The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Building 1909 Lamp(s) in 2022

10 years ago in 2012, I built a copy of an old lamp we found in the Clarence Charles Maley farmhouse northwest of Fairbury. It is likely this lamp belonged to the Bodley family that built the house in 1905 (Bodleys are my great-great grandparents, and great grandparents).

10 years later, I still remember this was a very challenging project for several reasons.  The compound angles drove me nuts, and I did not yet know how to cut stained glass like textured Kokomo glass.  The only reproduction I built, I gave to my sister Lisa.  I decided to make 1 or more of them so I could keep one for myself. Here is photo of old lamp and reproduction I built in 2012.

Compound Angles

When I built the first lamp in 2012, I documented the design and build process on my woodworking web site.............but after that I lost my free hoster of photos.......and none of the photos work any more.  So I rebuilt the web site. You can use this link to see the info I created back in 2012 about building the first lamp.

You need a compound angle calculator to do the lamp shade, and the old web site and program I used 10 years ago has vanished.  Fortunately, I found a new web site with a compound angle calculator.

To refresh my memory on how to design the compound angle lamp shade, I created a Youtube video which explains the design process and how to draw it in sketchup. You can use this link to watch this video.

Improved Method of Making shade side pieces

I remember it was very challenging to make these pieces, not only because of the angles involved, but because they are is a concern whenever you are trying to machine small pieces.

The shade side walls are 3/8" thick, which means on the lap joints, the material is only 3/16" thick.  In Sketchup, I got the idea of rather than trying to machine the 4 key pieces in each side of the shade, why not just use 3/16" thick oak and then glue them up.  I can cut them on the miter saw or even on the scroll saw.  I am going to give this method a shot and see if it is easier than machining from solid 3/8" thick stock.

Making RH and LH about 1/4" wider than final compound angle cut

I did not record the sequence back in 2012, but I think I made the sides using the 28 miter saw angle, then when the side was glued up, I then cut the 36.75 angle for the corner joints.  It might be easier to make the shade blank 1/4" wider on the RH and LH side, giving me a nice compound angle saw cut to finish them. Going to try this as well.

2-piece glue up idea in sketchup

White Oak

I used some white oak I bought many years ago from a friend of mine.  I used my resaw fixture on my bandsaw to slice off 3/8" thick slices............then planed them to 3/16" thick to make the lamp shade pieces.

Starting to make 1st side of shade

I printed out full scale patterns of the 8 pieces needed to make the 1st lamp shade side. I sawed them on the table saw, mite saw, and scroll saw for the notches in the RH and LH side pieces.

I then made a fixture  to hold them during glue-up from 1/2" thick scrap plywood.

pieces too big to fit in fixture

When you build a stained glass panel that needs to fit within a certain space, you set up the borders first, then make the glass all fit within the border.

When I did this on the white oak pieces, they would not fit !!   I had to saw them down a  hair to get them to fit.  All of my side frames will all be the same outside size this way.

I put in some Saran wrap to keep the glue from sticking the parts to the fixture, like I have done on many other projects.

Using oven to quick dry parts

I set my oven on about 115F setting and use it to quick dry glued up wood parts.

Exploded view in sketchup of my fixture

1st side made using my fixture

1st cut on compound angles with miter gage set at 28 deg and saw at 36.75 deg

I set the 36.75 deg angle using my digital angle measuring gage.  On that gage on the blade, it reads 90 - 36.75 = 53.25 degrees.

On the front of the side pieces, I marked the 11.75 distance I wanted on the bottom.  I marked center first, then 1/2 of 11.75 on each side or 5-7/8" on each side of center.

Determining angle of cut on other side using fence to help set miter gauge

Dry fit to check the angles

sawing tops so they will be horizontal in assembled condition, saw at 32-33 deg

I was going to table saw the long bottoms of the sides at 33 deg so they would be horizonal after assembly, but the short end on the top is not long enough against the fence to have the piece be stable while sawing.  I either won't ever cut the bottoms, or use the belt sander, don't know yet.

Glue and clamp up using nail and string method

I was lucky I saved the photo from 10 years ago when I clamped up that shade..............I used the same method on this one.

Ordered brass strips for shade exterior for 2 lamps

The mcmaster-carr web site only goes back to 2018 on past orders, that is why it did not report that I bought these same strips back in 2012.

Interior 45 degree strips

The old lamp has 1 inch wide strips that work like 45 degree strips to support a 90 degree joint, except they are 115 degrees because of the shade angle.

I did not draw these in Sketchup back in 2012, so I drew them today.  They were not too bad to draw, they will be more difficult to make!!

They are shown in pink color on this Sketchup view..........

Brass strips on exterior

I also forgot to draw these back in 2012 in Sketchup, so I drew them today......they are 1" wide brass that is 0.025" thick.

Discovered nice trick on making side boards same thickness

I had to plane about 3/8" thick stock down to 3/16" on my planer. On my first batch of boards, I made a pencil mark where the crank handle was when I finished........on each subsequent batch, I planed them down to the pencil mark................and they all came out identical thicknesses !!!

How to Make tricky inside molding piece

Back in 2012, I just recorded I used a piece of sacrificial pine glued to the white oak to make the piece.

I studied it again in Sketchup. Here is the first table saw cut that gives a 105 degree angle to match the inside corners on the shade.

How to do 2nd cut

On 1 method, you need to set the table saw at more than 45 degrees, which is the max setting.  I came up with another method that works with a sacrificial pine piece and the 2 legs of the triangle are close enough (not equal).

I did a test set-up with the table saw at 37.5 degrees and it worked ok.

