Just a quick interim post here to update on the status of current projects. In the photo are two Edison lamps that are ready for final finish. The walnut lamp is being built for a customer. It is a pretty standard build. The only distinction is that this is the first chance I’ve had to build a 5 bulb version out of walnut. I’m sad to say that this lamp used up the last real amount of walnut that I’ve been working from. The other lamp pictured is made from sapele. It’s the first time I’ve worked with sapele and so far I’m happy with the results. There was a distinctive pattern on the board that I featured on the front of the lamp. Taking it one step further, the 1/4 inch top board is book matched to the front to further highlight the pattern. Finally in the front left you can see the stack of coasters ready for finishing. The coasters are great but trust me that it’s a lot of work to sand all 6 sides, break the edges and steel wool between 2 coats of finish. It’s a great use of my scrap lumber, but it sure is a lot of work to get a product that I’m happy with.
Just a quick post here that is mostly photos oriented… While working on a 5 bulb Edison lamp for a customer, I also built some new single bulb versions. These don’t have homes currently, so they’ll sit in inventory unless someone wants to buy them. If you are interested, either contact me directly or just check out my shop on etsy.
Continuing along with one of my earlier posts, I figured that I would focus in on the building of an Edison lamp. In this case I wanted to show two of the aspects of the build that I don’t usually give a lot of attention. For the lamps, I’ve started using a full range dimmer switch. The switches are a little larger than the ones I used to use, but the ability to dim the Edison bulbs is worth it. The lights are capable of being used as a room light source, but for the most part they are a decorative piece of furniture. And when the light is dimmed down low, it’s really easy to see the patterns of the filaments in the bulbs. The challenge is to make room for the switch. First I locate the position of the switch and then move over to the dedicated mortising machine. The goal here is to make the back of the lamp thinner where the switch is located. Next I need to take a forstner bit to make room for the knob. It’s important that the knob is recessed into the lamp to improve the overall appearance of the piece. The photo below shows a quick test fitting of the switch.
The next aspect I wanted to highlight was the location of the holes for the sockets. In all of my lamps, I use a wooden board to attach the sockets to… The challenge is to get the hole for the light socket nipples dead center in the larger diameter hole that exposes the sockets. I start by sizing the support board so that it fits perfectly inside the top lip of the lamp. Then with simple layout lines, I locate the center point of each bulb (shown in the first photo below with pencil lines). From here I’m able to use a drill press to drill a series of holes at each location to generate the final cutouts shown in the second photo. The process starts by drilling one hole through the support board and the top at the same time. This is followed by making the hole in the support board just a little wider to fit the nipple. Finally after removing the support board, I cut out the larger diameter hole to fit the socket.
In the next post, I’ll highlight more of the interior working of the Edison lamp. Then it’s off to finishing.
With all of the prior patch work completed on the boxes, I was able to finish sanding up the two small dovetail boxes that I was working on. Assuming that there is enough room on the interior for a dimmer switch these will both become single bulb Edison lamps. The only thing left that I could screw up would be cutting the hole for the light socket. Hopefully this will be finished up after one more shop trip.
For the first full trip to the shop in 2013, I worked on some new dovetailed boxes (also made a new pen / iPad stylus but no photos of that one). One of the boxes is built from a small piece of koa that I picked up earlier in the week. The other is built from some leftover birdseye maple from the 5 bulb Edison lamp I built at the end of 2012. I haven’t decided the ultimate purpose of each individual box, but one will be a coasters holder and the other will be a single bulb Edison lamp. Each box had some chip out issues with the dovetails. We’ll see how well I can patch up or sand out any of the issues. If they come out nicely, I’ll probably put them up in my etsy shop. Otherwise I’ll just selectively photograph them and list them as built to order.
The photo below shows the individual pieces being organized before rapid gluing and clamping.
A real mixed bag of project work today. Thanks to a tardy FedEx delivery, started the day by running down to the shop to fit a dimmer switch into a new Edison lamp. With that out of the way, it was on to finishing work. Although I prefer to use an oil urethane blend for my finishing work, I switched things up a bit this time. This weekend’s finish work was using exclusively boiled linseed oil. It’s a finish I like, but you just need to be very careful with your rags because of the spontaneous combustion issue. The photo below shows my impromptu finishing area (aka my living / dining room with pieces resting on the edges of cardboard boxes.
The following shots just show some extra perspectives on the current pieces that I’m working on. In the photos are the Birdseye maple piece that has been featured in the past few posts on this site. Also featured is a smaller 3 bulb version built out of cherry. The cherry was particularly light, but it has been warming up with more coats of finish. In the photos below, the small cherry piece has two coats of boiled linseed oil. The maple piece has just received its first coat (keeping in mind, that my iPhone doesn’t take the best photos). You’ll also notice scattered 3.5″ square pieces of wood. Given the amount of wood furniture I have in my house, coasters are an absolute must. Building items like the Edison lamps has generated a lot of thin stock that has no other use for me, so I’ve decided to start making drink coasters. If I make enough and get motivated, they might be the next item to make an appearance on etsy. Next post should have nicer photos of the finished pieces.
There were a lot of moving parts in the shop today. I started by sanding the interior surfaces and the top for the lamp base. The first photo shows all of the pieces before sanding and before the top is cut to the right size. You can tell this is the interior of the box showing by the groove at the top edge of all of the pieces. That groove is what secures the top into place.
The second photo shows my quick test of the fit of the dovetails. It looked like a pretty good fit. But after years of doing this, I’ve decided to reserve judgement on the quality of fit until after it comes out of the clamps. Speaking of (or more accurately… writing of) clamps, the final photo shows the box after being glued and clamped. It may not look like much, but trust me that you have to move quickly to get everything glued and clamped in time. You don’t want the glue to setup too much before it is fully clamped. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to the shop for a quick trip this week to clean up the glue and check the fit.
I’m in the early stages of creating another long Edison lamp, but this time get to try some birdseye (or bird’s eye – you choose) maple for the work. It costs a bit more, but it is considerably more interesting than stock maple.
In the series of photos below I’ve shown the front of the box after dimensioning the lumber. For the front of the box and the sides I always try (doesn’t always happen) to get those 3 pieces out of one piece of lumber. In most cases that allows the grain of the wood to flow around the piece. In this case it is less about the grain and more about the location of the eyes.
The “easy” part of the project is over. Next up are the dovetails and the groove for the light top. The dovetails aren’t too hard, but I can’t tell you how many times routing that groove on the router table has forced me to mill up an extra side piece. Hopefully a little patience and planning will pay dividends here.