Giraffe Lamp





Introduction: Giraffe Lamp

About: Born in Berlin in 1985, engineer, contrarian, 'The Big Bang Theory' fan, my blog:

I saw this beautiful giraffe lamp on this online shop:

(The version you can find from superestudio is a plagiarism, please support the original designers from lenater and give them credits. Commercial plagiarism destroys ideas)

The idea is awesome and I thought this could be easily done at home. I've just bought a new milling machine and I was exited to use it. This project is a perfect practice for surface milling. Everything can be done at home with a small set of tools and material. It's a perfect decoration for a nursery. Enjoy.

Step 1: Blueprint

The shape is very important for this lamp. I've started with two DIN A4 papers glued together. I've tried to imitate the outlines of the lamp I've seen on the internet. I just had some images from the online shop. But it worked pretty well. The body is a little bit bigger than a DIN A4 paper. But you can adjust the sizes as it suites you.

I've used a scanner to digitize it for you. You can print it and cut it out. The paper cutouts are used as a template to mark the plywood later.

Step 2: Cardboard Model (optional)

This is totally optional. I like to build cardboard models before I start with the woodworking. It shows me, if the proportions fit and how the final product would look like.

Just put the paper cutouts on some old cardboards and mark the boarders with a pencil. You can cut it out using a cutter knife. The cardboard model looks already pretty good. So let's get started with the woodworking.

Step 3: Materials and Tools

What's needed?

  • Plywood. I use one with 15mm thickness. You could use different sizes. The final appearance may differ, but that's the idea about DIY stuff, isn't it? :D Maybe your giraffe is thinner or little bit overweight? ;)
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Surface milling machine
  • Cutting heads
  • Cutter knife
  • Wood glue
  • Clear lacquer
  • Brush
  • Screw clamps
  • Painter's crepe
  • Yellow spray paint
  • Screw driver
  • 2m of two-wire/three-wire cable. I bought a yellow one which is covered with fabric. You can find this on amazon or in art supplies shop.
  • Plug, black
  • Switch, black
  • Small saw
  • Driller
  • Grinding paper

Step 4: Marking the Plywood

I start with marking the plywood. I fixate the templates for the body and the legs on my workpiece using some of the painter's crepe. You can use any kind of tape. Now I can use my pencil to mark the boarders and remove the template again. A giraffe has a lot of dark skin spots, that's why I mark them freehandedly, but just on the body. They will be cut out and used to weave the cable later.

Step 5: Milling the Skin Spots

Before I cut out the pieces, I use my surface milling machine to ream the skin spots. It's a good idea to start with the spots, because it's easier to fixate the whole workpiece with a screw clamp. After all holes are cut out, I use a curved cutter to finish the rims of each hole.

Step 6: Cutting Out All Pieces

I cut out the body and the legs using my jigsaw. I apply the same finish to the rims of each part with my milling machine I used for the skin spots.

To stack the legs to the body, I cut small notches on each part. The thickness of the used plywood (in my case 15mm) determents the width of each notch. The depth of the notches is half the length you want the parts to interlock with each other. They will be stacked together like in a lock-and-key model.

Step 7: Glueing the Parts

I stack the parts together to see if they fit. I can use some grinding paper to adjust the alignment. When I'm satisfied, I use wood glue to fixate the part to each other. The result looks very promising.

Step 8: Lampshade

The most complicated part was to find the right lampshade. In my case, I wanted a yellow shade. But most importantly, the shade should have a screw, which fixates it to the body of the lamp. I went to a DIY store and found a collection of desk lamp, which look promising. The shade can be removed by loosing a screw. The colors didn't match at all, but this is no problem.

I use a screw driver to get loose of the body and remove all electrical parts from the lamp. With yellow spray paint I turn the shade into a yellow one. While the paint is drying I use a small saw to cut out a small notch on the top of the body (the head), where the shade will be fixated. I drill a small hole of the screw through the notch.

When the paint is dry I try to mount the "head" on the "body". Looks almost done :D

Step 9: Finishing

I unmount the lampshade and finish the wooden surfaces with some grinding paper. I use two layer of lacquer to apply a nice and shiny finish to the surface. While the lacquer dries, I reinstall the bulb holder into the shade and apply my new yellow cable with fabric coating. I couldn't get my hands on a two-wire cable, so I use a three-wire one. The PE (protection earth cable, yellow/green) is not needed, because the whole lamp is made of wood and plastic, so I just leave it. A two-wire cable would be better, because it's easier to bend. My three-wired one is a bit stiff, maybe you have more luck in getting one with just two. One tipp for cutting a cable with fabric coating: I apply painter's crepe around the cable, where I want to cut it. This prevents the fabric from frazzling.

I mount the "head" to its "body" and wattle the cable through the skin spot "holes". Now I can apply the switch close to the body of the giraffe and the plug to the end of the cable. It's important to do this last because the switch and the plug won't fit through the holes.

Step 10: Done

Congratulations, everything is done and your giraffe lamp is finished. Let's take it outside for a foto shooting in the wilderness :D

I hope you will enjoy building this. Please let me know your experiences and improvements. Please put photos in the comments. :)

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016

2 People Made This Project!


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22 Discussions


1 year ago

I've been informed that superestudio plagiarized the original idea from without permission. I've updated my description accordingly. Please support the original designers from lenater and give them credits. If you tend to buy one, you want to get the original.

I would try painting the inside of the giraffe's spots black. It would give a nice effect I imagine.

1 reply

Great idea. I moved my milling machine very slow around the edges of the holes. This had the effect, that the wood was slightly burned and became dark. Paint would do the same trick.

This design is simply amazing, simple and beauty. Ikea would be proud of selling a design like that. Congratulations.

1 reply

Thanks. The design is not made by me, but you are right, this would be a great product for IKEA. They have a great children's department. This would fit perfectly.

Step 5 has kinda sets of my Trypophobia.

1 reply

Maybe you should first cut out the parts and then mill the holes. It looks not so much frightened this way :)

Great idea and very well executed! I might give this a try someday.

One thing i thought of to hide the cord a little would be to use a router bit along the spine from the neck down to where the tail would be. Hot glue the cord in the grove and let it "exit" the giraffe as a tail. This way you would not think of the cord at all, it would look like the tiny mane along the neck and the tail in the back.

2 replies

Thanks. I like the idea with the mean. You could make the groove half the diameter of the cord. The cord would stand out a bit. I'll give it try the next time. If you have time to make one, please send me some pictures. Cheers :D

Exactly! If you really want to go the distance you do the half diameter grove along the neck and gradually go deeper in the body...but that may be a bit overkill! :-)

I´ll make sure to send you pictures if/when I make one!

Great project!!! I think I'm doing this for my baby daughter's room!!!!

1 reply

Thank you. I'd love to see some pictures of it.

This is a really neat idea! The build looks cheap/easy to make. I might try this sometime!

3 replies

Thanks. The material is not expensive. I'd love to see some pictures of your version. Cheers.


Reply 1 year ago

Yeah me too :D


Reply 1 year ago

Thx. I'd love to see your version. Please send me some pictures. Unfortunately I don't have a laser engraver. I've used a rubber stamp kit and ink before I've applied the lacquer. A laser would be great indeed.

I will try to replicate the logo as a branding iron. I thought about using a copper plate and engraving the logo. I think this would look even better.