Introduction: Lamp: Upcycled Corrugated and Plastic Bags

With Earth Day right around the corner I wanted to find a way to use the waste that is ordinarily found throughout a home and turn it into something functional. I had just finished learning how to melt and form plastic when I stumbled across this lamp design (it’s not my own, I saw it online). This lamp and design meshed perfectly what I had learned about corrugated board and plastic. It successfully removes 25 plastic bags from circulation as well as utilizes recycled corrugated board. Additionally, when you no longer have use for the lamp, the fixture is 100% recyclable!

Step 1: Step 1: Acquire and Laminate Your Corrugated Board.

You will need enough corrugated board to make one 20x32x1.5” sheet and one 13x10x1.5” sheet. These dimensions allow for the kerf of a table saw blade.

I used lots of glue and slathered it all over the top of your first sheet. Then, apply your second piece to the top of the first. Repeat this process until you have 1.5” of board. Depending on the board type, you may need 8-10 layers. These sheets don’t need to be full, you can glue smaller pieces together in parallel to make up one larger sheet.

Apply some weight evenly and allow it to glue. I used a scrap of plywood and some old brake discs to apply weight evenly without damaging the board.

Step 2: Step 2: Cut and Assemble Your Pieces.

You will need 40 – 9” sections. I used a table saw to quickly cut the boards to width. A band saw works a little better and creates far less mess. As with any power tool, exercise caution and follow all safety protocols. Use the proper personal protection equipment. After cutting these pieces, I ran them across a sander with 120-grit sandpaper to clean up the edges a bit.

Glue 36 of the pieces in a rotating or brick pattern, apply weight and let it dry. This will be your base. When it is dry, use your table saw, drill, or saw to make a notch for your lamp cord to feed through.

Glue the last four sections end to side to match the pattern of the base. I recommend using 1/2” dowels and drilling them to aid in the construction but it isn’t necessary. This will be your top piece.

Cut six 12” pieces in the shape of a parallelogram with 60-degree angles at each end. After cutting these pieces, I ran them across a sander with 120-grit sandpaper to clean up the edges a bit. Glue them together in a zig-zag pattern. Again, if I were doing it again, I would use dowels rather than simple glued butt joints but the simple joints seem to hold.

Step 3: Step 3: Assemble the Outer Structure.

Cut four 1” pieces of 1” dowel.

Using a forstner bit to drill a half inch hole 1.75” and centered width-wise from the end of each of the uprights. Drill one hole in two corners of the base and top piece that are located 1.75” from the edge and centered width-wise.

Insert your dowels into your base, glue them liberally and wipe up any excess. Let it dry.

Glue your uprights in place. I used books to support the weight of the uprights and keep them stable. You may want to use hot glue for this step so that it sets up quickly. Once your glue is dry, insert and glue your other dowels into the top of your uprights. Let it dry.

Finally, glue your top piece in place. Again, you may want to use hot glue.

Step 4: Step 4: Cut Your Bags and Melt Them Together.

Cut your bags in half. Cut any handles or seams off your bags. If your bags are without type or logos you can skip this step. Leave as much of the print-free area of the bag as possible, the bigger the better. The bags will shrink a bit and you’ll want the extra wiggle room of having too much material.

Layer your bags in stacks of five and place them in a wax paper lined cookie sheet or a cut-up cardboard case from a 24-pack of soda. I used an old oven that I had in my garage and set it to 210-220 degrees Fahrenheit to melt the pieces together. This doesn’t produce smoke or much of a smell at all. At 250 degrees, they start to produce a really crazy pattern but they start to smoke which smells terrible. I have heard of others using heat guns. When I tried the heat gun, it was too hot if you were close to the bags or I couldn’t get the heat even enough to produce a good result. I do not recommend using your main oven for this project in case you get the temperature to high (risk of plastic fire) or accidentally melt plastic to the inside of your oven.

The wax paper will stick to the plastic and this is an acceptable result. It matches the consistence and color (if you have white bags) of the bags while adding a bit of a backer to the plastic. This makes it much easier to cut. Peel off what you can without damaging your plastic.

Repeat this step four more times.

Step 5: Step 5: Cut Your Plastic and Line Your Lamp Shade.

Cut your plastic sheets into four 8x14” pieces and one 8x8”sheet.

Use hot glue to secure your pieces to the inside of your lamp. Be careful that you don’t burn yourself while gluing the shade together. Start with your side faces and finish with your top. I went back through and glued my seems the best I could as well.

Step 6: Step 6: Insert Your Bulb and Enjoy Your Hard Work!

Grab a basic light fixture from a home improvement store. It is very important that you use an LED bulb to manage the heat given off by the light. I chose a 40-watt equivalent.

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure