Modern Tin Punch Lampshade

August 23, 2012Allison Murray


I have always loved lamps that have pinholes of light spilling out of their shades. There’s something almost magical about the light that escapes. My lamp in the dining room unfortunately bit the dust a good couple of months ago. I’ve been keeping an eye out, but just hadn’t found a lamp that I liked to replace the old.

Then one day I just happen to see some really plain white lamps in the distance at Target. I wanted one. The closer I got, the more prominent the little red and white clearance tag became. I started walking a bit faster, very excited at the prospect. When I finally arrived, I saw that the price is a low, low $6 and change, down from almost $30. In the cart that little baby went.

I rounded the corner to find a matching lampshade as this was the base only. The only shades that looked good were $20 and up. I don’t know about you, but spending $20 on a shade for a $6 lamp totally knocks the lamp out of “great buy” for me. I purchased the cheap as dirt lamp but let the expensive lampshades remain on their shelves.

Days turned into weeks looking for a lampshade and one day I noticed one in my garage that had seen better days. I liked the shape of it, but the ecru was wrong. I brought it in and set it on my desk until I remembered tin punching. Then I made it happen.

Want to make your own tin punched lampshade? It’s a time consuming but jaw dropping project! You will need:

  • Old Lampshade
  • Tin Flashing (sold near shingles and roofing materials in hardware stores)
  • Ruler
  • Utility Knife
  • Cardboard, junk wood, etc. to protect your worktop
  • Silver Sharpie
  • Hammer
  • Paper Clips
  • Nail (size a bit bigger than the holes you want)
  • Masking Tape
  • Spray Paint
  • E-6000 Adhesive (hot glue will NOT work)
  • About 10 Cans of Food (like canned green beans)

STEP 1: The first thing to do is to destroy your old shade. But before you do that, make sure that the inside top has a metal ring attached to the center portion (that you put on the light bulb area of the base). You’ll use that ring at the top to shape and attach your new tin shade.

To remove the old shade from the metal parts I needed, I used a utility knife. I found that while it looked okay, the old plastic inside was terribly brittle. Remove all of the excess tape, glue and junk off of the metal part. Just to make things easier, and since I don’t know the technical name for this whole piece, I’m going to call it a frame from here on out…

STEP 2: Your flashing comes on a roll and tries will try to curl back up when you’re working with it, so be cautious of that. Wrap the metal around your frame. Overlap the tin by about an inch and a half. Use paper clips hold the circle shape together. Take a quick peek to make sure that your tin matches up well with the frame and that there are no gaps or places where it is actually inside or on top of the frame.

Place one of your paper clips along the edge that needs to be cut. Unroll, leaving the paper clips on the end closest to the roll as a guide (the edge that needs to be cut). Place on top of your cutting surface and use your ruler and utility knife, making a quick sweep of the knife down the ruler.

Take the metal and bend backward and forward until it snaps.

STEP 3: Use your silver Sharpie to draw the pattern you want to punch. I used a ruler and drew out a chevron pattern, but you can freehand draw or make another pattern that strikes your fancy.

STEP 4: Take your nail and place it on your drawn lines. Use your hammer to firmly smack the top of the nail. I used a roofing nail because the dot on top was huge and it helped me from hitting myself! Continue to punching until you are all out of lines.

STEP 5: Using masking tape, cover off anything that you want to remain the original silver color. The areas that you want to paint need to be roughed up first with some sandpaper or scouring metal. Prime and then spray paint your chosen color. Allow to dry fully and remove the tape.

STEP 6: Use something, like clamps, to hold the frame down onto your work surface. Smear your adhesive onto about 3 or 4 inches of the frame and press the the top inside of the shade to it. Use your heavy cans to push the metal up against the frame and glue. Allow to sit for several hours before moving onto the next couple of inches. If you need extra weight to hold down the frame, use more cans.

Continue until you get to the back side where the two sides of the metal will overlap. Instead of gluing the frame, apply glue to the piece of the metal that will flap under the other side. Use clamps at both ends to hold together. Lay down on your work surface with the glued seam against the table. Place your heavy cans inside to keep the center from not gluing to itself.

Glue the remainder of the frame if necessary.


When totally dry, place onto your lamp base, run and shut off the house lights and ooh and aah at your pretty new home accessory!

Hope this Thursday is a great one! Check out my loves of the week tomorrow!

Comments (6)

  • Agy

    October 7, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Oh, this is lovely and it's like a piece of art deco! Thank you for sharing :-)

  • Allison Murray

    October 7, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Thanks for stopping by Agy :)

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  • Debbie

    May 23, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    I couldn’t help but think that the spokes of the tracing wheel from my sewing kit would make evenly-spaced marks ideal for lining up the holes! What do you think?

    1. Allison Murray

      May 23, 2016 at 8:00 PM

      Ah! That’s a FABULOUS idea! I wish I thought of that!

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