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    Weekend Lantern Project

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Transform an inexpensive IKEA glass lamp with this simple, elegant, and easily customized hardwood shroud. Makes a great intro to mortise-and-tenon joints for kids, so enlist your "apprentice" to cut the side panels and tenons.

    - Side panels and bottom support: 1/4-in.-thick oak or maple board, 5 1/2 in. wide by 24 in. long (Shortcut: Buy a 1/4-in. 1x6 board at Lowes/Home Depot.)
    - Corner columns: 3/4-in.-square stock, 34 in. long. Walnut, sapele, or other wood that contrasts well with side panel wood.
    - One IKEA Grono lamp (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00029225)

    - Table saw
    - Router table with 1/4" straight bit
    - Hand saw
    - Drill or drill press with 1" Forstner bit / hole saw (optional)
    - Measuring/marking tools: square, wheel marking gauge (optional)

    Download a printer-friendly version of this project here: Weekend Lantern Project PDF

    How to Make

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeRip down the board

    Rip down the board: On the tablesaw, rip the 1/4-in. board down to 5-in. width. Keep the cutoff strip for use later.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeCut the corner columns

    Cut the corner columns: Before you cut, examine your wood for any defects such as knots, checks, or even unattractive grain or blotchy coloring—cut around these to make five 7-in. pieces (one for each of the four columns, plus one extra for verifying the router-table setup).

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeLay out mortises in the columns

    Lay out mortises in the columns: We'll be making two mortises in each column, 1/4 in. wide by 3-1/2 in. long, centered in the column. You'll need to mark out a mortise on only one of your column pieces, which we'll use to set up the router table.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeSet up the router table

    Set up the router table: First, load up the 1/4-in. straight bit and set the initial height to 1/8 in. The final depth of the mortise will be 3/8 in.—get there in three 1/8-in. passes for a safer, more pleasant routing experience. Next, adjust the fence position so that the bit is centered in the 3/4 in. width of the column. Last, in order to rout the mortises consistently in all pieces, use a set of stop blocks attached to the router-table fence. Position the stop blocks using the marks you made on the column piece.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeRout the mortises

    Rout the mortises: Using the extra column piece, do a test rout to make sure everything was set up correctly in the last step. If all looks good, rout two mortises for each column (in adjacent faces), increase the bit height to 1/4 in. and repeat until you've made the final pass at 3/8-in. height. Tip: If you haven't cut mortises with stop blocks on a router table before, here is a quick guide: With the router on, carefully position your workpiece against the rightmost stop block and against the fence, and of course above the bit. With a firm grip, slowly lower the workpiece into the bit until you hit the table. Start routing the mortise, moving at a consistent speed to the left until you hit the left stop block. Gently raise the workpiece straight up off the bit, keeping it pressed against the fence until you're clear of the bit.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeCut the side panels

    Cut the side panels (hand saw, table saw or shop saw): Cut four panels from the 1/4-in. board, each measuring 5 in. by 4-1/2 in. Keep the leftover piece to make the bottom support later.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeCut the tenons

    Cut the tenons with a backsaw: The simplified tenons used in this project are made by simply cutting 1/4-in. by 3/4-in. notches out of each corner. The result is a 1/4-in.-deep tenon, with "shoulders" that conceal the rounded ends of the mortise. Tip: Rather than measuring and marking each corner with a square and pencil, try using a wheel marking gauge. The purpose of the marking gauge is to scribe a straight line a set distance from an edge. By setting the gauge once to a particular dimension, you can consistently mark lines at that dimension over and over again without measuring from a ruler each time or using a pencil to mark the line—two common sources of error when laying out joinery.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeAdd decorative touches

    Add decorative touches and sand rough edges: There are many ways to add some "design" to this simple project. For example, you can chamfer the column tops to give them a more finished look, or give the side panels a curved profile instead of square, or even make a pattern of drilled holes in the side panels (remember there will be a light in there). Sketch some ideas of your own and try them out.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeGlue up panels and columns

    Glue up panels and columns: Assembly of this project is most easily done as a two-step glue-up. First, assemble, glue and clamp just two of the side panels (separately with the two columns each). Make sure to orient the mortises correctly so that the other side panels can be inserted the right way. Once those first two assemblies are reasonably dry (15-20 min.), glue in the remaining side panels and clamp square.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeMake bottom support

    Make bottom support: While the glue is drying, make the bottom panel and supports. This is a simple platform for the lamp to sit on, with a hole drilled in the middle for the cord and plug to pass through. It is supported by two small ledges, glued to the back of the side panels. Use the left over 1/4-in. pieces to make all these parts. Alternative: Skip making the bottom panel with hole and make a simple set of cross beams instead (made from the same cutoff strip as the ledges). Glue these onto the ledges, leaving room for the cord and plug to pass through.

    Rip down the boardclick to enlargeApply a finish

    Apply a finish: Once all the glue is dry, it's time for finishing. I used my old favorite, Danish oil, for this project because it's easy and quick to apply and it really makes the grain pop. Just wipe it on, let it penetrate for 15 minutes and then wipe off. Make sure you let it sit for a day or two to fully dry before putting the lamp in there (the oil will stain the frosted glass of these lamps).