This lamp is a fairly accurate scale model of the classic Atari joystick. It is made out of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and stands almost two feet tall. The red button turns the lamp on and off, and the lampshade is a collage of printouts of classic Atari game covers.

This project was a fun challenge for me, and posed a lot of little dilemmas along the way. In the end I was quite happy with the way it turned out! 

Thanks for looking. Enjoy!
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Step 1: Top piece

I didn't have a real joystick to study and measure for dimensions, so I went off of pictures I got online. I think I got the proportions pretty close though, just through some basic math like height/width ratios, etc.

I purchased one 2 by 4-foot panel of MDF in each of the following thicknesses: 1/4", 1/2", 3/4". I also purchased one 2 by 4-foot sheet of 1/8' hardboard. I had plenty of material left over afterward.

MDF is great for things like this. It's easy to cut, shape, and sand, and it doesn't warp, crack, or split like wood (unless it is left out in the elements, or you drill a screw straight into it). Be sure to cut, route, and sand it in a well ventilated area.

If you plan to make one of these, I would recommend finding a real joystick to work from. Measure it and make all your pieces proportional to it.

The top piece is cut from 1/2" material. See photos for details on cutting the beveled edge.

Step 2: Making the Side Panels

Picture of Making the Side Panels
The side panels were made from pieces of 3/4 inch MDF with 1/4 pieces glued on to create the step-down shape. The pieces were cut at a 5 degree angle so they would taper slightly inward down from the top of the base. See photos for additional details.

Step 3: Making the Corner Blocks

Picture of Making the Corner Blocks
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I needed to make some 1 1/2 inch blocks for the corner pieces. These corner blocks were needed so I could connect all the side panels together, and provide shapeable corner pieces that could be carved into the bi-layered, tapered, and curved corner shape that I wanted.

Step 4: Assembly of sides and corners

The corner blocks needed to be attached fairly well, but metal fasteners were not an option since I was planning on cutting and shaping them once they were attached. I used a combination of wood glue, wooden dowels, hot glue, and clamps to put it all together.

Step 5: Shaping the Corner Pieces

I used a pull-saw, files, and sandpaper to shape each of the corners. Masking tape was placed on the side panels next to the corner pieces to avoid scrape marks from the pull-saw.

Step 6: Raised ring

This ring is made from 1/8 inch hardboard. In order to make this piece, I made a template jig out of 1/2 inch MDF, glue the hardboard to it temporarily with spray adhesive, and use a flush cut bit on my router to cut it out.

Step 7: Button

Picture of Button
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I was kind of dumb and cut out the hole for the button early on in the project, not knowing exactly where it was headed. That's how you learn I guess.

I plugged that hole with a new piece of MDF, and glued down the raised ring on top of the base. This made it possible to make a clean, flush cut all the way through both the ring and the top of the base for the button.

Step 8: Three rings

Picture of Three rings
To make these three concentric rings, I had to layout and cut each one with the jigsaw. After sanding them smooth, I used my router with a roundover bit to make the curved top on each one.

In order to route these pieces safely I had to temporarily mount them to my small workbench with dowels. The shorter pieces had to have shims placed underneath so the router bit had clearance from the table top.

The heights for the rings (starting with the largest diameter ring) are 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, and 1 inch. The 1-inch ring was made from a ring of 3/4" MDF, plus a ring of 1/4" MDF.

Step 9: Stick pieces

Picture of Stick pieces
The stick was made from six separate pieces of 3/4 inch MDF. They were cut at a slight taper, with all the side cuts at 30 degrees. These cuts were made with the jigsaw. To make room for the light socket, I used a pull-saw and chisel to cut away excess material.

Step 10: Stick assembly

The six separate pieces for the stick were glued together with wood glue, using a bead of hot glue along the joint on what was to be the inside of the stick. This would hold the pieces together while the wood glue dried.

Step 11: Stick collar

Picture of Stick collar
To make the collar, I cut two 3/4 inch thick circles of MDF slightly bigger than the bottom of the stick. I traced the bottom of the stick onto each circle. I marked six sections on each circle piece which corresponded with the six sections of the stick, and marked each section so I knew where it was to match up with the stick once they were cut out.

