Arts & Crafts Olive Wood Table Lamps

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Project by splintergroup posted 01-05-2016 04:19 PM 1623 views 21 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These lamps are nearly identical to those I made before except they have a simpler base and slightly different shade design.

Tom makes some beauties and inspired me to try a few more myself.

The wood is Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) which I harvested locally (neighbors dead trees). This wood stinks real bad. They say Red Oak smells a bit like cat pee, this smells like cat vomit. Once you get past the smell, the wood is actually quite attractive. These trees are fast growing so the grain is not very tight, but it has a nice amber color and aside from this, has similar working properties to Cherry.

The base has the typical A&C style ‘pads’ (2” x 2”) along with a tapered cap. The construction is a tad atypical since the wood tends to have hidden flaws (cracks) and I didn’t want the base to split and fail. If you look closely, the tapered cap is made from four mitered pieces and the middle layer of the base is two boards butt-joined together. The mitered pieces (glued to the piece below) help keep everything rigid and eliminates cracks from causing everything to fall over.

The stem is made from four sections mitered together to keep a consistent grain pattern showing. It also makes it easy to leave a channel for the wire carrying threaded rod. The stem has a very slight taper, about 1.5 degrees.

Cutting the corbels is an exercise in planning. They join the stem with mortise/tennons and cutting the part requires many operations to be completed while the part is still square. A template is used for the final shape.

The shade is amber Mica. It seems a standard sized sheet of this stuff provides enough material to complete two shades (at about $25/shade)

I followed Tom’s lead and made the shade frame corner pieces a bit long and thicker. The extra thickness creates a nice shadow line, the extra length creates a nice corner detail, but during construction it creates a “T” style half lap joint which makes clamping these odd shapes way easier during glue up. The excess length on top is trimmed off after gluing.

Keeping the shade in place is an evolving design process for me. Before I used a square piece with cut corners to help vent heat. This time I went with a simpler cross bar.

These are nice projects to kill a few weekends, but I really hate all the sanding!

16 comments so far

View Notw's profile


445 posts in 1176 days

#1 posted 01-05-2016 05:20 PM

very nice looking lamp, good job

View BurlyBob's profile


3485 posts in 1688 days

#2 posted 01-05-2016 05:44 PM

Your lamps are truly beautiful and elegant.

View Greg Salata's profile

Greg Salata

127 posts in 3185 days

#3 posted 01-05-2016 08:55 PM


View AandCstyle's profile


2540 posts in 1680 days

#4 posted 01-05-2016 10:56 PM

Hey, Splinter, the lamps are a joy to behold. I especially like your latest shade attaching method. LOML always tells me that my shades “go flying if I even look at them.” If I make any more of them I will definitely “borrow” your innovation. :)

-- Art

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

742 posts in 2854 days

#5 posted 01-05-2016 11:39 PM

These are on my bucket list. I think I’m a little scared of the lamp shade dimensioning, but one day I’ll pull up my big boy pants and give it a shot.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View leafherder's profile


856 posts in 1375 days

#6 posted 01-06-2016 12:08 AM

Great job! Love the A&C style. What type of finish did you use? I agree that Russian Olive is a beautiful wood and I have several pieces on my drying rack. Never noticed any offensive odor, but I do all my work outside, and make sure the wood is thoroughly dry before starting a project (which can take several years in my humid environment). Thanks for posting

-- Leafherder

View Mean_Dean's profile


4946 posts in 2570 days

#7 posted 01-06-2016 01:00 AM

Those are great looking A&C lamps! That olive wood looks good, and your lampshades really set the lamps off!

-- Dean

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1457 posts in 3405 days

#8 posted 01-06-2016 11:21 AM

That is a great build! Interesting about the wood.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View splintergroup's profile


734 posts in 645 days

#9 posted 01-06-2016 03:03 PM

Notw, Bob, Greg, Scott, Dean, Chris
Thanks for the nice comments!

Once again, thanks for the encouragement! You don’t secure your shades? When I poured over Tom's version I wasn’t quite sure he did either. The spousal unit likes cats, She sees them as ‘cute’, I see them as rampaging imps destine to cast asunder anything not secured.

The finish is Forby’s ‘Tung’ oil finish. Basically a wiping varnish and from what I understand, nary a hint of any real Tung oil. I like it because it behaves well and dries fairly fast. I’ll usually apply 3-4 coats with a buffing with 4/0 steel wool between coats. After the final buffing I give it a scrubbing with an old sock or ‘blue’ cloth/paper shop towel. As to the wood, the stink may depend some on the soil it was grown in, but I almost gagged while re-sawing these semi dry logs. The wood seems very stable aside from wanting to split while drying (I coated the end grain with latex). Of course these were essentially standing-dead trees.

View 3woodworkers4life's profile


55 posts in 883 days

#10 posted 01-06-2016 03:46 PM

Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

View helluvawreck's profile


22697 posts in 2289 days

#11 posted 01-06-2016 04:35 PM

You’ve done a wonderful job on these lamps.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View SteveMI's profile


946 posts in 2717 days

#12 posted 01-07-2016 09:19 PM

You guys are really reeling me in to try one of these. Looking at some of the blogs there are some questions that I have about the Mica.

Looking at the Mica, it seems to come in 0.015”, 0.025” 0.030” and 0.035” thickness. Which do you suggest?

Also they recommend cutting with a “sheet metal shear or heavy-duty shearing knife or a fine tooth band saw can be used if both sides of the material are supported.” What have you found to work best?


View splintergroup's profile


734 posts in 645 days

#13 posted 01-07-2016 10:57 PM

I’ve only used the 0.030”, 0.015” would be a tad too thin (might get cracked or flake through). Of course the thinner will transmit more light and be plenty rigid for smaller shade openings.

I’ve cut the 0.030” with several methods. At first I use a straight edge and repeatedly score it with a utility knife until I cut through. Next was to free-hand it with a hack saw blade. Both methods worked fine, just took a bit of time.

My latest (and favorite 8^) is the bandsaw. I believe I had a 10TPI (1/2”) blade, but just any fine blade should work. I sawed half way through a 12”x12” piece of masonite board then used double sided tape to secure it to the bandsaw table. This makes a perfect zero clearance insert. I created a template (also out of masonite) that fit my shade openings. This was used to trace the pattern onto the mica sheet for sawing (freehand, plenty of boarder available for slop).
I don’t really see why “both” sides would need support on the bandsaw (blade only cuts one way), couldn’t hurt though.

I’d expect a paper cutter (guillotine style) would work fine on the thinner material.

I could expect that different vendors have product that uses different glues, which in turn could change how flakey they get when cut (I bought my mica off of Ebay)

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7725 posts in 1803 days

#14 posted 01-08-2016 05:07 PM

View Axim Mica's profile

Axim Mica

2 posts in 229 days

#15 posted 03-16-2016 04:17 PM

Excellent work, especially the wood details. And, of course, I like the mica!

-- Axim Mica,

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