Choose a simple frame with straight edges and flat planes for this project, because veneer doesn't take well to curves. Buy paper-backed veneer rather than raw veneer; it has a uniform surface that allows light through evenly. It also withstands heat better over time. If you are creating a shade for a reading lamp, choose a pale birch veneer that permits a good deal of light to shine through.
Wood veneer can dry out and become brittle, so to be safe, use a bulb of less than 60 watts in your lamp. Make sure that the bulb is at least 1 inch away from the shade at all points.
Tools and Materials
- Metal lampshade frame
- Paper-backed veneer
- Utility knife
- Metal ruler
- Craft glue or permanent tape
- Bone folder
- 1/2-inch linen bookbinder's tape or trim
- 1/4-inch linen bookbinder's tape or trim
- Bristle or sponge brush
Veneer Lampshade How-To
- Trace the outline of a pane of the lampshade onto your sheet of veneer; repeat for the remaining panes. Your lamp will look best if the grain points in the same direction on each pane.
- Cut out each pane with a sharp utility knife, guiding your cut with a straightedge like a metal ruler. You may have to run over each edge several times with the knife to achieve a clean cut.
- Apply craft glue or permanent tape to the edges of the frame, and mount the veneer cutouts one at a time. You may want to smooth the edges of each pane of veneer with a bone folder.
- Apply a line of glue down one side seam of the frame, and press on a 1/4-inch-wide piece of linen bookbinder's tape or trim. Smooth with a bone folder. Repeat on other side seams. Brush glue onto the back of 1/2-inch-wide linen tape or trim, and fold it over the top and bottom edges of the shade.
Square lampshade frames are available at local home and lighting-supply stores. Linen bookinder's tape is available at local art-supply stores. Permanent glue tape is available at local hardware and craft-supply stores. Birch, mahogany, cherry, oak, and knotty-pine veneer are available at local art-supply stores. Acrylic ruler with two-color grid is available at local art-supply stores.