How I Create Art - The Build ProcessWoodworking

Black Craftsmen Table Lamp

Black Craftsmen Table Lamp

Now that I am finally moved into the new shop and things are set up, it is time to start building some furniture. First up on the bench is a craftsman-inspired lamp for a nightstand; when finished, it will be shipped to a customer in Kansas.
This is one of those builds where it is more like building a model instead of furniture.

Cutting out small parts can get a bit tedious, and cutting small parts on a table saw can be extremely dangerous. The vibration of the tool can cause the small part to blow apart, shoot uncontrollably out of the saw, or just make it difficult to hold onto the piece.

I needed to cut some dados in the grid work to hold the glass. To do this safely I made a push stick with a notch on the back to push the workpiece through the saw, I used another stick of wood to keep downward pressure so the force of the spinning blade does not push it up, and away from the table. This way if something slipped and shot out of the saw, I would just have to go change my shorts instead of going to the ER.

Even with all the extra help from the push stick, I did have a one-piece slip and push away from the saw blade, leaving a hump in the dado.

I felt that too much of the material had been removed to balance it, and run it safely across the blade again. To fix it, I used a shoulder plane to flatten out the hump so the glass and grid work would lay flat against it.

The top of the lamp has a grid of small dividers between the glass. I originally thought I would cut each piece of glass to fit in the grid. After I thought about it a while, I decided to do so, was going to be a huge pain of fitting all those small pieces of glass. If one piece doesn’t fit just right, there could be a bright spot shining from any gap between the glass and the frame. I decided it would be much easier to build and look much cleaner if I use one piece of glass and lay the divider grid over the glass.

Sadly, I had already cut all the grid pieces as dividers instead of as an overlay. Each piece of the grid had an extra strip of wood to hold the glass. Because I had already cut the pieces to length, they were too short to run through the thickness plainer to remove the extra wood. I decided to just hand plain them off, it took less than an hour to change my design but I think it will save me time when it comes to fitting the glass and not having to deal with all those small pieces.

The next step is a test fit and a glue-up of the grid work.
Finishing the lamp took a little bit of extra time. So many little pieces make up the grid work for the glass that I was not able to glue and clamp them all at the same time. I glued the grid up over several days, adding a few pieces at a time until I had the entire frame glued up.


To make the lid, I used double stick tape to tape the lid down to the workbench to prevent it from moving around and then routed out the center so it would fit over the lamp like a lid to a box. I added magnets to the corners of the box to help hold it in place. I think gravity does a good job of this, but the added strength of the magnet prevents the lid from rattling.

I painted it with flat black paint. The flat texture of the paint was not as smooth as I wanted it, so I sprayed it with a clear coat of satin lacquer.

The tabs I used to hold the glass in place, were too long and stuck up over the edge of the grid. I was afraid you would be able to see the shadow from the tabs showing through the glass when the light was on. To fix this, I used some nippers to cut the extra length off the tabs.

It was more difficult than I thought to find the materials to wire up the lamp. Both major big box hardware stores carried black wire but not a black male plug sized for the wire they sold. I kept looking and found a light-duty black extension cord at Target, cut the female end off, and wired that to the light fixture. I am extremely happy with this solution. The cord and plug are integrated, so it looks much more professional and of better quality. All I had to do was add the switch.

No lamp is complete without a warning label.

There was one last-minute issue just before shipping the lamp. We had a little bit of snow last night, and the humidity dropped hard, causing the lid to shrink and not fit. Having the light bulb on for an extended period may have caused the lid to shrink as well. Not a big issue, I sharpened up my chisel and took a few passes on the inside edge of the spacers in the lid, touched up the paint and it fit perfectly once again.


The finished product is ready to ship off to Kansas.

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I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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