I mocked up a rough version of the lamp I wanted to make in Vectorworks. I planned on doing a lot of the work by hand, so it wasn’t so much to get realistic dimensions but more just to get a feel for how it would all go together.
I wanted the base to have an organic shape to it, rather than just be a flat disc.
Earlier in the semester I laminated 3 pieces of 1/2″ hardwood (cherry, walnut, cherry) into a 1.5″ slab. Perfect for the lamp. This laminate feels like something out of the 70’s. It would feel at home next to a bright orange sofa.
Previewing the 4-axis cut. It’s finishing with a rounded bit, so it looks like it’s going to leave a bit of a lip around the edge, but since planned on finishing it on the lathe, no big deal. Also, I didn’t catch this, but the side wall is completely gone. I figured the software would leave a bit of material along the side walls for the support to latch onto, but I guess the design was too close to the edge. I didn’t realize this until it started cutting, but again, since I was going to finish this on the lathe, I didn’t have to worry about this issue.
Notice how the side walls are totally gone. I’ll stop the job before it cuts too deep, as long as I get the main shape of the base I’ll be fine.
After the fact, I realized I needed a way to chuck up the part in the lathe, so without removing the part or changing the home position of the 4-axis, I modified the part file to have a 2.5″ diameter recess where I could fit the chuck. Worked beautifully.
After I got the main shape and the recess into the part, I roughly cut it out on the band saw.
Then chucked it up and cleaned up the profile.
Now I needed to make the little elbow piece that would allow me to have a tube run perpendicular from the main lamp stem. I had more of that laminated block, so I cut off a small chunk to turn.
I needed a way to chuck it up, so I glued on some scrap plywood and let it set overnight. I glued up two, just incase I destroyed one, which was highly likely.
I chopped off the corners on the band saw, chucked it backwards, then turned down the plywood so it would fit into the chunk’s inner jaws.
Flipped, and started turning the piece round.
I needed a 1/2″ hole to fit over the brass tubing I had.
I also needed a hole in the side for another brass tube, but as I was drilling on the lathe, the plywood in the chuck snapped. Turns out it doesn’t like sideways pressure.
So I took the part to the drill press and finished up the hole in the side.
I wanted to make sure that both the base and the elbow piece worked as I hoped. There’s a little brass stopper held in place with a set screw on the main stem to prevent the elbow piece from sliding down.
Obviously, if I want to wire up a light bulb in the side swing arm, I need to route wires through, which meant I needed a channel in the main stem. With a hack saw and a nibbler, I was able to cut a pretty decent channel in both the outer brass tube and the inner threaded rod.
It was time to apply some finish to the base and elbow. You can see some burn marks on the elbow, and I could have sanded it off, but in the moment I kind of liked the way it looked, so I kept it. Only later did I wish I had sanded it off completely. But it ultimately looks fine.
A simple coat of tung oil really makes a world of difference
I was using white porcelain sockets, which didn’t look great with the wood and brass, so I decided to make some socket cups out a of block of cherry I had. It was a 2″ x 6″ x 6″ bowl blank that I cut into 2″ square stock. Took it to the lathe and started turning it round. Initially I tried spindle turning a tenon onto one end, which would fit into the inner jaws of the chuck.
Turns out, this is a pretty easy thing to do – snapping parts that are chucked into the small jaws. The tenon’s just aren’t strong enough, I guess.
So I took a different approach, and just chucked up the square stock. It worked much better.
An issue I couldn’t quite figure out was how to turn square stock round without chipping the hell out of it. I’m sure there’ s a technique but as this is my first time wood turning, I wasn’t sure the best way to to do this cleanly. It’s not a huge deal, but it did cause one of my cups to have a chip in it, which was kind of a bummer.
Started to turn the hole for the cup.
As I got deeper into the part, it became harder and harder to see the tool and what I was doing, so I had to get a feel for ‘turning in the dark’.
I got the hang of it. And after a while the socket fit pretty nicely.
I made two cups, and sanded them to the same size.
Time to wax everything.
Lastly, I needed a channel in the base to allow the wire to run through. I was terrified of doing this on the router table as I really didn’t want to mess up this part. It chipped a tiny bit, which I’m pretty unhappy about, but it’s not very visible, so it’s alright.
With all the parts done, time to wire and assemble.