My Fiance and I were walking through Target to find a lamp for the corner of our living room. We saw this one that we kind of liked

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But the price was way too high and the panels were too small. I thought that I could possibly make it and I want to know if I'm considering all the right materials (since I'm new to this). I think I would need:

  • Screws (specific size?)
  • Screw driver
  • 1" x 1" segments of wood
  • 3' x 3' panels for each base
  • Stain
  • Finish
  • Some linen for the top
  • A lightbulb base with a cord running out the bottom of it
  • A bit to drill a .5" hole in the top panel (for the wire to route)
  • Some staples to route the cable along the top panel and down the leg (to look nice)
  • A light bulb
  • Some wood glue for extra stability

Also I'm not sure how I would use the linen to recreate the top part. Notice how the fabric/material is on the inside of the wood segment/leg. How would I recreate that?

  • For the top part, either carefully staple it to the inside corners or make a smaller box that the linen fits around. DIY answer use a coat hanger as the inner box frame.
    – Jason
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 16:25
  • I think it would be hard to make anything look nice with coat hanger. I could use hanging wire, but that still has the same problem. I need it to be rigid so when you put the linen on it doesn't look silly. Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 16:36
  • 4
    While it's great to build it yourself, it the goal is to save money, $42 is a steal compared to the time and cost of getting all those materials and putting it together yourself.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 19:09
  • 3
    I'd like to start getting into wood work. I see the tools as an investment and the rest as practice. It shouldn't be difficult, and may cost more, but the experience is priceless, right? Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


It is great to begin woodworking with a custom made project that fits your needs. Often doing it yourself can result in a significant savings, but I think you may find that purchasing the components for the lamp may well cost more than the amount they are asking. But your version will be the size and finish you want.

For the linen panels, you could try mounting the linen on thin plastic, such as acrylic, cut to size. You could use spray adhesive, such as this one, or you could tension the cloth and glue the edges with a thin bead of a general adhesive. Just make sure it will stick to the type of plastic you select and do a small test to make sure it does not discolor the fabric.

Screw length should be enough to go through the first piece and 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the second. You need to pre-drill all holes. Glue will stabilize the piece.

Finally, be sure to leave the top of the lamp open to allow heat to escape, and be careful when stapling over wire not to nick the insulation. You should consider attaching the wire with a bead of glue along the length instead. You can hold it in place with tape until it dries.

  • I might be misunderstanding some things. What's the purpose of pre-drilling the holes? A good idea I thought up for the linen would be to get 4 more segments of wood, align them in a square smaller than the top square with enough room to fit a piece of linen, and wrap the 4 poles in linen and glue it shut. Would that idea suffice? Seems like the cheapest and easiest provided I can measure well, haha. Was the mention of tape and glue and wire about shaping the linen? Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 18:18
  • @ScottJamesWalter What sort of things?
    – bib
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 18:21
  • Apologies, I accidentally hit enter too soon. I made edits. Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 18:22
  • 1
    @ScottJamesWalter Driving screws without pre-drilling holes will usually result in split wood. Gluing wood to a frame is fine, but it can be hard to build a small thin stable frame. The plastic holds the square shape and is on the inside so is not seen. It does add cost. The tape and glue was for the wire to the bulb.
    – bib
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 18:32
  • OK, for stability essentially. So, next question, how should I go about pre-drilling a hole? Is there a special tool/bit for a screw driver that does that? Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 18:55

My guess is you are trying to bite off something moderately ambitious for your current abilities, but there is no reason not to try it. Go SLOW. Spend some time reading. Find a good book on beginning joinery first, and read it.

Personally, I don't think that screws are the right way to join these pieces. It will leave screw heads showing that should not. While you CAN cover the screw head with a plug, those plugs tend to show. The grain NEVER matches exactly unless you cover with paint. But worse, a screw driven into end grain to hold a butt joint is a terribly weak way to create a joint. Screws simply don't hold well in the end grain of wood. They are far stronger when driven across the grain, where the threads grip the grain much better.

I WOULD use mortise and tenon joints, something that you can cut by hand. This takes no more than a sharp chisel and a decent hand saw. Just do it carefully. Cut each piece according to a careful plan, then test fit. Some glue in each joint will give a good strong joint. (By the way, I'd suggest making some practice joints first.)

Use a good hard wood. I might suggest maple or cherry, woods that are both strong and beautiful and won't need more than an oil finish to look great. Many other woods will be as nice though.

As for the linen shade, make sure that the top has some way for air to flow. A light bulb can dump out a fair amount of heat.

So, CAN you do this? Yes. It is not that much different from how I started in woodworking, with a few simple hand tools. My shop now, many years later is nice, but starting off with hand tools is a good way to learn. A nice thing is you can buy antique hand tools pretty cheaply.

  • Using drills with a counter-sink (to put the screw heads below the surface of the wood) and then plugging the resulting hole is a very easy way to cover the screws. Much easier than a mortise-and-tenon joint, especially by hand. The only tools required are a counter-sink drill bit and a plug cutter bit, both cheap (plus a drill). Make sure you align the plug with the grain of the wood, sand smooth, and nobody will ever know there's a screw in there.
    – Hank
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 3:48
  • 1
    @HenryJackson - it is not true that NOBODY will ever know there is a screw in there. Plugs are easily enough spotted, unless you use paint for a finish. The grain often will not match exactly. As far as ease of doing the work, a mortise and tenon joint is quite easy to create once you learn to do them, and it is arguably stronger than a butt joint with a single screw going into end grain. Note that screws into end grain are NOT a way to make strong joints.
    – user558
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 12:56

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