Zebra Ply Lamp




About: I work for a charity most of the time but when i,m not i am a wood tuner, former teacher, artist and prop maker, developer and researcher residing in the UK. I cannot think of anything better than the excite...

In this Instructable I use some bits of walnut and scraps of ply wood to make a lamp for my little sister. She is a pretty cool kid so the contemporary design and stripes should be appreciated.

I have wanted to make a lamp for her for some time but the right peace of wood never came up. After looking back at some old sketchbooks (I tend to work out designs ahead of time in sketchbooks) I saw that I could modify an old design and make something nice out of the stuff I had in the bin.
So apart from the electronics and super glue this project is entirely free. :)

As well as scraps of wood from the sin bin if you want to follow the Instructable you will need...


Wood glue
A wood finish, (I used super glue and burnishing cream)
A plug
An inline dimmer
A lamp holder
A bulb (I used an Edison bulb because they are ace)
Some wire (I used braided wire again because its ace)


A lathe and cutting tools
A drill and drill bit
a few good clamps.
Wire stripper and screwdriver

Protective equipment

I always turn with a face mask and I would recommend a dust mask or respirator to avoid bereaving fine particles.
A dust extractor is a good thing to use if you have one.

By the way:
Here are a few reasons why wood turning is ace.

1 its a fun and organic way to make cool things. 2 you can use all the bits of wood left over at the end of a project or save wood from the fire and make something amazing / you can take other wise overlooked materials and make something really pop. 3 You can complete a whole project in less than a few hours.

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Step 1: Get Your Wood Together

For this project I had an idea about the shape I wanted.

I cut different types of plywood to square and took two bits of walnut from the sin bin (the pile of wood left over from other projects which are likely to be only good as flue) and arranged them to make a small pile with the grain orientation crossing each other. (this helps make the ply stronger ... which isn't needed for this project but also helps make the project look more interesting which is needed for this project)

Once I was happy the height would be adequate to house the lamp fitting I glued together the stack and used clamps to ensure everything would set nicely.

I used different types of plywood to help the lamp look as interesting as possible, rather than having the same size stripes running throughout the different ply's create a variation.

Step 2: Round, Rough and Make a Tenon

Once the glue had cured.. (I glued up before work and when I got back home the glue had cured) I put the blank between centers trying to ensure the ply were as vertical as possible and turn a rough shape as well as turning a tenon where the lamp can be held in the chuck.

I checked the ply's were as vertical as possible by rotating the blank and observing where the last ply in the stack was in comparison to my static tool rest. I didn't end up with the ply's exactly right... I could have spent more time to get this but I got a reasonably correct orientation. I was happy knowing the walnut would hide alto of sins when it came to a very slight misalignment.

Step 3: Chuck, Shape and Hollow

Chuck the blank up using the tenon you recently cut.

I found it useful to cut a recess for the bulb holder into the lamp base which then acted as a guide for the rest of the lamp base shaping. Once I had finished cutting the outside shape I hollowed a space for the bulb holder to fit by drilling to the depth i wanted to go before using bowl gouges to remove the rest of the waste material.

At this point I sanded the outside faces of the lamp and showed off a little. (I might have showed off a lot I really like how this project turned out)

Step 4: Put a Hole in It and Make It Shine

I locked the lathe using its indexing system to hold the lamp in place and drilled towards center to give a place for the power cord to enter.

I gave the peace a final sand down before applying a few coats of cheep CA glue with a paper towel.
Once the CA had fully cured I lightly sanded this before buffing the surface to a high gloss.

Step 5: Turn Off the Tenon

I turned the lamp around and chucked up using the inside diameter as my chucking point.
Being very careful I turned off the tenon and was left with a nice flat bottom to the lamp.

Step 6: Wire It Up

Different countries will have different plugs and you will likely have a different inline dimmer switch and holder than the ones I chose. Please follow the instructions to your kit parts.

For me it was pretty much a simple case of stripping the wire where I wanted to include the components and screwing them into place.

Step 7: Enjoy the Lamp

I hope you have enjoyed this instructable and feel inspired to make something yourself.

If you do I would love to see what you come up with.

