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..:-)
@ $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.
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.
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.
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.
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.