On a recent trip to the beach, my wife and I were browsing through a local store and saw these jellyfish-inspired air plants made with sea urchin shells. Of course, I immediately started thinking about how to create a jellyfish project of my own in the woodshop.
One piece of wood for the body 3" x 6" I used Osage Orange
One piece for the base 14" x 12" I used Maple Burl
Eight pieces for the outside tentacles 1/4" x 10" I used Myrtlewood
Fore pieces for the inside tentacles 1" x 8" I used Myrtlewood
One piece of amber acrylic rod 1" x 14"
One piece of blue acrylic 4" x 4"
One set of LED lights
Oscillating spindle sander
Drill and drill bits
Easy Wood Finisher
Easy Wood Rougher
Flush cut saw
air rotary tool
Step 1: Planning
I started planning in earnest once I got back to the shop. I decided on maple burl for the base. The piece I used looks like coral or a rocky sea floor and adds some atmosphere to the finished lamp. The head is made from Osage Orange and rounded to a graceful curve. To connect the two, I used a rod made of amber acrylic, which was turned down to size, sanded, and then bent using a propane torch to carefully soften the middle section. Again, I was trying to obtain an organic feel, so a gradual curve is important. The tentacles are made from myrtlewood that I carved on the bandsaw and shaped using an oscillating spindle sander. I made several more intricate inner tentacles using the lathe to cut a spiral shape.
Step 2: Making the Jellyfish Body
The head is made from Osage Orange. I drill a 7/8" hole to mount it on the lathe using a screw drive. I rounded it to a graceful curve with a Easy Wood Finishing tool. I put a tenon on the top with a parting tool this will be used to remount it, and clean out the inside.
After shaping the outside I remounted it using the tenon in my scroll chuck. I clean out the inside to a depth of 1 1/2" with a Easy Wood Finisher. I cut another recess in the center 1" diameter 1" deep with a parting tool this will be used for mounting the acrylic rod. I drilled several 1/4" holes with a forstner bit for the tentacles, although I ended up only using 12 of them. I remounted it using the jaws and turned off the tenon, and sanded up to 600 grit sandpaper. I sand with Howard beeswax and orange oil this really cuts down on the dust.
Step 3: Customising the Acryclic Rod
I mounted a piece of amber acyclic rod 14" x 1 1/2" in my chuck, and used a skew chisel to bring it down to a 1" diameter. After turning it down, I wet sanded it up to 600 grit. A squirt bottle works great for this. To bend the acrylic rod I used a blow torch (wear gloves for this part) I turned the lathe down to 50 rpm to heat the rod evenly. After the acrylic was pliable, I bent a slight curve and used my tool rest to hold it in place while it cooled. I cut it off with a Japanese flush cut saw, and did a final polish with a buffing wheel.
Step 4: Making the Base
The piece I used looks like coral or a rocky sea floor and adds some atmosphere to the finished lamp. The piece is about 14" x 12" x 4 1/2" I drilled a 7/8" hole in the bottom to mount it on the lathe using a screw drive. I turned a hole in the center about 3 3/4" by 1 1/4" deep. I used a bowl gouge, and Easy Wood Rougher to do this. I then drilled a 1" hole with a forstner bit 1 1/4" deep for the acrylic rod. I made a recess on the side to help hide the LED lights. I did this with a Easy Wood hollowing tool. I then pulled it off the lathe, and flattened the bottom with a Belt Sander.
Step 5: Making the Tentacles
The inner tentacles are Myrtlewood. I turned the 4 inner tentacles down to a 1" diameter using a skew chisel, and drew a spiral line with a pencil. I then cut a small kerf on the line with a Japanese flush cut saw, this is just so I have a starting point. I then used a air rotary tool this make two of the spiral tentacles by cutting all the way through. Repeat this process to make all 4. I then sanded the rough edges on the oscillating sander, and did the final sanding by hand. The outer tentacles are also made from Myrtlewood. I made the 8 outside tentacles using the bandsaw. I started with a piece of 7/8" x 10" x 10" Myrtlewood. I cut a slight S-shape curve, and then cut each one in half. Again I used the oscillating sander to sand off the rough edges, and then hand sanded them.
Step 6: Light Cover
I used a piece of blue acrylic for the light cover. I start with a piece 4" x 4" drilled a 1 1/8" hole in the center with a drill press. I then sanded the corners off with the oscillating sander, and did the final sanding on the lathe.
Step 7: Drill for Wiring
Drill a 7/8" hole in the side, and in the top for the lights.
Step 8: Finish
I finished all of the wood pieces with clear lacquer, with the exception of the body ( I used Beeswax for that ) After four coats of lacquer, the lamp has a beautiful “wet” look that makes it seem like it’s underwater.
Step 9: Assembly
I temporarily placed the acrylic rod into the body to help line up the tentacles. With a small amount of wood glue, I glued all the tentacles into the 1/4" holes in the body. I fed the LED lights into the 7/8" holes I drilled into the base, then tucked the lights into the recess. LEDs are ideal for this because they are small, require little power, and do not generate as much heat as fluorescent or incandescent lights. I then installed the acrylic rod and light cover into the base. The acrylic rod helps transmit the light up through the piece and illuminates the tentacles from behind. The piece of blue acrylic acts as a diffuser for the lights in the base while also concealing them from view. It also looks like water. After the glue on the tentacles dried, I installed the body with the tentacles on the top of the acrylic rod.
I had a lot of fun making this piece despite its challenges. I love how it turned out and I hope you do too.