Claremont Designs


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New Lumber New Edison Lamp

I’ve been working off of the new stack of lumber for a couple of months now. It’s good lumber and I’m happy with the quality of the walnut, but it is definitely different than the last batch of walnut. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I’ve recently started the 20th lamp of the year (technically it is the 21st since USPS lost one and I had to rebuild it). For those that are interested, this is the 14th out of walnut and the 5th that is of the 3 bulb variety (3 of those 5 have been in walnut). I love the look of walnut and it is my wood of choice, but I’m still surprised that I don’t sell more cherry and maple lamps at the Etsy storefront. I love them all, but sitting on my walnut table I have always found the contrasting maple to be the most striking look.

To “celebrate” the 20th lamp of the year, I’ve gone back to my old format of highlighting the build process of the lamp. To build a 3 bulb lamp I need to shoot for a piece that is 4/4 (this is woodworker talk for a board that is an inch thick; spoken “four quarter”) and at least 4 1/4 inches wide by about 47 inches long. In my last post I wrote about starting the build of leg blanks for a new custom piece. In selecting wood for that piece, I ended up with one extra board (shown in the first picture below). I didn’t end up using that board in that piece, because it had a pretty nasty little bow to it. If you look closely, you’ll see that it isn’t flat on the surface of my table saw.

Fortunately correcting that type of issue is pretty easy for this style build. I’m not going to go into every detail of how I correct the issue because there are numerous posts on this site that talk about the build process for an Edison lamp. Basically it involves cutting the board at a strategic location and then working the jointer, band saw and planer until I get the four boards shown in the second picture. One of the 4 boards there becomes scrap (or turned into coasters), but the rest are destined for dimensioning, time in the dovetail jig and then a pass through the router table. This results in the 5 boards shown in the final picture. From here it is a pretty straightforward build process. The next post related to this build will be for the final “glamour” shots.
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No Wonder Walls Are Never Straight

Shop work finally shifted away from Edison lamps this past weekend.  Step 1 of the new project is to build some legs.  Ultimately, I’m hoping that the legs will be 2″ x 2″ x 30″.  The first challenge I have is that I don’t have any boards thick enough to get a 2″ x 2″ leg.  I could go and buy some 8/4 walnut, but still challenges…  By the time I get the boards flat and square I’m unlikely to still get 2″ x 2″.  Beyond the size issues, it is unlikely that I would get 4 good looking faces to the legs.

The approach I like to take is to build a core out of cheaper lumber and veneer the blank with the same lumber that will be used for the rest of the piece.  The process started by laminating together 2 pieces of lumber.  I like to just use 2″ x 4″ studs available at the local home store.  In this case, I used the highest quality studs available.  Even still, none of the boards were flat / straight (no wonder walls are never straight).  As a result, a significant portion of day 1 was spent jointing, planing, and dimensioning the lumber (the photo below shows the blanks marked up so I can make sure that I’m getting completely surfaced lumber).  This step is important as it both helps to keep the legs straight and it gives me a good flat surface to glue together.

Next posting (if it isn’t another Edison lamp post) will discuss cutting the walnut veneers for the legs…

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3 New Lamps Have Left DC

I’m still working to get this blog in sync with actual activity happening in the shop, and it is now close. The photos in this post show the last 3 lamps that have been shipped off to customers. Nothing too unique about these builds, other than one lamp was shipped off to Canada (little pricey and a lot of paperwork) and one of the walnut lamps was done in just boiled linseed oil (wanted a slightly different finish than normal). Currently in the shop are 2 more lamps (one in walnut and one I’m trying out of lacewood) and a bunch of walnut strips that I’m turning into cutting boards.

I’m guessing now that the next post won’t be that meaningful either. Hopefully by the end of October I’m back with posts that highlight the build process as much as the finished goods.

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Doubling Down on Edison Lamps

This update is coming from the Acela en route to NYC.  It’s been ages since I last posted a meaningful update to the blog, and trips like this are primarily to blame.  I targeted this update a few weeks back, but it’s not until today that I can make an entry.

The orders from Etsy still come in.  And when I’m lucky they come in at the same time, so I can be as efficient as possible with shop time.  In this case, I had two orders for 3 bulb lamps.  I thought that the build was going great.  I was so proud of my progress that I took the first photo below to show the nice looking grooves for the top panel in each piece.  From there I worked to get each lamp glued up.  What I didn’t mention, until now, is the process of cutting the dovetails.  It appears that I grabbed the wrong piece for my jig.  I’m guessing I grabbed a 9 degree instead of an 11 degree piece.  The result is that I have 2 lamp boxes that can’t be used.

So it was off to round 2 of the build.  Trust me that I was considerably more careful this time around.  Everything turned out as planned and I had 2 unfinished lamps; one in cherry and one in walnut.

