Falling Waters Lamp

Design Thinking

This is the third project of TDE 110, and the product is Falling Waters Lamp. The Falling Waters Lamp is inspired by a bedside lamp designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Fallingwater house. The sketch is provided by the instructor and the author of the sketch is Mr. Justin Egresitz.

There are two hardwoods used in the lamp – The base of the lamp is made of oak, and the shade is made of cherry. The Yellow Pine can be considered as one of the materials but it is relatively weaker and softer than oak and cherry, so it might be not visually appealing if we use Yellow Pine as one of the materials. Meanwhile, due to the height and the design of the lamp, the lamp’s center of gravity will be high to the shade, and if the material does not have enough density, it might fall or be dangerous when using it.

The reason why we won’t use softwoods is that softwoods can be easily processed but in the long term they might have obvious shape change or deformation.


According to the official website of the American Hardwood Export Council(AHEC), the American Cherry is easy to machine, and it has extraordinary carving and molding properties. Meanwhile, it is resistant to decay and is moderately resistant to preservative treatment. The hardness of the cherry is very high to 4,226 N, and the average weight is 561kg per cubic meter, which also makes it a good choice for the blade. Moreover, the medium density doesn’t make wood weak or easily bent. It has good wood bending properties, and low stiffness also helps it embrace or be open to shape change.

The American Oak has a higher hardness than cherry wood, meanwhile, the average weight is higher too. It has very good overall strength properties relative to weight. The wood is hard and heavy with medium bending strength and stiffness. All of these characteristics make it the best choice for the lamp’s base since the base is not very big and the density could help the lamp be more stable when it is placed on the table.

Both of the two kinds of wood have excellent appearance and they almost keep the balance of price and the performance too.

The first step is to roughly cut the lumber and cut the base pieces. I need to use a crosscut saw to roughly cut the material we need and then to maximize efficiency, I first plane the board down to ¾” using the planer just in case I waste the materials.

After roughly cutting the materials, the next step is to cut the base and the shade. The base is a square so it is easy to use a table saw to cut what I need. The shaded part is a little tricky because I need to split the shade in half. To split it, I need to mount the piece in a face vice, edge up, and then draw a centerline at the length of the board. This line can guide me to use the band saw to split it.

With the supervision of the instructor, I successfully split the shade into two parts, and then I used the planner to make sure the thickness fits the requirement.

After taking care of the shape of the shades, then I need to assemble them. Before doing so, I need to cut a 45-degree angle. I used the table saw to do that. With assistance from the instructor, I set the table saw’s angle to 45 degrees and then made a slight cut.

After cutting the 45-degree angle, then I need to drill the hole on a small square piece that is used at the bottom of the shade and it can help to connect the shade and the base. I used the drill press to make the drill.

Sanding and Assembling

After cutting the drill, and before gluing them together. It is the most appropriate opportunity to use sandpaper to sand all the pieces of wood. I used both 120 and 220 sandpaper to make sure my wood pieces touch comfortably and without any small defects.

To make the sanding progress easier for me, I put the sandpaper on the table and use my hands to make sure the sandpaper is fixed. Then I used the other hand to move the wood pieces so that it can dramatically increase the efficiency of sanding progress.

To glue them together, I created a “rub joint” by rubbing the two pieces together such that friction occurs, and the glue begins to get tacky enough to hold the pieces together while I assure their correct alignment and clamp them up.

After sanding them, I glued them together. The gluing of the base is very straightforward. I used a square ruler to make sure the gaps of the two borders are ½ inch. Since both of the two bases are square, it can be easy to make sure it is in the center.

The shade pieces are more complicated but it is not complicated as described in the instructions. I glued the small pieces of the square wood and one of the shades first, then I glued the second piece of shade. However, the timing is very important because if the glue has already dried, it is impossible to move them again. So if you are doing the same project, you should glue them together as quickly as you can but you also need to make sure the pieces that glue first can “stand” on their own. Otherwise, it will be very complicated to glue three pieces together at the same time.


After gluing both shades and bases together, the next step is to drill a ½ inch deep hole at the back of the base then glue the neck/connector to the base.

