Introduction: DIY Wood Pendant Light Fixture
So we needed a new light fixture for our front door entry area and as I had been through two other fixtures that either I didn't like or my sweetheart didn't like, it was time to take a different approach.
I am a hardcore shopper, having done props for theater for many years. I spend hours online sending options to my husband who kept disapproving, saying eh, was lukewarm until I sent him a particular wood one which happened to be out of budget. Of course that was the hit! So I opted to be guided by its design and build my own.
Making your own light fixtures isn't difficult, just take your time and in the end, you end up with something totally custom, totally your own, and something you can be proud of.
This is a two part blog post which contains lots of additional details, tips, and information more thoroughly explained so please come on by and read Part One here and then you can read the follow up wrap up installation Part Two here.
If you'd like to recreate this particular fixture, read on here for the link to my drawings.
Here's what I used (and some of this may not apply to your particular fixture location or may vary depending on your design):
hardwire pendant light kit*
2' x 4' piece of 1/4" plywood
sanding blocks and paper
stain of choice
miscellaneous fixture hanging parts
FYI, the * items are Amazon affiliate links so if you purchase, you won't pay more but I'll earn a few cents to keep my handy blog, Flipping the Flip, going and I'd sure appreciate it!
Step 1: Design Your Light Fixture
After studying pictures online of the fixture I intended to replicate and sort of backwards engineering it to figure out how I was going to build it, I used AutoCAD to help me draw up my design. Now, if you don't have AutoCAD or know how to use it, no problem at all. You can draw up your fixture using another program or even by hand.
AutoCAD allowed me flexibility in changes and scaling as well as the ability to print out my design, tape the pages together, and easily transfer the design onto the plywood.
Yes, I printed it out and held it up, trying to gauge if my sizing would work for our foyer. Had to be large enough but also small enough to not get whacked by the front door.
If you would like to replicate the fixture I built, you can download my drawings here.
Step 2: Transfer the Design
The parts I needed cut out of wood were the legs of the fixture, if you will, and the piece that connected these legs to the pendant kit.
After printing out the elements on my regular ol' household printer, I rubbed powdered charcoal on the back side of the legs print out with the black lines of the design on the front. Flip the page over, set it on your plywood charcoal side down, and with a sharp pencil, trace the black printed line to transfer the shape onto the plywood.
In my case, I repeated this 18 times. Yeah, 18, heh, it felt like 100.
For the circular connection piece, I attached two pieces of 1/4" plywood scrap together and spray mounted the print out onto it, then attached the two wood pieces together with a screw in the center.
Step 3: Cut
Using my bandsaw, I cut out the 18 leg pieces, the circle for the connector piece, and the little 1/4" notches that will hold the legs. Lots of cutting.
Step 4: Cutting Notches
Next up was a lot of math which I should have used AutoCAD for and saved my poor brain but, I didn't.
Each leg received 1/4" notch to connect into the circle connector piece. The math was figuring out the spacing along the 4" straight edge of the legs as the legs will appear to undulate around the fixture. 18 legs and they were divided into nine pairs.
You can set the legs to be even all around, undulate down and back up then down, or as I did.
Step 5: Prepping the Connector
Here I used a Forstner bit to drill out the center hole that accepted the pendant kit. The screw that was previously in the center made it very easy to locate the correct spot.
I made sure to purchase a kit that screwed together, so it was like a sandwich cookie. The socket piece then the connector held on by the screw-on ring that normally holds a shade.
Step 6: Finishing
Lots of sanding involved here, sanding both faces of the plywood nice and smooth. I used my rotary tool to sand the edges of the legs. Loootttts of sanding, haha.
A quick dust off and I brushed wood conditioner on both sides of everything. This helps even out the stain and prevents streaks. Shortly after that, on went the stain. Here you can choose whatever color you'd like and works best for you.
Once everything was wiped off and set a few days, on went two coats of paste wax. Since there were so many pieces, I used a buffer to buff up the wax coats. Doing so resulted in a super nice finish but you can definitely do this by hand.
Step 7: Assembly
I did all the grunt work for you on this one, you are so welcome. I went through three different types of glues, none of which worked (wood, a different wood type, and Gorilla), before settling on super glue of all things. Seems a little weird but that's what worked and worked incredibly well.
Just dab a little glue in the notch of the connector piece, then squish the legs into the notches, hold for a few seconds, and voila, stuck.
Step 8: Install
Here I had a few difficulties and had to get some additional parts. The pendant kit must've been made for a foreign market which means it's a tad smaller than American sizes but I made it work.
Years ago I had put a recessed can conversion kit in this particular location and it was the best fifteen bucks spent as I can easily install any type of fixture in this spot any time, or, revert back to a recessed can, no harm no foul.
Obviously your situation could be very different than mine, so adapt accordingly.
I must mention though, if you do not have wiring skills, do not tempt fate; please hire a licensed professional electrician to install the fixture for you. Electricity can kill you and burn your house down if done improperly, so better safe than sorry. Please and thank you.
Step 9: Enjoy
Once it's all installed, pop in your light bulb of choice. Here I used one of those oh-so-popular-and-maybe-too-overused old-timey Edison ones. This fixture is also on a dimmer which, yes, install dimmers everywhere in your house, they are the best and one of the least expensive ways to transform any space for the better.
One of these days I'll get a photo of how this fixture throws light and shadows around, it's unbelievably fantastic.
We're so thrilled with this fixture and I am so incredibly proud of it. It was a lot of work for sure but it truly paid off.
To learn about the paint job on the wall behind the fixture, drop by this link.
Don't forget to swing by the first blog post on this which will lead you to the second one for lots of other details and bits of helpful info. Too, swing on by Flipping the Flip for loads of other awesome things to make and do.
Runner Up in the
Home Decor Challenge