Introduction: Plywood Floor Lamp

Picture of Plywood Floor Lamp
I have enjoyed this site and community for a long time and have wanted to contribute for almost as long.
I have finally got something to post.

Here is something I worked on last summer. ( well not really, it is a rendering I did last night ) Keep looking, you'll see.

The challenge, make something out of one piece of 4'x8' - 3/4" Plywood. Sounds simple enough,,,one thing I added to that was I wanted to see if I could do it without mechanical fasteners.
Challenge on.

I have included a PDF of a drawing package that I made for this instructable. It has some of my original design revised with "as built" modifications.
Also included, DWG and DXF files of the profiles for anyone with a CNC mill or router. (I just noticed a rib profile missing, i'll fix that soon and replace the files here soon. Till then, if you know your way around a DWG editor you can "copy/paste" one of the other ribs and modify it very easily to reproduce the missing part. 
Finally, STL files of a simpler but still articulating version of this. Available for those of you who are lucky enough to have a 3D printer and want to play around with this.
I if you download these and find issues, let me know I will be happy to try and resolve them

Just added for hand cutting DIYers, a PDF of all the profiles 1:6 scale for 1/8" thick material of your choice. Just stick it down and cut away. Use mill board, fun foam, balsa wood, ply...the list goes on and on. enjoy!

Step 1:

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Step one cut out a bunch of parts....well maybe not so fast.

I first sketched out some ideas and modeled some parts on the computer.
But then I really just started cutting.

The straight parts were cut simply with a table saw and jigs. 
I printed out "size as"  (1:1) drawings of some of the profiles for cutting. I spray glued my 1:1 drawings on to some 1/4" M.D.F. to make templates for flush trimming with a router.
For the circular parts, all outside cuts were made on a band saw with a circle jig, inside cuts with a jig saw. I did a few tests with a jig but found cutting free hand worked better for me.

Step 2:

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Now here is the best thing I figured out building this thing

The angled notches in the lamp shade ring were done on the table saw. (Those of you who spend more time on a table saw may say duh, or even have a better way to do it.) But for me it made my day.
I placed one of the rings flat on my table saw and set it up as if I were going to cut it right down the middle into two halves. I then raised the blade till the radius of the blade matched the angle on the ring I was cutting into. With my paper drawing spay glued onto the ring to show me the material to take away I did it by eye just using the 1/8" kerf of my saw blade. Of course a dado blade, fence and stop may  have been more accurate, but i was done in the time it would take to set that up. Besides, you see the pictures, can you tell? 

Step 3:

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Easy parts first

These parts were just ripped on my table saw, cross cut to length and with an extra wide dovetailing jig I made some cuts.
Forstner bit for the holes.
The round parts that look like pucks were solution number one for avoiding mechanical fasteners. I ripped two pieces of ply (about 1.5"X24" with the blade tilted at 30 degrees) and glued them together. ( which was a bit of a hard pill to swallow because I was trying to do this with out glue too) but it made these parts more structurally sound. This made a longish stick that was a hexagon in cross section. Long story short...I turned it on my lathe to be a snug fit into holes I drilled with the forstner bit and cut it up into 0.75" pucks.

Step 4:

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Optical illusion alert

The rectangular holes on the disks are the same size...they have to be in order for this to work. check out simultaneous contrast for an explanation.

Since I gave in and used glue on the other parts I used it to make the wedges as well. I could have made them with out glue but I thought the design I came up with is the strongest I could think of. A lot of forces are applied to this simple part. The notch or hook I put on the wedge was to make it easy to disassemble.

Step 5:

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Okay here is proof that I am a hack. 

This "stepped notch" foot design comes from of the fact that I did not want to put notches into both disks. Reason being, I wanted this to  go together any way or orientation and to get the notches to line up in all instances is very difficult to do by hand and by eye. As it turned out when these feet slip in they really lock in nicely....ahem, just like I planed it...right from the start.

Step 6:

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Beware pets and small children

Largely due to the fact that I wanted to get all cute and fancy with the no mechanical fasteners idea, this design needs some help.
To defy gravity this lamp relies on friction to stand up. If  I were to use some hefty spin on lugs to connect the side plate to the arms I would have enough clamping force to confidently leave this standing and know it won't wreak havoc and terrorize my two schnauzers. There is also way a to use spring force to counter the effects of gravity.
All that being said, whacking those little wedges into the trestle connector works quite well, certainly does the job.

