How to Make a Tapered Lampshade

January 01, 2014 2 Comments

How to Make a Tapered Lampshade



There's a reason why we focus mostly on drum lampshades, here at I like that lamp - they are by far the simplest to measure and make! However, if you want to make a tapered lampshade (or upgrade an old one) with our pre-cut adhesive styrene sheets, you'll want to know what size sheet to order. Simply measuring the height and width of your lampshade won't give you an accurate measurement, as the piece of styrene you need to create the shade will be in the shape of an 'arc', rather than a regular rectangle. 


How to make a DIY tapered drum lampshade - Learn at

Left: Porcelain table lamps with tapered drumshades at West Elm  |  Upper Right: Bright, airy kitchen tapered drum pendant lights seen at DecorPad |  Bottom Right: Tripod wood floor lamp with slightly tapered drum and simple, solid-ash base seen at West Elm.


So, here's how to determine the required dimensions of your tapered lampshade. 

  • Measure the diameter of the base of the current lampshade. This is one of two dimensions you need to select your styrene sheet.



Diameter of a tapered lampshade
  • Create a flat paper model of your current lampshade. Do this by either taking apart your lampshade and tracing out the arc shape onto a large piece of paper or by tracing the shape as you roll the shade along your piece of paper.

  • Once you have the paper model, you can determine the required width of styrene required by measuring from the top point of the arc to the bottom point.



  • If you wish to modify the height of your shade, simply make an adjustment to your paper model and re-calculate the required width.

  • Pre-cut styrene sheets come in 2" diameter and height increments. Choose a larger sheet if your required size is between sizes - you can always cut it down to size.

When your styrene sheet arrives, use the paper model to trace your arc onto the styrene. Remember that you need an extra inch for the length of styrene, to allow for overlap when constructing the shade. This extra inch is already figured into the dimensions of the pre-cut styrene.



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