I know a lot of people will look at this and think they would like to take up wood turning but don't know where to start.
I would recommend looking to see if there is a wood turning club near you. In my experience the people you meet at clubs drawn together through a common interest there will be a lot of people who want to encourage you and share their passion and knowledge.. Much like instructables as a community but with people you can see and talk to without a computer.
If there isn't a club near you I would recommend looking for individual wood turners. Many of whom would be willing to put aside some time to introduce you to the craft/ hobby. (probably offer to pay, they might not take it but showing willing is always a good thing.. and shows you value their time)

Failing these two check out the internet.. your already there and looking at some wood turning. Just remember to be as safe as possible.. If something feels dangerous don't do it!

If your interested in more lamp designs I have another one here https://www.instructables.com/id/Edison-lamp-in-a-b...

Plywood Contest

Participated in the
Plywood Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest 2016

1 Person Made This Project!


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    Make it Move
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15 Discussions


Wow! Nice job! I'm definitely going to try this! This would look great on my workbench! :) You have my vote too.


2 replies

Sure! It may take awile due to the fact that my lathe isn't fully set up. But once I get it up and running, I'll have to try something like that! Again, GREAT JOB!


3 years ago

Haha amazing job as always man - can't believe you CA'd it, must have taken ages!!

1 reply

lol not really.. the thin cheep stuff from the £1 shop. Flood it on wipe it off and then have a cup of tea. Repeat as many times as you want. I think the trick is "rubbing the finish out" before burnishing it. It cures fairly fast, its not the application so much as the waighting for it to cure... I have seem activator systems advertised in America but im not sure CA is the same stuff over there.. based entirely on how i have seen it being used. I could be very much mistaken.
I haven't tried CA as a sanding seal before buffing with a mop system yet. I experimented with a melamine laqure a while back but it melted with the friction, I suspect CA + something like the Beall wood buffing system would leave ridiculous results.
But as with most things theirs certainly a lot of tinkering to be done and different finishes are better for different things.

I have actually just gotten in touch with Mylands (the people who make the burnishing cream I use on pretty much everything) to see if they have any recommendations for other products I might like given how much I love their burnishing cream. I should be chatting with one of their technical advisers tomorrow. Which could mean that I will have a better idea of how the burnishing cream works and I might have a small list of finishes on my birthday wish list. :)


3 years ago

Thats astonishing...


3 years ago

So simple but so stylish! I love it!

I would like to take up wood turning as well. Some time ago I got myself a lathe and a set of woodturning tools. First attempts were kinda ugly. I got a lot of tearout - I think it was because my tools were not so sharp? Now I will definitely give a second go on it. Thanks for sharing and you have my vote.

2 replies
world of woodcraftCraftAndu

Reply 3 years ago

Thank you, I think the top 3 mistakes people tend to make when starting are .. 1- not using sharp enough tools 2- using poor quality wood and 3- jamming the tool straight in.

Don't worry most people / all people will start at the same point. Sharp tools in my mind are a must. There are lots of ways to sharpen your tools . I use the Tormek system and love it but other people use other systems and love them just as much.. i recorded finding one you like and spending some time getting a really keen edge on everything.. after a while you will get into a flow and find it takes no time at all to get a good edge, then you will never have that problem again.
I had a friend who thought he was doing himself a favor by turning chunks of soft pine and became frustrated because he was getting a lot of tier out ect. the cheapest woods are not necessarily the best place to start. (saying this alto of the time fire wood is an excellent place to start .. ideally a decent hardwood. locally to me sycamore seems to be on everyone wood pile and that is a joy to turn..)
The idea of jamming the tool right in is I have to admit something I suspect only I will admit to doing.. and i have a bent cheep tool to prove it. .. By the way the cheep tool sets going for £10 for a set of 6 are defiantly something to avoid.. they are in my opinion dangerous and terrible. I would recommend watching a few video's or watching some demos or if you can talking to turners and watching how they use their tools. Most of the time the cleanest cuts will come after doing something called rubbing the bevel before introducing the cutting edge.. which in English means not jamming the tool straight in but introducing it gradually.

I hope this helps.
~PS thank you for the vote.. Its really nice knowing.. By the way did you know people who vote for me are awesom ? :)