Introduction: Tiny Oak Ring Lamp

About: Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.

I decided I wanted to make a wooden lamp as a gift for my sister, but my supply of suitable wood was a little low. After many measurements I realised it was possible to make a lamp, with the design I wanted, but it was going to be small... Really small :)

It would need a small bulb, and a small bulb holder, and care would have to be taken to make sure that, although small, there was still enough room for the wiring and to change the bulb. I did some scouting around online and found some E12 bulbs with a 40 mm bulb diameter, and some E12 bulb holders for not a lot of money. Now that I had a tiny bulb and bulb holder, the fun work could begin.

The lamp is constructed from two halves. Each half has a pocket which, when the halves are brought together, creates a void space inside the base of the lamp to hide the electronics.

WARNING: This project uses mains electricity! Household mains supplies can kill if misused! Make sure you're comfortable and understand working with household mains supply before attempting this project.

DISCLAIMER: For this project I used my CNC router. I understand that not everyone has access to such machines, however, there is no reason this project can't be completed with other tools. If you can cut circles and route out a pocket, you're all set!

Basic List of Materials:

  1. Wood - I used what little oak I had left, measuring 210 x 120 x 20 mm
  2. Good quality wood glue
  3. A cable tie
  4. E12 Bulb and E12 Bulb Holder
  5. Terminal Block
  6. Nice looking Wire - I used some of that nice braided stuff :)
  7. An electrical plug fitting and lamp switch fitting (optional)

Some Other Tools:

  1. Hot glue gun
  2. Dremel with a sanding tool
  3. Sandpaper
  4. Clamps

Step 1: Cut the Halves

The wood I used was already planed quite well so I didn't need to do anything more to flatten it. It is important to make sure that at least one side is flat as you don't want any gaps when you glue the halves together.

For this project I used my CNC router to cut the two halves of the lamp. The SVG file I used is attached to this project and I used to generate the g-code needed for the machine. Anyone using a CNC router will likely have their own methods and techniques for operations and will just require the files, but for interest, I used a 3 mm, 4-flute tool at a speed of 1000 mm/min and cut depth of 1 mm per pass.

The pockets are 15 mm deep which is 3/4 of the total thickness of my material.

For anyone not using a CNC router, these results can be obtained in a number of ways. The circles may be cut with a band saw and the pocket may be made with a handheld router. I would recommend printing off the SVG drawing at a 1:1 scale and attaching it to the wood to use as a guide, spay glue would work well for this. I would also suggest making the pockets first, while you have plenty of material to grip, then cutting the circles after. It may even be possible to stack the two halves up, so you only need to make each cut once. This is only advice and there might be some unforeseen issues, so if anyone reading this does attempt to make this project without the use of a CNC router, I would love to hear about your experience. :)

Step 2: Create a Hole for the Bulb Holder

The next step was to create a hole for the bulb holder to sit in. This was done by first holding the bulb holder upside down and halfway over one of the lamp halves, as shown in the photo. I then used a pencil to draw a semi-circle around the half of the holder over the wood. That might sound confusing so check the photo to see what I mean.

Once I had my mark, I used a Dremel fitted with a sanding drum to sand away the wood until it matched the mark. This was done for both halves of the lamp so that when the two halves were brought together there was a round hole in the inside wall of the lamp.

This is where the bulb holder will sit so make sure it fits nicely in, while holding the two lamp halves together.

Step 3: Wiring

The next step was to wire the lamp up. The first thing I did was a slight modification to the bulb holder. I cut away a small section of holder to allow the wires to come out sideways, this reduced the stress on them and allowed the bulb holder to sit further down in the base, as shown in the photo.

The two wires from the bulb holder were wired to a terminal block. The bulb holder and terminal block assembly was then held in one half of the lamp to asses the fit. Once I was happy with their position I marked an area that could be drilled through to make a hole for the mains wire to come through.This hole is also shown in the photo.

The mains wire was fed through the small hole on the back of the lamp and wired to to terminal block. Filament bulbs are not polarised so it does not matter which way the wires are connected, however, it is always good practice to use the convention; black to negative (UK Neutral, blue wire) and red to positive (UK Live, brown). Lastly, I used a cable tie to secure the mains wire and prevent it from being pulled out of the lamp.

Once the lamp end is wired up, you'll want to wire the mains plug on the other end of the wire. Also if you are using a switch, now is a good time to wire this in too. If you're unsure about how to wire a plug, check out this instructable here: How to Wire a UK Plug

It's a good idea to test your lamp now to make sure it's wired correctly, as once it's glued in, there is not much that can be done to fix a problem. Be careful and keep your hands away from connections during the test.

Step 4: Gluing and Finishing

Once the lamp is all wired up, I glued the components in place using a hot glue gun. The bulb holder was glued down and the terminal block was glued in the space next to it. Next, I glued the two halves of the lamp together with wood glue and clamped the whole thing up nice and tight. I left it overnight to dry before removing the clamps and sanding the work to a smooth finish. I used a little bit of masking tape to cover the bulb holder to prevent dust getting stuck in there while sanding.

And there we have it! The ring lamp is complete! If you decide to make your own ring lamp I would love to hear about your experiences and ways the process could perhaps be made simpler :D I hope you enjoyed reading!

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