Introduction: Faceted Wood Light Shades - Dodecahedrons

Picture of Faceted Wood Light Shades - Dodecahedrons

I'm a big fan of using platonic solids for design in general, but dodecahedrons are a particularly nice shape for making a candleholder. By leaving off two opposing sides you can easily set it over a small candle (preferably an LED candle if you're using the same materials I did) to diffuse the light and add a warm glow. They make a great design magazine style gift, and have a substantial wood look while using a fraction of what it would take to carve them from a block of wood. This project could be adapted to be a proper lampshade or add a bottom piece and you can use them as a container as well.

These candleholders require no power tools to make!

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Picture of Materials and Equipment

Wood veneer - you want a standard, thin, NOT paper backed wood veneer in any species you prefer. You may have to order it online if a local home improvement store doesn't have it. Ordering online gives you many more species to choose from.

Paper - a block printing or mulberry paper is a good choice for this. It's the structure of what you're making, so long, strong fibers will work better than something like a cheap typing paper. Acid free is a good idea, too.

"Yes!" Paste - you can use all sorts of glues for this, but you have a pretty good chance of everything coming out smooth and flat with this glue.

Scissors, Utility Knife and a Cutting Mat - for cutting paper and veneer.

Brush - for applying the glue.

Sandpaper - to smooth out any rough cuts and remove any pencil marks.

Heavy flat objects and/or flat boards with clamps - to keep parts flat while drying.

Small spring clamps - hold pieces while the glue sets so you don't have to.

Waxed paper - to prevent things from sticking together where you don't want them to.

Card stock - to make a template to trace around.

Pencil - very sharp or mechanical for tracing templates onto wood and paper.

Clear varnish (optional) - an acrylic varnish is more fire resistant than an oil based finish, if you're planning to use them with fire.

Gold paint or gold leaf and leafing size (optional) - if you want to make them gold use one of these.

Step 2: Cutting Pieces

Picture of Cutting Pieces

Print off my template or make your own.  Everything is based on regular pentagons, my template is set up for a standard 1.5 inch votive.

Use caution with sharp tools. Fingers can be cut/cut off, and shrapnel can fly into your eyes. Take all possible precautions, you'll miss your fingers or eyes if you suddenly don't have them.

Cut 10 pentagon pieces from wood veneer. Trace your template onto the wood. If you're going to push them together, use a utility knife and straight edge to cut them, if you spread them out you can use scissors. Cut them as neatly and evenly as possible.

If the wood is cracking try cutting it very lightly with several strokes of a very sharp utility knife. If it's still cracking stabilize the pieces with a bit of masking tape until you glue them to the paper.

Cut 5 pieces from paper.


If you're the kind of person who has a workshop at your disposal and you'd like to make a few of these, you can make the cutting more efficient. Sandwich a stack of veneer sheets between some scrap wood (masonite, thin plywood, etc,) clamp tightly, and trace your pattern onto the top. Then cut the whole stack with a bandsaw or jigsaw, if it's small enough. In no time you'll have a giant stack of pentagons ready to assemble!

Step 3: Flat Gluing

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Glue two wood pentagons onto each piece of paper. Consider the orientation of the grain. Spread a layer of paste onto the wood, carefully stick it onto the paper. Do the same with another piece of wood. If they're flexing you'll want to cover them in waxed paper then set them under something flat and heavy, or clamp them between two boards while they dry.

Glue all of the pairs, allow to dry thoroughly. Make sure to keep your paper oriented the same way so that you'll have gluing flaps where you need them.

Step 4: Dimensional Gluing

Picture of Dimensional Gluing

Pre-fold all of the crease lines.

Glue all five pieces together along one edge. Allow to dry, under a weight if necessary.

It's easier to continue if you leave the piece flat (as opposed to gluing one edge into a loop.) Glue two tabs to their corresponding pentagons, and allow to dry. Some small spring clamps might be handy to hold the pieces in place while the glue sets.

Continue gluing tabs to neighboring pieces. The assembly is fairly self explanatory if you set the five pieces in the right places initially. You would actually have to work very hard to glue things together incorrectly!

Step 5: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

To finish them you can varnish the whole thing or just the inside (to make the paper more translucent.)

You can also paint them gold or apply a layer of gold leaf. I used gold paint because I thought I might want a thin wash of gold, but I eventually chose to cover them opaquely. If I was doing it again I would have just used gold leaf.

Apart from the one that I painted gold I left the others unfinished on the wood side and with a light coat of acrylic varnish on the inside.

Step 6: Use Them!

Picture of Use Them!

The best way to use these relatively flammable candle covers is with LED votives. 

If you prefer the authenticity of real flame be sure to center the candle in the holder and place them somewhere without any other flammable materials nearby (if they start burning you don't want that fire to reach your drapes or stack of paperwork!) As with all candles, don't leave them unattended and use them at your own risk. I've used them with real candles, but the best glow I've found seems to be when they're placed over Christmas lights as shown in the picture below. 

All that's left is to enjoy your warm, modern candleholders or give them to someone who will!

Comments

strangebike (author)2012-01-19

Nice look pretty too. I'm a wood turner as a hobby and one of the magazines suggested using peg-6 ? a type of detergent to make the wood more translucent for very thin wood turnings. it was all the rage up to about 2 years ago. Not sure now it all seems to be wainey edged bowls but yours is a great use that could be done with your kids as a project before they con you in to building the radio controlled aircraft of their dreams .LOL

I hadn't heard of using peg-6, but since it's used as an emulsifier it makes sense. I would imagine using an oil would do something similar (and probably be a little easier to get.) Thanks for mentioning that, I'll have to do some more research!

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