Brass, Walnut, and Cherry Lamp

Hero shot




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.

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I wanted the base to have an organic shape to it, rather than just be a flat disc.

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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.
IMG_4416 IMG_4417Notice 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.IMG_4427

Then chucked it up and cleaned up the profile.IMG_4428 IMG_4434

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.IMG_4451 IMG_4453

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.IMG_4454

Flipped, and started turning the piece round.IMG_4455 IMG_4457

I needed a 1/2″ hole to fit over the brass tubing I had.IMG_4458

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.
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So I took the part to the drill press and finished up the hole in the side.IMG_4462

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.
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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.
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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.IMG_4478

So I took a different approach, and just chucked up the square stock.  It worked much better.IMG_4492

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.IMG_4491

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.IMG_4497IMG_4486

I made two cups, and sanded them to the same size.IMG_4501

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.IMG_4502

With all the parts done, time to wire and assemble.IMG_4505 IMG_4506

And there you have it! My cherry, walnut, and brass lamp
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