I am curious and would like to stress test these joints some time. Maybe when i get sick of it hanging around.

Step 7:

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Well there you have it.

That's all I got for now folks.

If you made it this far I would like to think you enjoyed it. Thanks for looking.
I am happy to answer any questions you might have about this project.
In addition to anyone with CNC router you want to keep busy, maybe we can talk.

So long for now,



ccollins45 (author)2015-04-27

Hey john love your stuff!, I've recently purchased a prsalpha shopbot and am keen to start playing around, you mention you might be able to keep someone with a Cnc busy?

Thanks and congratulations on you recent purchase. That comment is getting a little old, however I do need someone every now and then, thing is, needs to be local. Just curious, where are you located?

حروزبه (author)2015-03-09

and final project

based on 6mm matterials

Designed by me

John Induna AD (author)2015-03-08

It looks good. thanks for sharing your picture here. Please post pictures if you make it.

Gooch13 (author)2014-04-17

What software did you use for this??

i want to learn it!)

حروزبه (author)Gooch132015-03-08

solidworks 2012

حروزبه (author)2015-03-08

Hi john

this is my design

based on 6mm material

thanx for idea

Merlin047 (author)2012-12-05

estoy usando windows XP service pack2 y el navegador es google chrome. y acabo de realizar unas pruebas y ya bajaron los archivos muchas gracias por responder saludos y te felicito por tu trabajo

John Induna AD (author)Merlin0472012-12-05

Gracias, me alegro de escuchar que todo está bien

Merlin047 (author)2012-12-04

no puedo bajar los archivos dwg y dxf como le hago?????

John Induna AD (author)Merlin0472012-12-05

Lamento escuchar eso. Acabo de probar la descarga de DXF y DWG y parecen estar funcionando bien. ¿Qué tipo de sistema operativo y el navegador que está usando.

Regnar (author)2012-10-23

Just wanted you to know I cut out the Shade area today on my Machine. I need to make a few tweaks to make this look better and fit a little more snugly. Overall I am happy with the prototype.

John Induna AD (author)Regnar2012-10-23

Awesome, It looks really good. I just installed a LED light in mine on the weekend.
thanks for sharing these pictures keep me posted.

Regnar (author)John Induna AD2012-10-23

I was thinking a Thomas Edison light on a dimmer for mine.

Regnar (author)Regnar2012-10-23

Forgot a Photo.

arjanR (author)2012-06-14

First of all great design and excellent drawings, instructions and details. However would it be possible to change the sizes to the metric system easily using your cad software and post them here? I am from Holland and not used to working with the American measuring system. If not I am going to recalculate them. I understand the standard inches however when you say 1' - 6" do you mean 1 foot + 6 inches or something else?



John Induna AD (author)arjanR2012-06-14

Hello Holland,

Thanks for your feedback. You are correct 1' -6" = 1 foot + 6 inches or to say the same thing differently 18 inches or 1.5 feet or... well not really. remember 1foot is 12 inches.
If all of this is too confusing there is now a PDF of the drawings with metric dimensions.
Have fun, enjoy.

polerix (author)2012-06-04

going to try to 3d print one, maybe about 10 cm high.... FOR SCIENCE!

John Induna AD (author)polerix2012-06-04

Nice to hear, what will you be printing it on? Let me know how it turns out....For Science!

srilyk (author)2012-06-04

This is incredible!

At first I thought "meh, just another laser cut/CNC project - well out of reach for anyone with a budget/standard tools".

You, sir, have some great skills.

John Induna AD (author)srilyk2012-06-04

Thank you, you're to kind.
I have nothing against CNC anything. I have been around that stuff for a while, it's how things get done these day. I often think how lucky I am, learning to build by hand but have been given a new set of tools in the way of computers, software, CNC and Rapid prototyping. Pretty go time to be making stuff.

"good time" I meant, not "go time"....that's something else.

for that matter I should say "too" kind.
Hey I just added a PDF file 1:6 scale of all the profiles so anyone with some cardboard and an sharp knife can make one. cheap and cheerful.

RobboMills (author)2012-06-04

Brilliant stuff, John - thanks for sharing. Later this summer I'll take a crack at making a smaller scale one for my desk.

