Introduction: Steel Sconces

These steel sconces were built for a theatrical production of Much Ado About Nothing at my graduate theater program. We were working with a modest budget and we had originally planned to use sconces from our inventory, until we realized they were falling apart. We had to build something to replace them, and do it for very little money.




*Hammer and/or Pry Bar

*Metal Band Saw OR Cold cut Saw OR Cut off wheel to cut your steel to length

*Combination square

*Narrow Crown Pneumatic Staple Gun

*Air compressor

*Table Saw

*Mitre Saw



For this project you will need:

*Ogee router bit

*Flat steel stock (1 inch, and 1/2 inch, mild steel)

*Scrap plywood (for your jig and the bottoms of the sconces)

*Jig Blocks (Scrap pieces of plywood, cut to about 1 inch x 3 inches)

* Scrap poplar or oak (Finial bases)

* Wooden finial (

*Wood Ball (

*1 1/4 narrow crown staples

*Hinge (

*Tek Screws (

Step 1: Cut Your Stock to Length

The first thing you need to do is cut your flat stock to length. Use your 1 inch flat stock for the top and bottom horizontals. The top horizontal piece will be 8 inches at its longest point. The bottom horizontal will be 6 inches at the longest point. Use your 1/2 inch flat stock for your verticals--cut these to 8 inches long.

You will see that since the shape of each sconce face is trapezoidal, you will need to cut an angle in your top and bottom horizontals. I did this with a metal band saw, but you can also use a cut off wheel. I decided not to bother with the corresponding angle on the vertical pieces of 1/2 inch flat stock, because the angle is so shallow that the gaps can be filled in with weld, so I just cut them at 90 degrees to save time.

Step 2: Jig Your Pieces, Weld Your Faces

Put your pieces into a jig, so they do not move around while you try to weld them together. You can do this with your plywood. Grab a piece of scrap plywood, and use your 1 x 3 inch plywood blocks to anchor your pieces in. Use your pneumatic narrow crown staple gun to staple the jig blocks into the scrap plywood.

Once you weld the first one, you can pop the sconce face out of the jig and slot the pre-cut pieces into the jig for the next face. You might need a hammer or a pry bar to pop it out of the jig. My project called for me to build 3 sconces, which meant i needed to weld 12 faces.

Step 3: Weld Your Uprights Together

Now that all of your faces have been welded flat, it is time to weld them together. You want to be sure that when you weld these together, they are welded at a 90 degree angle in relation to each other. Cut the angle of your trapezoid into your jig block, and put a corresponding block on the opposite face, so you can anchor your face vertically into the jig. Do this with all four faces. Make sure you double check your angles with your combination square before you weld them together--you can also take a measurement from opposite corner to opposite corner in both directions, and if they are the same your piece is square.

You should NOT weld up the entire length of the weld seam here--The heat will cause warp-age. I chose to do tack welds up the seam instead, and then grind them flush with my grinding wheel.

Step 4: LID IT

Time for the lids! How big you want your lid is up to you, I made mine with a 1 inch overhang on all sides. To do this, cut a square of 20 gauge sheet steel to your desired overall size. Strike a line from corner to corner, to find your center, and use that a reference point to draw out the dimensions of the square on the TOP face of your lid. Strike a line from each small square line to the corresponding corner of your overall square.

The triangles from these marks are the DARTS that need to be cut out, so you can bend your steel into shape. you can use your metal band saw to cut these out, and then clamp the whole thing in your vice and bend down your trapezoids until they meet up neatly with each other.

Once your lids are bent to shape, weld the seams. Be careful to adjust
the settings on your welder, this sheet steel is much thinner than the flat stock we were using for the faces, you don't want to blow through. Weld all along the seam.

Step 5: Attach Your Lids.

Since these were built for a theatrical production, we needed to make the lids easily accessible for further work and maintenance during the run of our show. To accomplish this, I chose to weld a hinge along the center of the back of the lid. Clamp it in place with a vice grip and just tack weld through the holes for the screws.

To keep the lid secured, weld in a 1 inch square tab of flat stock along the center of the front (RE:opposite side of your hinge). Make sure it is following the angle of your lid, from the inside. Drill and tap a hole into it. Run a bolt from the outside of your lid into your tapped hole. This will allow you access into your sconce for further work later on.


Now that its lidded, you need to cut a piece of plywood for the inside bottom of your sconce, so that you have something to attach your fixture to. Cut your plywood with angles on all four sides corresponding to the angles of your fixture. drop it in, and screw it in from the outside with your tek screws.

Step 7: Finials

The design for our sconces included some little finials on the top, and wooden balls on the bottom.

Cut your small squares of oak first, at 4 inches square. Cut your larger pieces to 6 inches square. Use your OGEE router bit to create a profile edge, then center them on top of each other and wood glue and staple them together. Run a screw from the center of the bottom, into your wooden ball finial. Screw the whole thing down through the plywood base in your sconce into the oak

For the top finial, cut a 45 degree angle on all four sides on the table saw, and then run a screw from the center into the bottom of the finial. Mount it from the underside of your steel lids into the underside of the oak.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

This is a good time to paint your sconces.

Mount and wire your light fixture of choice into the plywood bottoms, and you can
drill a hole in the plywood for the cord to run through.

For the inside Panels, we used opaque plexi, to diffuse the light. Cut panels with a jig saw to the dimensions of your inside faces, and you can hot glue them in from the inside.

We welded our sconces to custom welded plates and lag bolted them into our set.

Metalworking Contest

Runner Up in the
Metalworking Contest