I cut out all these pieces with a jigsaw, and placed them back around the stick where they matched. These were all glued in place with hot glue and covered with a couple layers of wood filler. To make the top taper of the collar, I filled it with a few layers of wood filler. Then I gently sanded the collar and the taper smooth.

Step 12: Bottom of base

Picture of Bottom of base
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The bottom outside edge of the base was rounded over with the router, and sanded smooth.

The bottom panel was cut from 1/2 inch MDF, with 1/4 inch circles glued on to it. To attach this to the base, I added cleats to the inside made of 1/2 MDF.

Step 13: Lampshade

Picture of Lampshade
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The lampshade was made from a simple kraft paper lampshade from Walmart. It was covered with printouts of classic Atari game box covers.

I got the pictures of old game covers from the Atari Age website. I made them all the same size and then printed them from my home printer.

The pictures were glued to the lampshade with spray adhesive.

Step 14: Finishing, part one: Priming

I primed all the pieces with two coats of gray spray paint primer, sanding with 320 grit sandpaper in between.

Step 15: Finishing, part two: Painting, and lamp assembly

All the pieces were painted with spray paint. The base is coated with black textured "hammered-look" spray paint. The raised ring is shiny black. The three rings and the stick are flat black. The button was coated with full coat of red, and then got a light coating of fluorescent orange.

The directional markings are craft foam painted golden orange and glued in place with spray adhesive.

I attached the three rings and the stick with hot glue, and then drove a couple of screws up through the bottom of the top of the base into the bottom of the stick to keep it sturdy (pilot holes were drilled first to keep it from splitting).

For the lamp assembly, I used an old cord along with a basic socket and a push-button switch from Home Depot. I fed the cord through a hole that had been drilled in the back of the base prior to painting, and set up the switch following the instructions that came with it. The switch was hot glued to a small wooden bracket I had glued into the base below the button hole opening. To the bottom of my red button, I attached a small block of wood with a shallow hole reamed into it so it would sit balanced and centered on top of the switch button. I used some hot glue to attach the red button to the switch through the the button hole opening.
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nathanielg3 years ago
i have an atari i been playing for the past couple weeks, i found it in my grandparents attic and about 4 of every type of controller so i think i am going to take on this project in honor of the best game system ever built!
i want to do this when i get some time
this is clever
Some Dork4 years ago
LOVE this! I think I now have a winter project. :D
yokozuna6 years ago
Very well done, are you a member at AtariAge? It's a great website. Also, is the orange button the on/off switch?
seamster (author)  yokozuna6 years ago
The orange button is the on/off switch. I'm not a member at AtariAge. I found the website while working on this project and really enjoyed all the nostalgic memories is brought up. I'm really thinking I need to track down our old 2600, (if it's still in the family somewhere), or buy one. The old games were so much fun.
Awesome lamp!! You got my vote. For Christmas this year I got my wife Activision Anthology for our PS2. It has all the the Activision games ever made for the 2600 (plus a couple that they never released). What a blast from the past. If you can't find an old 2600 you could look into that instead. Again, great job and very well made instuctable. I hope you win.
atari remake here:

