I'm in the market for some new light fixtures and while shopping
around I was floored by the asking price for these objects de art.
It..really doesn't look all that hard to diy. Arts/crafts,
blacksmithed kind things is what I have in mind. I have
welding, machinng skills/tools, and always looking for
any excuse to get a new tool...
Something like this would make my wify very very appreciative..:-)
Lists @ $1K-ish
Looking for any references or tips, sources for parts, materials ED
Tell me about the prices!! SWMBO has been on a tear to get some fixtures
for her office. Right now it's back to a bare twisty florescent bulb,
the last 3 fixtures were "not quite right"!!!
The electrical parts are easy to get. Everything is standardized on 1/8"
pipe size fittings. Things like candelabra sized sockets, twin standard
sockets, finals, ceiling rings, hooks, etc. The larger floor torchiere's
use 1/4" pipe. Basic stock for these items can be had at the local home
store, augmented stock from the hole in the wall lighting stores. There
are a fair number of on-line parts suppliers. Here's one (of many)
The arms and such are small diameter steel tube, steel rod, and steel
strap. Standard forming operations, the decreasing radius pieces are
fun, doing it with tube is even more fun. Assemble with brazing, it
flows out much nicer than weld.
Finish coat is a problem for me: flat white (modern) and flat black (the
wrought iron look) are not an issue. But getting the pseudo antique
patina look is a bummer.
I have another fixture in the hallway that came from Home Depot. The
original item had a lovely ablaster shade and a hideous shape and color
of support. It was a closeout, they marked it down another 15% for no
box, came with a couple of florescent twisty bulbs. I cut the support
arms off, bent them so they were hidden but still useful, mounted it up.
It passed inspection with no comments so it must be good. :) And 1/6
the cost of the first one she tried in that spot.
Tnks for the info- more Q's
Any specs/sources on tubing type? Hows
that stuff to bend into the S's without collapsing? HarborFreight
cheapo bender or some shopmade tool? Can't be much force
needed to beyond armstrong to bend this stuff.
Are the wires soldered and dipped? The oiled bronze
finish seems to be in vogue now, auto paint? ED
I have done a few items like this using 3/8" OD x 16swg brass tube, I
would expect for your application steel tube of a similar size and wall
thickness would work fine. For the large sweeping bends you should just
be able to bend them against a wooden former to get consistant bends
without any problem with collapsing, for tighter bends some external or
internal support will be required. I use a home made bender and make
formers to suit. Sort of like a smaller version of this
Regarding threads, I would verify what is used in your part of the
world. A previous poster mentioned pipe thread but in the UK lighting
stuff almost always seems to use BSB (British Standard Brass) which is a
26TPI constant pitch series. Sometimes item have M10 x 1 which in some
cases with interchange with 3/8" BSB.
First off, this is all about design and what looks "good". And good is
in the eye of the beholder.
Someone else mentioned starting with the glass parts. I agree fully. The
smaller (6" +/-) globes and shades are commonly available where ever
they sell ceiling fans. Ceiling fixture glass (12" to 16") is virtually
impossible to buy separate from a full light fixture.
Tubing for this sort of thing will vary depending on the "Look" that you
want. 3/8"x .049" wall is quite stout for fixtures up to about 18"
across. 3/8" x ..032" (20 ga) is fine, easier to work with, but may not
be as rigid. 1/4" tube is pretty wimpy, almost impossible to string
plastic insulted wire through. 1/2" and larger tubes are tough to bend
without special equipment (mandrels, support, and all that)
If you are after a 'wrought iron' look, 3/8" square hot rolled is very
easy to work with. It bends nicely, you can do the twisted sections in a
vice and a big pipe wrench.
The sweep bends are pretty much trial and error. Easiest way to get
started is to cut the desired bend in some plywood the same thickness as
the tube diameter. Cut a couple more pieces a bit bigger and sandwich it
together. Clamp the whole thing in the vice to keep the sides from
spreading, start on one end, bend the part over the form. The trick is
to make all of the desired bend for any 1/2" section all at once.
I'd suggest doing whatever it takes to get a mockup of the design before
fighting with tub bending. Soft copper is much easier to deal with,
changes involve tweakig with your thumbs. You could even paint it flat
black and wire it up.
If you enjoy that light-headed feeling from seeing outrageous prices
for things that any monkey with a MIG machine and an angle grinder, go
to Moss in Soho.
Mind you, 99% of the cost is being able to have something that no one
else has, and of course the designer's talent (but neither of those
things seem to be important in this instance).
How does $149 for an injection molded plastic water glass sound? $50k
for a chandelier made of pieces of aluminum extrusion? Oh yes. Rich
people need places to put their money.
On Thu, 7 Feb 2008 15:48:37 -0800 (PST), "Robin S."
Been to SoHo a few times. Raoul's is worth the wait if
you can get a table. Moss's goods/prices are over the top.
Target might have nearly the same glasses for what--5 bucks..
I don't mind paying for value--theres a blacksmith shop
west of here that does high end mountain lodge stuff..
which is the style I'm interested in.. but his stuff is out of my
We saw some of his work in a new home, on a home tour last year
and the wife thought I should try and make some. ED
I would start from the bulb/light end or glass end first. The most
difficult thing to find in these situations is actually the glass
parts.The glass chimneys or shrouds need to fit well on the fixture. I
frequent a local junkyard where they segregate the tubes and brass
parts, mostly from lighting fixtures, etc. Often, they have entire
brass chandeliers, etc. Try that kind of place for parts and some
inspiration. The other advice I have is make sure your wife finds
something she likes and copy it. From experience, I can say I have
never been unsuccessful trying to please an "I'll know it when I see
it" attitude. My wife looks at magazines and we've agreed on few
things I been able to make for her. She has a center piece of
stainless arcs, flats and stainless mesh that SHE is quite proud of.
She claims she designed it, I simply made it for her.
Well, then do it yourself. Keep a record of the time you spend,
multiply that by at least $50 per hour (that's what it costs, if not
more, as a full burdern rate for a company that makes specialty
items)and add in the parts.
See if the prices sound all that bad.
(I think the car dealers charge $75 to $125 per hour these days.)
Thats the plan, I really appreciate all the good info gotten here
on RCM. I'll tenatively start by cloning some sconce's that I like
that retail @ $800+ each. * $800+ USD EACH*!!!, and are something I
know I can build . This artsy fartsy metalworking is a racket :-)
The materials will be under $30 and labor of
maybe 2-3 hrs. Pretty decent return on my spare time IMO.
The larger pieces will require more labor but hopefully will yield
significant satisfaction plus a decent $ return.
. .. ED
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