Lathe question

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Blog entry by woodbutcherbynight posted 02-13-2013 05:53 AM 2520 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am considering making my own lamps with my Jet mini lathe. (Since I do not wish to pay large amounts of money I wish to make them myself. A Few questions come to mind. #1 Weight? As I have access to LEAD weights that can be made into any shape it is not difficult to make this part of my design so the lamp is not top heavy as many I have seen made. #2 suggested assembly and ways to make this a smooth repeatable operation, I need 4 lamps total and would prefer they look reasonably the same. Or maybe I am insane who knows. #3 What pitfalls has anyone run into trying this? Failures successes all comments are welcome.

M Curtis

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

6 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1628 posts in 2331 days

#1 posted 02-13-2013 06:09 AM

Mike, I have made several over the years. both from whole logs turned down and laminated stock. My trouble has been on any over 12” tall using my shop smith in the horizontal boring machine mode, my drill bits drift and want to exit off center when drilling the path for the lamp cord. Other minor trouble it how to best attach the harp and socket fixture to the top. The largest were four similar 10-12” diameter lamated poplar 20”tall, which I constructed in 1979 after the wind blew over two of our ceramic lamps breaking the basesl and, are still use today in my living room every day. The solid cedar post lamps were the easiest to turn and are desk lamp size.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View hunter71's profile


3302 posts in 3385 days

#2 posted 02-13-2013 12:17 PM

I drill the hole before turning the lamp stem. Then mount the lamp stem on a mandrel, or a dowel to turn the outside. This way you will be centered. As for holding it all together I collect old lamps from yard sales etc. and disassemble them for the brass rods and parts. Lamps are cheep, new parts are not and old parts work just fine. I do use new sockets and wire though . Weight, another old lamp bonus.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3592 days

#3 posted 02-13-2013 01:11 PM

Michael….your entry will get more hints at the forum section

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3284 days

#4 posted 02-13-2013 02:39 PM

Do you want table lamps or floor lamps, do you want them slim, or massive, do you want lamp shades turned
from wood as some people here have done, or a top similar to Todd A Clippinger made for the exhibit at the
Bozeman museum? If you will have trouble drilling the hole in the lamp for the cord, you can use laminated
pieces and cut/route the cord cavity ahead of time or cut a solid piece in half, make the cord conduit and glue
it back together. Most sockets and harps will thread onto regular pipe thread, or special pipes available from
Lamparts, or similar outlets, Walmart and most hardware stores used to carry these parts, or google on line.
Let your imagination run wild, have fun and enjoy whatever you want to make.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5682 posts in 2608 days

#5 posted 02-14-2013 02:26 AM

Thanks for the comments, seems I have some planning to do.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

21722 posts in 3304 days

#6 posted 06-12-2017 12:20 AM

I have drills up to 39” long for making floor lamps. I usually drill from both ends when making a lamp. I put a 3/8” pipe at the top to thread the socket onto and the on the bottom, I hollow it out a bit if using a touch sensor or just put about a 1” Forstner bit in from the bottom and then drill a hole from the side into that cavity for the cord and fish it through.

If you make it solid enough and with a big enough base, you won’t have to worry about the weight.

If you are turning them, make a story board that has the locations and sizes of all the diameters of the first one and then mark up the other ones for location of all the diameters and then plunge them to size with a outside spring caliper and parting tool. That will give you targets to hit all along the piece.

The one thing I have had happen, if using green wood, is cracking when the wood is drying. I think if you use dry wood, you will have better luck. If it is green and there is a lot of mass( not hollow) it will crack rather than warp like a hollow rough turned bowl. You can fill the cracks with an inlay once it is done. I turned and filled an apricot lamp for my mother 5 times before it quit!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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