Hey, good to see you here.
I thought I would put something out there, and get in the game. I have been on the sidelined here for too long.
I will produce a 1:6 scale PDF for you and post it here. I think that would scale nicely to 1/8" material.
That would make it perfect for your Ken and Barbie...or is that someone else I'm thinking about?

....and thanks.

loftyduck (author)2012-06-04

Very well done - I am certainly inspired now. You must be an engineer of some type to have the patience and skill to draw/dream this up!

John Induna AD (author)loftyduck2012-06-04

Good, I get inspired every time I come here. No, to engineer in a formal sense but yes in spirit. Making stuff is what i do for fun.

Regnar (author)2012-06-03

Very nice I will probably cut one out in the next week or so. I am curious though how tall is it after its assembled. Just wondering if it will reach over a couch for a reading light. Thanks.

John Induna AD (author)Regnar2012-06-04

Thanks, Let me know how it goes.
also keep an eye out for a new DWG and DXF with the missing part in it.

francismolloy (author)2012-06-03

I'll make this from 1/8 ply to scale on my cnc router and let you know how it goes.

Awesome, that would make it ~16.66% of the original size. About 14 inches fully extended. What size cutter would you use? That size a laser might be better if you have one of those kicking around.

rimar2000 (author)2012-06-03

Awesome work, congratulations!

John Induna AD (author)rimar20002012-06-04

Muchas gracias!

spikepickstock (author)2012-06-04

id buy a ready made kit for sure, i dont have a CNC and dont have the time to make it by hand =(
the only thing that i have to ask is 'is it less effective without a reflector?'

Nope, you would just use a bulb that has it's own reflector built into it.

Grafton26 (author)2012-06-03

It is after all a "Floor Lamp" lol , it is fantastic to see this kind of thing still being built by hobbyists today, would love to see a "Ready to build" kit on the market, A low wattage superbright led lamp would work well here as it will not generate much heat and will still be nice and bright

John Induna AD (author)Grafton262012-06-04

Thanks, I think you're right with the LED, that was my thought too.

florinc (author)2012-06-03

Looks great!
You should sell this as a kit.

John Induna AD (author)florinc2012-06-03

Thanks for the feed back. If there were enough people interested I would be happy to tweek this design to production perfection and consider partnering with someone who wants to hear the sound of money come form their CNC routers or mills.

florinc (author)John Induna AD2012-06-03

I guess a relatively easy way to find out if there are people interested is to start a kickstarter(.com) campaign. Basically sell the kits in advance.
Another thing you may consider is laser cutting the parts from thinner (3/8") plywood or some other material (e.g. bamboo, acrylic) and stacking them.

John Induna AD (author)florinc2012-06-03

True enough, I like kickstarter. thanks for your thoughts.

well if you can laser cut and send a package id buy one right now.

bstott (author)2012-06-03

Pretty Funny ending for a genius of an idea. One of your pictures makes the lamp look like about 5 foot tall in your drive. The others got me laughing because it seems you were taking it on a tour of the area. You could not take it to memorable locations and have the lamp visit. Ha, Ha... Maybe insert an Arduino and servos and animate it like the famous animated movie icon. Thanks for posting. I am looking at your STL files to print the lamp. :-)

John Induna AD (author)bstott2012-06-03

Fully extended it stands about 7 feet tall.

DragonDon (author)2012-06-03

I would be sooo interested in this, should the price be right. While I'd love to be able to make my own, right now the creative community space I have setup, doe snot have the equipment so that I can teach people how to do so. This is an awesome idea.

l8nite (author)2012-06-02

looks awesome !

mahesh_84 (author)2012-06-02

thanks your idea .. i have out that .............

joshmt2012 (author)2012-06-02

this is pretty sweet, how long did it take you to cut all those pieces by hand?

Thanks for checking this out.
I can't really say for sure. I cut them out over a few days working in my spare time. Typically I worked in 3-4 hour chunks of time and probably work 4 or 5 days.
Keep in mind I was inventing as I was going for a good portion of the time.
With the thinking done and the set of drawing (check out the PDF) I did the other day I would estimate I could do it now in 6 to 8 hours.

About This Instructable




Bio: I love to build stuff and I feel at home with all the folks I see posting things here. I consider myself lucky to design ... More »
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