Claremont Designs


Setting the Depth of the Top Reveal on an Edison Lamp

Selecting the depth of the reveal is partly for aesthetic reasons and also for a simpler build out process.  I hinted at these reasons in a prior post about updating the Edison lamp prototype.  Probably the first 5 versions of the lamps I built were similar to the prototype.  Since then, I’ve set the Edison lamp top about an 1/8th of an inch lower.  It’s a minor change but it has significantly reduced the number of times that I’ve had to rebuild a lamp – frequently the corner of one of the pins would chip out when routing the channel for the top.

By lowering the top a fraction of an inch, I’m able to route the front and back of the lamp without using a plunge cut.  On the sides the plunge cut is still required.  Basically what I’m doing is dropping the lamp side down on top of the router bit.  The photos below show the result of the plunge cuts.  The first photo shows the result of two plunge cuts and a little clearing between the cuts.  Technically a single cut on each side would be more than enough, but I’ve taken the belt and suspenders approach.  To make sure that I don’t extend my cut too far, I clamp a stop block to the router table fence.

From there I’ve flipped the side over and drawn lines on the top of the lamp sides.  The lines are shown in the second picture below.  I align the marks with router table fence where the cuts start and stop.  In the picture the left side of the piece is complete.  From here I repeated this process of plunge cuts and marking the sides on the right side of the piece.  Finally I remove the stop blocks, plunge the piece over the existing cuts and then route the piece between the plunge cuts on each side.

This whole process takes maybe 15 minutes to complete properly, but any missteps can result in having to start the entire build over again.  Thankfully by dropping the top a fraction of an inch, the number of rebuilds has dropped to zero.  Final picture below shows the end result – the latest single bulb koa Edison lamp to leave the shop.

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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.


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Single Bulb Edison Lamps

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.






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Second To Last Step In Building 3 Edison Lamps

Well it isn’t really the second to last step in building an Edison lamp, but photos of the final wiring steps are (possibly) less interesting than these photos of finalizing the fit of the lamps. The photos below show the inner components of the lamps. The close-up shows the bottom side of the single bulb koa Edison lamp. I used a different style socket in this lamp and as a result I had to reroute the wiring. Normally I can keep all of the wiring above the wooden support, but in this case the wiring needed to be routed through the nipple. To prevent the wiring from extending past the base of the lamp I glued a thin piece of walnut scrap where the wires come through the bottom. Although the base is screwed into the box in this photo, I will need to remove it before applying the final finish. The second photo shows the five sockets for the 5 bulb cherry lamp. Much like the koa version, I established the final fit by screwing it into place before moving to the finishing steps. The next post will include final photos of the finished products.



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Continuing the Build of a New 5 Bulb Edison Lamp

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.

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Sanded Koa and Birdseye Maple Dovetailed Boxes

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.


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Patching the Koa Dovetailed Box

Short trip to the shop today to work on a variety of items. The day started with a quick surface sand on the koa and birdseye maple boxes. Both needed a little bit of touch-up (as is to be expected). On the koa box there was a reasonably sized chip out that I had to deal with. In this case I’ve got a scrap piece of koa glued into the gap. Next week I’ll cut that scrap out and proceed with a complete sanding of the box. The photo below shows the fill piece glued into the gap.


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Koa and Birdseye Boxes

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.