Introduction: Flexible Plywood Modern Lamp

About: I'm an Artist, Designer, and Maker of Things.

The YouTube video is NOW AVAILABLE!



• Spray Clear -

• Utility Cutter -

• Beam Compass for Large Circles -

• Plywood:

• Wood Screws -

• Total Boat Epoxy -

• Rust-Oleum Clear -

• Starbond Premium Superglue -

• Table Saw:

• 14” Deluxe Bandsaw -

• Router Bits 1/8” and 1/4" -


• Table Saw -

• CNC Router -

Camera and Video Gear:

• Main Camera -

• Main Lens -

• Camera Frame -

• Secondary Camera -

• Tripod -

• Lighting Setup -

• Magic Arm A -

• Magic Arm B -

• Video Monitor -

• Mic -

Step 1: Mid-Century Flexible Plywood Lamp

I'm publishing this original Mid Century Modern lamp design as an inspirational starting point for others to get those creative juices flowing. Although a beginner at CNC fabrication could accomplish this project, it may be more suited toward the intermediate and advanced skill levels.

I enjoy the design process as much or maybe even slightly more than the fabrication of the objects. I've always been fascinated with lights and have many sketches of lamps still waiting to be built. I'll toss in a couple of my preliminary sketches of this lamp down below.

My initial inspiration was based on several things, but the biggest spark came from seeing what the designers at Dukta have been developing.

I consider this to be within the "Modern" style because that is where I took my design cues from. I especially like the work of American furniture designers and furniture manufacturers that influenced the design world in the 1950's and early 1960's. A few of my favorites are Charles and Rae Eames, and George Nelson. Companies like Herman Miller and Heywood Wakefield have produced some amazing pieces. I will admit that I have a real passion for lamp design!

Step 2: Sketching the Concept

Plywood projects are currently very popular. Especially "patterned plywood". This method usually involves Baltic Birch plywood because it is generally high quality and the veneer layers are thin and very consistent. I started to research different plywood treatments. A friend of mine pointed me to the Dukta website, . I became intrigued with their flexible plywood, so I investigated further and discovered that some of their wood products were produced using a CNC circular saw.

I wanted to test out this new technique on something small. Well, a lamp seemed like the perfect thing because of it's size and it could also benefit from panels with perforations to let the light come through.

I made several rough sketches. Once I felt that I was on track, I began to refine my idea, as seen in these images from my notebook.

Step 3: Designing the CAD Model

After reviewing the sketches for a couple days I had a pretty good idea of how big this lamp should be. When working in the CAD environment, I always leave the grid function active. I find it very helpful to snap most geometry to a grid intersection.

The legs were probably the most complex parts to model. You can see in the images where I blocked out the general leg shapes, then went back and tapered and smoothed them.

I figured out a way to get some small dowels in the leg joints to help with alignment during assembly.

I use a crazy amount of construction lines as guides.

Step 4: Building a CNC Circular Saw

Converting my CNC router over to a CNC circular saw is going to be it's own Instructable coming soon. So, please check back for that whole adventure!

Step 5: Making Plywood Flexible

I used 3/8" thick plywood for the shade panels. The saw cuts go up and down like a roller coaster. The machine operations are identical on both sides. I stacked five blades together for a DIY dado cutter!

Step 6: Cutting the Lampshade

Once the slots were finished, I trimmed the arches on the bandsaw.

Step 7: Re-installing the Router

The changeover went quickly, swapping the saw for the router.

Step 8: Cutting the Shade Frame

The parts for the shade framework were cut from 3/4" Birch plywood. It was all done with a 1/8" diameter cutter.

Step 9: Assembling the Frame Parts

The frame assembly was simply. I drilled the single hole for the lamp socket stem and glued the cross-arms to the main frame part.

Step 10: Carving the "Boomerang" Legs

The legs are two-sided machining operations. I used dowels as registration pins when flipping it over. Each leg took 3-1/2 hours to finish! The passes were 0.025" overlap, resulting in a pretty nice surface.

Step 11: Assembling the Legs

When assembling the legs, the dowels did help tremendously! I decided on epoxy instead of wood glue because I had no way to clamp the triangular legs. So, I just held them with my hands for about ten minutes until the resin cured.

Step 12: Sanding and Finishing

Sanding wasn't too bad. I used shellac as a sanding sealer, then applied a matte clearcoat as a final finish. I let everything completely dry overnight before touching.

Step 13: Final Assembly!

The final assembly was really quick! only eight screws!

Step 14: Installing the Electrical Parts

The electrical was simple and straightforward. I just followed the instructions that came with the components.

Step 15: Some Beauty Shots!

I am super happy with this finished lamp. I already have orders from two friends who want one of their own!

Step 16: The YouTube Video Is NOW LIVE!

YouTube video is NOW AVAILABLE! There are many more details in the full video. Please go check it out.

Many of my plans, drawings, and 3D models are available for FREE download on my web site here:
I hope enjoyed this Instructable! Do you like my work? You can also find me on other social platforms!

• My Website:

• Patreon:

• YouTube:

• Instagram:

• Twitter:

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Lighting Challenge

First Prize in the
Lighting Challenge