Introduction: Making an Epoxy Ombrè Lamp

About: Maker of Things / Jack of All Trades - Master of None || High School Engineering Teacher by Day -> Maker by Night

I really needed a new bedside lamp after I definitely knocked the last one off in my sleep and broke it. I couldn't bring myself to just head to the store and buy something off the shelf, so I figured I would have some fun with it. Bringing a pop of color into the project was a goal and what better way to do that than to integrate some tinted epoxy in my favorite color (blue)! This could be the perfect accent piece for a desk, nightstand, or side table in your home. The smooth gradient creates an awesome cascading color effect in the whole room. This project combined some of my favorite things: woodworking, digital fabrication (CNC), and epoxy resin.


Step 1: Break Down Wood

The main body of the lamp is made out of solid hardwood. I started with a larger piece of 1/2" thick lumber that I cut down to 5" tall and 25" long. I then cut it into four equal sized pieces which will make up the four sides of the lamp.

I used a table saw and cross cut sled for these cuts, but any kind of saw can be used. Just be careful to make your cuts as straight and square as possible. This will make joinery and assembly much easier later on.

Step 2: CNC

To add the slotted side details that will be filled with epoxy, I used my CNC which is highly accurate and easily repeatable for all four sides of the lamp. I cut five 1/2" slots on each side of the lamp using a 1/4" router bit.

I also used the CNC to cut a 1/4" deep mold which will be used to pour the epoxy lamp top into.

If you don't have access to a CNC you could use a router to free hand or a jigsaw to cut these slots. It's also not necessary that the side details have to be slotted—you could cut any design into the sides to make it your own.

Step 3: Epoxy Prep

Prior to pouring the epoxy, I covered the top mold and one side of each side panels in waterproof Tyvek tape to create a seal for the epoxy. This will stop the epoxy from flowing out of the back of the slots but can be easily removed once the epoxy cures. I found it useful to use a small rounded metal tool to push the tape into any of the tight corners.

Step 4: Epoxy Pour

I mixed a generous amount of Total Boat Epoxy using a drill powered paint mixer (definitely the best way to do it). Then I filled the first slot on all four sides with clear epoxy.

Instead of mixing up five separate batches of epoxy, I added a little pigment between pouring each slot to slowly intensify the color with each layer to successfully create an ombre effect. It worked like a charm!

For the epoxy top, I sprayed some mold release in the mold and then poured the remaining epoxy until the mold was full.

Once all of the epoxy was poured, I used a heat gun to pop any remaining air bubbles.

Step 5: Sanding and Polishing

I found it easiest to sand and polish the sides prior to assembly. I sanded up to 320 grit with the orbital sander and then used a headlight restoration kit to sand the epoxy all the way up to 2000 grit. Once sanded, I used polishing compound and pad to polish the wood and epoxy to a glass-smooth finish.

Step 6: Joinery

To join the four sides, I cut 45 degree miters on the table saw to create mitered corners. To accept the top and bottom panels I cut 1/4" dados using a standard table saw blade and making multiple passes. I decided to do all the joinery after pouring the epoxy because it made taping and pouring the pieces much easier without the mitered edges.

Step 7: Lamp Assembly

To assemble the main lamp body, I skipped the clamps and used packing tape to hold the corners together instead while the glue dried. I chose not to reinforce the miter joints in this lamp because it's not a piece that will be taking a lot of abuse. Wood glue will be more than strong enough to hold it all together for years to come.

Step 8: Bottom Panel and Cord Routing

For the bottom panel of the lamp, I used a 1/4" thick plywood. To accommodate the lighting power cord, a hole and recess had to be cut out of the bottom and back panels in order for the lamp to sit flat on a table. I measured out the center of the lamp using a t-square and was able to make quick work of it using a chisel. The final step was using a little CA glue to secure the bottom panel in place.

Step 9: Lighting and Finishing Touches

I didn't go fancy with the lighting—just some a simple LED strip spread out inside the lamp box. I routed the power cord through the hole in the bottom panel and used a little hot glue to keep it securely in place. After popping the top epoxy panel out of the form, the final touch was laying it in place and admiring my handy work!

Step 10: Bask in the Light

I have to say this lamp really came out beautifully! Whether the light is on or off, it really is a show stopper! I was nervous about how well the ombre effect would come across in the dark, but man does it look good! I would love to see your take on this project—different colors, different patterns...make it your own, and make it awesome!

Lighting Challenge

Runner Up in the
Lighting Challenge