In the spirit of doing everything a second time, I also decided to revisit the first lamp I ever built.  It was minor, but I must have been too aggressive with my sanding of the top front edge of the lamp.  The result was a little “dip” on the top.  Well that lamp was back in the shop to correct that mistake.  While I was tackling that issue, I decided it was time to upgrade the lamp to a full dimmer switch and some higher quality light sockets.  In the second picture below, the original prototype lamp is sitting on top of the new unfinished lamps.

So doubling down on Edison lamps…  lots of multiples this time (2 lamps, built them twice due to my error, and bringing the original prototype into the shop for a tune up).  Ultimately, the 2 unfinished lamps will be off to NYC and Canada; the improved prototype should be destined for Etsy.

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Fitting Non-Mortise Hinges to a Sideboard

I’m finally getting to some of the final steps of finishing off the sideboard base that has been occupying one of my workbenches for the better part of a year. In the previous post, I described how I wrapped the doors with a thin strip of walnut to improve the gap that surrounds the doors on either side of the buffet. The last challenging step in the build is to align the hinges. I almost always use non-mortise hinges, so the only real challenge is to locate the screw holes as perfectly as possible – easier said written than done. I start by installing the hinges to the base of the cabinet, and then I transfer reference marks to the door. The marks don’t go directly where I will drill a pilot hole, so it is a little more complex.

To start the process I locate the door in the opening, with the hinges completely open. I also make sure to use a spacer, so that there is a gap at the bottom of the door. I then “close” the hinges so they rest against the face of the door frame. From here, I mark the holes in the hinge. Next it is a lot of work with a square and a depth gauge. First I mark the top and bottom of the hole and then I transfer those reference marks to the side of the door. I then go back to the hinge and use a sliding depth gauge to determine the front and back reference mark for the hinge hole opening. Because the hinge allows for a little adjustment, I should be good as long as I get the pilot hole somewhere within the opening, but I take an extra step. I connect the corners and draw an X to locate the center of the hole. Ultimately this is where I will drill my pilot hole for the screw.

The photos below show all of the reference marks and the doors installed to make sure that no other adjustments are required. Next step is to finish the 220-grit sanding, break all of the sharp edges, install the knobs and pulls, and apply several finish coats of an oil urethane blend.

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Improving the Fit of a Cabinet Door

One of the first posts I ever made here was related to a sideboard that I was building. That was a little over a year ago. It’s still not done… It’s not complete for 2 reasons. First I have been busy with other projects and paying customers. Second, there are just a number of extremely frustrating components to this build. Many, many months ago I worked to stiffen up the cabinet. It was a minor fix, but frustrating to have to do. I’ve also spent countless hours perfecting the fit of the drawers. I’ve finally dialed all of that in and now the only thing left is the doors. The doors haven’t been easy. Slightly out of square openings (related to the earlier need to stiffen up the cabinet) led to a very difficult fit for the door. The challenge with doors is to get the proper gap all of the way around the door (this is even harder when the opening isn’t perfectly square).

After lots of hand planing and sanding, I had an even gap around the door. Unfortunately the gap was too large. Originally I considered rebuilding the door, but ultimately I decided to work with what I had (this piece is more of a prototype and learning experience than something I’m selling to a customer). To build up the width and height of the door, I have glued thin strips of walnut to the outside of the perimeter of the doors. To create the strips I took thin pieces of resawn walnut and passed them through my wide belt drum sander until each strip was less than 1/8″ thick.

The final pieces were glued on today. The picture below shows the final step in the glue up. The challenge with the doors, is that I like to cut the sides at a 5 degree angle (it helps in opening and closing the door). Cutting the angle isn’t hard, but clamping it up and keeping the glued on strip from slipping while maintaining enough clamping pressure and keeping the center panel from buckling was not easy. I’ll be curious to see how this dries up. Hopefully it comes out well; otherwise I will be building 2 new doors on the next trip to the shop.

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Designing New Concert Poster Frames

On a brief shop trip today, I shifted away from the world of Edison Lamps. I spent most of my time designing some new concert poster frames. Most posters have standard proportions, but they don’t all. When I can, I try to build my frames to a standard outside dimension of 29 1/2″ x 23 1/2″. Most of my work today was limited to the design side of a concert frames. 2 of 3 I designed will be able to keep the standard dimension. The images below show the sketches for new frames I’ll be building. The sketches help me determine the amount of lumber I need for each frame. Shockingly, it is quite a bit of lumber. The ideal frame would be built from a single board. The board needs to be over 100″ long to build a single frame. I wish I could include some pictures in this post of the build, but unfortunately the heat wave in DC was too much for me. By the time I left this afternoon, the temperature was 98 degrees, and the only thing I completed was the jointing of 4 boards. Hopefully the next posts will feature some wood and not just sketches on graph paper.

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