Claremont Designs


Leave a comment

The Shop Has Moved (and a Shift to Lamps in Inventory)

It wasn’t quick and it wasn’t easy, but the Claremont Designs shop has made a 9 mile move. It seemed like it would be easy to move a 600 square foot shop… but 10 years of work (and sawdust), several pieces of equipment over 300 pounds, and a few projects that are perpetually WIP added to the complexity.

During the (extended) move time, the Etsy Shop has been on vacation mode. I’m sure Etsy has a better description, but it basically means my Etsy shop existed with nothing listed. It also means that all of my search rankings plummeted… After years of having several of pieces show up in the top 5 positions when people search for Edison Lamps, Claremont Designs is now not even in the top 50 (it’s probably worse than that, but I gave up on counting other listings before I found any of my lamps). Hopefully that will be fixed by the holiday season.

I haven’t made too much of a mess in the shop yet, so it’s still pretty clean. I’ve made 3 new lamps since the shop was setup, and I’m still happy with the level of cleanliness. Beyond being new and clean, the biggest improvement in the new shop is actually having some natural daylight and overhead lights that actually work. I hope that means that quality of furniture coming out of the shop will improve, but time will tell.

The other big change with the shop is that I’m going to transition away from only selling made to order lamps. I think that will improve options for both me and customers.

For me, I’m going to enjoy building furniture (and lamps) on my schedule rather than the (largely) unpredictable timing of lamp orders. I’m also going to start building lamps from wood that I think is interesting, as opposed to wood which is fairly generic. It might sound counterintuitive, but when building custom pieces it is not generally the best idea to use interesting wood. Interesting can refer to the color, the grain, the lack of uniformity, etc. The challenge when building custom pieces (when only interacting over Etsy and building to an aggressive timeline) is that it is usually safest to use lumber with consistent color and straight grain. Going forward, I’ll try to build more lamps that use “interesting” wood. We’ll see if customers want that… An example of one of the new lamps is the 3-bulb Ambrosia lamp below.

While I’m trying to do some more interesting wood choices, I also want to make sure that I build the lamps that customers have been expecting (and purchasing for the past few years). To start building up the inventory, I’ve built 2 single bulb lamps. One is in cherry and one in walnut. Over the years, walnut has by far been the most popular wood choice, but I like the cherry the best.

For customers they will get 2 big benefits. First, they will know exactly what they are buying. The pictures on the Etsy listings will now show them exactly what they are going to get. For customers that like the surprise, they can still order a “made to order” version of the lamp. But my primary reason for the made to order option is for customers that want to make some small changes to the lamps (e.g., different size, different finish, custom cords, etc.). The second big benefit for customers is that I can ship the lamps much quicker. I’ve listed the shipping times online at 3-5 days, but I’m hoping I can ship faster than that.

We’ll see how this all goes, but hopefully these changes will make the process better overall.


Leave a comment

Catching Up With The Shop… And One New Piece

It’s been 995 days since I’ve posted anything to this blog… kind of embarrassing, but I’m guessing that I’m not the only one that has taken such an extended break from updating.  Although the title of this post implies that I’ve only created one new piece, that’s not really accurate.  But time spent making Edison Lamps has monopolized most of my shop time.  Originally the lamps were supposed to be made between making other items, and only if someone found me on Etsy to buy.  Since that original thought I’ve sold about 80 lamps.  Consequently, the other pieces coming out of the shop have slowed significantly…

Earlier this year, I finished a new entertainment center.  You can see pictures of that piece in this post.  It is built of solid cherry and has 2 major pieces.  The main body that supports the stereo equipment and the turntable is just a large through dovetail case.  For those reading this that mainly know my lamps, this is basically the body of an Edison lamp (but a lot bigger).  The dovetails are visible when you are viewing the piece from above or the side.  They don’t do anything special in the function of the piece, so they are largely form over function.  There is some function in there too though…  The dovetail is great for ensuring a 90 degree angle in the corners, and it is much stronger than other joints than I can use.

The second major feature of the piece is the mortised and tenoned exoskeleton (14 mortises and tenons to be exact).  The legs, bottom box support, side rails, and top rails are all made from different size pieces of cherry.  The legs are the largest at roughly 2 inches square.  The rest of the pieces are slightly smaller.  I wanted to use different sized pieces on the frame to create interesting shadow lines when looking at the piece and to give the piece a sense of depth.

The original concept was that I would build the box and the exoskeleton separately.  Then I would be able to slide the box into the exoskeleton.  It wasn’t that simple, but let’s just pretend it was…  This is one of those times that an extra set of hands in the shop would have been nice.  Overall this was a fun piece to build, and it gave me a chance to try some new techniques [some by design (knife hinges) and some out of necessity (carved door pulls)].

Up next in the shop…  As you might have guessed, more lamps.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC


Leave a comment

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.

20131006-181919.jpg

20131006-181937.jpg

20131006-181953.jpg


Leave a comment

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.

grooves

stack


Leave a comment

Another Mother’s Day Weekend In the Shop

I promise that I love my Mom, but I have spent yet another Mother’s Day weekend in my shop.  All of the good sons and daughters spending time with their mothers means that the traffic on 95 is pretty light and the shop is that much easier to get to.  For this weekend, I focused on finishing up my second workbench and finally starting the finishing of a project that isn’t a lamp.

The workbench is a pretty straightforward project.  I already had the base of the bench from a prior piece of furniture.  Building the top takes a few weekends; not super difficult, but time consuming.  It’s not the best piece I’ve ever built, but it has already made my shop much more efficient.  That project was finished on day 1 of the weekend.

Day 2 was spent finally getting a new cabinet ready for finishing.  I’ve had the majority of the cabinet completed for weeks months.  I’ll miss having it as something to rest my sanders on, but it’s time to get this one out of the shop.  In the photo below it is sitting on the new workbench after being sanded to 120.  I eventually sanded it down to 220, but before the final sanding I wanted to fit the door to the cabinet.  The only challenge that I came across was the length of the screws for the hinges.  Ultimately, I had to snip off the tip of each screw, so that it wouldn’t protrude from the side of the cabinet.  The proportions may look a little off to people, but this is a purpose-built piece of furniture.  The cabinet will sit in an opening between a wall and a desk.  The door is design to swing open beneath the apron of the desk.  The large opening above the door is going to be completely concealed by the desk, so it will store items that I don’t need to access.  The top 2 shelves are for computer equipment, and will sit at or above the top of the desk.

Before leaving the shop, I finished the sanding and applied a first coat of boiled linseed oil.  One more weekend and this one should be done…

case


2 Comments

Lots of Sanding for 2 Edison Lamps and Almost 40 Coasters

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.

20130303-143645.jpg


2 Comments

Finished 5 Bulb Cherry Edison Lamp

If I were to ever go back to my old naming convention this piece would be known as 5 bulb Edison lamp 3. This is the third version of a 5 bulb lamp that I’ve built. While I still think the 3 bulb version of the lamp looks great, the 5 bulb version is superior in my opinion. Not all spaces can accommodate this size however. In that case the 3 bulb looks great, or even a collection of the 1 bulb version I’ve made would look terrific. Regardless of the choice, below are a few photos of the latest 5 bulb Edison lamp…

20130210-165501.jpg

20130210-165534.jpg

20130210-165604.jpg