How to Make a Table Lamp From Shutters

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To add very unique brilliance to your space, all you need are four old shutters and a light source. Whether you are decorating for that country cottage feel, or you want your home to feel like a beach retreat, this repurposed plantation shutter lamp is your answer.

(Image: Brent Paape)

Things You'll Need

  • Old shutters
  • Small lamp fixture
  • Table saw
  • Woodworking bar clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear protection
  • Particulate respirator
  • Wolfcraft band clamp (optional)
  • Cordless drill (optional)
  • Palm sander (optional)

Step 1: Locate shutters

Locate four plantation-style shutters at a thrift store, antique shop, or resale shop. The shutters will need adjustable louvers so the light emitted from the lamp can be adjusted. Purchase shutters that have character but are also functional for your project.

Shutters with adjustable louvers will create a unique table lamp
Shutters with adjustable louvers will create a unique table lamp (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 2: Remove hardware from the shutters

Using a screwdriver or cordless drill, remove any hinges or hardware that will impede construction of the shutter table lamp. Inspect the shutters for any metal that will interfere with cutting the shutters in the next steps. This is also a good time to clean the shutters before they are secured together.

Remove hardware and hinges from the shutters and prepare the shutters to be cut
Remove hardware and hinges from the shutters and prepare the shutters to be cut (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 3: Measure and mark your cutting lines

The four shutters will be fitted together in a square to create a box int which the light fixture be located. I decided to cut the long side of each shutter at a 45-degree bevel angle so that the shutters will fit together in a perfect square. By doing so, I was able to eliminate the mortise cut-outs where the hinges once attached to one side of each shutter. Remember to measure evenly on both sides so that the shutter is symmetrical.

Measure your cut lines evenly on both sides
Measure your cut lines evenly on both sides (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 4: Cut your shutters

Setting the angle of the blade on the table saw, cut each of the long sides of the shutters at 45-degree bevel angles. Use extreme caution when using the table saw, and always where ear protection and protective eyewear.

Cut the long-sides of each shutter at 45 degree angles
Cut the long-sides of each shutter at 45 degree angles (Image: Brent Paape)

The four shutters will have a tight, relatively seamless fit due to the 45 degree bevel cuts made with the table saw.

The four shutters will have a tight, relatively seamless fit due to the 45 degree angle cuts made with the table saw
The four shutters will have a tight, relatively seamless fit due to the 45 degree angle cuts made with the table saw (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 5: Connect the shutters together

The next step is to attach the four shutters together to create the box. Apply adequate wood glue to each of the freshly cut edges of each shutter. At this stage, you will need to be ready with woodworking bar clamps to hold the project together. While optional, I used a Wolfcraft band clamp in addition to conventional woodworking bar clamps to get tight seams on each of the four corners.

The four shutters laid flat prior to applying wood glue to the angles edges
The four shutters laid flat prior to applying wood glue to the angles edges (Image: Brent Paape)
Apply wood glue to each of the freshly cut edges
Apply wood glue to each of the freshly cut edges (Image: Brent Paape)

Using the wood clamps, secure the four shutters together until the wood glue is dry. As you can see in the photo below, I used the Wolfcraft band clamp to secure the middle of the shutters tightly, and then used the conventional wood clamps to secure any loose seams.

Wood clamps are used to secure the shutters together while the wood glue dries
Wood clamps are used to secure the shutters together while the wood glue dries (Image: Brent Paape)

After the wood glue has dried, the wood clamps can be removed. As you can see in the photo below, cutting the shutters at 45 degree angles creates a square, professional-looking end product. For even more secure joints, small finish nails or brads could be driven into the joints.

After the wood glue is dry, remove the wood clamps
After the wood glue is dry, remove the wood clamps (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 6: Finalize the appearance

Using sandpaper or a palm sander, smooth out any rough edges. I chose to keep my shutter table lamp the same soft white color of the shutters, but I added distressing to the corners and adjustable louvres to give the lamp a vintage feel.

Use a palm sander to smooth rough edges or distress paint
Use a palm sander to smooth rough edges or distress paint (Image: Brent Paape)

Step 7: Add a lamp fixture

The final step is to add a light. In keeping with the re-use, repurpose, recycle nature of this project, I was able to find a lamp base at Goodwill that fit perfectly inside of the shutters. A hardware store is another good place to find a light source suitable for the project. I chose an amber-colored fluorescent bulb for the warmth of the light.

(Image: Brent Paape)

Whether you live in a country cottage, or want your home to feel like a beach retreat, this repurposed shutter table lamp is the perfect way to add a unique piece to your room.

The adjustable louvers control the amount of light that is emitted and its direction, and eliminates the need for a shade.

(Image: Brent Paape)
(Image: Brent Paape)
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