Any lamp's appearance can be improved by adding a new shade, and some lamps can be easily updated by adding a cutting-edge design like an acrylic lampshade. Because acrylic comes in a variety of colours and textures, your lampshade can truly reflect your artistic vision. A variety of lampshade hardware is available to make a square or rectangular lampshade. For this project, we will make a rectangular acrylic lampshade, but these directions would also work for a square lampshade. Acrylic shades can be fragile, but if made with acrylic cement, they should last for a long time.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Lampshade ring
- Acrylic sheets, 3/16 inch thick
- Marking pen
- Sharp utility knife
- Metal ruler
- Sandpaper and sanding block
- Masking tape, 1 inch wide
- Acrylic cement
- Tube of clear silicone caulking
- Heavy books
Measure each side of the lampshade ring: these measurements will determine the sizes of the four acrylic panels. The lampshade ring is a piece for metal hardware that is an integral part of the lampshade and has a "ring" in the centre to accommodate the light bulb. The lampshade ring can be round, square or rectangular (as in this case). The height of each panel will be determined by the height of the lamp. Record these measurements.
Lay the acrylic sheet on a flat surface. Measure and mark the lines for four panels onto the acrylic sheet with a marking pen. Score marked lines slowly and firmly with a sharp utility knife along a metal ruler repeatedly until almost cutting through the acrylic panel. Place the ruler on top of the scored line, and apply downward pressure. Snap off the acrylic panel in one piece. Repeat the process for each line.
Smooth any jagged pieces left on the cutting line with the utility knife. Sand the edges flat and smooth by moving a sanding block over them in a slow, even motion.
Remove the protective covering from the edges of the acrylic panels. Place the sanded edge of the smaller side panel upright against the horizontal surface of the larger panel, forming a right angle. Secure the angle by placing masking tape on the inside of the angle. Check the angle with a T-square to make sure it is 90 degrees. Maintain the shape by supporting the upright panel with books.
Attach the panels by applying a small, even strip of acrylic cement into the joint. Allow the cement to set up and dry before continuing work on the lampshade.
Repeat the process with the remaining two panels.
Join both sets of panels at right angles. Apply masking tape on the inside of the angles to hold in place. Place the joint so that the larger panel is horizontal while being cemented. Maintain the 90-degree angles with books. Place a small, even strip of acrylic cement into each joint, and allow it to dry before cementing the last joint. Place the lampshade ring in the centre to check for fit. Let all panels cure 24 to 48 hours before working on the lampshade any further. Support the entire acrylic lampshade with books to maintain its shape.
Set the lampshade ring inside the acrylic shade to check fit. Remove the ring, and set it aside. Remove the masking tape from the inside panels. Place the wire ring inside the lampshade with masking tape. Attach the ring to the shade by spreading a thin, even strip of transparent silicone adhesive caulk. Allow it to dry, then peel off all tape before using lampshade.
Tips and warnings
- Keep the protective paper on the acrylic sheets until the project is finished. Acrylic sheets scratch very easily.
- Do not round the edges of the acrylic panels as rounded edges do not bond as well.
- Make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area since you will be working with acrylic cement.
- Keep away from flames; acrylic cement is highly flammable.
- Wear protective eye gear and gloves.
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