Claremont Designs

Initial Steps In Building a New 5 Bulb Edison Lamp

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I’ve had quite a few posts on building Edison lamps over the past year. I figured in this post I would show a few more of the steps getting the process started. Everything starts by finding one good piece of cherry at least 7 feet long and a little more than 4″ wide. The goal is to get all pieces of the lamp out of the same piece of lumber. Sourcing from one piece helps in matching the color, and you can match the grain wrapping around the piece. It’s not always easy to figure out what a piece of rough sawn lumber is going to look like once surfaced, but you want to avoid knots and splits / checks as much as possible. The picture below shows 2 pieces from the same board. The bottom one has been passed over the jointer whereas the top board hasn’t.


Thankfully the original piece of lumber was a little over an inch think. As a result I was able to get the top of the lamp out of this same piece of lumber. With one face and one edge jointed and square to each other, I proceeded to the bandsaw to resaw the boards to make quarter inch think pieces for the top. This generates much more 1/4″ lumber than needed, so I will just use the excess for additional drink coasters. From here it’s one more quick trip to the jointer followed by the planer to get everything surfaced and the correct thickness (I usually shoot for 1/2″ to 5/8″ thick for Edison lamps). This is followed by cutting boards to width and length. At this point it is time to move to the dovetail jig (and praying that there isn’t any much tear out). Finally, a little work at the router table to create the groove for the 1/4″ think top board. The end result is what’s shown in the photo below.


Now it’s time to move to the random orbit sander. Once it’s glued up, I’ll never be able to get to the inside of the box. In general the inside is not seen in the finished piece, so the sanding job doesn’t need to be perfect. Most of the effort is dedicated to the small lip above the groove for the top. That is the only part of the “inside” that will ever be seen in the final product. Once the sanding was done, it was time for gluing and clamping. It will sit in the clamps overnight, and I’ll start finishing the exterior in the morning.


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