made in china of course!
God damn it! That was the name of the game I've been looking for, for absoultly ages! (Remember seeing it at a charity shop at one point for £5, regretting that I didnt buy it...)
RcStumpman5 years ago
Awesome job! Brings back lots of memories! :-)
getbusy215 years ago
You'd have to be 50 or 60 feet tall to play with that thing. Imagine he size of the cartridges. Awesome!
kcls5 years ago
It would be super cool if you could turn the light in by pushing the action button on the joystick!
seamster (author)  kcls5 years ago
Check out the intro, third sentence. 
kcls seamster5 years ago
Oh yeah, look at that! Just goes to show ya my lack of attention.
sickdog745 years ago
Awesome! This rocks! I love it!
Chikara5 years ago
you must make one of an actual joystick!!
russm3135 years ago
This was a GREAT instructable! I loved this so much, that I made my own. You can check it out here if you want.... Mine isn't as nice as yours, but it was a ton of fun to build. Thanks!
seamster (author)  russm3135 years ago
I'm impressed with your lamp! I love to see others try out my ideas. I'm glad you made one. I really liked the nintendo arcade set-up you made. ...Although all that electronic stuff scares me to death. Wiring a lamp is about all I've ever done!
deathshells6 years ago
WOW THIS LOOKS AMAZING! gotta build this when i get the parts ATARI FOR THE WIN!
punkrules6 years ago
this is really awesome. too bad i'm not so great at projects like this or i would make one for myself.
radiorental6 years ago
Hmmm, I was sure you would have made the final 10. Ho hum )o;
Metsker6 years ago
is there any full list of what thickness MDF you used in each step?
seamster (author)  Metsker6 years ago
Not a complete list, but I mentioned in various photo notes some of the thicknesses. For convenience though, here they are: Top and bottom pieces: 1/2" Sides: main piece was 3/4", with 1/4" piece glued to it Corner blocks: 1 1/2" square (made from two 3/4" pieces) Stick: 3/4" Raised ring: 1/8" (hardboard, like masonite) Three rings: 1/2", 3/4", and 3/4" plus 1/4" (to make the tallest ring 1") Stick collar: 3/4" (two rings to make 1 1/2" collar) I bought one 2 by 4 foot panel of each of these thicknesses of material and probably had enough left over to build at least one more of these.
A.J.B.6 years ago
That is the most awesome lamp/art piece that I think I have ever seen. Kudos!
Bravo! That's amazing. Excellent craftsmanship! And great details!
bustedit6 years ago
Very nice, accurate copy of the original! How about an Atari paddle dimmer switch????
That is the perfect addition to this project a paddle controller dimmer switch, this keeps getting better and better!
This great!!! I love all things Atari.

I just bought some brand new Atari 2600 shaped USB joysticks from Legacy Engineering. Bought them back in October, took several months to come, but they are absolutely perfect, feel just like the original Atari 2600 joysticks, I've tried them with all of my PC games and with mame on my iMac - love em!

check them out: http://www.legacyengineer.com

Now somebody needs to come out with an Atari 5200 joystick! :-)

AtariAge6 years ago
Great project, I love the attention to detail! And trust me, I've seen more than my fair of Atari CX-40 joysticks! I just posted this up as news on AtariAge.com. :)
seamster (author)  AtariAge6 years ago
Sweet! So I guess you don't mind that I "borrowed" some images to make my lampshade?
Nope! Although I wouldn't object to a link to AtariAge in that step. :)
that's awesome! it's like an i-spy books, very discreet but cool.
cincygeek6 years ago
Great work, awesome detail! You get my vote! I've got an odd piece of wood trim glue to a door (long story) that I've been trying to figure out how to cut, and I realize now that what I need is a Japanese pull saw! Thanks for the tip. One can never have too many tools (isn't that why we do projects, an excuse to buy more tools?).
slimguy3796 years ago
awesome alot of work, im wanna build one for myself.
ElChick6 years ago
I am absolutely astounded and flabbergasted!! This is one of the most detailed and lovely projects I have ever seen!! I love the nostalgia and the craftmanship that went into it. My hat is off to you!
The only *tiny* gripe I have is that while I love the subtle humor in the notes on the pictures, and the inventiveness of the jury-rigged jigs, the small plugs about how you could do better with nicer tools got a little old after a while.
I still gave 5 stars, favorited, and voted for you tho! Congrats on a beautiful piece of work!!! (8O])
seamster (author)  ElChick6 years ago
Thank you for the vote and the five stars. I'm glad you noticed my silly jokes!
I am in awe of the amount of work this took to produce. I'm guessing you don't have a second one for the other table at the end of the couch...? :) These must also weigh a TON. It would be great if lighter versions were available for purchase.
seamster (author)  The_Harbinger6 years ago
Surprisingly, it doesn't weigh as much as I thought it would. It's about 10 pounds.
askjerry6 years ago
This is an awesome project!

I have a shopsmith and a laser cutter... and I have NEVER made anything remotely this kool! OUTSTANDING job! Your use of jigs and thinking out each step... that's fine woodworking and planning. Again... OUTSTANDING!

jongscx6 years ago
Did you HAVE to use wood for the stick? methinks that some sort of pipe would have been easier? In any case, ridiculously awesome work. Are you working on a an NES lamp now?
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