Introduction: Book Lamp

Lamp made entirely out recycled books and paper. This is a basic lamp design but I encourage others to change or add to it! Many interesting outcomes can come from this material.

Step 1: Find Your Material

What you'll be using for this particular recycled lamp is books. These can be found at libraries in the free section or dumps usually have a free section that houses discarded books among other things. You'll want to get four to five books that are around 300 to 400 pages in length. Be sure to get extra as backup for any mistakes or improvising while creating the lamp.

You will also need:

Neutral pH adhesive or any equivalent bookbinding glue

Lamp cord + light socket



Band Saw

Scroll Saw

Belt Sander

Assorted Clamps

Step 2: Soak Books

To transform your books into a workable material you'll need to soak them in Neutral pH adhesive/water solution. I eyeballed the ratio but you want it to be around around 60/40 glue to water and then adjust accordingly depending on how the books react. Using a container big enough to fully submerge all the pages at one time dunk the books in the solution until they have been fully soaked through. Next clamp the books shut using either between two pieces of wood or the covers (if hardcover). (Note: when clamping excess solution is likely to be pressed out, this is good as to will speed the drying process and get rid of excess water)

After clamped let the books sit between one to two days depending on their thickness, once the pages have fully solidified remove the covers and spine to prep for working

Step 3: Cutting the Shapes

This lamp can be divided into four parts.

Before cutting roughly trace the shape you intend on cutting, cut the shape slightly larger as you will be sanding it down to its intended shape

The Base: Cut a ovell into book that is 10-12 inches the length (the heavier the book the better as the will stabilize the lamp.

The Arm: unless you have a large enough book you will need to use two books to make the arm, position two books next to each other and trace the arc you decide upon, i went with a classic look but a less extreme curve may be easier and require less tweaking for this material.

The head: consists of layered rings varying in size, that is achieved by cutting a circle then drilling a hole through the center and cutting the ring using a scroll saw, this can be tricky if the paper isn't fully bound, it can be done in parts while coating the already cut section with a layer of glue used in the solution.

Step 4: The Base

A hole in the base must be cut to fit the arm, the tighter fitting the better, although if you cut the hole too big you can make it tighter by wedging paper in the excess space. When deciding on where to place the hole you'll want to think about keeping the center to gravity as close to the center of your base to maximise stability this is important due to the top heavy tendence in the design.

After your hole has been made you will need to drill a hole through the base to feed the cord through, once this is complete carve an indentation for the cord so the base is able to rest flat.

NOTE: This process is likely to warp the base, this can be corrected with some careful sanding, the key is to find the grain of the paper and go with that, if you try going against the grain it will result in tearing the paper. Be sure to use a belt sander NOT orbital sanders when working with paper

Step 5: The Arm

The arm can be divided into two pieces although one solid arm is optimal. For cutting an arm out of two separate books align the two books next to each other and trace the outline how you would like the arm to be. after doing so cut the pieces down the middle then cut a channel along the arm for the wire to run through, after this is completer carefully glue and clamp the arm segments back together. Once the two pieces have dried you will want to create a binding notch in the bottom segment for the top segment to fit into.

After this is complete you'll want to make a spine to hold the weight of the lamp, this can be done by first using a strip of heavy paper (I found mine in a used up roll of wrapping paper) and gluing along the entire spine of the lamp, tape the spine at the top then pull it so it is taught and tape the bottom, after doing this let the glue set before untapping NOTE: this process creates the tension needed to support the lamp, it is a key piece in the function of the arm

Step 6: The Head/Light Switch

The head consists of a series of stacked rings getting larger in size to fit the bulb. This can also be achieved by stacking circles then carving out the interior but that process often results in a heavier head. Stacking the rings is a gradual process of stacking glueing and clamping if time is not given for the glue to set the head will pull apart. NOTE: when clamping the rings together be sure to using chip board or wood between the paper and the clamp, this will allow for and even distribution of force and no warping.

After your head is set you will need a cover for your light socket and switch. This is achieved by cutting another cylinder of paper but only partially hollowing it out to fit over the light socket. Then cut a notch in the side to fit the light switch through.

Step 7: Running the Wire Through

To get the cord through the lamp you can attach the end of the cord to a piece of wire and feed that through the lamp first, then pulling on the wire which will string the cord through the lamp

Step 8: Finishing/cleaning

To knock off any excess glue or unwanted blemishes you can lightly sand parts with a high grit paper on a fast setting, this will avoid tearing of the paper and give it a wood like finish.