My wife and I were looking for a new light fixture for our dining room when we saw a bentwood pendant light we really liked in the West Elm catalog. The West Elm Bentwood Pendant Light wasn’t exactly what we were after so I decided to make one with the materials and finish that would better fit our space.
Here are the materials I used for this project:
- Edison Style Lightbulb
- Dimming Light Socket
- 8 Foot Braided Cord
- 6/4 Walnut (From my local hardwood lumber yard)
I started by cutting the wood down to size on the miter saw. I used walnut for the coloring, but any wood with long straight grain would work for this project. The piece I started with was roughly 2x6x28.
I switched over to the table saw to rip thin pieces of the walnut. The strips are about 1/16 of an inch thick and I used 18 strips in total. I used a feather board set 1/16 from the blade to keep the pieces uniform.
After cutting the thin strips, I cut two thicker 1/2″ strips that I could glue up to form the upper and lower rings of the light. I used a paint can for the diameter of the circle and cut the shape out with a jigsaw.
I cleaned up the jigsaw cuts by sanding the rounds with 220 grit sand paper.
To carve a groove in the center of the rounds I created a table saw jig that held the piece in place as I raised the blade into the round. The piece was bolted into place but I was able to spin the round over the blade to carve out a 1″ groove in the middle. The thin strips will go into this groove to be held in place.
After soaking the strips in hot water in the bathtub for about 30 minutes I placed them in this bending template and let them dry for about an hour. The strips had a lot of spring back, but they were much easier to bend to a consistent shape after setting up in the form. The form was made by just drilling some holes in a piece of wood and creating a cage for the strips to sit in out of colored pencils.
Assembling the light was very easy. I put 4 strips in first at the top, bottom, left and right. Then i just layered in additional strips trying to keep the spacing even all the way around. The strips overlapped into the grooves in the rings with a tight fit and didn’t require any glue to keep them in place.
I used an underwriters knot to secure the socket onto the threaded cord. After the wiring was complete I screwed on an Edison style lightbulb into the socket and passed the other end of the cord through the slats and through the hole in the upper ring.
I removed the old fixture and installed my new West Elm inspired bentwood pendant light with the existing wiring. The bulb is dimmable at the fixture and looks really cool above our dining table.
Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more woodworking and DIY projects.