Introduction: Table With Hidden Lamp

About: I work wood but I also have studied chemistry

Hello interwebs!

Today, we'll be building a kitchen/dining table with a hidden pop up lamp. The lamp can either be tucked away (off), at 45° (ambient light) or 90° (working light).

Because this project is custom sized to fit my (very very small) kitchen/living room, I will give rough measurements but realistically if you decide to tackle something similar, I would encourage you to build it to your own specifications. In my case, it is less wide than a regular dining table because 1) I simply LOVE eating while smelling the breath of the person across the table and fighting for leg space and 2) It kinda had to fit in between the wall and bathroom door so that we can still access said bathroom.

This project took me around 4/5 full days of work excluding glueing time. Because I do not have access to a planer/jointer, all the lumber is planed by hand but you could save a lot of time buying dimensioned lumber or using power tools like the modern person you most surely are ;)

Alright let's get started!


I've been wanting to build a table out of cherry and walnut for a while as these are woods that complement each other so well. I found this great instructable by YouCanMakeThisToo, and I used his leg and X-Brace design because I found it simply stunning! Check it out for beautiful craftsmanship and more detailed instructions on how to make the legs. Hence, there won't be much detail on the leg part because, well, it has been made before

The rest is of my own design and trial and error (mostly error)



Planes (Jack Plane, Finishing plane, block plane)

Table saw


Hand saw




Ruler, compass, square, angle finder,


Clamps (a whole bunch, you never have enough clamps)


Hardwood for the table top and legs (Cherry, Walnut, purchased from NFP Hardwood Outlet)

Wood glue + superglue

Sandpaper (optional, I used a finishing plane instead)

Dowels (poplar, 3/8th diameter)

LED strip

12V Power Supply

Electrical wire

Small hinges + screws

Some frosted plastic to diffuse the LED light

A wood finish of your preference

Step 1: It's a Long Way to the (table)top

First things first, let's make a table top. I chose solid cherry framed in walnut, but the framing will be discussed later in the build after we integrate the lamp.

Starting with a couple of boards of rough-sawn cherry, I first planed the faces using the jack plane to get flat surfaces.

I then chose the arrangement of my boards for aesthetic purposes, made sure the grain runout was all facing the same way so I could hand plane the whole tabletop easily without tearing my surface.

Now knowing which edges were going to be glued together, I planed them in pairs to ensure seamless joints on the surface. More detail on this can be found in my acoustic guitar instructables, at step 12.

I then glued the whole shabang together, which was a mistake. I should have glued it in sections and have applied less pressure. What happened is that the whole panel kind of twisted a little bit, which resulted in an extra 3 hours of planing to regain somewhat flatness, and a thinner panel. No brain means you gotta build the muscle I guess? I'll know better next time.

Anyways, once it was flat and square, I made it smooth with a finishing plane and called it done.

Step 2: Legs!

At this point, the four legs are identical.

I first cut my leg blanks in a walnut piece wide enough to accommodate two legs.

To taper the legs I made a jig for the circular saw. I didn't have the fancy clamps but hey, it worked like a charm anyway and I lost only 12% of my fingers.

I then cut a 10° angle on the top and bottom of the legs, making sure my tapered side was facing the inside of the table and planed every surface of the legs.

Step 3: Embrace the X-Brace

Alright brace yourselves

We are building two stretchers that will meet as an X under the table to attach theses lovely legs to this lovely tabletop.

I first drew their position under the table, chose the position of the legs and marked and measured it all before heading to the table saw to cut my blanks from yet another large piece of rough sawn walnut.

I then used the angle finder to ... drum roll... find the angle of the joint in between the stretchers, marked it down on the middle of each stretcher and removed* half of the width on each stretcher, giving me a beautiful X joint or however it's called.

* First, I use the hand saw to cur close to the vertical lines, then I used a coping saw to deal with most of the waste and cleaned everything up with a chisel.

Two mistakes wee made here:

Mistake one! I wanted a snug joint so I made it too snug and when I test-drove the stretcher 1 into stretcher 2 with a mallet, I split stretcher 2 in half along the grain (length wise). This was unfortunate but I just glued it back up and decided to plane a little bit of the thickness away which led to:

Mistake two! I overshot it by about a mile, planed too much off and ended up with a loose joint. I fixed this by adding two small wedges in the joint. Gotta learn patience still.

Step 4: The Bee's Knees (joining the Legs)

Once again, I will brush through this as it is already described in YCMT2's instructable.

This was about the most time consuming part of this project, but also one of the most rewarding because these joints look gorgeous.
First, we mark each joint using the marking knife and gauge, removing half the stock thickness on both the leg and stretcher.

Then, I cut close to the lines with a handsaw and clean it up with a handplane and large flat chisel.

I glued everything, clamping for 5 hours.

Finally, I drilled two 3/8th holes in each joint, and drove a slightly too long, glue-covered poplar dowel in each hole with a mallet. After letting the glue cure fore 30 mins, I cut the dowel flush to the surface with a flexible saw and used the finishing plane to make everything smooth and seamless.

Some advice:

Number each leg and stretcher so that you know exactly which leg goes where, it'll save you headaches down the line trying to figure out why your perfect joint is now gaping.

It's okay to leave the joints slightly proud, then you can plane everything flush together.

