, and it really shows in this project.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View ~Julie~'s profile


607 posts in 3059 days

#7 posted 12-10-2011 02:37 AM

I like how your brain works… creatively!

-- ~Julie~

View EMVarona's profile


437 posts in 2860 days

#8 posted 12-10-2011 08:44 AM

Great! Super fantastic creativity.

-- Ed "Real happiness is one that you share."

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