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How to make an Arts and Crafts style lamp shade #1: Some initial thoughts

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Blog entry by splintergroup posted 11-28-2018 10:39 PM 719 reads 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of How to make an Arts and Crafts style lamp shade series Part 2: And so it Begins »

I’ve had reasonable success selling Arts & Crafts style lamps and currently I am making another set.
One of the challenges with these lamps is building the shade. There are a number of angles and dimension to consider and any error in one of these parameters will alter the parameters of every other piece.

When making an A&C style lamp, you build the lamp body and you build the shade. Each is about the same amount of effort.

I thought a blog post would be a good way for me to collect my ideas together for a method I worked up and to possibly encourage others to build these shades.

Sorry if some of this gets a bit long-winded!

The Magazines

Several magazines have had articles giving instructions for building an A&C lamp with details for the shade. I’ve read both these articles (one is available online as a pdf, hint: search for “wood magazine 148 2003.pdf” ) and have not been totally thrilled with the techniques they use. On the other hand, I would never have given the subject more critical though had I not read the articles 8^)

Tom sparked my initial interest in building these and he promoted several alternatives in process and design that I have adopted. My goal now is to further refine my approach to more efficiently make multiple copies of these unique lap shades.

Fixtures and Jigs

As with most any manufactured item, using fixtures and jigs is a great way to gain quality, consistency, and efficiency. These shades need help in all three areas to keep my sanity intact. I think I have found a way to “jigify” the process such that everything goes easier.

The Design

First thing needed is a design.
I like the general shade dimensions used in the articles and have adapted my setup to accommodate production. Here is a simple drawing of the panel frame showing the key part dimensions.

I’ll work more on getting it easier to read the dimensions, sorry about that 8^)

Note that the dotted lines are where the pieces are eventually trimmed flush.

I used an old drafting program (MacDraft) to verify the part dimensions and angles, and to provide a paper reference for out in the garage (err… I meant studio).

A good general mathematical description to determine the lengths and angles for an arbitrary shade of multiple sides can be found here

A more lamp oriented description (with figures!) is here

Again it’s not the absolute numbers that matter, it’s being able to consistently cut all pieces close to those numbers. My goal is to find methods that allow errors in cutting to be reduced or eliminated in each step and offer chances to “reset” things if some errors creep in during the build. The desired result is ending up with a shade that has tight joints and crisp edges.

The Tools

Miter gauge
As with any project, good tools help make things easier.
The primary tool needed is a good miter gauge. The ability to set to an exact angle is not as important as having a non-sloppy fit into the miter slot and the ability to somehow set the gauge up to the exact same angle repeatedly.
I use an Incra 1000 miter gauge that can easily be repeatably set to any angle.
If you just have a stock gauge, make it so you can add wider fence and have a scrap of plywood cut close to the proper angle. You can use this plywood to set the miter angle consistently for either side of the blade, consistency is key.

Table saw
You need a saw that has good arbor bearings and sharp saw blades. Basically the blade should cut straight and true and not wobble or deflect during cuts. The fence should be set parallel to the blade and not move or deflect during cuts.

Steel rule
I use a 24” etched steel ruler to set my miter gauge stop to the plan dimensions. It is graduated down to 32nds of an inch and the etching allows me to clearly align the mark with the saw blade tooth. During this project, I found that even despite careful stop setup, I had to adapt the dimensions as I progressed. My parts were all exactly the same lengths, but never exactly the planed length. This did not matter since I could adapt without any consequences.

Next part will begin with the wood preparation and cutting a pile of parts.

Thanks for following along!



11 comments so far

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2897 posts in 1851 days


#1 posted 11-28-2018 11:23 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This comes just in the nick of time as I decided just yesterday that I was going to make at least two of these. I got right away that the shades were going to be a significant challenge, in point of fact I was planning on contacting you personally in a PM and asking for your guidance!!! How auspicious this is. I will be watching this very closely.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://www.geraldlhunsucker.com/

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21740 posts in 3308 days


#2 posted 11-29-2018 12:16 AM

Here is a good site for calculating the dimensions of most any shape. I use ti all the time!!

https://www.blocklayer.com/cone-patternseng.aspx

cheers, Jim

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

View CharlieK's profile

CharlieK

581 posts in 3996 days


#3 posted 11-29-2018 12:38 AM

What material do you use for the shade, some kind of mica?

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans http://www.Jack-Bench.com

View mkellar's profile

mkellar

3 posts in 2406 days


#4 posted 11-29-2018 01:12 AM



What material do you use for the shade, some kind of mica?

- CharlieK


Mica is hard to find, has anyone found a good source?

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

1939 posts in 2551 days


#5 posted 11-29-2018 12:40 PM

I’ll be following your commentary closely. I have a set of lamp plans but I didn’t buy the accompanying mica (Schlabaugh and Sons) because I want to have the local stained glass shop make the panels for the shade. Your comments will help me keep out of trouble on the shade frame.

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

View CaptainSkully's profile

CaptainSkully

1602 posts in 3761 days


#6 posted 11-29-2018 12:45 PM

I bought the kit for this lamp 15 years ago and it’s still in a drawer in my shop. I’m VERY interested in exploring your solution. I have a few to make for around the house, both table and floor lamp versions.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2429 posts in 1425 days


#7 posted 11-29-2018 02:59 PM


How auspicious this is. I will be watching this very closely.

- Jerry

Serendipity Jerry, serendipity! 8^)

Glad to help out any way I can.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2429 posts in 1425 days


#8 posted 11-29-2018 03:03 PM



Here is a good site for calculating the dimensions of most any shape. I use ti all the time!!

https://www.blocklayer.com/cone-patternseng.aspx

cheers, Jim

- Jim Jakosh

Nice online source Jim. thanks!

I’ve also been itching to try out some veneer shades and that interactive calculator for the conics will make it easy.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2429 posts in 1425 days


#9 posted 11-29-2018 03:14 PM



What material do you use for the shade, some kind of mica?

- CharlieK

It’s “light amber” mica Charlie. There are several sources, but I usually get it from merrittes on eBay. It comes in 36” x 18” sheets which happens to be perfectly sized to get two sets of shades for the dimensions I’m using. I’ll use the 0.030 thick stuff and I’ve found that the “light amber” color seems best, the other colors are much darker and tend to not have that “glow”.

It’s not cheap, about $50 to your door, but as you can guess the shipping charges are a good portion of that.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2429 posts in 1425 days


#10 posted 11-29-2018 03:18 PM

Earl, I have also considered using glass panels like the prairie lamps have. They are the ultimate!

Captain, I have several projects stashed away “for later” that I need to get back to (no shame there 8^).

I hope I can reveal things to make the process easier.

View CharlieK's profile

CharlieK

581 posts in 3996 days


#11 posted 11-29-2018 08:47 PM


What material do you use for the shade, some kind of mica?

- CharlieK

It s “light amber” mica Charlie. There are several sources, but I usually get it from merrittes on eBay. It comes in 36” x 18” sheets which happens to be perfectly sized to get two sets of shades for the dimensions I m using. I ll use the 0.030 thick stuff and I ve found that the “light amber” color seems best, the other colors are much darker and tend to not have that “glow”.

It s not cheap, about $50 to your door, but as you can guess the shipping charges are a good portion of that.

- splintergroup

Thanks!!

-- Adjustable Height Workbench Plans http://www.Jack-Bench.com

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