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License Plate Lampshade

I decided to get crafty this weekend.  My basement office is used when I need to get away from the distractions in the house, which is usually when I shoot a video or take a video call. 

Lighting has been a challenge in that basement lair, so I stole the floor lamp from my den to brighten things up.  Unfortunately, it looked like a traditional floor lamp and did not fit the automotive motif of my hidden fortress.

Lampshades Are Not Just for Parties

The lampshade on this borrowed lamp was rather bland, so I tried to find some automotive parts to make a new one.  Brake rotors are too heavy and the “stack of air filters” idea from my wife wasn’t the look I wanted (although I did appreciate her suggestion).

I was hoping I had an old gas can in the garage, but remembered that I tossed that last winter.  As I looked around my shop and office, I noticed a stack of old license plates.  Eureka!  I found my inspiration!

The Design

Like many of you, I went to Pinterest to see what projects used license plates.  I saw some good designs, but nothing in the shape I wanted.  I wanted a tall and narrow shade, so I played around standing the plates on their side.  

I realized that I could get the size I wanted by bending four of the plates to create the corners of the shade, then attaching those corner pieces to the sides using small bolts.  Since all license plates have their mounting holes in the same place, no drilling was needed.  This was too easy!

Bending the Plates

I discovered that the license plates were pretty stiff due to the stamped letters and numbers.  I used my Workmate bench vise to hold the plate while using a hammer to bang it to a right angle (that’s 90 degrees for you math whizzes). 

By the way, Tennessee license plates are especially tough to bend.  That’s probably due to the stronger prison inmates in Tennessee.  

If you do not have a vise large enough to hold the whole license plate, you can stick it between a door and the door frame (on the hinge side) and use the door like a metal brake.  

Final Assembly

Once the four corners were bent, I picked my four favorite license plates to make the sides of the lampshade.  Since I’ve lived in a number of states, I used one from each state to make the sides.  I then used the small bolts and put it all together.

I needed a way to attach the new lampshade to the lamp.  I found a thin chain in my workshop, so I used it to create an “X” pattern.  The intersection of the “X” attached to the lamp while the ends were secured to the bolts holding the plates to each other.

Before and After

Pictured below are the before and after shots of the lamp in its new home.  I like the new look with the automotive theme.  I also like the fact that I did not need to buy anything or use any power tools to complete this project.

Inspiring and Supporting Enthusiasts

DIY projects like this one are pretty easy if you take your time and keep the end result in mind.  I find them very therapeutic to do, and love seeing the transformation from projects like this one.

I enjoy sharing these project tips and other stories designed to inspire and educate young car enthusiasts. Through the sale of items in the Vehicle Nanny Merchandise Store I am able to provide scholarships and donate to youth automotive programs.

All proceeds from merchandise sales go directly to these programs, so I hope you can find a fun item for yourself that also supports our budding car enthusiasts.

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