If a joint is gaping, get some of the wood's sawdust or sanding dust, mix it with glue and make your very own custom colour wood paste to fill that sucker up!

Step 5: Framing the Table Top

This is a pretty straightforward step: we are framing the cherry top with walnut because we are feeling fancy tonight and it will look gorgeous. I start by ripping 1.5 inch wide sections of walnut and cur a 45° angle on one end, then mark the precise place where the other angle is to be cut.

Life pro tip: so, you did like me and cut your piece too short and are missing a couple of millimiters to get the angle right where you want it ? FEAR NOT! Simply do a couple of passes with a hand plane on the inside of your border: it will be less wide (which will not show) but you will regain the perfect fit in the corners (which is a game changer)

Step 6: Fiat Lux Pt. 1: in the Woods

Now to the experimental part: we are building a foldable lamp in there, that should behave as a table when folded and as a lamp when unfolded. Duh.

I wanted to make it as seamless as possible when tucked away so I could have no apparent hinges on the surface of the table. Ideally, I would have had nothing apparent under the table either, but because of my thinner top due to my mistake in glueing the top panel I ended up having stuff sticking out under there. You know how it goes: "the best laid plans of mice and men meet dire ends when you have to build a whole new a table top"

First, I ripped a 2 inch wide piece of cherry, as long as my table top, and cut it in 3 sections. The middle section will be the lamp.

I cut a 45° angle on the end where the LED part and the stand will meet, and cut this middle section on the table saw along the thickness (see picture maybe? This is not as convoluted as it sounds when I type it...)

Step 7: Fiat Lux Pt. 2: Hinges Get Stitches

We need two hinges: one that unfold the lamp from the table and one that unfolds the LEDs from the stand

The hinge between the LEDs and the stand is a classic hinge, I just made a mortise on the 45° angle on both parts of the lamp and pre drilled the holes for the screws.

The hinge that attaches the lamp to the table is different because I wanted a hidden mechanism, that we couldn't see from the table top.

I used a 10 mm barrel hinge, which I am really glad I found because it's a neat piece of hardware. Installation is as easy as 1,2, 3 as they say:

1) Drill two matching 10 mm holes (you can use a dowel center finder thing)

2) put in the hinge, screw in the screw to adjust tightness

3) Add an additional screw on the side to secure it in place, and you're done!

Some tips for the mortises:

Make sure your piece of wood is secure to workbench: you shouldn't need to hold it with you hands as this would be risky.

For such small mortises, I lay down the part in the right spot and use the chisel to lightly mark the mortise, registering the flat edge on the side of the hinge. Then, I mark them with a mallet but this time with the bevel edge facing the waste to get a clean cut, and then proceed to remove the waste layer by layer checking the depth with the hinge as I go.

Step 8: Fiat Lux Pt. 3: on the Route Again

I laid out the electrical components to route the cavities. The electrical wire will be covered by a strip of walnut later on.

Holding my router (firmly) in the vice, I run my lamp parts to make room for the LEDs and wiring.

Finger integrity after this step fell steeply, down to 48%. But now I almost have a lamp!

Step 9: Fiat Lux Pt. 4: Assembly and Test Drive!

With everything having it own little spot to rest in, I assemble the lamp:

The cable is soldered to the LED strip, and run through the stand.

The LED strip is glued in its groove, and covered with a thin strip of frosted plastic to serve as a light diffuser, all held in place with tiny drops of superglue.

The hinge is screwed in and the magnets glued in their spots.

The axis for the lamp is driven through its hole on the side of the table, to act as a hinge and the light is plugged in a 12V power supply and Tadaaaa! Lux fit!


Step 10: Take a Pupper Break. You've Earned It.

Pancake is always helping out in the shop or guarding the door against intruders :)

Step 11: Finishing Up!

Alright, we are almost done!

A couple more things are left:

Plane everything flat and flush

Chamfer the underside of the table

I ripped and cut four 1 1/2 inch wide pieces of walnut and gave them 45° angle cuts at the ends to frame the table top in walnut. I would have done this earlier in the build but I wasn't sure how wide the table top was going to be once the lamp was added. These are glued (apart from where the lamp is!) around the table top, and chamfered on the underneath to make the table look less bulky.

Attach the top to the legs

First, I drilled holes for dowels in the stretchers. I used tape on the drill bit as a depth gauge, making sure the part of the dowel that was exposed was shorter than the

I then attached the table to the legs using dowels and dowel centre finders. To do this, I flipped the table top upside down on the bench and drove a cut nail in the middle of the table top, to align with a small pin hole drilled in the X-brace. This allowed me to align the dowel holes from the stretchers on the table top.

Oil everything up!

I finished the table with a 2:1 mixture of mineral oil:hexane, just applying it liberally then wiping it off and letting it dry, over 3 layers and final buffing with a cloth. I finished the lamp separately to not drench the electronics in solvent and oil.

And we are done! My kitchen now has a table that is the right size and self-lit. How incredible.

For future improvements, I will probably saw the table in half (AAAAAAH!) to be able to add an extension in the middle (Aaaahhhh...) but for now, it's just the right size for our kitchen.

Thanks for taking the time to read this instructable! I'd be happy to answer any question in the comments.

Until next time.

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