Intro: Ikea Rutbo Turned Wood Veneer Pendant
The paper coverings on some of Ikea’s lighting can look dated or worn after a while. But I saw an opportunity to turn a “Last Chance” Rutbo Pendant into a wood veneer pendant lamp to hang over our dining table. I like the warmth that wood provides to a modern home. But many of the nice looking wood veneer lighting options on the market are upwards of $350. The cost to make this is closer to $85.00.
I bought a 24” x 96” sheet of pre-glued wood veneer for $46.50 with shipping . The pre-glued version allows you to use an iron to melt the glue to form a perfect cylinder.
8 - 3mm machine screws
8 - 3mm washer
8 - 3mm hex nut
24” x 96” wood veneer sheet
Polyurethane, Stain or Both
Drill w/ 7/64 drill bit
2x4 or similar slim board
Step 1: Prep
Peel off the paper covering and remove the metal frames. Use a straight-edge between the inner and outer rings, that are located on the top and bottom of the lamp. You can discard the middle rings. Use a straight-edge to scrape off the remaining glue and paper from the flat outer rings.
Step 2: Cutting the Veneer
My wood veneer sheet is in Red Oak. This source for furniture grade wood veneer sheets is sure to have the wood that will match your home’s decor.
You’ll want to select furniture grade, the type of wood, and then choose the 12” x 96” pre-glued size.
Ikea lists this lamp as 20 inches in diameter. With a little math we can do 20 x pi = 62.8 inches in circumference. To be safe, I will cut the length at 64.8, but 62.8 inches is likely enough. Clamp a straight board or level to the veneer and using my straight-edge to cut it. Go back and cut any additional areas that are not straight.
I want my lamp cylinder to be more than 12 inches tall, but certainly less than 24 inches. Next I’ll measure to about 15 inches, clamp a straight board or level to the area and cut it down.
Step 3: Dry Fit the Rings
Now we can dry fit the rings. Loop your veneer and put the flat rings on the outside of the veneer cylinder to gently hold its shape. Use the round inner rings to make sure the cylinder is taught. Check that the overlapping veneer is even in height. Make note of how much overlap there is. Cut it down so that there is no more than two inches of overlap left. Measure the overlap width and mark it with a pencil so both ends are even.
Step 4: Iron the Veneer
Use painters tape on the edges of the overlap to your pencil marks, and remove the outer rings. Tape the interior of the cylinder where the overlap occurs to prevent glue from sticking on your iron board. Take the cylinder to the narrow part of your iron board and begin ironing the middle of the veneer. As you move toward the edges, remove the taped edge and iron. Next use a piece of wood to hold down the melted glue until cool. Remove the interior tape. You should now have a veneer cylinder.
Step 5: Finishing
Now you’re at a point where you can decide how you want to finish the wood. You can leave it raw, or stain and poly it. I decided to use water-based poly so the wood would stay more natural looking, which will match our wood floors once we re-finish them. But you can use an oil-based poly for a warmer tone. I did two layers of poly within 2 hours of each other. The next day I used a finishing sandpaper sponge to reduce any raised wood grain.
Step 6: Drill the Ring
Next, put the interior round ring, inside the flat outer ring. We will use the inner ring’s spokes to mark where to drill on the outer ring. Use a marker and mark the spot, and then use a 7/64 drill bit to carefully drill into the outer rings. Clamp a thin piece of wood to a table, loop the ring over it, and then drill.
Step 7: Drill Through the Veneer
After your poly or finish has dried, as instructed on the can, fit the flat outer ring to the top of wood veneer cylinder. The ring should be somewhat snug around the veneer and should stay in place without holding it. Make sure the veneer and ring are even at the top. If not, you can place the ring and use a straight-edge to remove extra veneer if needed. Use the same 7/64 drill bit to drill through the ring and into the veneer.
Step 8: Screw the Outer Rings
Add the bottom outer ring to the veneer, and use a laser level to make the screw holes even with the top. After you drill, screw in a 3mm machine screw, add the washer and nut on the interior. Use a needle nose plier to hold the nut, and a flat head screw driver to turn the screw until the nut is tight.
Step 9: Insert Light Assembly Ring
Insert the inner ring that has the four spokes. This will obviously hold the lighting assembly. The ring should rest against the top screws when hanging.
The ring is held together by a plastic sleeve. If for some reason it's too tight in the cylinder, you can snip a piece of the ring and then replace the sleeve.
Step 10: Add Lighting Assembly
Add the lighting assembly on the inner ring as instructed by the Ikea directions.
Step 11: You're Finished
Turn off your power, and wire to your ceiling receptacle.
There you have it, and nice veneer pendant lamp.
1. Make sure you remove the interior tape before the glue dries.
2. My overlap seam was bigger than 2 inches, so just watch how much overlap you end up with.
3. Not really a mistake, but in the future, I may use cloth as a diffuser for the bottom of the pendant. I would just remove the bottom outer ring, glue the cloth to the edges of the cylinder, and then add the ring to cover any cloth overlap. This blog post has a good starting point.
You can also use the Ikea Rutbo diffuser if it fits better than mine did, for some reason. It'll rest on the bottom screws.