My closest throat filler was my original aluminum piece.  I was worried the triangular piece would fall down and jam in the gap between the blade and aluminum I put on some blue masking tape. the tape worked ok, but since I have to make 8 of these, I should probably make a new throat guard made for the 37.5 degree cut.

small angled pieces on top inside of shade

The old shade has 4 small angled pieces that join the sides to the top cap. On the 2012 lamp, I decided it was easier to just hand saw these short pieces in the vise with a hand saw.

I drew it up in Sketchup, and confirmed there is no way to saw these on a miter saw, so I will also saw them by hand for my 2 new lamps.

Got better on clamping up 2nd shade

I used blue masking tape on the 4 top corners on the outside to hold up the sides, while I tied the string on the lower 4 corners, this worked much better!

Ready to make first white oak inside angle piece

I went back to sketchup and figured out I should use a 1x1x10" oak blank.

I also used a piece of 3/16" thick Luan to make a new throat guard for the table saw for the 37.5 angle 2nd cut, because I don't want to have the triangular piece fall down and jam in the throat.  Process was

-trace new guard from old wood guard

-drill 2 countersunk holes

-saw on scroll saw

-set blade at 37.5 degrees

-lower blade down as far as it will go

-install new guard with 2 screws

-turn on saw and gradually raise the blade, cutting an exact notch in the new guard

Hand sawed 4 top angled pieces that attach top cap to 4 sides

Here is the pattern I printed and glued to the end of the blanks..........then I dove-tail sawed the 2 angles with the blank held in the vise, then chop sawed to 1.25" length. Process went pretty quickly.


I'm surprised I have not made a mistake at this point in the build............but I made one!  I made the 2 larger size caps and the first one fit fine, but the 2nd one did not cover the top of the 4 angled sides.  I thought if I kissed the top of the shade with the rotary planer on my drill press, it would make the top smaller, and the cap would fit.   WRONG, it makes the top bigger not smaller!   so I ended up making a slightly larger cap.

If I ever build any more of these lamps, I should measure the tops first, then make the caps.

On the shade with the fitting problem, when I traced the top on paper, I found I was not at 90 degree angles either. I'm not sure when I do the glue up how to make sure top and bottom are at 90 degrees.

Ordering brass lamp hardware for 2 new lamps

I remembered I had a clear tupperward box with left over parts from 2012 when I built the first lamp, so I got it out.

I also went back to the 2012 photographs to see how I configured the lamp hardware and found this photo.........

From the old 2012 photo, it looks like all I need is:

1. Upper bulb holder assembly

2. adapter from bulb holder assembly to threaded tube

3. threaded tube

4. lower round mounting plate with 3 holes

In my old box, I found 1 upper bulb holder assembly and enough of the other parts to build 2 lamps !   I must have ordered extra parts and/or some of the parts came in multiples in packages.

So, all I need to order is the upper bulb holder assembly.

Ordering upper lamp assembly Dec 22, 2022

1st Shade completed

Both shades completed

Patterns for making shade pieces

Bad piece of white oak

On one of the leg pieces, had it about done, and found I had a bad looking ended up making that piece over again.

2012 photo was wrong showing how to drill holes in 4 lower base triangles

You want the holes perpendicular to the angled surface the screws go into.  This is the correct orientation for drilling these pieces.

1st set of base legs completed

First legs and center post completed

4 shade support arms

The old lamp used #4 brass screws 1 inch long, which I got at Ace.

the 2 holes in each arm need to be drilled perpendicular to the angled face.  I did not note it on my 2012 project, but I have the piece of 2x4 sawed at 30 degree which I used back then.  I checked Sketchup and 30 degrees should be close enough (it is curved so not an exact angle).

Correct way to drill 2 holes in each lamp support arm

Both lamps built and ready for sanding/staining

First lamp ready for staining


Behlen Grain Filler

I decided to use Behlen grain filler on the outside of the lamp shades, to hide the small defects I had at the joints.  I made a Youtube video of this process. You can use this link to see the video.

Behlen Grain Filler worked Great !

It did an excellent job of filling the cracks at my joints on the outside of the shade!  Here is a photo of the 1st shade after its first coat of poly.

Electrical Cords

Replacement cords at ACE with plug would not work, the diameter of the wire has to fit into the small brass tube in the fixture.  I ended up buying cord by the foot from a roll, then adding my own plugs.

Stained Glass

On the lamp I made 10 years ago, I drove clear to Kokomo to get the glass.  Because Kokomo is much farther from Fairbury than the stained glass shop in Decatur............I drove to Decatur and found some green glass similar to the kokomo glass I used before.

Attaching stained glass to oak frame

I took a brad and used it for a pilot drill bit, then drilled into the oak before pounding in the brad with a small ball peen hammer. This is the same way the original 1909 lamp was done [with brads].

Stained glass in 2 new lamps slightly smaller than 1 I built 10 years ago

Not sure why, but I had kept the old cardboard pattern from 10 years ago, and compared it to the new pattern I made............and the new glass panels are slightly smaller in size. Oh well, they still look fine.

Sketchup Warehouse

I uploaded this model to the Sketchup warehouse. You can download this file using this link.

Grand Brass pull chain not long enough

The fixture came with a very short pull chain, such that you had to reach you hand under the shade to find it.  I found a nice pull chain with a walnut pull at my local Ace store. They only had 2 in stock, so they ordered 2 more for me.

Finished Lamps not lighted

Finished 2 lamps lighted and in a dark room

Closing Thoughts

It was definitely easier this time to build these 2 lamps than when I built the 1st one 10 years ago!!   building the shade sides in a fixture made it easier, plus I now know how to cut stained glass!!   Hopefully, these will become family heirlooms and still be around 100 years from now :)