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Wood Veneer Lampshade

Wood veneer is normally used to create the appearance of a beautifully grained surface on furniture, but the material is surprisingly versatile. You can even use wood veneer to make a lovely, unusual lampshade.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 1996


Tips: 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 the bulb is at least 1 inch away from the shade at all points.


  • Metal lampshade frame

  • Paper-backed veneer

  • Pencil

  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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