The neck comes from one of the leftover pieces of wood and I used the crosscut saw to cut it down.

Both drilling and gluing are straightforward. The drill press helped me drill the hole at the center of the back of the base, and the wood glues are always my friends to make two pieces of wood together.

The third step would be to drill the hole to the back of the base. The reason why we need to glue them together then drill the hole is that it can make sure the hole is consistent and lighten our coursework. When I was drilling the hole, the glue malfunctioned so I had to re-glue them together after I successfully drilled the hole.

Handheld router

The handheld router is so cool. With the assistance of my classmate, I correctly placed the handheld router and made sure it was in the correct position to make a slot from the counterbore I just drilled to the center of one end of the base. The slot is ½ inch deep. First I set the depth to ¼ inch and make a half-deep slot. Then I put the drill to the end so that the depth will be ½ inch. After I made the first half of the slot, I turned the base around and did the same process again. There are some wood pieces left over because of the inaccuracy of the operation, but I used the chisel to remove them.


Before performing the layer on the surface of the base, I used sandpaper to sand it again. It might not be necessary but I just want to sand it one more time. Before performing the layer, I used blue tape to protect the top of the neck because it will be glued with the shade. If the spray process is performed before the gluing process, the outcome of gluing might be not as good as before.

After the spray process, the next step is to glue the base and the shades together. The gluing is straightforward, and I took something heavy to make sure the shades will not fall to other directions since the center of gravity is too high to stand there on their own.

After gluing them together, the last step of the project is that a clear finish should be sprayed over the entire lamp. The two light coats of clear polyurethane will provide a protective coating that will not require touch up.

The clear finish is done outside since the indoor laboratory does not have enough room for the lamp to put the finish layer. After spraying the clear coat outside, I moved it back to the indoor lab and did the same process for the bottom of the lamp.

After putting the clear coat, then using wax and 000 steel wool to make the lamp look better and have a better touch experience.

Finished lamp:


I like this project because it is the first project that I choose of my will. The material looks gorgeous and in the instructions, it keeps attracting me because it is always reminding us not to waste the material, so I guess the material must be expensive. It is not difficult to assume that expensive materials have their own reason to be expensive, and the fact is the product made by the instructor is really awesome and I was fully attracted by the design, the material, and the smell of the materials. Because cherry and oak woods are my favorites, I decided to choose this lamp as my project instead of those machine processing products. Even though I mentioned in the past that I like machine processing because it looks cool and liberates our hands, the design of the lamp is so extraordinary and the most important thing is it is really useful. My home has Homekit and I use my phone and Siri to control the lights. I need one lamp that fits the overall environment of my home and this falling lamp is my dream lamp.

During the process, I think the most challenging part is choosing the suitable tools. Sometimes I might choose the inappropriate tools and/or machinery to cut the material. However, thanks to the great observation of the instructor, the instructor will notice, and kindly remind me that there are some other tools/machinery that are more suitable for the process. Basically, I do not have any difficulties with this project even though the instructor said it might need precise measurements. The measurement is not a problem or a difficulty for me so I think the overall process is fluent and I’m satisfied with what I did.

What I learned from this project would be practice makes perfect. For some tools I have already forgotten how to correctly use them or even worse I forget the name of them. It is somehow ridiculous to commit but it is my real feelings. Meanwhile, I think my work speed is too slow. I think I might need to speed up next time. The reason why my speed is slow is I spend too much time reading the instructions and reminding myself how to use the machine. So that’s why I said practice makes perfect is what I learned from the project.

If I can do the project one more time, I would definitely spray a lighter layer. I accidentally put a thicker-than-expected layer on the bases and I spent too much time fixing it. It is the only pity and I want to fix it if I can have the opportunity to do it one more time.


paul – Reply, BuildDirect Product Expert Team – Reply, Seth – Reply, James Campenella – Reply, mundy – Reply, David Buschman – Reply, & Rachelle – Reply. (2021, June 2). Janka hardness rating scale for Hardwood Floors: BuildDirect® Learning Center. Learning Center. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from

American Cherry. American Hardwood. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from

American red oak. American Hardwood. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from