Plywood Floor Lamp




About: I love to build stuff and I feel at home with all the folks I see posting things here. I consider myself lucky to design and make a variety of things for a living. If you are interested in seeing the junk I ...
I have enjoyed this site and community for a long time and have wanted to contribute for almost as long.
I have finally got something to post.

Here is something I worked on last summer. ( well not really, it is a rendering I did last night ) Keep looking, you'll see.

The challenge, make something out of one piece of 4'x8' - 3/4" Plywood. Sounds simple enough,,,one thing I added to that was I wanted to see if I could do it without mechanical fasteners.
Challenge on.

I have included a PDF of a drawing package that I made for this instructable. It has some of my original design revised with "as built" modifications.
Also included, DWG and DXF files of the profiles for anyone with a CNC mill or router. (I just noticed a rib profile missing, i'll fix that soon and replace the files here soon. Till then, if you know your way around a DWG editor you can "copy/paste" one of the other ribs and modify it very easily to reproduce the missing part. 
Finally, STL files of a simpler but still articulating version of this. Available for those of you who are lucky enough to have a 3D printer and want to play around with this.
I if you download these and find issues, let me know I will be happy to try and resolve them

Just added for hand cutting DIYers, a PDF of all the profiles 1:6 scale for 1/8" thick material of your choice. Just stick it down and cut away. Use mill board, fun foam, balsa wood, ply...the list goes on and on. enjoy!

Step 1:

Step one cut out a bunch of parts....well maybe not so fast.

I first sketched out some ideas and modeled some parts on the computer.
But then I really just started cutting.

The straight parts were cut simply with a table saw and jigs. 
I printed out "size as"  (1:1) drawings of some of the profiles for cutting. I spray glued my 1:1 drawings on to some 1/4" M.D.F. to make templates for flush trimming with a router.
For the circular parts, all outside cuts were made on a band saw with a circle jig, inside cuts with a jig saw. I did a few tests with a jig but found cutting free hand worked better for me.

Step 2:

Now here is the best thing I figured out building this thing

The angled notches in the lamp shade ring were done on the table saw. (Those of you who spend more time on a table saw may say duh, or even have a better way to do it.) But for me it made my day.
I placed one of the rings flat on my table saw and set it up as if I were going to cut it right down the middle into two halves. I then raised the blade till the radius of the blade matched the angle on the ring I was cutting into. With my paper drawing spay glued onto the ring to show me the material to take away I did it by eye just using the 1/8" kerf of my saw blade. Of course a dado blade, fence and stop may  have been more accurate, but i was done in the time it would take to set that up. Besides, you see the pictures, can you tell? 

Step 3:

Easy parts first

These parts were just ripped on my table saw, cross cut to length and with an extra wide dovetailing jig I made some cuts.
Forstner bit for the holes.
The round parts that look like pucks were solution number one for avoiding mechanical fasteners. I ripped two pieces of ply (about 1.5"X24" with the blade tilted at 30 degrees) and glued them together. ( which was a bit of a hard pill to swallow because I was trying to do this with out glue too) but it made these parts more structurally sound. This made a longish stick that was a hexagon in cross section. Long story short...I turned it on my lathe to be a snug fit into holes I drilled with the forstner bit and cut it up into 0.75" pucks.

Step 4:

Optical illusion alert

The rectangular holes on the disks are the same size...they have to be in order for this to work. check out simultaneous contrast for an explanation.

Since I gave in and used glue on the other parts I used it to make the wedges as well. I could have made them with out glue but I thought the design I came up with is the strongest I could think of. A lot of forces are applied to this simple part. The notch or hook I put on the wedge was to make it easy to disassemble.

Step 5:

Okay here is proof that I am a hack. 

This "stepped notch" foot design comes from of the fact that I did not want to put notches into both disks. Reason being, I wanted this to  go together any way or orientation and to get the notches to line up in all instances is very difficult to do by hand and by eye. As it turned out when these feet slip in they really lock in nicely....ahem, just like I planed it...right from the start.

Step 6:

Beware pets and small children

Largely due to the fact that I wanted to get all cute and fancy with the no mechanical fasteners idea, this design needs some help.
To defy gravity this lamp relies on friction to stand up. If  I were to use some hefty spin on lugs to connect the side plate to the arms I would have enough clamping force to confidently leave this standing and know it won't wreak havoc and terrorize my two schnauzers. There is also way a to use spring force to counter the effects of gravity.
All that being said, whacking those little wedges into the trestle connector works quite well, certainly does the job.

I am curious and would like to stress test these joints some time. Maybe when i get sick of it hanging around.

Step 7:

Well there you have it.

That's all I got for now folks.

If you made it this far I would like to think you enjoyed it. Thanks for looking.
I am happy to answer any questions you might have about this project.
In addition to anyone with CNC router you want to keep busy, maybe we can talk.

So long for now,




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    52 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Hey john love your stuff!, I've recently purchased a prsalpha shopbot and am keen to start playing around, you mention you might be able to keep someone with a Cnc busy?

    1 reply
    John Induna ADccollins45

    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks and congratulations on you recent purchase. That comment is getting a little old, however I do need someone every now and then, thing is, needs to be local. Just curious, where are you located?

    It looks good. thanks for sharing your picture here. Please post pictures if you make it.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    estoy usando windows XP service pack2 y el navegador es google chrome. y acabo de realizar unas pruebas y ya bajaron los archivos muchas gracias por responder saludos y te felicito por tu trabajo

    1 reply

    Lamento escuchar eso. Acabo de probar la descarga de DXF y DWG y parecen estar funcionando bien. ¿Qué tipo de sistema operativo y el navegador que está usando.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just wanted you to know I cut out the Shade area today on my Machine. I need to make a few tweaks to make this look better and fit a little more snugly. Overall I am happy with the prototype.

    2012-10-23 15.12.00 (Custom).jpg2012-10-23 15.12.55 (Custom).jpg2012-10-23 15.12.35 (Custom).jpg
    3 replies
    John Induna ADRegnar

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, It looks really good. I just installed a LED light in mine on the weekend.
    thanks for sharing these pictures keep me posted.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    First of all great design and excellent drawings, instructions and details. However would it be possible to change the sizes to the metric system easily using your cad software and post them here? I am from Holland and not used to working with the American measuring system. If not I am going to recalculate them. I understand the standard inches however when you say 1' - 6" do you mean 1 foot + 6 inches or something else?



    1 reply
    John Induna ADarjanR

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Holland,

    Thanks for your feedback. You are correct 1' -6" = 1 foot + 6 inches or to say the same thing differently 18 inches or 1.5 feet or... well not really. remember 1foot is 12 inches.
    If all of this is too confusing there is now a PDF of the drawings with metric dimensions.
    Have fun, enjoy.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    going to try to 3d print one, maybe about 10 cm high.... FOR SCIENCE!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is incredible!

    At first I thought "meh, just another laser cut/CNC project - well out of reach for anyone with a budget/standard tools".

    You, sir, have some great skills.

    1 reply
    John Induna ADsrilyk

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, you're to kind.
    I have nothing against CNC anything. I have been around that stuff for a while, it's how things get done these day. I often think how lucky I am, learning to build by hand but have been given a new set of tools in the way of computers, software, CNC and Rapid prototyping. Pretty go time to be making stuff.